Updated: May 23, 2021
The best emergency radio evolved from one of the oldest forms of media used to entertain and inform with music, weather, and news.
In fact, the radio was the first and only piece of technology capable of communicating in real-time to mass audiences. And even with the advancement in how we consume information and stay informed, the radio still has an important play in most people’s lives.
In fact, the radio has easily absorbed many of the technological advances, making it even more powerful, useful, and versatile than ever.
Survival Tips: 7 Top Features of the Best Emergency Radio
It is expected that every family, especially those who are facing the potential for a natural disaster (such as a hurricane, tornado, storms, floods, and wildfires), need to have an emergency radio easily accessible.
One of the best reasons is that radio, unlike mobile phones, can receive a wider range of signals, especially those that are local. Since mobile phones are limited to receiving signals from their respective network operators only, their users have a greater tendency to be disconnected if their signal provider (satellite) is damaged.
With a sturdy radio, you can be up to date on the latest news and weather without relying on any particular operator, tower, or other mechanical links that could break the chain thereby losing the signal.
What features does a good emergency radio have? In addition to those points already mentioned, it is also important to know the features that are available in a good emergency radio these days.
Emergency Radio Top 7 Features:
1. Choose Something Lightweight: you can evacuate from an unsafe area much faster if what you’re carrying is light. You need to choose an emergency radio that doesn’t take too much space from your emergency kit and is easy to carry.
Look for a model that is not too bulky and can be brought by even the youngest member of your family. A handle would also be nice for the little people in your family with small hands.
2. Easy to Locate: Choose something brightly colored so It is easier to locate in a hurry. A great way to do that is to choose an emergency radio that even the kids would want to use, such as a boombox style with great speakers, headphone jacks, and a “cool” look.
Some of the newer radios even have the capacity to be used as a speaker system for your cell phone or laptop. Because your emergency radio is also a cool boombox for kids, your children will even become more engaged in emergency preparedness planning!
It can be their job to grab the radio on the way out and they are sure to know right where it is. In case they don’t know and have to look for it, a yellow boombox is very easy to see as compared to a darker one like those common black-colored boombox’s.
Red is also an option, but the brighter the better when it comes to acting fast!
3. Easy to Use: Choose an emergency radio that is digital and has an automatic search function – every second in emergency counts. Therefore, you need to make sure that you can tune in to any local news broadcasting station as early as possible.
This task can be made easier if you will buy an emergency radio that can automatically search and scan for the closest stations. This function makes sure that the radio station you will be listening to can be heard clearly rather than manually searching for it.
Some radios are built for weather emergencies and have built-in National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) features. While there are clear benefits of these features there are also some drawbacks to consider such as the batteries drain faster and they are less versatile in that they are too small and limited that they cannot offer features like a built-in emergency siren.
4. Versatility: Choose an emergency radio that is small and compact, yet has a wealth of well-thought-out features such as a high-capacity SD card slot (you can fit TONS of information on an SD card ranging from emergency contact information, to food preparation and recipes, to personal health information, to instructions for changing a tire.)
A USB slot works well for the same reasons plus can be used to charge itself via computer and charge other mobile devices such as cell phones, and LED ultra-bright flashlight, and a dynamo hand crank in case other sources of energy to recharge the emergency crank radio are not available.
5. Reliability: Choose an emergency radio that has covered as many bases as possible. For example, some of these compact stereos and job site radios that also double as emergency radios have the capacity to fall back on good old AA batteries in case all else fails.
Maybe there is no access to computers or power banks and maybe the crank handle gets broken off (it could happen) then having the battery backup as a fail-safe measure will become extremely valuable. Make sure your emergency radio can work with different power sources – since it will be your primary source of information while stranded or in an evacuation center, you need to make sure that it can serve its purpose for extended periods.
Since you do not always have access to an electric power source, your emergency radio should be able to function with the dynamo hand crank feature long after the last of the batteries is gone.
6. Built-in Emergency lighting: Your emergency radio should also have a flashlight to illuminate your surroundings. Some even come with flashing red LED lights and a very loud siren to get attention from far away.
Imagine being injured in the wilderness on a hiking trip and being able to push a button to sound a loud siren that sounds similar to a car alarm. That could scare away animals and lead rescuers to your location – yes this is an extreme example, but we live in an extreme world.
7. Most importantly, choose an emergency radio with good reception! A telescoping antenna with a joint built-in so you can swivel and point the antenna in various directions is the most helpful design.
Who knows when you may be in a very remote area and need these features to pull in the signals and information you need.
In summary, the radio, even with its simple design, still proves itself to be useful – especially when other forms of technology fail to give the information or help that you need.
When shopping for your emergency radio be selective and don’t settle for anything less than the above-mentioned criteria – It could be the most important selection you ever make!
Don Carter is Co-founder and CEO of DTC LifeTools which is a family-owned company that provides emergency preparedness resources, tools, and education. DTC LifeTools is known for its unique car escape tools, solar emergency radio, tire gauge, boombox mp3, and quality customer service. A masters-level psychotherapist, Don also maintains an emergency preparedness blog to help people prepare for many types of disasters and emergencies.
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