…Just for the record, I do not own the featured image on this page. It is property of the United States Government…
It’s no secret, we are at the height of Tornado Season (at least as I am writing this in May of 2017.)
This particular Tornado Season seems to be an active one.
This piece will be about how one can be better prepared (or at least better informed) about tornadoes and other forms of disaster both natural and man made.
What if I told you there was a FREE source of current weather information, updated at least hourly available to the American Public?
When I mean free, I mean no subscription fees whatsoever. All one has to do is buy the receiving equipment and of course pay for the power source, be it line current or batteries. A receiver generally costs between $10 and $50, depending on what features are offered.
This service by the way is known as the National Weather Service NOAA Weather Radio. It is a government funded network of radio stations broadcasting local and regional weather related information to their assigned, respective areas. Weather reports are given around the clock and when a weather emergency arises, descriptions of it are sent out over the station or stations covering the area pertaining to the emergency (more on that in a bit.)
Those of you who know me well know that I frequently use a weather radio. I’ve been using one on and off since the age of 14. I keep one on standby near my bed and another on standby next to my computer. I also carry a pocket sized model in my EDC backpack.
So why invest in a weather radio or two? I mean, your computer, your smartphone, your television and your terrestrial broadcast radio can all alert you for any type of emergency, right?
Yes and no.
You have to be near your computer and your Internet and electricity must be on in order to be able to get any information. Will those conditions be guaranteed if severe weather threatens?
Your smartphone MUST have a service signal or at least WiFi in order to get its information and while all newer cell phones do indeed automatically give their users, free instant severe weather information, they still depend on getting that signal from the service provider. What if the cell tower loses power and backup power or just gets knocked down?
Your television must be turned on and properly tuned to a cable, IP, satellite or broadcast service in order to receive information. Cable and fiber optic lines get ripped up in severe weather, rain hinders satellite signals and lightning interferes with over the air broadcast television. Not to mention most televisions need line current to function.
Your broadcast radio can and will give you free weather information, but won’t give constant weather information. Also, while lots of models can be easily run on batteries, very few, if any, last for that long. What if you are trying to sleep but know that severe weather may be threatening overnight?
So even with all of these alternatives means of getting weather information, I am fully convinced that a weather radio is necessary at least for backup weather information.
A higher end weather radio can be set to stay quiet until an emergency occurs for the parish or county it is programmed to receive alerts for and ignore all the rest.
This is a feature known as “Specific Area Message Encoding” or “SAME.”
Every Parish and County in the United States has a FIPS code. All one has to do is when initially programming his or her weather radio is to enter the corresponding FIPS Code for his or her own Parish, County or other administrative subdivision into the newly acquired weather radio.
This way you can be sleeping but if a tornado is detected in your parish or county, your weather radio will wake you up and let you know.
Weather Radios mostly run off line current, but also have a battery backup. This makes them highly reliable. In fact the only way a weather radio will not be reliable is if the station broadcasting the weather information goes down (which happens but is rare.) Well that or an EMP blast, but if that happened the weather would be the least of our concerns.
Not all weather radios have the stand by feature and not all of them can be programmed for your Parish or County. BUT most of the mid range and higher end models do. AND Any model that is “Public Alert Certified” also does. These cost around $30 and up.
The pocket sized lower end models, while still very useful are only meant more for travel and/or outdoor use or for monitoring severe weather situations as they are in progress from your safe room. These cost between $10 and $30.
There are even other models which can be powered by crank dynamo or solar panel, which are really useful in the aftermath of a hurricane or tornado and the line current is still disrupted and stores are out of batteries. Depending on the features these may as cheap as $20 or as much as over $100.
Weather radios can be purchased at your local electronics dealer, drug store, discount outlet, bargain warehouse and even in some cases your grocer. There are also many other online retailers that carry weather radio
I hope I have been at least helpful…