Why Radio in Disasters?
by Rob de Santos
What would you do if your car died on a dark road, out of sight of any building? Your mobile phone doesn’t get a signal. The car battery has died. It’s cold, dark, and perhaps even raining. You are truly “out of touch,” not sure when help is going to arrive. Would you be worried? Scared, even?
Now, put yourself in a disaster zone. Your house may be damaged or destroyed. Public utilities aren’t functioning. Power is out and mobile phones aren’t working. You are truly “out of touch.” Now, how might you feel?
The scenarios are remarkably similar in the feelings and concerns they elicit. In both cases, the lack of any communication makes the situation far worse. In both situations, if you could just turn on a radio and get news of what is going on in your area and when help might arrive, your sense of security increases as your fears diminish.
Such is the power of radio. When other communications fail, a simple radio with a crank or solar panel for power and knob to tune it offers a reassuring voice. A source of knowledge instead of just rumors. Before schools can get outside resources, or children can travel over repaired roads, radio provides a funnel of information that allows education to continue.
It’s easy (and necessary) in a disaster to think about necessities such as food, shelter, and clean water. How do people in the disaster learn where to go and how to get help with these basic needs? If you live in the industrialized world you might just assume it will show up where you are, sooner or later. As many found even in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the United States, that can be a risky assumption. What you need is information on how to help yourself, and the best way to get the information is through a radio.