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Fast Track Tip #11: Be Informed With NOAA Weather Radio

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Fast Track Tip #11: Be Informed With NOAA Weather Radio

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Severe weather occurs far more frequently than most folks realize.  As a matter of fact, it is a severe weather event that prompts many folks to begin their preparedness journey.

In the United States, the five most dangerous weather events are tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, floods and winter storms.  Each of these weather events can leave you without power, and without access to food, clean water, and supplies to make it through the days and sometimes weeks until things return to normal.

Although nothing can be done to stop the force of nature, you can stay informed and in touch with current weather conditions.  Today Backdoor Survival Contributing Author Rob Hanus is back with us to help you be informed with NOAA Weather Radio.

Be Informed with NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA Weather Radio

What if I told you that there was a radio service out there whose sole purpose was to bring the weather conditions to you, 24 hours a day? And that this service monitors the weather in your area alerts you anytime there was severe weather in your area? And what if I told you that this service is provided by one of the best weather forecasting services in the world, and you could get this premium service for free?

Despite sounding like one of those cheesy late-night infomercials, the above description is true. It’s the NOAA Weather Radio service. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, broadcasts weather reports, current conditions, and watches and warnings for your area, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can pick up these broadcasts on receivers that are designed to tune into these weather radio frequencies. You can play the broadcast by simply pressing a button on the radio, but they can also be set up to quietly listen to the broadcast for emergency information. When the radio detects there is an emergency broadcast, it un-mutes the speaker so you can hear it.

This makes it very convenient to monitor changing weather conditions without having to be glued to the TV or radio, as the weather radio will come on any time there’s something you need to know.

The weather radio frequencies are:  162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525, 162.550

Generally, you don’t need to know what these frequencies are, as weather radios already have them programmed into them. However, if you wanted to pick up the station on your VHF Ham radio or scanner, you might have to dial in the frequency.

In addition to weather information, by working with the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Alert System, these radios become an “all hazards” information radio. Some of these hazards include:

Natural disaster events (such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes)

Technological disaster events (such as chemical release, oil spill, nuclear power plant emergencies, maritime accidents, train derailments)

AMBER alerts

Terrorist attacks

This addition of alerts for hazards other than weather events, makes the NOAA Weather Radio one of the better sources to get information on disasters and hazards occurring or potentially occurring in your area.

While any FM receiver that can tune into the frequencies listed above can hear the weather broadcast, there are radios that can be programmed to only alert you for hazards in your area. These radios will have SAME, or Specific Alert Message Encoding technology that allows these radios to be set up for only the area you want to be alerted to. Depending on your location, you may want to program the radio to alert you to several areas.

A simple, basic weather radio can be set to turn on for all hazards, which is fine if you want to be alerted for everything. Chances are, though, that you will quickly grow tired of getting woken up in the middle of the night for a flood advisory in a different area. This is when the SAME programming becomes useful to the listener.

You can find out more information about NOAA Weather Radio, including coverage maps, SAME coding, what to look for in a radio and where to buy them, on the this National Weather Service NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards website.

There’s also a very good PDF that contains useful information on the alert radio that you can send to a friend or family member when trying to get them to get one of these radios: NOAA Weather Radio …the voice of the National Weather Service.

Years ago, the NOAA Weather Radio was a good source of information on weather-related events, but with the addition of the Emergency Alert System, it truly is an All Hazards Radio Alert System.  Put one on your nightstand and sleep more soundly, knowing that it’s quietly listening for hazards in your area and will alert you if there’s a dangerous event you need to know about.

Tips for Selecting an NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA weather radios come in many sizes and have a variety of different features.

Some weather radios are equipped with a special tone feature, which can sound an alert and give households immediate information about potentially life-threatening situations. During an emergency, the National Weather Service will interrupt routine weather radio programming and send out a special tone that activates weather radios in the warning area.

Note that a good NOAA Weather Radio will be able to operate on batteries and that many will have an internal battery that can be charged by a crank handle or by solar power. These features may be more important than an AC adapter although having an AC adapter handy.

The Final Word

Like a broken record, I want to remind you that the very first step to becoming weather-ready is to evaluate the storm risks inherent to your geographical location.  Learn about the types of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could potentially impact you, your family, and your home.  If you are new to an area, the city, county or state government will be able to assist you in this risk assessment.

When a storm is brewing and during the storm, check weather forecasts frequently.  Most importantly, get to know your NOAA weather radio by using it regularly.  Familiarize yourself with its settings and if necessary, create a cheat sheet to that every family member will be able to use it.

Keep this in mind:  every state in the United States has experienced tornadoes and severe weather at one time or another  No single location is immune.  Make an NOAA weather radio part of your preps.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!

In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Spotlight:  From BDS contributor, Rob Hanus, The Preparedness Capability Checklist succeeds where other survival lists fail. You won’t find outdated or useless equipment here. Instead, the checklists in this book focus on the capabilities you need to do in order to survive any number of disasters or crisis events. With this book, you can actually answer the question, “Am I prepared?”

