8 Reasons You Need an Emergency Radio
In case you needed reminding, 2017 was a rough year. From Hurricanes Irma and Harvey to the fires in California, to the blizzards in the North East, it was a year-long reminder that bad things do happen.
That doesn’t mean you should live in constant fear, however. If you prepare for the worst now, it won’t feel so overwhelming if/when the worst was to come.
One of most important preparedness kit items is an emergency radio. We’re giving you eight reasons you need one below.
1. Emergency Radio Weather Alerts
Every so often you’ll hear a blaring alarm on the radio, followed by “this is a warning systems test”. These semi-jarring tests are the National Weather Services way of making sure they can reach the public in an emergency.
But what if your radio device at home is plugged into the wall and the power goes out? How will you know if you need to stay put or evacuate then? Save precious phone battery by using a crank-charged radio.
In the case of a severe emergency where phone lines are down, radios usually still work. That’s because the radio waves that carry information travel farther (though slower) than the LTE waves mobile phones use.
2. Some are SAME Enabled
When the National Weather Service issues radio alerts, they do so by alerting entire counties. It can be anxiety-inducing and confusing for people in large counties to get one blanket weather warning. After getting feedback from people in those counties, the National Weather Service created SAME codes.
SAME codes are essentially counties within counties, almost like ZIP codes. If you have a SAME-Enabled emergency radio, you can program in your six digits SAME code for localized weather alerts.
To find your closest SAME code, click your state and find your county. If you have a label maker, paste your SAME code on your emergency radio so it’s accessible in a crisis.
We recommend you still listen to the county-wide alert system as well as your SAME code, for maximum safety information.
3. They Keep Phone Lines Open
During and after an emergency, authorities receive a barrage of phone calls from victims requesting help. Using a radio to gather information instead of your phone leaves cellular networks open for first responders to reach and help more victims.
If you’re trying to contact family or friends during a weather crisis, keep calls quick and information-packed. If you’re having trouble getting calls through, authorities recommend sending texts or waiting 10 seconds before redialing a call.
For maximum preparedness, write the numbers for local emergency services on or by your emergency radio. If you were to need them, you won’t have to spend precious time and cellular network space googling!
4. You Want to Charge Other Devices
Although it’s important to leave phone lines open, you’ll want your phone charged just in case. Some Emergency radios have the ability to share their power and charge other devices via USB ports.
If you have small children who need entertainment, a USB-charging radio will keep their gaming devices charged and their minds off the stress of the situation.
Since most emergency radios are crank powered, it would be difficult to constantly charge electronic devices (though it works in a pinch). We suggest charging and packing portable USB batteries in your emergency pack.
5. They Provide Entertainment
Kids aren’t the only ones who need a distraction during a crisis. Adults and parents do too! Radio stations understand this and do their best to keep content going throughout an emergency.
It may seem trivial, but when you’re cooped up in a closet under the stairs, your favorite song (or anything other than the sounds of the howling wind) go a long way.
6. Emergency Light Sources
While you’ll want to have flashlights and extra batteries packed in your emergency kit, most radios have a LED light option. Before you buy, check how the crank time to power ratio on the emergency radio.
Modern high-quality radios can get ten minutes of power from just 10 seconds of cranking, but it varies per model. Make sure the crank to time ratio is appropriate for the radio’s user. You don’t want to flare up grandpa’s arthritis during a crisis!
7. They’re Portable
On a lighter note, emergency radios are great items to have camping or backpacking. They’re lightweight and designed to work off the grid.
While it’s unlikely that you’ll get a radio station deep on a backpacking trail, you can use the flashlight for midnight trips to the designated bathroom station.
8. Some are Walkie Talkies
If you’re willing to pay the big bucks, some emergency radios come with walkie-talkie capabilities. These communication channels range over a few hundred yards and allow you to tap into emergency communication channels.
If phone lines are down you can use these channels to help authorities find you. Call your local authority’s NON-emergency line to find the best way to contact them via radio in your area.
In an event when the authorities can’t reach you, these radios can help you connect with other survivors in the area. To find someone else, reach out over public channels periodically and consistently.
Now that you have eight reasons to buy an emergency radio, what are you waiting for? They’re the perfect addition to your “Oh shoot” kit and they don’t take up that much room.
Make sure you pack water-proof information about emergency authorities with your radio for easy access.
Not sure which radio to buy? You’re not alone. We have guides to help you choose a unit, along with advice on how to use them.
Buy a radio we reviewed or know a survival tip that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!