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We rely on our smartphones for virtually everything, from ordering food to ordering a cab, checking into flights and setting early morning alarms. But when disaster strikes, smartphones aren’t a reliable tool. If electricity is out, you may not have a way to charge your phone. If cell towers are down, signals will no longer be able to reach your phone. For these reasons and many more, adding an NOAA weather radio to your emergency kit is just as important as water, food, and medical supplies.
Because of the changing climate, weather emergencies, natural disasters and even man-made catastrophes are becoming more common, and many of us are becoming desensitized to events like forest fires and floods. However, it is absolutely crucial to stay alert and informed, and a simple handheld weather radio ensures you can always tune into emergency broadcasts.
What To Consider Before Buying A Weather Radio
The best weather radio will give you access to NOAA radio stations, as well as AM/FM stations. The NOAA emergency broadcast system stations are managed by the National Weather Service, the most accurate and reliable place to get information on weather. In cases of emergencies, including flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes and more, NOAA radio stations are the best place to get information on what to do and where to go. NOAA can provide tornado warnings and severe weather warnings, as well as other emergency alerts.
NOAA weather radios can allow you to tune in to scan stations or be notified in the event of an emergency with audible alarms. A newer feature is SAME, or Specific Area Message Encoding. This allows you to program your radio to get information relevant to your area.
What We Looked For When Choosing the Best Weather Radios
We picked options that can be used with AC power (a wall outlet) as well as batteries, which is essential in the event of a power outage. We also picked portable options that are specifically designed for using on the go. We looked for bonus features like built-in flashlights or USB outputs. We turned to trusted brands with long experience like Midland and Sangean. When choosing an emergency radio for our own emergency kits, there are a few specific features we’re looking for:
- Long, reliable battery
- Durable construction
- Capable of receiving NOAA and emergency broadcasts
- Waterproof rating
- Solar or hand-crank charging
With these features in mind, we’ve gathered the best weather radios for you. Keep one of these in your home, emergency kit, bug-out bag or car glove box to ensure you can always stay informed and prepared.
1. Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio
Never be surprised by bad weather again with the Midland Radio, which comes with a NOAA Weather Alert that will sound anytime there is an emergency or severe weather forecast for your immediate area. The radio will automatically scan through seven weather (WX) band channels for warnings of weather or civil emergencies. Users can also program the radio to receive weather information for 25 neighboring counties. The Midland can be plugged into an outlet or run on batteries during emergencies.
Pros: The Midland is not only a excellent weather radio, but it’s also a great everyday clock. The Midland features a large LED display with options for English, Spanish or French. It has an alarm clock function and a snooze function.
Cons: The Midland doesn’t have access to AM/FM stations.
2. Vondior NOAA Weather Radio
An emergency radio should be portable, and that’s why this option from Vondior is only 4.7″ long, making it about the size of the average smartphone (albeit a little thicker). It can tune into AM and FM stations and NOAA stations for emergencies. The unit relies on AA batteries, which you’re likely to already have in your drawer.
Pros: Compact size. Works for AM/FM and NOAA stations.
Cons: Some options have more features like flashlights.
3. Midland ER10VP Emergency Alert Radio with Flashlight
Along with a weather radio, a flashlight is an emergency essential. This option from Midland combines both, and a convenient lanyard makes it easy to carry, too. The emergency alert radio automatically warns you of potentially dangerous weather. It’s not just a good option for emergencies; the AM/FM radio means you can listen to music or talk radio while you’re away from a cell signal.
Pros: Compact and easy to carry. Includes a flashlight. Emergency alerts inform you of dangerous weather.
Cons: Not the highest audio quality.
4. Sangean Table-Top Radio
This tabletop radio is well suited for at-home use, and it can be used as an alarm clock, too. It picks up the seven NOAA Weather Channels and you can save five AM stations and 5 FM stations and up to 20 alert messages. S.A.M.E allows for more accurate broadcasts. It plugs in with an AC cord, and it has a battery backup in the event of a power outage.
Pros: AM/FM, S.A.M.E and NOAA stations. Works as a home alarm clock. AC or battery power.
Cons: Pricier than some other options.
5. Midland ER310 Weather AM/FM Radio
This is an upgraded pick from our other handheld Midland radio. It has a hand-crank, so you don’t have to worry about dead batteries, and the radio has a built-in flashlight and USB charger. There’s also a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The radio automatically scans available NOAA stations to keep you aware of severe weather.
Pros: Hand-crank. Includes a flashlight and USB output for charging devices.
Cons: Some options are more economical.