NOAA Weather Radio

If you live in a tornado prone area, one of the wisest and least expensive things you can do to protect your family is to purchase a “weather radio” These “radios” are available at stores such as Radio Shack, and through the Wind and Weather Catalog. The prices vary from $30 to $80, depending on the model and features. There is even a model to take on a hike, picnic, or when you are in your car, complete with a compass!

Growing up in Florida, I remember my father’s weather radio being on constantly, but new models can be set to be activated only when a severe weather warning is issued. If you know which direction the weather always comes from, you can even preset which “stations” you want to receive(SAME, or Specific Area Message Encoding). And there is battery back-up, of course. When the weather radio is activated, a loud alarm sounds to catch your attention, even if you are sleeping.

In determining whether or not a NOAA radio would be a good investment for your family, ask yourself these questions. There are no right or wrong answers here, but your answers may help you decide whether you should make the purchase.

  1. Do I watch or listen to a morning and/or evening weather forecast every day?
  2. Am I aware of the weather or do I tend to ignore what is going on outside because I am wrapped up in my own activities?
  3. Am I more likely to change my schedule for outdoor activities if the weather looks stormy, or do I always stick to my original plans, whatever the weather?
  4. Do I always have a regular radio on during stormy weather?
  5. Does that radio use local programming or a pre-programmed music package?
  6. Do I always have a television set on during stormy weather, tuned to a local channel?
  7. Or does the television signal come off of a cable, satellite dish, or DSS from a remote city?
  8. Do I live in an area that can get NOAA weather radio? (Check this site to find out.)

Given the cost of shelters, not everyone can afford or even NEED a shelter. If your home has a basement and a sturdy stairwell going to it, that will most likely be completely adequate. Remember, the risk from tornadoes is incredibly low. But if the answers to those questions tell you that you are not a “severe weather aware” as you feel you should be, a weather radio may provide you with some peace of mind, and in the unlikely event that a tornado does strike your area, a few minutes extra warning time. And if you live in a trailer, a home constructed of unmortared concrete blocks, or sitting on blocks rather than bolted to a slab or foundation, it may make the difference between life and death.

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