It was time… time to update my analog radio to a digital preparedness radio. What is a preparedness radio? A preparedness radio is a radio that gets the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) stations also known as emergency weather stations. It also should have multiple power source options. Preparedness radios also come with a variety of other features. Below is a list of features that I look for an in good preparedness radio. You’ll also find a comparison of a basic and loaded preparedness radio. Lastly, in this article is a little information about NOAA weather band radio stations.
What Makes a Good Preparedness Radio?
Ok, so I had a perfectly good preparedness radio. The truth is that I wanted a second radio just in case the first one broke. My first radio is a Kaito Voyager Trek. It’s a compact radio perfect for an emergency kit. It has the basic preparedness radio features:
- Gets NOAA, FM, and AM stations
- Alert capabilities
- Hand crank, solar, battery, and USB powered options
- Earbud jack for private listening
Even though it’s a good radio there were a few upgrades I wanted to make it the best emergency radio:
- Digital radio – It’s easier to locate a radio station when you can read the exact station you are on. Digital radios also have advanced tech that tends to get better reception than analog radios.
- Memory settings – I don’t want to search for radio stations in an emergency. I’d rather flip quickly between news channels.
- At least a 2000 mAh rechargeable battery – This allows me to charge my smartphone using the radio. Most smartphones are 2000 – 3000 mAh.
- Signaling for help features – I go on hiking trips on occasion. It would be helpful to have features that signal for help if I get lost.
- Battery life indicator – It’s helpful to know when the battery is nearing empty so I can conserve battery life or recharge it.
Comparison: Midland ER310 & Kaito Voyager Trek
As you can see from the pictures I purchased the Midland ER310 for the upgrades that I wanted. It’s nice to see the digital frequency so I know I’m on the right station. This Midland doesn’t technically have a memory settings feature. However, there is one button that switches quickly between NOAA, FM, and AM. As long as the battery doesn’t die, it will stay on the last station I was on in each of the three bands. For example, I can toggle between three set stations of my choosing as long as they are on the three different bands (NOAA 162.550, FM 101.1, AM 590). These are news radio stations that I found on Radio Locator. There’s a battery life indicator to know when to recharge the battery. It’s most unique feature is the dog whistle that can help search and rescue teams locate you. The flashlight has multiple settings one of which flashes SOS.
Frugal Preparedness Radio
There are NOAA weather apps and local news apps that are free to download on smartphones. Some of these apps provide weather warnings. Please note that internet and cell service might be interrupted during extreme weather so a radio is best. These apps can be a helpful addition to your emergency preps or a way to get started.
NOAA Active Weather Alerts
What is NOAA weather radio? It’s a radio that can tune-in to at least one of the seven NOAA radio stations. Just flip through the seven channels to see which is the stronger signal in your area. When you get a clear signal you’ll hear a recorded voice listing the weather forecast and temperature in your county and surrounding areas. It also broadcasts the date and time. Newer preparedness radios can be programmed to alert you if extreme weather is headed for your door.
Turning on the NOAA alert on is fairly simple on these two models. First, find the NOAA frequency that works in your area by scrolling through the seven channels until you hear the weather. Next, on the analog radio, you’ll switch the button from FM or NOAA to ALERT. On the digital radio, you’ll just push the WX ALERT button until you see WX come up on the screen. The weather station tests the alert system so you may not have long to wait (a week or so) until the alert goes off.
NOAA Active Alert Maps:
The seven NOAA radio stations:
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