Memory check: When was the last time you updated the memories in your HT? Verify the settings are still good, or add new frequencies that are relevant to your area
The ICS: All hams involved with oublic service communications should know the basics of the Incident Command System (ICS). FEMA has lots of ICS info available at www.fema.gov/incident-command-system-resources
Check that coax: Old coax can deteriorate over time. Regularly test all coax runs and jumpers used in the field to ensure they will work when you need them
Portable power: Make sure you have a portable 12V DC power source available for your radio. Many options exist, but a portable car jump starter is an excellent choice that has multiple uses
Share your skills: Mentoring others strengthens ham radio preparedness in your area and reinforces your knowledge of what you teach. Somebody once taught you; keep that cycle going
Get on the air: Any skill set gets rusty if not used. Get on the air regularly for recreation. Not all ham radio is an emergency, and ops who are regularly active are more prepared if an emergency arises
Learn to look up: Skywarn teaches you how to relay critical weather info to the National Weather Service during a storm. Find a class near you at www.nws.noaa.gov/skywarn/
If you build it, you will learn: When you make something yourself, you will better understand how it works. Building is a great club activity; have your club sponsor a “Build Night.” The skills you learn make you a better troubleshooter in the field
Be adaptable: Always keep a wide selectio of antenna and audio adapters in your Go-Kit. You never know what gear you may encounter in the field; maximize your flexibility
ARRL training: If you want to get serious about Emergency Communications, ARRL courses will give you the foundation you need to suceed. Learn more at www.arrl.org/emergency-communications-training
Raise your app awareness: Get smart about smartphone apps for emergency preparedness. FEMA and Red Cross apps are great, but there’s much more. Study up on apps at www.emergencymgmt.com/training/Emergency.Management.App.html
Catch a (radio) wave: Communication becomes easier when you know what band fits your needs. Learn how to determine the best band for getting a message to where it needs to go
Lighten your load: A lighter Go-Kit means more agility. Weigh your gear. If you’re carrying more than 20 pounds of ham radio gear, try to cut weight without sacrificing capability. Be critical
Weather-wise: Program your local National Weather Service frequencies into your VHF/UHF radio. Weather can change in an instant, as evidenced by the sudden formation of Tropical Storm Julia along the Florida/Georgia coast on Septenber 13th, 2016. Be informed!
Blow your horn: The Public Information Officer (PIO) tells the mocal media how your club bebefits your community. This raises your club’s visibility and fosters relationships with served agencies. If your club does not have a PIO, get one!
Other organizations: VOAD is a national-level organization of other groups dedicated to helping in times of need. Learn how your group can be of service at the state level. www.nvoad.org/voad-network/stateterritory-members/
Here comes sunshine: Solar power is free and plentiful. It can charge your batteries, but it can also be a source of noise. Learn the ins and outs of solar power to keep you on the air and noise-free during Field Day, after a hurricane, or the wake of a flood. www.arrl.org/energency-alternative-power
Field Day isn’t just for June: Every time you operate portable, you gain valuable experience to use during an emergency or disaster situation. Use the fun of programs like National PArks on the Air to practice your deployment skills
Go social: Social media is the communication and networking tool of today. Learn to [do] it to promote what your group does to your community and served agencies. bit.ly/2cCv60S
Master new modes: Phone may not be able to get the message out. Learn how to use modes other than voice, such as CW or digital modes like PSK. The more ways you know how to communicate, the more valuable you are on a deployment
Go over your Go-Kit: Does your Go-Kit have intermittent issues? Been a while since you cleaned it out or did maintenance? Take an evening to go through your Go-Kit from top to bottom; minor problems become big issues at the worst possible times
Safety first: Whether a routine demonstration or a natural disaster, always operate with safety in mind. Corson off areas with bright tape, keep a first aid kit on hand, and always steer clear of downed power lines. Don’t become another victim!
Access to alkalines: Keep a supply of alkaline batteries available. They can provide power to many HTs in the event you can’t recharge your normal power pack. They come in handy for hundreds of other applications, too. If stored longterm, check regularly for leakage
Know your gear: Do you know how to use all the features your radio offers? Extra memories, special filtering and other settings can make working stations easier and reduce fatigue on long shifts, Sit down with the manual and try out all your rig can do
What else can you do?: Many of us have more skills than communication. When working with other agencies, let them know if you have any other certifications (CPR, IT, etc). You never know how you may be asked to help; make yourself valuable!
Learn from the master: If you need to learn a new procedure or skill, ask an expert to teach you. Whether handling a soldering iron or increasing your efficiency as Net Control, working directly with those who have the know-how will get you up to speed; soon, you will be doing well
Find those fuses: Keep a supply of fuses for all your devices in your kit. Don’t let a blown fuse keep you from staying on the air during a deployment
Pack cheat sheets: Be sure to document how your Go-Kit is laid out. You may have a guest op, or forget how to perform a specific function. Bring manuals with you, or condensed versions of them. You could store PDFs of them on your phone, too
Ready…SET…Go!: The Simulated Emergency Test Oct 1 & 2 gets your group involved in one of the nation’s largest training exercises. If you aren’t involved, contact your local Emergency Coordinator or member of the ARRL Field Organization
Frequent flyers: Whenever you are out with Amateur Radio in a public setting, keep a supply of promotional flyers on hand. You never know when you will get a chance to promote what we do! Free brochures are available at www.arrl.org/shop