Communication Collapse

Communication Breakdown by Spencer Wood

Communication Breakdown by Spencer Wood

If there were an occasion in which our nation’s communications systems were disabled for more than 24 hours on a weekday, you would see the first domino fall in the creation of a complete financial collapse. We are painfully reliant on our communication systems to keep our nation financially afloat. Land lines, internet, cell phones. These inventions have become the heart of our economy. Our health care system. Our banking system. Our trade system.

communication-collapse-lose-moneyHaving participated in the commercial finance industry for years, I had opportunity to consult in one of the highest echelons of commercial finance—you know the one where folks are dropping the word “billion” as casually as they order lunch. Whether you realize it or not, a great deal of our economic strength comes from the manipulation of seconds and small margins of profit on large sums of money. If communication lines were down and trades could not be executed, our nation would lose billions of dollars which would easily domino into trillions in less than 24 hours—and that’s just in the trading world. As you are aware, now is not a time in which our tenable economy could handle such a hit from a communication collapse.

Now let’s look at the great financial impact that would be felt by all of the other businesses in our nation. Deals would not be closed. Shipments of medical supplies, necessary hardware equipment, fuel, and food would not be requested or sent out. Credit cards would not be processed for payments. Just as so many consumers live hand to mouth or paycheck to paycheck, so do the majority of businesses in our nation. One day of communication collapse in which they are cut off from communication with their suppliers and their banks would literally be catastrophic.

communication-collapse-hello-anyone-thereThen there’s the world that may hit a little closer to home for you in a communication collapse.  9-1-1 would be useless. News updates would not be received. Even if we had electricity to watch the television, we wouldn’t know what was occurring right in our own backyards without the critical resource of communication. Without your cell phones, internet, and land lines, how would you locate your children who are usually scattered in all directions at any time of the day? How would you check up on your elderly parent? How would you coordinate with the rest of your family to ensure their safety and well being?

Out of all 10 areas of Emergency Preparedness, the component of communication is the only one in which you’re reaching out to others. And yet, as you can see, it’s not an area that can be taken for granted. Your primary concern in an emergency will not be what’s in your bank account. It won’t be how much food you have on your shelves. It will be about the well being of those you love. Thus you MUST have prearranged plans of action for how you will communicate and gather in the event of an emergency and subsequent communication collapse. If it is to be a long-term scenario, you must even have a plan for family members that live far from you. Will you all gather to a particular location? Will you get communication through to each other in a different medium? Taking a few moments to discuss these plans will save you and everyone else in your life a lot of stress and worry. And more importantly, it could save lives. Being at the right place at the right time is critical in surviving an emergency. Discuss this plan regularly with your family and close friends.

Photo c/o

Photo c/o

On a lighter note, I have been stocking up on pencils, pens, and paper during these “school sales.” (It’s not hard when the pencils are selling for 25 cents a package, pencil sharpeners are only 10 cents, and note pads are only 1 cent.)  What may seem trivial now, may be highly valuable in a world in which we can no longer rely on our traditional means of communication. Also, protecting our HAM radio and ensuring proper licensing and skills to use it is a critical part of that plan as well. (Now, if I could just get the rest of my family on board with that, I’ll sleep much better.)

Take a moment to stop and plan for an instance in which your communication methods are interrupted.  You’ll be SO glad you did!


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Good article! I should really go stock up on more school supplies. What's the best place right now?

Last week was Office Depot. This week Staples is on my list. Check out their ad in Sunday's paper.

As a multiple hurricane survivor I know the value of good communication back ups. I'd love to see some examples. By the way in cases where local cell towers are down you may still be able to send text messages.

Yes, for that kind of incident, texting MAY be available. However, I'm speaking of an incident in which the communication resources are completely obliterated.
HAM radio is really your best back up in such situations. Battery operated, hand cranked, etc. I also protect mine against an EMP attack.

How did you protect your HAM radio from an EMP attack?

Read our Faraday Cage article. Just do a search on "faraday" in our search button and you'll find it.

You might have talked about this and I missed it. while things are stored in the faraday cage do they need to be unplugged and unhooked from the antenna?

The topic of banks and electricity has been on my mind lately. I have been considering calling my bank and inquiring what their protocol is for banking without electricity and what (if any) measures they have in place for allowing me to get to my money should we be tossed out of the digital age. Has anyone talked to their bank about this?

I apologize if I sound a bit pessimistic, but my initial response to your post is "good luck getting a straight, actual, and informed answer on your inquiry." :-)

Good point about stocking up on pencils. I also agree the banks aren't likely to be forthcoming about disaster scenarios, other than whatever party line they've been fed. As for the Faraday cage, I'll look into it. Even though I'm a ham operator myself, I'd say don't overlook CB radio. It does have its uses, and one can be had for less than $100 that will operate on a battery power source.

Yes, I agree. CB or HAM radios are great alternatives.

Very important to disconnect from the Antenna Read it has additional resources. From what I understand the antenna acts as a guide focusing the energy of the pulse.

I just read in Popular Mechanics Oct. 2009 issue that cell phone towers have no battery backups. They were going to be required in the USA, but the cell phone industry fought against the requirement and won.


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