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Thursday, September 4, 2008

National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #1: NOAA Radio

If I’m going to prepare for an emergency, I want to prepare for one of the worst case scenarios – no power. This means no TV, no computer, eventually no laptop, possibly no phone, and eventually no cell phone. In an emergency, it will be very important to have communication with the outside world to stay informed of valuable information.

Homeland Security recommends an NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio. This type radio needs to be a combination of plug-in/battery operated type with a hand crank feature. Radios that have specific area message encoding (SAME) technology alert you when weather threats are specific to your area. This means that if there is an eminent or present disaster in your area, a tone will sound to alert you of danger.

The National Weather Service will continuously update emergency and disaster information. This information is available 24/7, repeating pertinent information every four to six minutes.

You will want to print a list of your
local SAME codes where you can find broadcast information for your locality. Keep this list with your radio in your emergency kit. The National Weather Service states:

NWR service to a county depends on reliable signal reception, which typically extends in about a 40 mile radius from the transmitter, assuming level terrain. Counties without NWR coverage or partial NWR coverage will be so indicated. Some counties or parts thereof, especially in mountainous areas, that are listed as having NWR coverage, may not have reliable reception in some locations due to signal blockages and/or excessive distance from the transmitter.”

Where to find such radios?

I got my radio at Best Buy. I went to Best Buy’s website, and typed in NOAA radio onto the search window. I found five radios ranging from $39.99 to $69.99, one which is available online only. I could have ordered online to pick up the radio. But I wanted to go into the store to see the radios.

When I selected a radio on the website, Best Buy’s website showed me which stores in my area carried that radio. However, when I went to the store, I didn’t find the radio I wanted. I found one that I thought had the same qualities as the one I wanted – plug-in and battery operated, as well as a crank feature. I also wanted a cell phone charging feature.

When I got my radio home, however, I found that it didn’t have a plug-in feature – only battery and crank features and the capability of charging my cell phone. I took it back to try to find an AC adapter. They couldn’t find one that fit. In the process, I met Rick, who confessed he was obsessed with these types of radios - just the kind of person I wanted to talk to! He pointed out to me that my Red Cross radio wasn’t even an NOAA radio – the whole reason why I wanted the radio – to be able to hear the emergency alerts!! I am organized, but obviously not a technical whiz at times.

I did end up buying an Eton Red Cross radio for $59.99, but it was clearly marked with NOAA on the cover, has an AC adapter included, battery options and a crank. In my package was a post card that instructed me to send it in or email the company to receive my phone adapter tip and charging cord for my particular cell phone.

In researching this blog, I’ve found that Radio Shack has pages of weather radios, also. I found one that is reasonably priced with both plug-in and battery options as well as a crank option. It also has a USB cord that allows you to charge electronic devices, such as cell phones. The
Midland ER-102 Emergency Crank Radio with Weather Channels is only available from the web, though, and costs $49.99.

By searching for NOAA radios on your computer, I’m sure you can find other providers as well. Make sure to get extra batteries that fit your radio and store them with your radio.

Of course, you could always get a generator. Prices start at several hundred dollars and go up into the thousands. I think if I lived in a hurricane-prone area, I would consider it!

Resource: National Preparedness Month, NOAA’s National Weather Service.

How do you prepare for emergencies?

Related Posts: National Preparedness Month - Making a Plan, National Preparedness Month - Determining Potential Emergencies

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Related Posts: Celebration Giveaways September 2-9, 2008!, Celebration Giveaway #1 and More Giveaways!, Celebration Giveaway #2 and Another Giveaway!