Emergency Weather Radio

Emergency Weather Radio

An emergency weather radio is a radio receiver designed to broadcast a service which airs special weather-related emergency broadcasts and announcements.

Weather radio services may also broadcast non-weather related emergency information, such as in the event of a natural disaster, an AMBER alert or a terrorist attack.

The best emergency radios are designed to remain functional in cases of power outage or isolation from contact with civilization. These radios are often designed to run on minimal or no power sources, as such is the case in many weather emergency or disaster events.

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How Can An Emergency Weather Radio Help Me?

NOAA’s weather programs touch the lives of every American. Every day, decisions are made based on NOAA weather information – from the mundane "should I pack an umbrella today?” to the most critical and potentially life-saving.

The National Weather Service (NWS) is the sole official voice of the U.S. Government using emergency weather radio to issue warnings during life-threatening weather situations.

The National Weather Service provides local and regional forecasts, and emergency alerts for severe storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, extreme heat, winter storms, fire threats, tsunamis, solar flares, also AMBER alerts or terrorist attacks.

What Does An Emergency Weather Radio Do?

NOAA Weather Radio (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) broadcasts National Weather Service (NWS) warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day.

It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, environmental, natural, and public safety through the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Emergency Alert System.

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national warning system in the U.S. put into place in 1997, superseding the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) and is jointly coordinated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the
National Weather Service (NWS).

The official EAS is designed to enable the President of the United States to speak to the Nation within 10 minutes (this official federal EAS has never been activated). The EAS regulations and standards are governed by the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC. Each State and several territories have their own EAS plan.

Abbreviation Meanings: It is in your best interest to learn the abbreviations related to these organizations and services: NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NWR: NOAA Weather Radio
NWS: National Weather Service
EAS: Emergency Alert System
EBS: Emergency Broadcast System (superseded in 1997 by EAS)
FCC: Federal Communications Commission
FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency

What Regions Do Emergency Weather Radios Cover?

Emergency weather radios (all but the least expensive) are generally designed to cover more than just the standard AM and FM broadcasting bands. Basic shortwave radio coverage (for situations where local radio is out or not available) is common, as well as weather radio in countries that provide that service.

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) includes 1000 transmitters, covering all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Pacific Territories. NWR requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of picking up the signal. View coverage map here

What Types Of Emergency Radios Are There?

Weather radios come with several features that make them very helpful in case of an emergency. Some models use crank power, in addition to electricity and batteries, which is a life saver in case of an electricity outage.

Some models have an embedded flashlight and can double as a cell phone charger.

Common to all emergency radios is the need to maintain power as long as possible in times of power failure.

Depending on the information you want to access, and how and where you plan to access the broadcasts, you have these options:

Standalone Receivers:

  • If you are want to be alerted to Warnings and Watches day or night, a standalone receiver might work best for you.

Standalone receivers might also come with AM/FM bands, but their primary use will be to receive Weather Radio broadcasts. You can choose between hand-held and desktop models, depending on whether you plan to take your radio with you when you go out.

There are many choices from a number of manufacturers with prices ranging from around $20 to over $100, depending on the number of features included.

Multi-Band/Function Receivers:

  • If you just want to be able to tune to in the weather broadcast and do not care about receiving alerts, a general Multi-Band/function receiver could be better.

These receivers bundle a number of features. Weather Radio is just one of many frequency bands included. You can find the Weather Radio band included in: AM/FM radios
Shortwave receivers
CB radios
VHF Marine radios
GMRS/FRS 2-way radios

Where Do I Get A Weather Alert Radio?

You can buy these types of survival radio receivers at many retail outlets, including electronics, department, sporting goods, and boat and marine accessory stores. They can also be purchased via the Internet from several online retailers. 

Suggested online retailers for Emergency Weather Radio's below:

Nitro-Pak® Emergency Radios

The Ready Store® Emergency Radios

Emergency Radios at Amazon.com
Large selection of emergency weather radios at Amazon.com.

Page Credits:
NOAA Weather Radio: www.weather.gov

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