The Baofeng UV-5re is a great way to stay prepared when you need to know what is happening NOW!
Not only can it be used for ham radio use, but it can also receive police and fire like a regular scanner, at half the price. It will also communicate with existing FRS and GMRS equipment.
One thing that i have noticed about my Baofeng UV-5re radio now that i have had it for while is that it is highly prone to interference from other electrical devices such as computer monitors with the aftermarket 14.5 antenna. When placed close to my 19 inch monitor the squelch will break, even when placed on the highest setting. Another annoyance is the gas generator that I use during extended power outages tends to cause interference as well.
One option that I have been looking at is using and RV and motorhome solar panel kit to power electrical devices during the extended power outages that we have out here every winter. When the wind gusts start reaching over 100 MPH power outages start to occur. Not only would this be a greener option but it would reduce interference to my radio equipment and remove the need for valuable gasoline, that may become harder to get as the power outage extends. We also get snow flurries at times that make it impossible to get supplies and gasoline to keep a gas generator going.
For more information on Solar power be sure to check out Solar power kits in emergencies
Great prices on the Baofeng UV-5R at Amazon
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An idiots guide to programming your Baofeng UV-5R radio