An emergency radio is a radio designed to cover both the AM and FM bands as well as some shortwave frequencies. These specially designed devices are perfect when experiencing a loss of power, are isolated, or have limited contact with both local and federal authorities. Emergency radios normally have an internal power source and are extremely portable. During an actual emergency this vital piece of equipment will allow you to received important news and updates that could save your life.
How To Choose An Emergency Radio
An emergency radio is a special radio that picks up broadcasts from a network created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to warn citizens of possible emergency situations. If you have one of these radios, you will receive alerts regarding hurricanes, forest fires, tornadoes, chemical leaks, and Amber alerts in your area, as well as any other potential dangers. I’ve developed this guide to help you learn how to choose an emergency radio.
All emergency radios are not created equal. You should do a lot of research and shop around for the best deal before you make a final decision about which radio to purchase. Compare both features and prices to make the best choice.
WHERE YOU LIVE PLAYS A PART IN WHAT TYPE OF EMERGENCY RADIO YOU NEED
The first thing to consider when shopping for an emergency radio is the area in which you live. What type of emergencies are possible where you live? Think about how often your power goes out, how often you have weather emergencies, and whether it is possible for you to experience other potential hazards such as chemical leaks.
Next, consider your own preferences and needs. If you have trouble hearing, for example, you may want to consider a radio that vibrates and shakes when there is an alert. Decide how often you will have the radio on- will you leave it on constantly, or just when you are already expecting a hazard.
EMERGENCY RADIOS WITH ALERT FEATURES ARE PREFERABLE
You may also want to consider purchasing an emergency radio that qualifies as a Public Alert Receiver. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gives this classification to radios that include “consistent alerting signals” like LCD displays and colored lighting. These signals will indicate that there has been a public alert notice even if the radio isn’t active.
Many radios include a feature known as SMART technology. This allows the radio can be configured to only alert you whenever there is a hazard in your specific area. Choosing a radio with this technology will reduce of the amount of unnecessary alerts you receive. You should also consider purchasing an emergency radio that will ignore certain alerts you will never want or need. For example, you can program the radio to only alert you in the event of a warning rather than a watch. Finally, consider purchasing a radio with a backup form of power, such as a hand-crank or battery. This feature will be useful if your power goes out.
WHAT ARE THE BEST EMERGENCY RADIOS YOU CAN GET?
This is really a subjective question. The best emergency radio for me may not be the best for you. That’s why you need to educate yourself on all the different types and styles of emergency radios.
As stated above, I prefer one with Alerts. But some people do not care for this feature. Also, some people will only pull their emergency radio out when the lights go out. Others, like myself, have one on all the type in case of alerts from NOAA or The National Weather service.
As for the best quality radios on the market today, in my experience and judging from the hundreds of reviews I’ve read, Midland, C Crane, Sangean, First Alert and Grundig all make quality radios that should give you years of great service.
ARE THE CHEAPEST EMERGENCY RADIOS JUST AS GOOD AS MORE EXPENSIVE MODELS?
The old saying “You get what you pay for” is just as true when shopping for an emergency radio as it is for anything else. There’s a reason why you may see some emergency radios with a crank, a flashlight, am/fm radio, shortwave and other features sell for less than $25. Sure, they may seem like a good deal, but you’ll quickly realize your cheap emergency radio isn’t such a good deal after all!
Am I saying don’t buy a cheap emergency radio? No, of course not. I keep one in my pickup at all times. I figure it’s better than nothing and if someone steals it, well I’m only out $10 as opposed to $200 if they steal one of my good ones. Cheap emergency radio’s have their place, but I certainly wouldn’t rely on one unless I had no other choice.
WHERE CAN I FIND THE BEST PRICES ON EMERGENCY RADIOS
Well, as a long time Internet shopper, I’ve found that you might come across a deal on an emergency radio just about any place on the Internet. But if you’ve never heard of the company selling it, you don’t know if you’re getting a refurbished model or buying from a company that only sells store returns.
Store returns are just what the name implies. They are radios returned by Customers to the store that bought them. Sometimes retailers will refund or replace a Customers radio that they brought back in and then turn around and sell pallets of these at huge discounts. That’s when a lot of companies swoop in, buy these cheap emergency radios and resell them on the Internet.
This is one reason I’ve come to rely on Amazon.com for all my electronics. They have a great return policy, cheap shipping – in many cases free – and they have second to none customer service. I don’t have to wonder if they’ll be there if I have a problem!
These tips will help you learn how to choose an emergency radio that’s right for you and your family, and you will be sure to find the radio that fits all of your individual needs.
What Features To Look For In an Emergency Radio
If you’ve never bought an emergency radio before, it can be a daunting and mind numbing task. It really isn’t that difficult to choose a radio for your family’s needs, as long as you know what to look for. There are several different models available in all price ranges; simply choose the features you think you’re most likely to need. Common sense comes into play with this decision; obviously, if you live in Tornado Alley, you’ll want a model with backup power and a siren to help rescuers find you if you’re trapped in a collapsed building, while a simple camp radio will work if your most likely emergency is a power outage due to winter storms. Here are a few more features to consider when looking to buy an emergency radio:
Look for features such as waterproofing, unbreakable plastic housing, single-piece faceplates, and heavy duty cords in models that have a plug. While a lightweight, portable radio will serve for most purposes, a durable model will ensure that your family can still receive life-saving instructions if the radio is dropped or doused with liquids.
AUTOMATIC MULTI-BAND RECEIVERS
Some models require users to manually switch between regular and emergency receivers. Save yourself the trouble by choosing a model that will automatically kick over to emergency channels when they’re broadcasting. This feature allows users to listen to standard radio broadcasts without worrying that they will miss vital alerts or instructions.
Models with built-in lighting make it easier to locate your radio in the event of a power outage, and provide extra illumination if needed. Emergency lights can be used to signal rescuers, search for victims, or simply to reassure a frightened child. Try to find models with LED lighting; they use less power, and provide glare-free illumination.
ALTERNATIVE AND BACK-UP POWER SOURCES
Your radio will do you no good if it doesn’t work, so always choose a model with a back-up power source. Back-up power sources can be anything from kinetic (hand-cranked) models to solar rechargeable batteries. Keep enough extra batteries on hand near your radio to last for at least a week if you can’t afford a radio with a back-up power source.
TOP BRANDS OF EMERGENCY RADIOS
There are several manufacturers that are known to make quality radios at reasonable prices. The most prudent consumer will not rely on a single radio, but have several to be fully prepared for any emergency that may come along. For example, I have two units at home. These are high end units that have the shortwave receivers and one that has a built in CB radio.
In each of our vehicles, we have small inexpensive emergency/weather radio’s. These receive all frequencies of NOAA weather alerts, have multiple lights and/or beacons and a siren as well as am/fm receiver.
If we’re going out of state to camp or on vacation, then I carry a waterproof emergency radio that has all the bells and whistles.
The following makers all put out a reliable and durable emergency radio: Midland, Sangean, C Crane, Fist Alert, Grundig and Eton all make a variety of emergency and/or weather alert radios to meet nearly any situation you might find yourself in.
Some emergency radios feature extra gadgets, such as small TV screens, cigarette lighters, and power outlets to run small appliances. Unless you have a steady power source, these features are essentially worthless in a real emergency. While it may be nice to watch your favorite television show or power your electric razor while waiting for rescue, these features drain battery life, and may lull you into boredom at a time when complacency can be life threatening. Skip the extra fluff unless you really want it. The above features are what you need to look for in an emergency radio!