Best radio for distaster?

I’m a bit new to 2-way radios. I’ve already learned the lesson the hard way that consumer radios can only give me about a quarter to half a mile around town, despite their claims of 35 miles.

My reason for becoming interested is that I’ve been putting together an emergency kit to keep in the back of my car. I’m not so much thinking about Armageddon or nuclear attack as I’m just thinking about day-to-day emergencies and maybe natural disasters and so forth.

But I do remember 10 years ago here in Ft.Worth we had some serious tornadoes come through while I was on my way home from work and got stuck in a huge traffic jam. All electricity was out. Cell phones didn’t work. Landline phones didn’t work either. It was nearly 24 hours. it was impossible to communicate with anyone.

So I wanted a radio to keep in the car that would stand a chance of actually reaching another human being in such a situation. Or the opposite. Maybe I’m fine, but somebody else nearby needs help. What band of radio would they most likely be using, CB, HAM, or GMRS?

I have already bought the most expensive pair of GMRS radios I could find, which are the motorola models that support repeaters. However, I’ve not been able to get any of the repeaters in the Ft.Worth area to work.

I also bought two handheld CB radios by Midland.

After trying in multiple areas the most range I’ve gotten out of either one was about a mile. Most cases it is less. No surprised to any of you guys here, I would imagine.

However, the CB has been able to pick up several conversations by truckers. However, I dont have enough power for them to hear me on the handheld unit. I have ordered two telescoping antennas for the handhelds so maybe that will increase their range some, but haven’t received them yet.

I’ve been thinking about trying to get a handheld HAM but I’m getting the impression that it wouldn’t go any further without the use of a repeater.

So… my first question is which of the 3 types of radio is best for such an emergency situation?

My second question has to do with radio quality. I’ve read many posts by people on various internet forums that suggest the “bubble pack” radios are junk and that a professional radio will always be better. I gather that the antennas and transceivers are of inferior quality. That being the case, I have found some really nice GMRS radios by Cobra and Midland which are much more expensive, usually around $140 a piece (rather than $60 for a pair) Oddly enough they don’t mention that they support repeater frequencies, which the cheaper ones do. (not that it matters since I can’t get the repeaters to work anyway) Is there any real reason I should consider these more expensive ones? Is there any chance of any better range? If not, what is the advantage?

Third question. Does anyone actually monitor channel 9 on the CB? Being the range is so limited, who would be able to hear you if they were?

buy a trunker tracker police scanner and just use the regular frs radios you get from walmart. because when a emergency happens everyone near you is going to be using those radios.

i uses cobra micro-talk radios with my family and work great. i get 1+ miles

If you’re inclined, I’d get a ham radio license and operate on 2m or 440 MHz. Plenty of like-minded preparedness individuals on ham frequencies. Many ham repeaters are set up with emergency power in case the main power goes out.

The license exams aren’t too hard, and the question pools and exam study aids are available on the internet.

It can lead to a fun and rewarding hobby as well!