This week we are going to focus on making sure we know what is going on during an emergency or disaster to help us make good decisions regarding our safety. Emergency preparedness sites recommend using a weather radio to receive notifications and information about a hazardous event. In researching what to buy I quickly discovered there are many choices so the key here is to know what is available then decide what features you believe you will need. There are many sites out there with detailed information so I’m only going to hit the major decision points below:
Portable or stationary? If you think you may need to leave your home and want to make sure you can continue to receive notifications, you may want to look at a portable radio. Also consider if you want the radio to be weatherproof.
Type of alerts? Some radios offer audible alerts in either one or multiple tones. Some also remain idle then broadcast a tone when an emergency alert is broadcast.
SAME (Specific Alert Message Encoding) technology? This feature determines if you can receive alerts for a specific area rather than from the entire area served by a station.
Channels? Do you want just weather related information or do you also want to listen to news and music assuming those stations would be operating during an event? It is highly recommended by many preparedness sites to buy a radio with the NOAA channel which broadcasts weather information.
Power source? Radios can be operated with many different alternative power sources such as batteries, hand-crank with built-in generator, or solar in addition to being able to use AC or DC power.
Light? Some radios also come with lights to be used as a flashlight.
Cell-phone charger? A few radios offer the ability to charge cell phones.
Cost? You may need to factor in your budget in choosing a radio.
For our family, we definitely want a portable radio with alerts, we are not worried about the SAME technology, we would want all channels including the NOAA channel, and the radio should have multiple power options. We also would like to have the cell-phone charger and of course, we don’t want to spend a lot of money.
Based on our criteria, below were the possibilities I chose to research. I also showed the current prices on Amazon. (Note the links are to the product page on Amazon not because I believe that is the best place to buy the radio, but just as a way for you to get more detailed info on each model.)
- Epica Emergency Solar Hand Crank – $20.95
- iRonsnow IS-399 – $35.99
- FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio – $31.99
- Midland ER310 (although not waterproof) – $59.99
- Kaito KA500 5-way – $49.99
- American Red Cross FRX3+ by Eton -$45.21
It seemed all of the radios above had some really poor reviews, but I figured this is common as all products are going to have some unhappy customers. After reading through reviews of all of the radios, we are choosing the iRonsnow one. It along with the FosPower seemed to have the fewest negative reviews with the least major issues.
As a side note, throughout this series of posts about getting prepared, I may mention certain products, services, agencies, etc. At no time is it my intention to promote a specific product or service or agency. Each is mentioned only for informational purposes. Of course as a government employee, I do receive a salary from the government for the time I work on my job, but I don’t receive any compensation from any commercial entities I mention or include in these posts.