Walkie-Talkies for Emergency Neighborhood Communications


“I read you loud and clear.”

Every month, on the second Wednesday at 6 p.m., our neighborhood CERT group clicks on their two-way radios and gets ready to participate in the radio drill.

Radios or Walkie=talkies

Compare sizes of these walkie-talkies to the smart phone in the center of the collection; read about them on our REVIEW page.

The first check-in takes place at the Division level, when the Division Leader checks with 10 or so Block Captains. It’s a quick call: “Division 5 Leader calling Block Captain 5 Alpha. Do you read?” and a quick answer, “Five Alpha reads loud and clear.” Takes less than 7 minutes.

After the Block Captains check in, the Division Leaders and Special Teams (Search and Rescue, First Aid, etc.) switch to the Community Channel and participate in their own roll-call. Another 7 minutes.

What we accomplish with these radio drills is three-fold:

  1. Radios are checked to be sure they are functioning. (If someone forgets to turn the radio off, then when the next month rolls around that radio’s batteries are dead!)
  2. Everyone gets practice using the radios, the channel assignments, and the lingo. (It seems easy to say “Five Leader” or “Five Delta” but non-native English speakers, in particular, need to practice.)
  3. We get reassurance that our community is intact and participating!

Just about a month ago Southern California experienced a 5.3 quake at about 8 p.m. On that evening, CERT group participants grabbed their radios and ran outside to check how neighbors had fared. I stood there in the dark, and soon came the voice of one of my team members, “This is Cheryl, Five Charlie. Is anyone there?” (Protocol slips a bit when there’s a real emergency.)

Cheryl and I were able to discuss our block and ascertain that all was well. I then switched to the Community Channel to check in, and sure enough, other Division Leaders were doing the same thing.

The point is, this simple communications plan worked, worked well, and worked fast. No dialing, no waiting, no ringing, no busy signals, no leaving of messages. Just push to talk.

“I read you loud and clear.”

Take a look at our new review of Walkie-Talkies, just published yesterday. I think you’ll find it interesting and valuable. And let me know if YOU have Walkie-Talkie stories to share. Til then, “Over and Out.”

Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


Don't miss a single Advisory.

Tags: , , ,

2 Responses to “Walkie-Talkies for Emergency Neighborhood Communications”

  1. Fred Billetts Says:

    Just got 12 Walkie Talkies ( Midland) for our Mobil Home Park. Your article gave me an idea. We have a board meeting every two months. We will do our radio check 10 minutes prior to the meeting and accomplish two important things. Radio check and a reminder for our meeting. This way they can not say they forgot the meeting.

  2. Commander Says:

    Dear Fred,
    Congratulations. That’s exactly what WE do, and it works! I am sure you are aware that keeping the batteries fresh is a big problem. We find we have to (1) remind people at the end of the drill to turn off their radios, and (2) remind people to change their batteries in their radios every six months or so. We do it when the clock changes for daylight savings time.

    P.S. We had a power outage here day before yesterday. SOME regular phones worked and others didn’t. We used the radios to check in with each other. I’ll be writing up that experience in an upcoming report!