In the age of smartphones, why it’s important to have a NOAA weather radio

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Thank you so much for coming out to the Von Braun Center this weekend for the Building, Home and Remodeling Show! We had a blast meeting you and helping you program your weather radios!

I know in this age of smartphones and tablets, it may seem “outdated” to have a NOAA weather radio. The reality is that while they may seem old fashioned, weather radios are still an important tool that — when used properly — may save you or your family’s live in the event of severe weather.

What happens when the power goes out, and your phone/tablet is dead?

One of the main reasons why you need a weather radio in your home (and even when you are outdoors) is to keep you informed in the event that the power goes out for an extended amount of time (an hour or more). How many of us operate our devices with less than 50% battery life? With games for the kids and necessary phone calls with friends and family, it is easy to wipe the battery of our phones and tablets during a power outage, but that is when we need to receive updated notifications and alerts the most. Many NOAA radios run on both A/C as well as back up battery in the event of power outages, and some even have solar panels and a hand crank on them, too. Whichever model you prefer, make sure a weather radio and spare batteries are always in your weather emergency kit.

What happens when a cell tower/the cellular network/internet goes out?

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina impacted southern Louisiana and Mississippi, as many as 2,000 cell phone towers were knocked out of commission. While that event took place over ten years ago and many changes have been made to the cellular network infrastructure, it is always a good idea to have a back up way of receiving weather messages and alerts in the event of a cell tower/internet outage.

What happens when you turn off your cell phone, or put it on mute?

You may inadvertently turn off any and all notifications that hazardous weather is on the way, which is a big problem here in the South, since a lot of tornadoes hit late in the evening or in the middle of the night, when a lot of us are asleep. A weather radio would serve as an additional alert system in this case, and many of them feature tones that wake many from a deep slumber (watch the video below to hear WHNT News 19’s Kristen Conner demo the alarm).

Okay, you convinced me. Which weather radio should I get?

There are different brands sold on the market, and some will allow you to program a Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) code that is specific to your county/nearby transmission city. If you stopped by the Building, Home and Remodeling show and purchased a weather radio, you likely got the Midland Desktop weather radio model. Out in the field, I would recommend something that can power itself via solar panels and/or a hand crank, like this one (I have a similar model that I used during my lifeguard years).

How do I program my weather radio?

We’ve got a handy guide for that right here. Click the link for a step-by-step guide for programming your weather radio.

So are weather radios more important that cell phone alerts?

Think of cell phones and weather radios as being complimentary of each other: The cell phone will alert you when you are on the go and awake, whereas a weather radio will alert you in the event of a power outage or when you are asleep. You can get alerts sent to your phone by downloading the following apps:

The ultimate goal of a weather radio is to keep you informed and to keep you safe. We hope you had a blast at the Rebuilding, Home and Remodeling Show, and thank you for stopping by and visiting us!

~ Christina