Fast Track Tip #10: 8 Uncommon First Aid Items | Backdoor Survival

Bargain Bin: Below you will find links to items related to today’s article.

Ambient Weather WR-112-AC-KIT Emergency Solar Hand Crank Weather Alert Radio, Flashlight, Smart Phone Charger, Siren with AC Adaptor:  This compact sized radio includes a myriad of standard features plus an emergency siren, SOS flashing light, and a power outage flashing beacon.  It has a five-way charger:  charge from a USB device (computer), AC or wall power (included), DC or car charger (with optional converter), hand crank, or solar panel. This is currently my top pick when it comes to all-around emergency radio.

Uniden Handheld Scanner – Black (BC75XLT):  A hand scanner with ham band that is very portable. This one runs on 2 AA alkaline or rechargeable batteries that can be recharged while in the scanner.

Pofung UV-5R Ham Two Way Radio: Redundancy is the name of the game.  I also have two of these inexpensive HAM radios.  Keep in mind that if you are just planning to listen, you do not need a license (I am still working on mine).  The price is right.  Also, consider the NAGOYA Antenna for BAOFENG UV-5R  and the USB Programming Cable for Baofeng UV-5R UV-3R+. Note: the Pofung was formerly known as the Baofeng UV-5R).

Coleman Mini Lantern:  You already know that I have a thing about flashlights but this is a slightly different take on portable lighting.  It is 7.5 inches tall lantern and weighs just seven ounces, including batteries.  And boy does it give off light.

Coghlan’s Waterproof Matches 10-pack: That is a good deal for 400 waterproof matches.

Chemical Light Sticks: Pick your size (length) and pick your color. Just be aware that if the color does not matter, some colors are cheaper than others. Be sure to read Lighting Your Way With Chemical Lighting.

Dorcy LED Wireless Motion Sensor Flood Lite: Don’t let the price lead you to think this wireless flood light is wimpy. I have two of these (so far) and feel that these lights are worth double the price.

Coleman Rugged Battery Powered Lantern: This sturdy Coleman has a runtime of up to 28 hours on the low setting and 18 hours on the high setting but does require D cell batteries. Personally, I have both a battery operated and propane lantern. Of course, by now you know that I like redundancy with my preps.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


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10 Responses to “Fast Track Tip #11: Be Informed With NOAA Weather Radio”

  1. It does appear that the American’s *need* their half-price televisions. Certainly not worthy of lining up in a crowd or getting in a physical fight over one…

  2. Thanks, Gaya, for sharing such an informative post.I have Midland WR120 Weather Radio, it works fine. It has the SAME technology and it has monitor comprehensively covers 7 channels aired on the NOAA.

  3. I have the Voyager Pro radio and I find it difficult to use. It does not have clear signals and the instruction book is a nightmare.
    I would appreciate any advice anyone has on using this model.
    Thank you!

    • Annie – I do not have that model so I can’t help. I do have the Voyager V1 with is very simple and very basic and even with that, I had Shelly create a cheat sheet for me. (Note, the model I have does not include a weather band.)

      My suggestion is to check out various forums on the internet. Search for “Voyager Pro Help”.

  4. Thank you, Gaye, for a great reminder. I didn’t see any specific recommendations for weather radios. I do seem to remember an article where a relied-upon radio failed and we hope to avoid that. Any opinions on which to add or avoid?
    Thank you so much.

    • You are correct in that my first Kaito Voyager KA500 failed. In hindsight, I believe that happened because I jerry-rigged an AC adapter. I currently have a smaller, more compact Voyager V1 emergency radio but it does not have a weather band. We currently use a VHF marine radio for weather alerts and in a pinch, could use our Baofeng HAM radios.

      I purposely did not single out a specific weather radio in the article because I did not want this to be a sales pitch or gear review. Instead, the intent was more educational. That said, I did place an order for the Ambient Weather WR-112-AC-KIT mentioned in the bargain bin. I read the reviews and did quite a bit of research and feel that this is a good product given the price point.

  5. Great post Gaye. For the Pofung is there extra programming one needs to do for this radio or does it come pretty well set up? I notice you suggested teh USB programming cable ……. I’ve read a lot of articles on the chalenging learning curve for programming these radios but those were about the Baofeng. Just curious if this is pretty much a plug and play item. I got my Ham Technicians license years back – pretty much forgot a good bit of it though 🙂

    • The Pofung is an updated version of the Baofeng. For all intents and purposes, the units are the same give or take a few features. Programming is a challenge but once I figured out how to download and install the CHIRP software, I connected my Baofeng to my computer with the USB cable and was good to go relative to the programming.

      Because I (still) do not have my license, I was a bit blind during the programming process and have set the units aside until I have a better understanding of what I am doing. For you, it should be a breeze! I just wish that someone close by could come on over and show me the ropes, hand-on.

    • Gaye, You need to network with some of the locals (hams that is.) In my area, their are a few active groups. Most hams are happy to help an interested learner. Find a group, I would be shocked if you are not warmly welcomed. My regards….

    • Forgot to mention, how to find them. Google it! Of course. Just look for amateur radio groups in ——— (your location). Or contact the ARRL.

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