Weather Alert Radios
Weather-alert radios are small (sometimes portable) units tuned to National Weather Service frequencies. They provide taped continuous broadcasts of weather information on request, but are normally kept in their silent mode. When a severe weather watch or warning is issued, the weather service sends a tone (much like a pager) to alert users of the situation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is one of the fastest and most reliable methods to obtain urgent weather information. These radios are available from local electronic outlets at prices from $30.00 to $75.00. Current weather-alert radios have all seven radio frequencies used by the National Weather Service, so they will function anywhere in the United States that is served by a weather radio transmitter.
Newer weather-alert radios have decoding ability to alert on a by-county basis, so the user need not hear alerts for every county in the transmitter's range. If you purchase one of these radios (indicated as having "S.A.M.E." decoding, (Specific Area Message Encoding), be sure to program it for your area and areas to the southwest to provide an extra measure of warning time. Counties are programmed using "FIPS" codes. Since these radios are activated by the weather service for watches and warnings, they can be left "on" 24 hours a day. This is the best way to receive severe weather warnings at night when other media resources are not in use. Weather- alert radios are tested by the National Weather Service weekly on Wednesdays at 11:00 AM. If your radio is not activated aurally or scroll a message for these Wednesday tests it needs repair or replacement.
You may have heard stories of tornado victims indicate that they "never heard a warning"….well, they obviously did not have a weather-alert radio! Get your own and be safe! That extra time provided to seek shelter can save your life! Weather-alert radios should be in every home, place of business, school, hospital, church, theater, community center, nursing home, public gathering point, etc. so that urgent weather information makes it into the hands of the public quickly and efficiently.
Weather-alert radios are desirable, but all need to have a severe weather plan in effect: and a pre-designated “safe area” where all in the family should report when a warning is issued. This area should have a flashlight, AM/FM radio, and be easily accessible as needed.
We do not know when or where the next major tornado will occur, and we cannot prevent them, but weather-alert radios and proper safety measures save lives! They are well worth the small investment.
Local area "FIPS" codes for programming into weather alert radios:
St. Charles County: 029183