Radio Safety Nets
Radio “Safety Nets” are an essential part of any successful GMRS Neighborhood Radio Watch program.
Safety Nets are a regular, on-the-air, radio meeting place where residents can check in each week to learn and practice basic radio communications skills. A weekly Radio Safety Net allows you to:
- Understand and practice communication protocols before disasters strikes.
- Continually improve your radio skills to help you remain calm when a real emergency happens.
- Test and get feedback on the quality of your radio signal to ensure it’s charged up and working.
- Ensure the area's radio communications system itself is working.
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Let others know that you’re OK.
An example of how a Radio Safety Net is run is outlined below:
- Each week, someone volunteers to be the weekly “Net Control,” or “Host.” Ideally, there should be several Hosts who all take turns managing your Nets.
- Your local Safety Net starts each week on the same day, and at the same time, usually in the evenings. Your Safety Net is also held on the same channel, usually the Repeater channel for your area.
- To ensure consistency, your Safety Net Host almost always works from a prepared script. This will save you time and eliminate confusion. There will be time for everyone to talk but please wait for the Host to recognize you before pressing your radio’s push-to-talk or “PTT” transmit button.
- A typical weekly Safety Net begins with the Host briefly introducing themselves and stating the purpose of the Net. They then might ask if there are “any emergency or priority announcements.” This is the time for any Safety Net listeners with high-priority announcements to first identify themselves with their name and GMRS call sign, and then wait for the Host to acknowledge them (AKA “check-in”).
- The Safety Net then proceeds with the Host reading from an alphabetical list of names of participating community members, allowing a few seconds for each member to transmit and check-in after their name is called.
- When it’s your turn, reply by stating your name, location, and GMRS call sign, then release your PTT button. The Host will check you in, and then read the next name on the list.
- Once the list is finished, the Host may follow up and ask if there are any “late or missed check-ins?” The Host might also ask “are there are any visitors?” and allow the chance to check-in.
- From here, your Safety Net may proceed with a more general discussion or a question and answer period.
General Etiquette Suggestions
During a Safety Net, you may want to share something from your day or week. Wait for the Host to call you. There might be times when you have a comment or answer for another Member. Just a quick “Comment” inserted between breaks is usually enough. Again, wait for your Host to invite you to speak.
Please keep all conversations friendly, positive and courteous. We're here to help each other. Keep it fun, and avoid politics, religion, complaining or "grumping." (no one really wants to hear it.). Also, remember this is "Family Radio." Assume your kids and grandkids are listening.
Storm-Watch and Event Nets
There may also be Storm- or Event-watch Nets that are activated whenever needed during a weather event, water release, traffic jam, an emergency, a fire or any other event or alert such as a power shutdown, and especially when normal cell and Internet communications are impaired or disrupted.
A Storm- or Event-watch Net operates a little differently. Here, whenever there’s an event or emergency in your area, plan on checking in to your main Repeater channel at the top of each hour to receive or transmit important information. If your power is off, you may want to turn off your radio between check ins to conserve batteries (always have spare batteries!)
If there’s any kind of alert that you would like to share with the community, don't wait for a Net event. Keep in mind that Neighborhood Radio Watch programs are NOT a replacement for emergency services such as Police, Fire, the Sheriff's Office or 911. NRW programs are intended solely as a backup communications solution to share information with individuals in the community.