An emergency radio is a special radio that picks up broadcasts from a network created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to warn citizens of possible emergency situations. If you have one of these radios, you will receive alerts regarding hurricanes, forest fires, tornadoes, chemical leaks, and Amber alerts in your area, as well as any other potential dangers. I’ve developed this guide to help you learn how to choose an emergency radio.
All emergency radios are not created equal. You should do a lot of research and shop around for the best deal before you make a final decision about which radio to purchase. Compare both features and prices to make the best choice.
WHAT ARE THE BEST EMERGENCY RADIOS YOU CAN GET?
This is really a subjective question. The best emergency radio for me may not be the best for you. That’s why you need to educate yourself on all the different types and styles of emergency radios.
As stated above, I prefer one with Alerts. But some people do not care for this feature. Also, some people will only pull their emergency radio out when the lights go out. Others, like myself, have one on all the type in case of alerts from NOAA or The National Weather service.
As for the best quality radios on the market today, in my experience and judging from the hundreds of reviews I’ve read, Midland, C Crane, Sangean, First Alert and Grundig all make quality radios that should give you years of great service.
American Red Cross Radio Review
The American Red Cross has high standards for emergency radios. That’s why I decided to review this emergency radio and see how good it really is.
The FRX3 weather alert radio is made to the American Red Cross’s high standards by the Eton Corporation and is considered by radio-heads (like me) to be one of the best non-specialty weather alert radios available on the market today. AM/FM stations and all seven NOAA stations can be accessed through the FRX3. The radio also has an alert system that issues all emergency weather alerts for your local area. Most importantly, the FRX3 has several power options and can be used to charge other devices, including smartphones.
Midland ER102 Emergency Radio
The Midland ER102 emergency radio is the latest offering from the company. It has some features that I like more so than some other radios. Probably the best thing is that it actually has all my favorite features in one radio! Midland is known for their quality electronics.
They’ve been a leader in the radio industry for decades. Probably best known for their outstand Citizen Band Radios (CB Radios), Midland’s quality shows in the ER102.
It’s one of the few water resistant radios on the market and it carries a 3 year warranty, which a majority of emergency radios on the market don’t.
Midland ER102 Emergency Radio Features
- 3 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty – One of the best in the Industry
- Dynamo Crank to charge the great NiMH battery pack
- Can also be powered with 3 AAA batteries or AC Adapter (which is included unlike the Grundig Emergency Radio)
- Water Resistant Design
- Ability To Recharge Items like Cell Phones through an USB port
- A Clock with Alarm function
- It has all 10 NOAA Weather Bands
- Weather Alert function
First Alert Public Alert Radio
The First Alert Public Alert Radio is a great addition to your emergency preparedness supplies. This radio will monitor the NOAA Weather Radio Band which has 24/7/365 coverage and a 79 civil and severe weather messages. With the S.A.M.E. technology built in, this means you’ll only get the alerts that pertain to your immediate local area, not some place halfway across the State!
From what I can tell, this is the same radio as the Sima WX-200 Emergency Alert Radio. This emergency radio is ideal for your home. It can continuously monitor NOAA and alert you the instant an alert is issued. No matter if it’s 2 a.m. in the morning and your in a deep sleep, this radio will give you a heads up to an impeding emergency.
Features of the First Alert Public Alert Radio
Here are some of the features of the First Alert Public Alert Radio
- Automatically alerts you to a wide variety of severe weather and civil emergencies in your area
- Monitors NOAA weather band day and night, receiving a total of 79 emergency civil and severe weather messages
- Utilizes S.A.M.E. to help you avoid non-local alerts, and is programmable to receive warnings for emergencies specific to your area
- Easy-to-read digital LCD screen shows you time and date, and scrolls through message information during emergencies
- Wall mountable, with a battery back-up for power outages, and a manufacturer’s 90-day warranty
Eton American Red Cross ARCFR160R Emergency Radio
The Eton American Red Cross ARCFR160R is an economical emergency radio that comes with many features built in. It can do a lot of the same things that other emergency radios can do, but in most cases, it does them better. The Eton Microlink FR160R is a AM, FM and NOAA weather radio that comes with a built in flashlight, solar charger and cell phone charger as well. This is a palm sized emergency radio that really packs in the features.
