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7 Tips for Choosing an Emergency Radio

Being stuck in the middle of an emergency situation and not knowing what is happening around you can be terrifying. “Where do I go?”, “What should I do?”, “Where is safe?”, can flash through your mind; possibly in bursts of either controlled or uncontrolled panic. Information is one of the most vital things you can have in any emergency situation, so making sure you have a way of accessing it should be pretty high on your list of priorities.

A good emergency radio will not only provide you with access to this information but also ensure that its ability to do so can continue indefinitely. Battery or mains supplied devices are useless when it comes to a situation in which the local power supply is out or non-existent and cheap, flimsy models will break when introduced to situations which can cause damage. Moreover, emergency radios were not created equally, some have access to better radio bands and channels for supplying you with the important updates you might need.

Here is a list of the most important aspects to consider when purchasing your own emergency radio.

1.) NOAA’s broadcasting and alerts

The NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a group in charge of ensuring the broadcasting of continuous national weather information directly from the nearest national weather service office. 24 hours a day, for 7 days a week, the NOAA will broadcast official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information. The NOAA will broadcast “all-hazards”, meaning that it is one of the single most important sources of information during an emergency situation. 

You should also make sure that your emergency radio comes bundled with a long retractable antenna. Long, in case you find yourself in a situation with spotty reception, and retractable so you can transport it easily. Any decent emergency radio should have this if it doesn’t then stay away!

2.) Support for Multiple Power Sources

If you’re stuck without power and you’re trying to get your radio to work, you’re not going to be able to. A radio needs electricity to work and mains electricity isn’t always available, also carrying around a collection of spare batteries is not going to help with conserving your own energy. Whilst charging from the mains can be useful in some situations, you are going to want to have an alternate way of generating that all important electrical juice!

Having something which is solar powered is great. You can charge it during the day and solar power is unlimited. The only problem with solar power is that sometimes it’s a bit too cloudy for it to work. If this happens then you are going to want an alternate power source and it is recommended you go for the oldest and most reliable sources of all: man-power. Buying an emergency radio with a way of charging it yourself manually is a great idea and can help to get you out of some tight spots.

3.) Durability

It’s always a shame, and a pain when something breaks. When your mobile breaks you get upset and will usually buy a new one. When the air conditioning stops working it is a huge hassle to organize the repairman to come and fix it. When your emergency radio breaks down, you are in trouble. In an emergency situation, you can’t call in the repairman and you can’t go out and buy a new one. What you need is for your emergency radio to be able to stand up to the situations it might find itself in, so make sure you consider this then picking one.

There is actually a rating system called the IP code which can let you know how durable a product is. The general agreement for what rating an emergency radio should have is at least IPX3, meaning it will be able to stand up to water in a number of situations but shouldn’t be submerged.

4.) Compact

In some emergency situations, you’re going to need to keep moving. Maybe the area you are in has become dangerous, or maybe you need to seek help, Whatever the reason, moving with a big and bulky radio isn’t going to help, and might even mean you have to leave it behind. One of the most important times to make sure you have an emergency radio on you is when you’re on the move. This is when things can go wrong, natural surprises can spring up or the weather might take a turn for the worse. Having adequate warning means you have time to find somewhere to hunker down and wait out the approaching dangers. Make sure your emergency radio is compact.

5.) Battery life and runtime

As I have said earlier, running an emergency radio is going to need power, and getting that power from somewhere is the first step in insuring that your radio is going to work. However, if that power source only lasts for a few minutes, it is not really going to help. It’s like when you watch a disaster movie and the main characters spend half of the movie searching for a power source, but then when they do find one, it only lasts for a few minutes; enough time hear “everything’s fine, the danger has passed”.

Whilst you might think that this is enough, in some emergency situations things can change very quickly, and you may need to keep moving or change location. Ensuring that you have access to a reliable and long lasting power source, and don’t have to keep finding a new one, can be the difference between getting to safety and walking straight into danger whilst you are looking for a new power source. It’s often suggested that the battery is at least 1000mAh for a better, longer runtime.

If you do need to replace the battery on your device though, it is great to make sure that the battery is common and can be easily replaced. Some emergency radios will come equipped with an overly complicated or specialized battery; some radios will even not allow you to change the battery. Make sure you have something which is compatible with the standard.

6.) Extra functionality

A basic emergency radio is great. They are usually durable, can receive the NOAA’s broadcasting and alerts, and will have a suitable and reliable power source. However, some emergency situations call for a little something extra. Sure, you can always buy these things separately, but that just adds weight to your pack and makes moving more of a hassle. It’s definitely useful to make sure you have some extra functions included in your emergency radio.

First and foremost, another important item to include in any survival kit for an emergency situation is a flashlight. The flashlight is useful in a huge host of situations, but most importantly it will make sure that you’re never in the dark. Moreover, it can help you to get in touch with others and signal for help. It’s best to go with LED flashlights because they are lighter, smaller, brighter and have a longer beam distance than conventional flashlights. It is also easy to find one combined with an emergency radio which is still lightweight.

It’s also a great benefit when you can use the radio’s power source to charge and fuel other electrical devices. If you’re in a situation where you need a make an emergency call, it’s crucial you have a way of making that call. Cell phones are great, but they can run out of charge quickly, so being able to use your emergency radio as a cell phone charger for emergency call purposes is a potentially invaluable ability.

7.) Putting it all together

One of the best products, which comes heavily recommended, is the Horizons Tec HT-747, which comes with all of the above features to make sure you’re as prepared as possible in an emergency situation. With a rechargeable battery (from either the 3 way- solar panel, the USB socket or the hand crank), access to the NOAA’s broadcasting and alerts, and a lightweight and durable (IPX3) design, Horizons Tec have designed an emergency radio capable of helping you survive the worst situations.

Horizons Tec has considered the situations you may find yourself in when there is an emergency and have developed their radio in order to directly help prevent and minimize danger. The radio comes packed with extra functionality and is supplied with a Carabiner to ensure that taking it with you is as easy as possible.   

The HT-747 is also supplied with a paracord bracelet, which can be unraveled to form an 11ft and very strong rope, a compass to make sure you know where you’re going, a whistle and a magnesium fire starter. If you’re in an emergency, the HT-747 makes sure to incorporate as many needed and valuable survival tools as possible in a lightweight and easy to use a frame.

Be prepared for the worst which can happen with a radio that will empower you to survive.


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