A portable weather radio can be indispensable for staying up-to-date on weather alerts and emergencies in your area.
The right radio can keep you informed and may even help you stay safer in all types of conditions.
Learn all about weather radios, including why you might need one and what features to look for, in this ultimate guide.
3 Reasons to Get a Portable Weather Radio
A weather radio can be a life-saver in many situations, especially if you’re on-the-go or without power. Here are some other key reasons to get one.
1. You Live in an Area Prone to Severe Storms
If you live in an area that’s regularly hit with severe storms like hurricanes, tornadoes, or strong thunderstorms, a weather radio could be your new best friend. These radios scan special radio networks that the government broadcasts – in the U.S., that’s the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Weather alert radios stay silent unless an alert or emergency is detected in your area. Other types of radios stay on continually and only turn off when you shut off the power.
Alert radios warn you well in advance of severe conditions and can help you act quickly to move to shelter.
2. They’re Dependable in Power Outages
Unlike your mobile phone, your TV, or your computer, portable radios don’t need to be connected to power to work. This can be a huge plus during power outages.
If your phone battery is running low, for instance, you can conserve the battery and stay updated on conditions with your weather radio instead.
3. You Can Take Them Anywhere You Go
Weather radios are perfect for travelers, explorers, and hikers.
In the great outdoors, it’s essential to stay on top of weather conditions to stay safe. A portable radio is powered by either rechargeable batteries or a hand-crank, so you can rely on it for information anytime, any place.
Plus, these radios are small enough to tuck into your bag or backpack. These days, they’re made so small and lightweight, it won’t add any girth to your pack when you’re heading out on the trail.
The 5 Features a Good Midland Weather Alert Radio Needs to Have
Check for these features to get the best portable weather radio you can buy.
1. An Alarm You Can Hear
Your radio’s purpose is to alert you to severe weather or emergency conditions, so if you can’t hear the alert, it’s pretty much useless.
If you’re out hiking or traveling in a remote area, the alert should be loud enough to hear even if it’s buried in your pack or across a clearing.
2. Specific Alert Message Encoding (SAME)
Unless you want to be woken up in the middle of the night by an alert that doesn’t apply to your area, your weather radio needs to have SAME technology. This means you’ll only receive alerts that affect your geographic region.
3. Selective Alerts and Blocking
Portable radios will warn you about any weather event, but lots have the option to block alerts that aren’t life-threatening. If you only want to be alerted to the major severe storms, and not every single hard rain or high wind, you need your radio to have this capability.
4. Public Alert Certification
If you can, you should get a radio that has a Public Alert Certification. This means the device meets or exceeds NOAA-created standards for ease-of-use and performance. In general, it’s basically a seal of approval that lets you know that the device is trustworthy.
5. More Than One Power Source Option
Because you may be depending on your weather radio in all sorts of situations, it needs to have more than one power source for ultimate usability.
For instance, if the main power is obtained through charging with an AC adaptor, it should also have a backup power source such as a hand-crank or solar power. This ensures that the radio will always have power whenever you need it, especially during prolonged power outages.
How to Choose the Best Pocket Radio
The best pocket radio for you will have the essential features you need, the right size for portability, and a reputation for superior performance. All of this will be balanced with a price you can afford.
To help you find your best option, make a list of the above features that you can’t live without. Start your search online and check out weather radio reviews from reputable sources like Consumer Reports. Filter your search based on features and research each model that stands out to you.
Once you find your perfect weather radio, you’ll discover that it’s an essential travel companion. Keep it with you on all your hikes, travels, and explorations, and you’ll get extra peace of mind knowing the weather won’t be able to pull any punches or surprises.