Not long ago, I went on a day trip in the Superstition Mountains with some friends.  We drove out to Superior then to Apache Junction before heading out towards Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flats.  It was a nice drive in a scenic part of the state, it also has spotty cell phone coverage.  Even though I didn’t need my cell phone that day, it was a reminder that you can’t always rely on one technology.  That’s why its wise to have an alternative.

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One concept that many of us need to be more aware of is Operational Security or OPSEC.  In a nutshell, OPSEC is keeping information from potential adversaries.  For the military, this means keeping details of movements and future operations secret.  For civilians like you and me, that means not broadcasting your whereabouts or other important details.  Being careful about where and when information is divulged will help keep you safe and protect your property.

This is important in today’s world.  Let’s face it, we live in a connected world where social media is ubiquitous.  Many of us can instantly communicate where we are and what we are doing with our smartphones and tablets.  While this can be fun and harmless, it can expose people to additional risk if the wrong people get hold of important information.  And as recent events illustrate, what gets posted on social media does not stay private.

What does this all mean?

If you are at a restaurant, sporting event, or landmark and you post about it on a social media site then everybody who can read your post knows where you are.  Criminals can use this information to stalk you, rob you, or break into your home.  I won’t get into the whole subject of meta-data collection, but the more you post on social media sites the more information private and governmental entities have on you.  Ask yourself if you really need to post your whereabouts and status to the world?

To maintain good OPSEC, consider making a couple changes in your habits.  First, only let trusted people know your whereabouts before you go somewhere.  Second, if you want to post pictures, review, or other observations about an outing, do so after the event.  Third, when you have plans to go somewhere, don’t feel compelled to let the world know about it on social media.  All of this information is not time-critical to those who aren’t going to be with you, it can wait.

The key concept is to be careful with what you divulge to others.  Information is power and the more you reveal, the more data a potential adversary (ex. burglar) has on you.  Both good guys and bad guys use social media so treat the information you post on it with great care.  Taking a few small steps to increase your OPSEC will yield much greater safety and security in the connected world we live in.

If the research is true, over 90% of you own a cell phone and over 60% of you own a smart phone.

However, like all electronic devices they won’t work without…electrons.  All cell phones have batteries of one kind or another.  Over the last ten years great strides have been made in both extending battery life and packaging cells, leading to smaller yet more powerful phones.  Having a working battery to store all those electrons is essential, having a spare cell phone battery is evidence of being well-prepared.

Let’s face it, despite all the advances in battery technology they will eventually start to wear-out and eventually fail.  Having only one battery on-hand means you may be incommunicado until you get a working battery installed.  If you don’t live in a major city or have an older phone, this could become a problem that lasts a few days instead of just a few hours.

The solution is to have a spare cell phone battery (or two) ready to swap-out when the need arises.  I purchased an extra one today for my NSA intelligence gathering and location tracking device smart phone for about $40, which is a cheap insurance policy for staying in touch.  Its a good purchase to make since cell phones/smart phones are great tools to have in an emergency.  My recommendation is that if you have a couple extra twenties in your pocket, get spare cell phone battery today.

One thing you need to have in an emergency is a good battery-powered radio.  If you want a great one, consider buying this one:

I purchased a Sony ICF-SW7600GR a few years ago based upon several outstanding recommendations and reviews.  Its an AM/FM/SW radio that is well-built and easy to use.  Many people use this as their everyday radio, especially in more remote areas.  The quality is second to none (Made in Japan), which is great when you have to rely upon it during bad times.

After I purchased mine, I created several lists of channels that I can access during an emergency.  I also set the clock so I can use it as a clock-radio alarm if the power is out for a long period of time.  The AA batteries in it will last over 40 hours, giving you a lot of time between changes.

The only downside to this unit is that the short-wave radio can only be tuned in 1kHz increments.  This isn’t a problem if the radio station you wish to tune in uses whole numbers like BBC (ex. 11910 MHz).  However, many broadcasters like NOAA Weather Radio use fractional frequencies (ex. 162.425 MHz) to transmit their signals.  This can be a problem because you won’t be able to hear broadcasts from FEMA, NOAA, local police, and other official agencies.  Just keep this limitation in mind if you are thinking about purchasing this radio.

Overall Rating:  7/10

Click here to buy the Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver