Online Police and Fire Scanners

Online police and fire scanners provide a fun and free way to get news as it happens. Check out these sites for free scanner streaming in your area

I received an email from “DL” about a few days ago asking if I had any recommendations for police scanners for her 72-hour kit. Unfortunately, I don’t have any recent experience in the area, but told her I’d do some looking around.

In the meantime, I thought it might be interesting to see if there were any live police/fire feeds online. BINGO! There are quite a few online sites that provide live feeds, and all you need is a computer with an internet connection. It can be a lot of fun to listen to what’s going on in your area via those feeds. What might be even more interesting would be emergencies, natural disaster or other large-scale events that you’ll be able to listen in on from across the country, something you wouldn’t be able to do with your own scan hardware unless you were in the same area. Some of these sites probably share a lot of the same information, but we’ve listed the best sites and apps we’ve found for online scanning below:

Favorite Online Police Scanners

Our favorite smartphone apps:

  • 5-0 Radio Lite- This is free, pretty basic scanner and the one we use most. Also available is 5-0 Radio Pro which we have not tested and is $1.99 in the Apple App Store.
  • Scanner911 – This app has some cool features including user recording and streaming. The app is only $0.99
  • Police Scanner – This app is $4.99, so we haven’t tested it.

Obviously these sites won’t be reliable in a disaster situation (lack of power, internet, computer, etc), so they’re no replacement for an actual scanner (especially battery-powered, handheld units). But they can be a lot of fun—and useful for those of us who spend a lot of time at the desk. Plus—they’re free!

After receiving her question from DL and thinking about the benefits, I’ve been looking for a good handheld scanner to add to my own bugout bag. I still haven’t decided on what to pick up (a lot of the scanners around $100 on Amazon have pretty mixed reviews), so if you have suggestions, please let us know.

And happy scanning!


A direct quote from the new website today:

Address Gun Violence in Cities: Obama and Biden would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent.

Read the full agenda here (see Urban Policy: Crime and Law Enforcement).

The language in this policy opens the door (or perhaps more appropriately, the flood gates) to making it more difficult for people to buy, own, trade, gift, train with, and use guns, as well as the establishment of a gun registry, a ban on guns that sound and/or look scary, and I’m predicting, a massive buy-back in the near future.

And so it begins…

Quick Tip: Staying Safe in the Cold

For the thousands of people in the Northeast and Midwest, these are the coldest temperatures you’ve ever experienced. Frostbite is a real danger that occurs when flesh freezes, forming ice crystals that can damage your cells. This “Staying safe in a deep freeze” article on MSNBC prompted today’s quick tip.

Prevent Frostbite

Bundle up! Wear a hat, coat, gloves and/or mittens, good boots (with an extra pair of socks), and don’t pretend you’re too manly to wear a scarf.

Hand and toe warmers are also great for keeping the frostbite at bay, but make sure you don’t place them directly against your skin for extended periods of time.

Identify Frostbite

Most commonly affected areas are the fingers, toes, ears and nose. The skin will likely be hard, feel numb, and may look waxy, white or grey.

In extreme cases, frostbite will create blisters, can turn skin black, and cuts and cracks in the skin will appear. These cases are serious and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. They can lead to permanent nerve damage, gangrene, and may require amputation.

Treat Frostbite

When dealing with minor cases of frostbite, warm the affected areas gradually. Using blankets, room temperature, or the body heat of another person is the best way to thaw frozen flesh at home. But DO NOT rub the affected areas or break any blisters!

DO NOT use hand warmers directly on the skin, and do not use hot water. If you do decide to use water to re-warm affected areas, be sure that the water is just above body temperature.

After re-warming, gently dry skin and keep fingers and toes separated from each other with sterile bandages (and without adhesive).

The thawing of frozen flesh is extremely painful. I recommend you take a good dose of ibuprofen or other painkiller while treating frostbite.


Hypothermia is a real threat at these temperatures and can be even more serious than frostbite. If you can’t stop shivering, listen to your body and get inside.

The Possibility of Widespread Solar Disturbance


An interesting report from The Register talks about NASA’s warning of a “Space Katrina” in which our communications and other electronics could be knocked out by massive solar winds.

The US military has previously warned of the risk of a “space Pearl Harbour” – a devastating surprise attack against America’s space presence, which could leave the world’s sole superpower blinded and crippled. According to the National Academy, though, the USA should forget about a space Pearl Harbour and worry instead about “a space Katrina, a storm that we should have been prepared for but were not”.

Solar storms have had significant effects in modern time:

  • In 1989, the sun unleashed a tempest that knocked out power to all of Quebec, Canada.
  • A 2003 sunstorm included 10 major solar flares over a two-week period, knocking out two Earth-orbiting satellites and crippling an instrument aboard a Mars orbiter.

And in the future, due to our becoming more dependent on satellites and other electronics for nearly every facet of our modern lives, the potential effects of any such event would undoubtedly be much greater:

Impacts would be felt on interdependent infrastructures, with, for example, potable water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in about 12-24 hours; and immediate or eventual loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, transportation, fuel resupply, and so on…

Attacks in space and from space, in addition to the more common terrestrial threats we face, certainly provide plenty to keep us occupied in our preparations.

Related links:

Coming Tomorrow…

What can we do to prepare our homes and families for solar events? We’ll have a summary of potential effects as well as tips for practical preparation.

The Case for Food Storage

Food Storage
There’s been a lot of talk in the media and on the Internet over the past few months about food storage. And while there’s been a lot of talk, how many people do you think have actually taken it seriously enough to make a plan and then act on it?

Starting from scratch is a daunting task, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for putting it off until next week or the week after that…etc. The fact is though, that the sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be. Food storage is a lot like investing. Actually, food storage is investing. Starting early, keeping steady, and taking it one step at a time will pay huge dividends in the future.

Seeing the good sense in food storage is easier today than it has ever been.

Good Reason

  • Food prices have been rising (especially on the basics like wheat/flour, beans, and rice) in recent months
  • Gas prices (the cost of transportation and farming) have been extremely unstable
  • The economy has been slumping
  • Unemployment has been rising
  • Food supplies have been threatened
  • Pandemic, natural disaster, power disruptions, war and civil unrest all cast their influence around the world

I’m not just trying to be pessimistic or a fear monger—it’s good practice to take an inventory of current events and prepare ourselves to more easily navigate the turbulent waters that lay ahead (or that we’re currently sailing through).

Even after reading all the points above that help shed light on the importance of food storage, it might still be difficult for some to see the individual application. Here’s a quick scenario:

Disruption of Food Supply

Already this year, freezing storms have pounded much of the U.S. causing accidents, closing roads, and leaving millions without power. In the Storm of the Century (’93) and the Blizzard of 96, cities were completely shut down for days. You may have some good food in your refrigerator or pantry. But once that food is gone, where will you find more? Even if you are able to make it to the store, they may not be open until the power is back on and the employees can also make it across the roads to work. In addition, the supply trucks are likewise subject to the wrath of storms and may be stuck on the side of the road for days or more. Before long, the shelves could be empty and the local grocery store will not be able to act as our emergency food supply.

Disruption of the food supply can take many forms—from the disaster or storm-type situation described above to personal illness, job loss, or other circumstances that can make it more difficult to put the food we’re accustomed to on the table. Food storage is like a savings plan that will help mitigate those threats.

Helping Others

In addition to our own needs, we may be called on to help family, friends, and neighbors. Despite the unfriendly world we live in, I doubt I know anybody who would let and elderly widow next-door go hungry while enjoying a warm meal a door or two away. It’s also possible (even likely during the holidays) that we have friends or family over when a storm or other event strands others in our care. In these cases, having the bare minimum in the kitchen shelves won’t cut it.

Food Storage Really is an Investment

Not only is it an investment in your own safety and peace of mind, but if done correctly, can translate into real dollars. Food prices rarely go down. When you buy now for potential rough times ahead, you cut out inflation and price gouging, and you’ll inevitably enjoy a better selection than you would get if forced to buy when there’s a run on the supermarket shelves.

Types of Food Storage

There are about as many ways to do food storage as there are foods to store. Some of those methods include canning, bulk purchasing, MREs, freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, rotation systems, and even hunting (storing ammunition, anyway). In the future, we’ll go over pros and cons of each of these avenues.

And Don’t Forget the H2O

When discussing, thinking about—and even in careful planning, there’s an important point that often gets left out: Water Storage. We really should refer to it as “Food and Water Storage” rather than just “food storage.”

Humans can live a few weeks without food, but only a few days without water, so be sure to include adequate water storage in your plan. Again, we’ll cover this in-depth (no pun intended) in a later post, but for now one of the most helpful water storage resources we’ve ever seen can be downloaded here: Water Storage & Purification.

Where to Find Food Storage Help

Upcoming posts will include reviews of various food storage products and systems. There are some other great resources online to help the newcomer to get started, and that also offer great information to the seasoned survivalist—here are a few of my favorites:

There’s No Time Like The Present

If you haven’t started preparing your food storage, now’s a better time than ever. A good food storage is the foundation of any strong bug out or dig-in plan.

Emergency Preparedness and Practical Survival

If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”
-George Bernard Shaw

Perhaps the Boy Scout Motto put it best: Be Prepared. By definition, life will be full of unexpected circumstances—times when we’ll find ourselves in situations we may never have thought we’d see. These are the times we will lean on skill, practice and preparation.

If there was ever a time more evident that the common man (and woman) had lost practical survival skills and needed them back, I’m not sure when it was. In the past 50 years, the average citizen has gone from capable to grossly incapable of providing a living for themselves and their family. Yes, we’re still capable of facilitating a living for our families—we can earn money to buy the goods we need. But what about when the power goes out and we can’t earn money as a computer technician? Or the bank fails and our debit card no longer carries those 1′s and 0′s? Or worse—when what money we do have is worth no more than the paper it’s printed on—are we still capable of providing that living for ourselves and our families?

The goal of BugOutBlog is to help you gain the practical skills you’ll need in the event of natural disaster, terrorist attack, governmental turmoil, economic troubles and job loss. We’ll be sharing real-world experience, skills, tutorials and reviews to help the average person prepare for, and survive, real-life emergency situations.

As I toyed with the idea of building this website and shared the idea with others, I came across someone who asked “But isn’t that what the tv shows Survivorman and Man Vs. Wild are for?” The question gave me a good bit to think about. Does the world really need another survival resource? Is there anything more to add to the galaxy of websites, books, television programs and manuals already vying for our attention?

My conclusion was that “yes,” there is more. So, we aim to offer more interaction, more accessibility, and a more common-sense approach to survival and preparedness. You can watch Bear Grylls eat a Rhino Beetle or see Les Stroud escape from lions in Africa on YouTube, but it’s on BugOutBlog where you’ll learn the skills that can help keep you from having to resort to beetle meat in the first place. We call it practical survival.

So welcome aboard. Bookmark the site, add us to your RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, let us know what you’d like to see, and please, share this site with your friends and family. We hope to be a valuable resource as we learn together about how to prepare for the worst—using a common sense approach, and real-life experience to explore what “practical survival” really means.