The NOAA Weather Radio: A Household Essential

Over the past year, nearly every part of the country has been affected by severe weather or other dangerous situation such as wild fire. When hazardous weather or other emergency situations are about to occur near your home, every second counts. A weather radio will provide you with as much lead-time as possible and provide you with critical information on emergencies.

NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts are a public service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The broadcast is a round-the-clock source of weather reports and timely hazard information. Weather messages are repeated every 4 to 6 minutes and are routinely updated every 1 to 6 hours, or more frequently during rapidly changing conditions or if a nearby hazardous situation occurs.

NOAA Weather Radio receivers are available at many retail outlets nationwide as well as through many online retailers. They come in a variety of sizes and with different functions. A basic receiver intended for home use can range from $20 to $100 depending on features.

One important feature to consider when selecting a receiver is an alert tone for emergency notification. If you are asleep when an alert is issued, the tone will alert you to the emergency situation. For individuals who are hearing impaired, some models have the ability to attach a strobe light accessory to add a visual alert.

Another feature to consider is the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) feature.

Specific Area Message Encoding allows you to receive alerts for only the specific areas you choose. You will enter the code of the county or counties for which you wish to receive alerts. In that way, you will not be bothered with alerts that do not affect your area.

The weather radio will provide information regarding present weather conditions, forecasted weather, advisories, watches, and warnings issued by NOAA’s National Weather Service.

In addition to weather-related announcements, the broadcasts may include non-weather related hazards/emergency information. NOAA’s Weather Forecast Offices have agreements with emergency managers to facilitate the receipt and transmission of emergency non-weather related messages. Examples of non-weather events include toxic chemical incidents, nuclear power plant accidents, forest or brush fires that threaten the community, amber alerts, local and/or national alerts as deemed appropriate by emergency authorities, and post event information in certain situations.

A NOAA weather radio is an important addition to your home safety arsenal. For more information about selecting a weather radio to help protect your family, visit

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