I’m usually am all about going low-tech for survival. Your most important survival tool is your own wits. With the proper knowledge, you won’t need gadgets and equipment to keep you safe and alive in a disaster situation.
But some electronics are so useful that I’d go as far as calling them essential.
Here they are — Let me know if you agree.
Emergency Power Source
Electronics aren’t going to do you any good unless you have a way to power them. Luckily, alternative power sources have come a long way in the past few years.
I’m not talking about a huge solar or wind power system for your home (though these are nice).
I’m talking about cool portable emergency power sources.
Portable Solar Power:
You’ve got a lot of options with portable solar power.
My advice would be to choose a solar power source compatible with multiple types of devices, not one which just works with specific products or on its own battery. What would you do if you lost the special battery or it got damaged?
Also, I recommend spending a decent amount of money on your solar panel power source. If this is what you will be relying on in a disaster, you want it to come through.
Don’t trust the many cheap solar panels which are available. They won’t work in low-light situations or store power adequately.
Hand Cranked Power
What is the most reliable source of power? Yourself!
This option is great, but it is also quite strenuous. Consider whether you will want to spend an hour cranking a generator just to get a bit of light or refill your batteries.
For more information, see our article about hand-crank generators and phone chargers.
For all of your survivalists who think that they will be able to bug out in the wilderness and avoid contact with humanity for the rest of your life, sorry to break it to you. We humans need contact with each other.
Even if you don’t need contact with outsiders (I hope no one in your community plans on reproducing), you are still going to come into contact with other people.
There just aren’t any genuinely wild areas left, so you’ll have other people stamping through your Bug Out location. For these reasons, it is vital to stay informed about the state of society (or what is left of it).
You will need a radio for this.
When disaster strikes, government agencies use radio announcements to disperse information.
For example, after a nuclear disaster, we’d need the radio to learn about Ground Zero’s location, whether evacuations are in effect, the levels of radiation, whether rioting is going on and where…
Recommended Reading: Preparing for the Worst: Nuclear Survival Kit
You don’t want just any survival radio. Choose one with features like having multiple power sources and can be used with headphones only (so less power is used, and you can listen to it without alerting others around you).
I like multi-tools which is why I like the Dynamo Radio Flashlight.
The thing is super lightweight but consists of an AM/FM radio, siren, and flashlight. It is hand-cranked, so you never need batteries.
Two-Way Radio or HAM Radio
Don’t count on your cell phone working in the aftermath of a disaster. You will need to have portable two-way radios for each member of your family. Keep them in EMP bags in your car, at home, at work, at school, and anywhere else you frequent.
The best type of two-way radio for a disaster is a HAM radio. It is costlier but has a more extended range.
The downside is that you will need to have a license if you want to use this legally.
You’ve also got to make sure you know how to use the equipment properly, or it will be worthless for survival communications. If you don’t want to get licensed, then a CB radio is the next best choice.
No matter what type of two-way radio you buy, remember to check the distance range on it before buying!
When the grid goes down, you will be really happy that you have a flashlight. I can imagine dozens of situations where this would come in handy, such as if you need to flee at night if you need to scout out a dark cave to use as a survival shelter if you need to set up gear at night….
Don’t make the mistake of buying a cheap $5 flashlight for your Bug Out Bag or home survival kit.
Cheap flashlights are cheap for a reason. The battery will go dead within less than an hour. The lamp inside will break or burn out (and where will you buy a new one in the aftermath of a disaster???).
Some tips for choosing an emergency survival flashlight:
- Brightness level: You need one which is bright enough for truly dark situations.
- Multiple brightness levels so you can use less battery.
- Emergency mode setting: Used for signaling (it will flash a red light and use very little power)
- Operates on multiple power sources: e.g., solar power and hand crank.
- Waterproof: In case it falls in a river, you’ve got to swim with your Bug Out Bag, or you’ve got to use it in the rain.
- Is Sturdy: Not only do you want it to be capable of surviving some drops and bangs, but it can also serve as a weapon. If you hit someone while holding it in your hand, it will pack a more powerful punch.
This may not apply to many people, but I just want to remind you to pack your electronic medical equipment in your survival gear – such as respirators, diabetes checkers, etc. Also, be sure you’ve got a reliable way to power it! Your loved ones depend on this gear, and you don’t want them to be caught without it.
Keep Your Electronics Safe from EMP!!!
Finally, remember that electronics will be damaged during an EMP attack. Keep all of these vital survival electronics in an EMP bag or Faraday cage, so they don’t get fried when you need them most. I like these EMP bags, and they are very reasonably priced.