During Emergencies, Use Satellite Phones to Communicate

During Emergencies, Use Satellite Phones to Communicate

Laura E. Hall
Mar 17, 2011

In the wake of terrible natural disasters, our thoughts turn to preparing our own homes and families for the future. The US government recommends building an emergency kit for at least the first 72 hours after a disaster occurs, the average time it takes for help to arrive. These satellite systems would make a good addition to any home kit, in the event that all methods of communication are cut during an emergency.

Emergency preparation is a full blown cultural trend, with people from the suburbs to the most rural forest laying in emergency supplies. These satellite-based phones and messenger systems are the highest-recommended options available on the market.

SPOT is a satellite GPS messenger created for hikers and people traveling to areas without cell phone coverage. The basic functions of its Messenger ($169.99) and Tracker ($99.99) are based around pre-set messages, like a 911 notification with your GPS location attached and a check-in button that sends an SMS or email.

The SPOT Connector ($169) links to your smartphone with Bluetooth, turning it into a satellite phone which can update Twitter and Facebook, send short emails or texts or notify emergency services of your location.

Each device requires a $99 annual basic service plan, with custom text messages costing extra.

The Iridium 9555 satellite phone (approx. $1,100) is the smallest Iridium phone, works globally and has SMS and email capabilities.

A less expensive option is the Inmarsat ISATphone ($550), which has a 100 hour standby battery life and provides satellite telephony, text and email capabilities, GPS and voicemail.

The ISATphone is less expensive because the system uses a series of geostationary satellite and "doesn't work above or below 70 degree latitude," according to this satellite telecom employee, while the Iridium system uses "a network of low earth orbit satellites and works truly anywhere on the planet that you can stand outdoors with the phone."

Iridium's top customer is the US Department of Defense, but for those who are looking for a satellite phone to keep at home for emergencies, the ISATphone may be a satisfactory option. Vouchers for additional Iridium airtime are available for sale with varying amounts of minutes and expiry times.

Check out the US government's recommendations here.

Are you a prepper? Do you have a 72-hour kit, or a satellite phone? Share your thoughts and experieces in the comments.

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