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Old 07-04-2020, 01:33 PM   #1
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No cell service & Forest Fires

After doing several Google searches and getting no results, I need to ask: When boondocking in a forest that has no cell service how can I access the internet to check to see if there's a fire in the area?


As is pretty well known there have been some very serious fires in Calif. and I want to be able to boondock with some peace of mind. Last week we were in a nice dispersed FS campground and one night there was a significant thunderstorm with a lot of lightning. Since there was no cell service all I could do was look around to see if I saw an 'orange glow' thruout the night.


Is there any gear I can get that will allow me to use my phone to get info from the internet when way out of range?
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:46 PM   #2
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I'm pretty sure NOAA weather radios provide wildfire alerts.

https://www.weather.gov/grb/nwr_same
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:50 PM   #3
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If you have a decent view of open sky, you could use a Garmin InReach satellite radio to communicate with the rest of the world.

https://www.garmin.com/en-US/inreach/personal/
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by tony5oh View Post
I'm pretty sure NOAA weather radios provide wildfire alerts.

https://www.weather.gov/grb/nwr_same
Exactly. Several weather type radios available. I'm going to invest in one.
We just had this happen to us in the Gila National Forest while boondocking. No cell service, limited radio reception. Fire was within three miles of us, but the wind was blowing away from us, so no smoke we could see. A NFS fire crew came up our canyon, looking for boondockers to tell us we should think about going elsewhere
We have Dish, which was working fine, but rarely watch the news anymore. That'll teach me.......
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:23 PM   #5
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KCBS 740 AM is a great 50,000 watt 24/7news station you can listen to anywhere in the west..at night.
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:23 PM   #6
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Thanks for the suggestions - it looks like the weather radios use an antenna. In the high Sierras radio reception is spotty at best, or am I missing something?
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by VR51 View Post
Thanks for the suggestions - it looks like the weather radios use an antenna. In the high Sierras radio reception is spotty at best, or am I missing something?
AM radio reception should work great at night in the Sierras.
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Old 07-04-2020, 02:28 PM   #8
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Thanks for the suggestions - it looks like the weather radios use an antenna. In the high Sierras radio reception is spotty at best, or am I missing something?
Nope, not missing anything. But if you can get anything, it will be emergency and AM bands. Better than having nothing I suppose. I'm going to get one and try it out just for sh*ts and giggles
Also you can use the satellite devices like Dish and Garmin. Just hard to get local info usually.
Thank goodness for those National Forest workers that were on the job!
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Old 07-04-2020, 03:02 PM   #9
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you are asking for the 'the world', technology wise, though wanting to 'get away from the world', physically.... so, yes, you might have a 'quandary'.

One idea, unless you don't like to watch TV, is 'satellite tv'. Since you can also pick up the local channels for whatever area you might be camping, you could then have 'some' information via the Weather channels or the Local affiliates, IF they know about any fire, which could also be an issue. I think with you being 'off-grid' so far away from others, it sounds like even if a local fire were to break out, no one else would necessarily know about it anyway.

(if using satellite TV when you are so far off-grid, and you don't have a cell connection for internet, etc., then call or chat online with Dish BEFORE you go, and give them the address where you will be, or the closest ROAD address to where you will be, and you might find that the 'local' channels are still available - they are attached to a 'spot beam' for your area)
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Old 07-04-2020, 03:29 PM   #10
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NOAA radio alerts would be the way to go.
I have one of those radios, it gives me alerts on thunder storms, flooding, wildfires, tornadoes.
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Old 07-04-2020, 07:13 PM   #11
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AM radio reception should work great at night in the Sierras.
Except that the NOAA weather info is transmitted on VHF FM frequencies.

About the only users of AM in the VHF band anymore are "Hams" and the FAA.

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All NOAA Weather Radio stations broadcast on one of seven frequencies in the VHF Public Service band: 162.400 megahertz (MHz), 162.425 MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.475 MHz, 162.500 MHz, 162.525 MHz, and 162.550 MHz. While some older Weather Radio receivers will only have three frequencies (162.400, 162.475 and 162.550), any receiver sold today should be able to pick up stations on any of the seven frequencies.
The fact that NOAA has over 800 transmitters across the country makes up for the shorter range of both VHF and FM.


I bought one of these a couple years ago:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Works on 120v or internal battery. Is sllent if you wish until an alert is sent and alerts can be programmed for just the county you're in if you want.

$30 isn't bad to get some warning for Emergencies like severe weather, flooding (especially flash flooding in boondocking areas) and fire.
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Old 07-04-2020, 07:33 PM   #12
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The unit that TitanMike linked above is the one I have, good unit for the price.
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Old 07-04-2020, 08:45 PM   #13
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I also have the Midland weather radio list above and if I program in the counties where I am staying, the alerts for only those counties will set off the alarm. I print out the codes for the counties before I leave home so that I can program them in as I travel. I also carry my portable marine band radio which also has all of the FRS channels and weather channels. I never hurts to carry that while hiking. Last summer I was hiking near Logan Pass and actually contacted a Ranger about an injured person on the trail. It cut response time by over an hour.
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Old 07-05-2020, 09:36 AM   #14
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BarabooBob - do you have a recommendation for the marine band radio you mentioned?
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Old 07-05-2020, 01:43 PM   #15
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Boondocking Communications

There are numerous radioos that can be used. CB's, standard broadcast AM, Mrine ( which carries all NOAA weather channels and HAM.
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Old 07-05-2020, 04:01 PM   #16
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I also have the Midland weather radio list above and if I program in the counties where I am staying, the alerts for only those counties will set off the alarm. I print out the codes for the counties before I leave home so that I can program them in as I travel. I also carry my portable marine band radio which also has all of the FRS channels and weather channels. I never hurts to carry that while hiking. Last summer I was hiking near Logan Pass and actually contacted a Ranger about an injured person on the trail. It cut response time by over an hour.
Not only can you program in the counties but you can also program in the types of alerts you wish to receive, including iceberg or tsunami alerts! You can also get the 24 hour weather channels so you can easily verify that you have service in the area you are currently located.
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Old 07-05-2020, 08:18 PM   #17
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Buy a PORTABLE NOAA approved radio that will automatically switch to the area you are in and lock into all available towers. The radio will alert you by locking in with the SAME code wherever you are. You can customize it to your needs. The alarms are a bear when they go off, so I usually keep mine for Warnings only. Tornado, Wildfire, Flash Flood, Avalanche, High Winds and Fog are the most frequent, but there are choices for other advisories that you don’t get otherwise.
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Old 07-06-2020, 05:48 AM   #18
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HOW did We Ever Survive?

Im reading this and chuckling to myself................how dependent we have become to a..................................... telephone.

A device that used to hang on the wall or sit on a table, most likely only one in the house. with a long cord to move to another room for "privacy".

We survived well, got along fine.

Now it seems a catastrophe if we don't ave it with us for constant contact

My oh My, how things have changed!!
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Old 07-06-2020, 06:55 AM   #19
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Why would anyone want to hang their Apple on a wall?
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Old 07-06-2020, 09:52 AM   #20
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Would there be an advantage over NOAA warnings if I were to listen to the frequency that the particular Forest uses for communication?

Here is the page for Forests in my state -https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?aid=4301
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