Whether it’s winter storms, tornadoes, even fires – ‘ham radio’ operators can provide critical communication during an emergency.

And later this month, local operators will practice their skills during a two-day nationwide deployment called ‘Winter Field Day.’

Warrick County ham radio operators will join with thousands of amateur radio operators nationwide, who will be showing off their emergency capabilities on January 27 and 28.

During the last few months, ham radio operators in towns across America have provided critical communications during unexpected emergencies — including the California wildfires, winter storms and tornadoes, as well as other worldwide events.

During Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, Amateur Radio, often called ‘ham radio,’ was often the only way people could communicate, and hundreds of volunteer ‘hams’ traveled south to save lives and property.

When disaster happens, Amateur Radio enthusiasts are often the first to provide rescuers with critical information and communications.

During the weekend of January 27 and 28, the public will have a chance to meet and talk with Warrick County ham radio operators and see what Amateur Radio is about.

Showing the newest digital and satellite capabilities, hams from across the United States will be holding public demonstrations of emergency communications abilities.

During ‘Winter Field Day,’ using only emergency power supplies, ham operators will construct emergency stations in parks, shopping malls, schools and back yards around the country.

Their slogan, “Ham radio works when other systems don’t,” is more than just words to the hams as they show they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis.

“We hope that people will come and see for themselves, this is not your grandfather’s radio anymore,” said Allen Pitts of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). “The communications that ham radio people can quickly create have saved many lives when other systems failed or were overloaded. And besides that – it’s fun!”

In the Warrick County area, the Ohio Valley Amateur Radio Club will be demonstrating Amateur Radio at Boonville City Park on January 27 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and on the January 28 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The public is invited to come and see ham radio’s new capabilities and learn how to get their own FCC radio license.

There are over 650,000 Amateur Radio licensees in the US, and more than 2.5 million around the world.

Through the ARRL’s Amateur Radio Emergency Services program, ham volunteers provide emergency communications for thousands of state and local emergency response agencies.

To learn more about Amateur Radio, click here.

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(This story was originally published on Jan. 15, 2018)