What to Look for in an Emergency Radio?

Written by TheReadyExpert

Finding the right emergency radio for your needs will depend on the type of situations that you might find yourself in. Communication during a disaster is critical for your survival. Getting timely, accurate information from local authorities will more than likely come through either your radio or TV. Here are some items to consider when deciding on what type of emergency radio to purchase:

  • Start with a dependable AM/FM radio – It is easy to go overboard with your purchase of an emergency radio. While some of the other options on a radio might be useful, make sure that you have access to a reliable AM/FM radio. Most emergency broadcasts are going to happen on those readily available frequencies. Make sure that the radio has a tuner on it not just a scanner. Don’t get a “scan” FM
    radio. You want to make sure that you can pick up even the weakest signal and to do that you will need to have a tuner on your radio and
    not just a scan radio that stops only on a strong signal.
  • Multi-band radios A multi-band radio includes AM/FM, shortwave frequencies, TV channels and NOAA weather bands. These types
    of radios can help you receive signals from greater distances. Shortwave radios are especially helpful if the disaster is spread out over a large area and local radio towers are knocked out. This will help you get information outside of the disaster zone. If you can afford it, I would recommend having a multi-band radio on hand. Keep in mind that radios that currently receive UHF/VHF TV channels will longer
    work after the switch to digital TV in the summer of 2009.
  • Dynamo, Hand crank and solar – Make sure that your emergency radio can be powered in multiple ways. The most important feature is that the radio has a dynamo or hand crank feature. This will allow you to use the radio when you don’t have electricity or battery power. That will be critical in a disaster where power and batteries may not be readily available. Remember that radios use very little power so a little bit of cranking goes a long way.
  • A caution about solar radios – Solar radios (and everything else for that matter) sounds great, but just a bit of caution. You will need time to charge the radio if you are only using solar power. Anywhere from 5-10 hours to charge the radio. You may not have that kind of time. Also, you can’t charge them in cloudy weather or in the dark. Solar radios require you to plan ahead and you may not have that luxury in a disaster.
  • NOAA radios – If you live in an area that experiences severe weather, then you should have a NOAA radio somewhere in your emergency supplies. Hurricanes, tornados, flash floods and blizzards are some of the weather that you will want to receive regular alerts on through your NOAA radio.

Listed below are some of the radios with their various features that are offered at www.TheReadyStore.com:

DELUXE Dynamo Solar Powered Multiband Radio

Frequency Reception: AM/FM, Shortwave, Weather Radio (NWR)NOAA Weather (NWR)

Power/Fuel Source: Dynamo/Crank, Solar, Battery, AC/DC Adaptor, Cigarette Lighter

Light Source: L.E.D.

Battery Life: 48 hours

ULTIMATE Dynamo Solar Powered Survival Radio

Features & Functions: Light, Reading Lamp, Radio Receiver, Siren, Cell Phone Charger, Blinking Light, Headphone Jack

Power/Fuel Source: Dynamo/Crank, Solar, Battery, AC/DC Adaptor, Computer USB Light Source: L.E.D.

Frequency Reception: AM/FM, Shortwave, Weather Radio (NWR)NOAA Weather (NWR) Battery Life: 12 hours

Now if you just would like to pick up a AM/FM radio and you don’t think you really need a multi band radio then there are a few good options plus most of them do come with additional options (flashlight, Dynamo/Crank, Solar) and to not have to worry about tracking down batteries or worried if they have leaked battery acid can bring a peace at mind.

Digital Pocket Radio – AM/FM

Features & Functions: Radio Receiver

Power/Fuel Source: Battery

Frequency Reception: AM/FM

Solar/Dynamo Radio with Flashlight – AM/FM

Features & Functions: Light, Radio Receiver, Siren, Blinking Light,
Headphone Jack Power/Fuel Source: Dynamo/Crank, Solar, Battery, AC/DC
Adaptor

Light Source: Incandescent

Frequency Reception: AM/FM

Compact Dynamo Radio with LED Flashlight – AM/FM

Features & Functions: Light, Radio Receiver

Power/Fuel Source: Dynamo/Crank, Battery, AC/DC Adaptor

Light Source: L.E.D. Frequency Reception: AM/FM

Updated March 24, 2009

4 Comments

  1. John wrote:

    Be careful when assuming that you will be able to listen to TV audio on your emergency radio, just because the specifications say it receives that signal band. When the TV stations switch to all digital transmission in June, these emergency radios will no longer be able to process the TV audio signals. I’ve seen no emergency radios advertised that can handle the digital signals that will be broadcast after June.

    In addition, I’m having a hard time finding a battery-operated digital TV (ATSC tuner) to replace the current analog portable TV I keep for emergency use. There are a lot of small digital TVs that can be run on 12VDC, but none of the ones I’ve seen are equivalent to my analog portable TV — that is, powered off self-contained D-cell battteries. There are units that run off batteries (notably 10 AA cells, but also self-contained rechargable batteries,) but their run time is severely limited (on the order of 2-4 hours.) Not sufficient, in my estimation, to rely on for emergency use.

    I’ve seen recommendations to use a USB-connected ASTC tuner device with a laptop computer as an emergency TV set, but, again, most laptop batteries are good for no more than about 4-5 hours of use, and are difficult to recharge in an extended power-out emergency.

    April 2nd, 2009 at 1:06 pm
  2. TheReadyExpert wrote:

    Very good points and exactly right. Once broadcasters are required to broadcast only a digital signal the analog TV tuners on emergency radios and emergency TVs won’t pick up the signal. I have not seen any emergency radios at this time that are either an extended use battery operated TV or even a dynamo radio that will receive these new digital TV broadcasts. If you have some links to where those devices can be purchased, can you pass those along so the blog readers can check them out? Thanks!

    April 2nd, 2009 at 1:16 pm
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    June 4th, 2010 at 5:36 am
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