Monday, March 12, 2012

Alternative Communication

     Something that has come to mind during my prepping has been the idea of alternative communication. In our world communication is so important these days. You can't go anywhere these days without seeing someone with a cellphone attached to their ear. When SHTF cellphone towers are going to go down and we are suddenly going to find ourselves in the dark when it comes to communication. Long distance communication will require learning to use technology that we might not normally use, such as a HAM radio. However in a SHTF scenario different forms of short term communication will be helpful as well.

     In looking at alternative communication for shorter distances I have broken it down into two different sections: verbal communication, and nonverbal communication. I think both forms of alternative communication could be very helpful in a major disaster scenario.

     Verbal communication is the first section of alternative communication, and that is obviously communicating through spoken word. Being able to talk to people and knowing the language they speak helps facilitate cooperation and trust. This is why I think knowing more than one language would have the potential to be extremely useful in a disaster scenario.

     For me, living in the United States my first choice would be to learn Spanish, because we have a connecting border with Mexico. Other common languages would be a good choice to learn as well. You could learn the major languages in Europe such as French, German and Italian. Common languages from Asia such as Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean could also be very useful as well.

     At the same time verbal communication could have the possibility of being a hinderence. Crucial information can be compromised if someone were to overhear your plans and speaks the same language. In situtations like this it could be very helpful to have a form of verbal communication that is not common to reduce the risk of your plans being overheard and understood, and therefore compromised.

     Just like for being understood, this requires learning a language but instead of learning a common language, in this case you would want to learn an uncommon language from some area that is on the otherside of the world. This way it would be very unlikely that you would come across someone who knew the language and would understand it.

     Another way you can communicate so other people can't understand you is through nonverbal communication. This can be done through sign languages, and through codes. One code specifically that is easy to learn and get a hold of is morse code. Morse code is likely to be most useful for communication in disaster scenarios to try and communicate when verbal communication is impossible. It is more helpful for communication to more people because it most people have a rudimentary understanding of morse code, or can at least understand the common signalling of S.O.S.

     Because of the widespread knowledge of morse code it is less useful as a form of communication on paper if you are trying to send messages that are meant to remain secret. For secret messages other types of codes that are less well known would be a better choice.

     Morse code however does work as a great form of silent communication between people in close proximity. By using touch, such on someone else's hand or shoulder, morse code can be transmitted silently between people. This makes it a great way to communicate when you can make any noise, or when you trying to stealthily move into or through an area.

     In much the same way as morse code, sign languages could be used very effectively to communicate without making noise. The advantage for sign language is that you don't need physical contact to communicate.

     There are other ways to communicate nonverbally as well from a distance. Morse code can be used for this quite effectively through the use of a flashing light. Again though if there is a need for secrecy this might not be the best choice, and the flashing light also has the possibility of giving away your position because light can be seen from very long distances. Using flag codes however would be another way of signalling someone from far away.

     There are many different flag codes, many of them created during times of war specifically for long distance communication on battlefields or in mountainous areas to sends messages from different camps on different ridgelines. In a SHTF scenario flag codes could be used much the same way. Codes can be as simple as different colored flags meaning specific things, to more complicated codes similar to morse code, where changing the flag colors and the way it is waved can mean different words or letters.

     These are just some of the forms of alternative communication that can be learned and would be helpful should SHTF. Do you have any forms of alternative communication that you have learned in case of diaster? Let us know in the comments!


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