No home should be without an NOAA emergency weather radio. NOAA Weather Radio, also called NWR, uses a network of more than 980 transmitters to alert the public about approaching or imminent serious weather threats.
National Weather Radio is a public service provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NOAA was started in 1970 by combining several different weather services.
Emergency weather radios are designed to receive regular NWR weather broadcasts. Many also have an alert function that will sound an alarm when dangerous weather is approaching. There are two levels for the alerts. A watch alerts you when a potential severe weather problem is approaching your area. A warning is sent when severe weather is imminent and you need to immediately seek shelter and take steps to protect our family.
There are seven frequencies used as part of the NWR broadcast band. Different areas of the country use a different frequency. Sometimes you can receive weather alerts on more than one frequency in your area.
The following frequencies are used: 162.400 MHz, 162.425 MHz, 162.450 MHz, 162.475 MHz, 162.500 MHz, 162.525 MHz, 162.550 MHz.
You can consult a list of NWR frequencies for each state to determine which are available in your area.
Which features should I look for?
- It is important to select a radio that receives all seven frequencies. Some of the very cheap models only receive one and may not have a strong receiver.
- If you live in an area with frequent tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or other disastrous weather, you may want to look for a model with an alert function. Not all models have this function. If you plan to leave the radio turned on in your home to alert you about approaching weather, make sure that you select a model that runs on AC or has an AC adapter available.
- Most weather radios include AM/FM radio bands. These can be important so that you can receive local news and weather information and instructions in times of emergency.
- If you are looking for a portable weather radio that you can take with you when hiking or camping, it might be a good idea to look for a model that can be powered using a hand-crank dynamo to charge on-board batteries. Because you are dealing with an emergency radio, a hand-crank charging feature is common. Some of the newer emergency weather radios can also be charged using a built-in solar array.
- One additional nice feature found on some models is shortwave radio bands. While this feature is not needed for an emergency radio, it is a nice feature if you want to monitor issues around the world.
Most electronics stores sell a few NOAA weather radios. While they are made by a range of manufacturers, one of the leading emergency radio manufacturers is Eton, which makes a range of emergency radios under the American Red Cross and Grundig brand names.