An everyday AM/FM battery powered radio may not be enough to keep your family safe. Once you understand the difference between a radio and an emergency radio you will understand how the difference can be critical to your family's safety. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has recommended an emergency preparedness kit including important items that families should have in the event of an emergency. First and second on the list is water and food, obviously. The third item on the list is an emergency radio. FEMA's definition of emergency radios is a “battery-powered or hand crank radio,” as well as, “an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.” Fortunately, radios are now available with all the necessary emergency features on one receiver.
Using FEMA's definition and recommendations, let's examine what type of emergencies you might be subject to and just what kind of radio you should have in order to be safe. If you live in an area where you could experience sudden dangers, as with the central United States known as tornado alley, then you need a radio that will provide instant information as soon as the National Weather Service broadcasts a warning. You will need a radio that provides S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding) technology which can be programmed to receive emergency weather broadcasts in your specific area, as well as, NOAA weather information with a Weather Alert feature. Both of these features on a radio will automatically turn the radio on, send an alarm through the radio, and provide you with important information you need to have immediately.
Coastal Communities also have an essential need for the right type of emergency radio. Hurricanes are tracked for a number of days before they arrive on land and families generally have time to prepare or leave an area in the path of the storm. In this case you may determine that a weather alert feature isn't as important and decide to settle for a radio that will keep you connected to the weather channels or local broadcasts when you choose to be updated. Severe storms and thunderstorms, although they can be dangerous to life and property, do not equal the urgency of a tornado. However, if you are camping with family or friends you may feel that having a radio with NOAA Weather Alert is important so you can be informed of severe weather, flash flooding, or subsequent dangers in your remote location.
Tornados and hurricanes are two of the most severe of weather emergencies, but these are not the only things you may need to prepare for. Emergency guides suggest that we should be prepared to survive on our own for a minimum of three days following an emergency. So we must, at a minimum, have the capability of receiving local news and weather during this period. In addition to weather emergencies we must also prepare for a local power outage. Power outages can be caused by a storm that went through, the flood that follows, or a minor earthquake that has managed to not only knock-out power, but may have also disrupted emergency services. These are all common events. With electricity out, the radio's power source becomes critical. Many radios have numerous sources of power including not only replaceable batteries and AC adaptors, but hand cranks for recharging batteries and even solar panels. Some radios go even further and have the capability of powering other items, such as your cell phone.
So what kind of radio do you need for survival in an emergency? Knowing what the potential emergencies are in your area will enable you to find a radio equipped with the required features needed to insure your family's safety and survival. Are you prepared?