It may happen in your sleep. It may happen while your awake. You never know when a disaster will strike. Or do you? In this post we will be talking about the good ol’ Weather Radio. What are weather radios and how can they help you before a disaster strikes.
Weather Radios – Why do I need one and how do they work?
Weather Radios, while also giving you a daily and weekly weather forecast, are useful for notifying you of possible dangerous weather events, disasters, and notices that are going on in your area. They will let you know the severity of the event, called a watch or warning, and give you information regarding the event.
While most weather radios have handy features such as clocks, alarm clocks, and AM/FM radio, one of the most important features in a weather radio are the SAME Code warnings. So make sure your radio has this functionality.
What is the difference between watch and warning?
The easiest way to tell the difference between a watch and a warning is to use the example of a thunderstorm.
A severe thunderstorm warning means: the atmospheric conditions needed for a thunderstorm are favorable and a thunderstorm is expected to happen soon. This is generally a 3-6 hour advance notice. Take this time to determine what you will need to do. For example, if you are outdoors you may want to come inside.
A severe thunderstorm watch means: a severe thunderstorm is imminent. It is either happening right now or about to happen. During a warning, you will want to take immediate action.
Having SAME Codes programmed in your radio will help you get more localized information. Which leads us to our next question…
What are SAME Codes?
For the geeks out there, SAME stand for Specific Area Message Encoding. For those that are not so geeky, these are codes that are specific to our local area.
In the example of our severe thunderstorm, our NOAA station may be broadcasting to multiple counties in your area. By entering a SAME Code for your specific county or region, your weather radio will only alert you for codes in that area. This wards off many false alarms and keeps your radio from going off at 2am for some county far enough away that it will not affect you.
Now you may want to program in additional areas. For instance, if you want to track a storm as it is progressing toward you from the North West, you may want to program in the SAME Code for a county North and West of yourself.
So who cares if a thunderstorm is coming toward us?
Severe thunderstorms are generally one of the lesser catastrophic events but even they can provide high winds and flash flooding. You may want to bring in lawn chairs and lay your portable basketball net down during a watch. But thunderstorms are not the only event that weather radios provide information for.
A few other examples are:
- Child Abductions
- Flash Floods
- Shelter In Place
- Boil Water Warnings
- Chemical Hazards
- and even Iceberg Warnings, just in case your on the titanic or something
As you can see, there are many different event types that a weather radio is capable of warning you about. They are not just for weather related events.
Knowing information ahead of of time is very valuable. It may save you with something as simple as putting your lawn chairs away so the wind doesn’t blow them over and break them or it may save you with something more severe such as knowing to seek higher ground because a flash flood is coming and you expect your creek to rise and flood your house. If minutes can save your life in an emergency, imagine what a 3-6 hour heads up could do.
So Now What!?
Ok, ok, a weather radio is a great thing to have around. I get it. But which one should I get? Glad you asked!
The most simple thing to do is get a weather app on your phone. I personally use the Weather Underground app. Look it up in the Google Play or Apple Stores. Not only will if give you your local weather forecast but it will also send out severe weather warnings and watches.
The next thing I would do is go buy a Weather Radio. The one I personally use is the Midland WR300 Weather Radio.
- Midland is a good brand with a good reputation
- It has both an AC adapter as well as a AA backup
- It has an external antenna (sold separately)
- It has the all important SAME Codes
- It has all of the other bells and whistles such as AM/FM radio and an alarm clock
So go buy a weather radio and get those codes programmed in there now!