Rules and Etiquette of Radio Communication

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Some people use two-way radios or walkie-talkies for communications. These may be used during events, expeditions, security personnel, adventurers, search and rescue parties, HAM radio enthusiasts, etc. It is worth remembering that a two-way radio is not like a cell phone and the rules that govern the conversation over radios is quite different from cell phones, even though both are meant essentially for voice communications. Basically the rules and etiquette for radio communications is based on common sense good manners and can easily be applied to cell phone conversations as well for better understanding between the two people in the conversation.

Here are some rules that will make radio conversations better and more effective.

  1. The golden rules to follow are CLARITY, BREVITY, SIMPLICITY and SECURITY.
  2. Remember, that you can either listen or you can talk ... not both.
  3. Identify yourself at the beginning of each transmission by giving your call sign.
  4. Conduct radio checks by identifying yourself and saying RADIO CHECK.
  5. When someone else requests a radio check respond with READ YOU LOUD AND CLEAR or READ YOU 5-BY-5.
  6. Listen before transmitting. Don't cross talk.
  7. When you want to raise someone specific, identify yourself twice with THIS IS (YOUR CALL SIGN), wait for a couple of seconds and call out the intended person's call sign twice and say COME IN.
  8. Interrupting someone is extremely rude. Moreover, the other person cannot hear you when he is talking.
  9. When multiple people are in range, do not answer a transmission unless you know the call is for you. Listen for your call sign.
  10. Spell out key words and phrases using the NATO Phonetic Alphabet.
  11. Do not say "YES" and "NO". Always use the words "AFFIRMATIVE" or "NEGATIVE".
  12. When you finish transmitting your message clearly end with "OVER" and release the PTT button so the other person can start transmitting.
  13. At the end of the conversation say the words "OUT" or "OVER AND OUT" to signal the end of the conversation.
  14. Know what you are going to say before you press the PTT button.
  15. Wait for at least a second after pressing the PTT button and before beginning your message.
  16. Keep the microphone at right angles to your face. Don't talk directly into it.
  17. Speak slowly, distinctly, clearly
  18. Do not let your voice trail off at the end of words or sentences.
  19. Only acknowledge a message when you fully understand it. Or else, ask to repeat message with SAY AGAIN and not REPEAT.
  20. When you have received and understood the message respond with ROGER or 10-4.
  21. Acknowledge understood message with “Wilco”, “copy”, “received” or “acknowledged.”
  22. Use “BREAK-BREAK” only in an emergency.
  23. When you need to use "BREAK-BREAK", do not interrupt an ongoing transmission but wait till you hear "OVER".
  24. When you hear "BREAK-BREAK", keep quiet and wait for the emergency message transmission.
  25. Always acknowledge. Silence is not the completion of a conversation.
  26. Talk slowly, do not shout and use a professional tone ... emotions are a bad idea.
  27. Keep messages shorter than 20 seconds.
  28. Use plain English.
  29. Do not broadcast jokes or off-hand remarks on the radio.

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