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Emergency Frequencies For Different Radios

An emergency frequency refers to a specific radio bandwidth dedicated for using in real-life emergencies or distress situations. These frequencies are universally recognized and are reserved for transmitting distress signals, coordinating rescue efforts, and facilitating communication among emergency service providers, government agencies, and individuals during life-threatening events

Emergency radio frequencies play a crucial role in various emergency situations.

There are several common emergency radio frequencies that are used by different services and organizations to streamline communication during disasters and emergencies. Some of these emergency frequencies include:

  • Common National SAR (Search and Rescue) frequency: 155.160 MHz
  • U.S. Navy emergency sonobuoy communications and homing: 172.5 MHz
  • NATO on-the-scene voice and direct finding (DF): 282.8 MHz
  • Cospas-Sarsat or SAR (satellite-based search and rescue): 406 MHz to 406.1 MHz
  • Emergency position-indicating radio beacon station (EPIRB): 406 MHz to 406.1 MHz
  • National Weather Radio (NOAA): 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz

Keep on reading to find all other types of emergency frequencies. Click below to find out the different Emergency Radio Frequencies:

HAM | NOAA| FRS | GMRS | MURS | Federal Disaster Frequencies | UHF & VHF | Spoken Emergency Signal | Shortwave.

You can download a printable version PDF Copy of Emergency frequencies here.

Emergency Frequencies List for Different Radios

Type of Emergency Radio FrequencyFrequency
Common National SAR (Search and Rescue)155.160 MHz
U.S. Navy emergency sonobuoy communications and homing172.5 MHz
NATO on-the-scene voice and direct finding (DF)282.8 MHz
Cospas-Sarsat or SAR (satellite-based search and rescue)406 MHz to 406.1 MHz
Emergency position-indicating radio beacon station (EPIRB)406 MHz to 406.1 MHz
National Weather Radio (NOAA)162.400 MHz, 162.425 MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.475 MHz, 162.500 MHz, 162.525 MHz, 162.550 MHz
Amateur Radio (Ham Radio)3.940 MHz, 7.250 MHz, 14.300 MHz
Family Radio Service (FRS)Channel 9 (462.6125 MHz), Channel 20 (462.6750 MHz)
General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS)Channel 22 (462.7250 MHz)
Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS)Range from 151.820 MHz to 154.600 MHz
Federal Disaster Frequencies412.825 MHz (Mobile Emergency Response Support Channel 1)
HF-GCS (High-Frequency Global Communications System)Ranges from 4,724 to 11,175 kHz
Aviation Emergencies (Civilian)121.5 MHz
Aviation Emergencies (Military/NATO)243.0 MHz
Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) for aviation406.0 MHz
VHF (Very High Frequency) for Civilian Aviation Emergency121.5 MHz
UHF (Ultra High Frequency) for Military Aviation Emergency243.0 MHz
List of Emergency Frequencies
List of Emergency Frequencies for Different Radio Services.
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It’s important to note that these frequencies aren’t just for professional rescuers and emergency workers; they can also be used by ordinary citizens who are equipped with the appropriate radio equipment. Follow proper guidelines and protocols when using these frequencies to ensure that communication lines remain clear and efficient for all parties involved.

Emergency radio frequencies are the backbone of effective communication during disasters and emergencies. Familiarizing yourself with these common frequencies and understanding how to use them correctly can have a significant impact on the overall success of rescue operations and minimizing damage and loss of life.

What are the common emergency radio frequencies?

The most common emergency radio frequencies fall into several categories, such as amateur radio (ham radio), Family Radio Service (FRS), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), and specific federal disaster response frequencies.

National Weather Radio (NOAA) frequencies: There are are seven frequencies utilized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to broadcast weather information and alerts for the United States. NOAA emergency frequencies are,

  1. 162.400 MHz
  2. 162.425 MHz
  3. 162.450 MHz
  4. 162.475 MHz
  5. 162.500 MHz
  6. 162.525 MHz
  7. 162.550 MHz

Learn more about NOAA Weather Radio here.

Amateur Radio (Ham Radio): Emergency Ham radio frequencies vary by region, but key frequencies for emergency communication include 3.940 MHz, 7.250 MHz, and 14.300 MHz. One advantage of ham radio is that it operates on a simplex mode, which means radios can communicate directly with each other without relying on infrastructure.

Check our picks for best ham radios.

Family Radio Service (FRS): FRS radio service is designed for short-range, two-way communication among family members. FRS radios are readily accessible and do not require a license, making them ideal for emergencies. FRS emergency channels include Channel 9 (462.6125 MHz) and Channel 20 (462.6750 MHz).

General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS): Commonly used for recreational activities and business communications, GMRS frequencies offer longer ranges than FRS radios and require a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In an emergency, GMRS radios can utilize Channel 22 (462.7250 MHz) for communication.

Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS): MURS is a license-free, two-way radio service that operates on five VHF frequencies, ranging from 151.820 MHz to 154.600 MHz. MURS radios provide more extended ranges than FRS radios and are suitable for emergency communication.

Federal Disaster Frequencies: The federal government operates on specific frequencies during disaster situations. Among these are the Federal Disaster frequencies, such as 412.825 MHz, which are designated for the Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) Channel 1.

