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.
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)
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!
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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?”
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.
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