How To Choose A Reliable Emergency Radio For Survival

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Having an emergency radio is recommended for use during disaster situations or as part of gear for survivalists and preppers. It’s important to know the specifics so you can choose an emer-gency radio that suits your needs and possible requirements. There are many radios and several possibilities to consider. 

For many people, getting a standalone receiver can be enough. However, if you anticipate the need for sending transmissions, a good handheld walkie talkie is the tool of choice. Here are some tips for choosing the right radio.

Don’t Overlook The Basics

A small, basic radio that has AM/FM receiving functions can be all that you need in emergency situations. Sure all those fancy features sound great but consider not spending power on features that are unlikely to be used.

The good old fashioned radio that receives AM and FM transmission can be enough for most people. Radio must have AM capability. Many alerts, including those from NOAA, are transmit-ted over AM waves.

FM radio is nice to have and there are a lot of entertainment and information channels over there. Our purpose is to pick a reliable emergency radio and AM reception is necessary. In case of an emergency or disaster, there is a chance that commercial FM stations may not be availa-ble. So the ability to tune into national services is important.

It Must Tune Into NOAA Services

Look into the radio’s features to see if it can receive updates from NOAA and National Weather Service. Many products have logos on them that mention things like “Public Alert” and “NOAA NWR All Hazards”. It’s best to choose a product that has both these logos, but choosing one is a bare minimum.

How the radio handles alerts varies with the product. Some will simply transmit the alert being broadcast. Others may include features like playing a sound/beep to catch your attention before the transmission. Some devices also include other methods like the ability to be plugged into vi-bration devices or flashing lights. Both these features can be helpful for people with disabilities.

Another useful feature in this regard is SAME (Specific Alert Message Encoding). This feature puts more focus on alerts meant for specific geographic areas. In a way, it makes sure that the alerts you receive are most relevant for you. Additionally, it means you aren’t saturated with alerts meant for a different geographic area.

Practically all ham radios include the capability to receive NOAA alerts and can scan weather channels. Some two-way radios and walkie talkies offer these features too, though it is not standard and is limited to a few models.

Does It Work With Multiple Power Sources?

In an emergency or disaster situation, there’s a good chance of power going out. An emergency radio that doesn’t work without electricity supply isn’t much use! There are a lot of options availa-ble to deal with these problems, so take your pick.

The simplest solution is to use batteries, but of course, they have a limited operation time and other options can be desirable. Many emergency radios these days come with built-in solar pan-els to operate the device. Some of these even have outlets that allow charging a phone and oth-er gadgets. Hand crank radios are popular because they can draw power from movement. Not being dependent on any external source (including the sun) can be desirable in some situations.

What Are Your Communication Needs?

Do you simply want to receive transmissions or send them too? Receiving transmissions on the radio is sufficient for most people. However, transmitting using a radio is extremely useful in emergency or disaster situations where other communication methods are unavailable. Areas in disaster situations can lose internet, cell phone service, and even phone lines.

Ham radios have proven their mettle in such situations and are often used as points of contact in disaster situations. Ham radios can cover anywhere from a few kilometers to the entire planet.

For smaller distances or communication near your location to a couple of kilometers, walkie talk-ies or similar two-way radios can be considered. Their range is very limited, but they can be use-ful tools when other communication methods are unavailable. Keep in mind, that being able to transmit often requires related licenses. While rules may be relaxed in emergency situations, it’s best to plan ahead.

The Size Of Your Radio

For most people, the conventional small radio can do the trick. It’s simpler to carry around and does not take much space. These radios aren’t expensive, often have low energy consumption, and can last a very long time. Given additional charging methods, you can expect a conventional radio to last a long time. Handheld ham radios and walkie talkies can also be considered, thanks to their easy portability.

Other options include a tabletop radio, base station, or car radio. These aren’t as easy to move manually, but they can be more powerful.

A car radio, as the name implies, is attached to a vehicle. It can be as simple as the conventional car stereo system, or a separate unit with more features, including transmission. Tabletop radio and base station can be similar. These are usually bulkier units with additional features and more power. When using a base station consider its transmission capabilities and make sure you have the appropriate license.

Additional Features To Consider

These features are factors beyond regular radio and communication necessities. Many compact and handheld radios include a flashlight. That is a welcome feature and should be considered as important. Some radios may also have an SOS flashlight that flickers to draw attention and can be used to request help in an emergency.

It’s also useful to consider other features like onboard batteries and USB charging ports. A radio that charges your mobile phone and other communication devices can be a lifesaver. Radios with solar panels can further extend their use in such situations. A rugged construction that can survive some rough handling and falls is a desirable trait as well.

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