The Eton emergency radio has all the features that one needs in a weather radio. It can be powered several different ways, including a hand crank to charge a built in rechargeable battery, a mini solar panel built in on the top of the unit to keep the batteries charge and it comes with an usb charger so you can charge you cell phone when the power goes out.
The Eton FR160 is constructed ruggedly so you can take it with you wherever you go. Whether you’re camping on the beach or driving cross country, add an extra measure of security by taking your Eton along. The case is designed to protect the analog controls. There are also rubber gaskets and plugs to help keep water out of the unit. This is a huge feature if you happen to be caught out in a storm.
Also when you buy an Eton American Red Cross radio, Eton will donate a portion of the proceeds to help victims of natural disasters around the Country. Now that some serious giving back to the communities.
If you’ve never bought an emergency radio before, it can be a daunting and mind numbing task. It really isn’t that difficult to choose a radio for your family’s needs, as long as you know what to look for. There are several different models available in all price ranges; simply choose the features you think you’re most likely to need. Common sense comes into play with this decision; obviously, if you live in Tornado Alley, you’ll want a model with backup power and a siren to help rescuers find you if you’re trapped in a collapsed building, while a simple camp radio will work if your most likely emergency is a power outage due to winter storms. Here are a few more features to consider when looking to buy an emergency radio:
Look for features such as waterproofing, unbreakable plastic housing, single-piece faceplates, and heavy duty cords in models that have a plug. While a lightweight, portable radio will serve for most purposes, a durable model will ensure that your family can still receive life-saving instructions if the radio is dropped or doused with liquids.
AUTOMATIC MULTI-BAND RECEIVERS
Some models require users to manually switch between regular and emergency receivers. Save yourself the trouble by choosing a model that will automatically kick over to emergency channels when they’re broadcasting. This feature allows users to listen to standard radio broadcasts without worrying that they will miss vital alerts or instructions.
Models with built-in lighting make it easier to locate your radio in the event of a power outage, and provide extra illumination if needed. Emergency lights can be used to signal rescuers, search for victims, or simply to reassure a frightened child. Try to find models with LED lighting; they use less power, and provide glare-free illumination.
ALTERNATIVE AND BACK-UP POWER SOURCES
Your radio will do you no good if it doesn’t work, so always choose a model with a back-up power source. Back-up power sources can be anything from kinetic (hand-cranked) models to solar rechargable batteries. Keep enough extra batteries on hand near your radio to last for at least a week if you can’t afford a radio with a back-up power source.
TOP BRANDS OF EMERGENCY RADIOS
There are several manufacturers that are known to make quality radios at reasonable prices. The most prudent consumer will not rely on a single radio, but have several to be fully prepared for any emergency that may come along. For example, I have two units at home. These are high end units that have the shortwave receivers and one that has a built in CB radio.
In each of our vehicles, we have small inexpensive emergency/weather radio’s. These receive all frequencies of NOAA weather alerts, have multiple lights and/or beacons and a siren as well as am/fm receiver.
If we’re going out of state to camp or on vacation, then I carry a waterproof emergency radio that has all the bells and whistles.
The following makers all put out a reliable and durable emergency radio: Midland, Sangean, C Crane, Fist Alert, Grundig and Eton all make a variety of emergency and/or weather alert radios to meet nearly any situation you might find yourself in.
Some emergency radios feature extra gadgets, such as small TV screens, cigarette lighters, and power outlets to run small appliances. Unless you have a steady power source, these features are essentially worthless in a real emergency. While it may be nice to watch your favorite television show or power your electric razor while waiting for rescue, these features drain battery life, and may lull you into boredom at a time when complacency can be life threatening. Skip the extra fluff unless you really want it. The above features are what you need to look for in an emergency radio!