In an emergency, everyday communication methods may not be an option, as mobile and/or landline telephone service can be compromised. Amateur (ham), Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radio may provide the crucial communications link you need in a disaster.

In emergencies, ham radio operators provide communications between shelters, assembly sites, Map Your Neighborhood captains and the Emergency Operations Center, and provide a way to communicate with the wider world.
FRS/GMRS radios may provide an excellent means of communication in your neighborhood in an emergency.

  • FRS radios are like walkie-talkies, do not require a license, and use Channels 1 to 14.
  • GMRS radios use Channels 15 to 22 and require a simple, inexpensive license.

We recommend purchasing inexpensive dual radios that have both FRS and GMS channels.

FRS Radio in Neighborhoods

It’s important to develop a simple procedure for how neighbors will respond and communicate in an emergency. Map Your Neighborhood trains neighborhoods how to use FRS radios to gather and disseminate information during an emergency. Channels will be assigned to neighborhoods based on geography and proximity.

Consider coordinating with a ham radio operator in your neighborhood or nearby, so your FRS “net” is linked to the ham radio system.

Recommended Gear

Any recent FRS radio will probably work, as same channels have been used for years. However, newer radios have some features that may be beneficial.

We recommend these Motorola 356R radios:

  • they will work with our local FRS/GMRS repeater
  • AA batteries can be used if the Li-ion battery is discharged
  • they have NOAA alert radios, with SAME (county-specific) information built in

Remember to keep your radio batteries charged at all times, as it might be needed at any moment. You can use a timer to prevent over-charging.

For more information, download FRS Radio 101.

Contact Paula Peek at to learn more about using FRS radio in your neighborhood.