Get on the air with HAM radio!
As an Amateur Radio Operator (HAM) I am somewhat biased here: I have seen first hand how beneficial HAM radio is in any emergency situation. Communication can be a critical link in an emergency, and HAM Radio Operators are often a part of the first-responder teams. Being able to be in contact with them may save life or limb, and it has for a lot of folks.
Many people operate under the concept of “I don’t need a license, because when SHTF, the FCC won’t be around anyway” but I’m here to tell you that is the WRONG idea.
Just like shooting a gun, you don’t wait until you need it to practice. Understanding radio theory or electronics is no replacement for hands on experience. HAM Radio is pretty dang advanced. These aren’t the walkie talkies you pick up at Wal-Mart and “meet you on channel 6.” You often times have to program a radio with multiple frequencies just to talk to one person. It’s pretty dang involved!
That said it’s also really fun, and can be pretty cheap too.
The Technician Class license test is 35 multiple choice questions, and is quite easy with a little study.
If you’re a self-paced learning kind of person, I’d highly suggest taking the practice tests at QRZ: here.
The question pool is small, so once you’re passing the practice tests consistently, you will pass the test. Test sessions are available all over the USA, and finding a test session is easy. You can find them through the Amateur Radio Relay League by clicking here, or by finding your local ham radio club.
Lastly, it’s cheap! $15 can get you licensed for 10 years!
Your first radio doesn’t have to be anything fancy, as a 5 watt, handheld, Chinese radio (such as the one pictured below) will often times do the trick.
If you have any interest, I’d urge you to bite the bullet and do it. You’ll see that it’s not difficult, and can be a rewarding hobby/experience, with many skills applicable to survival and preparedness.
As with anything, don’t wait until you need the skill to learn it!