HF-GCS (High-Frequency Global Communications System) frequencies: Used primarily by military forces, the HF-GCS provides worldwide communication coverage. Operating between 4,724 to 11,175 kHz, it is useful for preppers and survivalists to monitor these channels for news and updates during emergencies, as they can often provide crucial information regarding ongoing events.

Remember that knowledge of these emergency radio frequencies is invaluable during a crisis. Whether you’re a first responder, amateur radio operator, or concerned citizen, having access to these frequencies can provide critical information and assistance when regular communication channels might be disrupted.

Which frequencies are used for aviation emergencies?

In the event of an aviation emergency, there are specific radio frequencies that pilots, air traffic controllers, and emergency services use to communicate and coordinate their actions. These frequencies are designated as emergency channels to ensure that crucial information regarding emergency situations can be shared efficiently and without interference.

The key frequencies used for aviation emergencies include:

  • 121.5 MHz: International Aeronautical Emergency Frequency
  • 243.0 MHz: NATO Combined Distress and Emergency Frequency
  • 406.0 MHz: Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) frequency

One of the most commonly used aviation emergency frequencies is 121.5 MHz. This International Aeronautical Emergency Frequency is monitored by air traffic control towers, Flight Service Stations (FSS), national air traffic control centers, military air defense units, and emergency services. Many commercial aircraft also monitor this frequency while in flight, making it the primary channel for communication during aviation emergencies.

Some military and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) aircraft use 243.0 MHz as a combined distress and emergency frequency. This frequency serves a similar purpose as 121.5 MHz, but is reserved for military and NATO aircraft to avoid potential interference with civilian aviation communications.

Lastly, 406.0 MHz is used by Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) aboard aircraft. These beacons transmit a distress signal on 406 MHz when activated, allowing search and rescue teams to locate the aircraft in the event of an emergency or crash.

Pilots and aviation personnel should be familiar with these emergency frequencies to ensure clear and efficient communication during critical situations, ultimately helping to save lives and property.

Which is the Emergency Frequency used for UHF and VHF?

Emergency radio frequencies provide a means for essential services, such as aviation and maritime, to communicate during critical situations. Two key frequency bands widely used for emergency purposes are VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency).

In the realm of civilian aviation, the primary emergency frequency is 121.5 MHz. This frequency is also known as the International Air Distress (IAD) frequency or VHF Guard since it is reserved for emergency communications and constantly monitored by airborne and ground-based stations. This channel is intended for use during distress or emergency situations in the aviation sector.

For military use, the dedicated emergency frequency is 243.0 MHz, identified as Military Air Distress (MAD) or UHF Guard. It is the second harmonic of VHF Guard, which allows aircraft transmitting on this frequency to enhance the potential of reaching both military and civilian monitoring stations in extreme circumstances.

Learn more about UHF vs VHF.

What are Emergency Shortwave Radio Frequencies?

Emergency shortwave radio frequencies operate in the shortwave band ranges between 3,000 to 30,000 kHz (3-30 MHz) and are capable of long-distance communication even under unfavorable conditions. One important aspect of shortwave radio frequencies is their ability to transmit information across vast distances without relying on local infrastructure. This is especially crucial during emergencies when traditional communication systems may be compromised or unavailable.

What is the Spoken Emergency Signal?

Spoken emergency signal is a specific announcement or statement transmitted via radio channels to alert listeners that an urgent situation is unfolding. One of the most common spoken emergency signals is the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which provides critical information to the public about emergencies, including weather updates, child abductions, and other important events. The EAS system is used across the United States and relies on a collection of radio frequencies in the 162 MHz range.

Another spoken emergency signal is used by the Citizens Band (CB) radio service, a short-range radio communication system that operates on several channels designated for emergency use. CB emergency channel is Channel 9 (27.065 MHz). It is universally recognized as the CB radio emergency frequency, where users can report emergencies and request assistance.

In addition to audio transmissions, spoken emergency signals can be accompanied by digital tones or codes for alerting devices that monitor these radio frequencies.

For example, the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) system, a technology used alongside the EAS, allows devices to filter alerts based on location and type of emergency, ensuring that individuals receive only relevant information.

Emergency Services Frequencies

Emergency services frequencies are essential for first responders, such as police, firefighters, and paramedics, during crises. These frequencies facilitate coordination and communication between various responders, enabling them to efficiently address emergencies. The National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) provides a comprehensive list of land mobile radio (LMR) frequencies, which are commonly used in disasters and other incidents where radio interoperability is required.

Search and Rescue Frequencies

Search and rescue (SAR) frequencies are crucial for the quick and efficient localization of lost or injured individuals during emergency situations. These radio frequencies are specifically designated for SAR operations, enabling teams to swiftly coordinate their efforts and save lives. The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) has adopted several frequencies in each region that serve as centers of activity for emergency communications, including search and rescue operations.

NOAA Weather Broadcasts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather broadcasts play a critical role in emergency communications. Reliable and up-to-date information on severe weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, is essential for the general public and emergency services. NOAA weather broadcasts provide vital data through their nationwide network of radio stations, enabling both citizens and first responders to make informed decisions and take appropriate precautions during weather-related emergencies. These broadcasts can be accessed via specific NOAA Weather Radio frequencies, allowing listeners to stay informed and prepared in times of crisis.


Being aware of the different Emergency radio frequencies is the most important component of the emergency radio communication infrastructure. They play a crucial role in keeping people informed and safe during times of crisis. While formats and systems may differ based on location and type of emergency, their primary function remains the same.

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