The 10 Best Weather & Emergency Radios
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in June of 2015. Keep yourself and your family prepared, protected, and informed during a disaster with any one of these weather and emergency radios. Many of our options are equipped with presets for accessing your favorite stations, while also having the ability to provide you with updates from NOAA and the Emergency Alert System, even when there are no functioning power outlets available. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 16, 2020:
Today the versatile and affordable RunningSnail Portable joins the list. It conveniently can be charged via the hand crank, the integrated solar panel, or the USB port and, in turn, it can charge or run your small devices in the event of a power outage. It also can function as a flashlight and a handy reading light, and can serve as an SOS signal if you’re in need of urgent assistance, by sounding an alarm and flashing a red light. You can use it to access seven NOAA stations for weather information. There is one caveat regarding this model, however: It does not offer automatic weather alerts, so it might not make for the best choice for anyone who lives in an area that’s subjected to flash floods or tornadoes. It also doesn’t feature a digital screen, which many may prefer to have. The Compass Culture MD090 also comes on board in this update. This bright red model is easy to spot when you need it, and it’s equipped with an AM/FM radio as well as the seven NOAA weather stations. This compact, lightweight choice comes with a wrist strap, which makes it easy to carry around with you hands-free. It’s good for anyone who is looking for a larger emergency kit, as it also comes with a compass, a whistle, a magnesium flint fire starter, and a paracord. Leaving the list to make way for these two models are the Kello TK-669G, which is unavailable at this time, and the Motorola MWR839, which essentially is the same device as the Sangean CL-100.
We’re still partial to the Midland ER310, which we moved into a more prominent position on the list, as it offers better radio reception than many, as well as a flashlight that shines brighter than those of much of the competition. Its automatic weather alerts keep you apprised of impending storms, and it’s compact enough to be taken with you easily, as needed. It runs on a lithium-ion battery and can be recharged via the integrated solar panel or the hand crank. It can also be powered by two AA backup batteries. It’s got a bright Cree flashlight that gives off 130 lumens, which can also be used as an SOS device that delivers morse code in an emergency. If all that’s not enough, there’s also an ultrasonic dog whistle that can help rescue teams in locating people during emergencies. The Sangean U4 and the C. Crane CC2BE are also prominently featured on the list, as they’re durable models with bright LCD screens that give you access to NOAA channels and provide lifesaving weather alerts.
March 26, 2019:
Whether you live in tornado alley, are planning on an extended camping trip, or just like being prepared, a weather and emergency radio is a smart option to keep on hand. You never know when the power is going to go down or a national emergency will break out that you need to be aware of. Those that want something durable they can take with them to a jobsite should look to the Sangean U4. Its large roll cage will keep it well protected, and it gets loud enough that you should be able to hear it over power tools. If you need something that is durable, but also compact and portable enough to take camping or hiking, you'll want to check out the Eton ARC FRX3+, Midland ER310, Kello TK-669G, and La Crosse 810-805. These are all lightweight and feature a sturdy build. The C. Crane CC2BE, C. Crane CC Pocket, Sangean CL-100, Motorola MWR839, and Kaito KA101 are best to keep at home or in an office.
The Importance Of Staying Informed And In Contact
The best response to an emergency is one that is planned well in advance.
The best response to an emergency is one that is planned well in advance. It's a good idea to plan and then rehearse a response to a weather event or manmade calamity so that you, your family, or the people with whom you work are all on the same page if and when a serious issue arises.
Planning ahead means identifying escape routes and places to reconnect as well as identifying locations within your home, school, or business where you can shelter in place. It means having more than one idea so you can respond accordingly. A good emergency response means knowing where you will get information, how and with whom you will try to communicate, and how the info you glean informs your actions and response.
One of the first casualties of a major weather event or natural disaster -- and a common target of attacks -- is the power grid. Toppled lines and blown converters can leave your home without power in an instant, effectively removing your lines of communication with the outside world once your cell phone's battery dies out. The only way to get the knowledge you need can come from an emergency and weather alert radio.
In the event of an emergency, severe storm, a natural disaster, a catastrophic attack, or during a period of civil unrest, the single best thing a person or a family can do to stay safe is to keep as informed as possible. When you have ample information about what is happening around or near you, you can make informed, smart decisions about how best to protect your person and your property.
Most Americans live in stable, functional areas and are able to take their safety and security for granted. The moment the infrastructure of an area breaks down, however, many people will find themselves sorely unprepared for a self reliant response. Even in the safest corner of the country, danger can rear its head. And when all else fails, your emergency and weather radio will not.
Choosing The Right Weather And Emergency Radio
To get a reliable emergency radio, you will need to spend a little money, but that is a fair price for a device that might play a role in a gravely serious situation; you want to spend the money on a good unit even if you doubt you'll ever use it in an emergency. The one time you do rely on your radio, it will have paid for itself many times over. You can also opt for a much more expensive model that not only serves well during a disaster, but that can also be used everyday.
The one time you do rely on your radio, it will have paid for itself many times over.
Many emergency and weather radios are designed to pick up faint signals and can detect radio waves broadcast across a wide spectrum, including AM radio, FM radio, and other less common frequencies. It's a good idea to select a unit that can detect communications from CB and ham radios, as you can be aided by information sent both from professional broadcast stations, government outposts, and from other concerned individuals just like yourself.
Most emergency radios offer long battery life, but for someone who fears they may be cut off from a reliable power source or without backup batteries, the best choice is a unit with a built-in hand crank. Some weather and emergency radios also feature solar power charging options, which can be a great help when the sun is shining.
Also, consider features such as built-in flashlights; your emergency radio could help you find your way out of an emergency situation, but it could also help rescuers find you, thanks to its bright light. Some radios also feature output power, helping you charge your mobile phone or other small devices. For the truly well-prepared person, one of these options is the best bet. Such a radio not only helps you stay informed, but it allows you to reach out and make contact with the wider world as soon as you get a signal back.
Emergency Radio Stations To Monitor
It's a good idea to know which radio stations you will check for updates in the event of an emergency. Take the time to find your local station numbers and pre-set your radio station to those frequencies. You might also want to write the information down to be sure you have it on hand if and when needed.
In the event of a natural disaster, civil turmoil, a large scale attack, or another grave situation, turn to the EAS at once for information.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will broadcast regular updates in the event of severe weather issues and is a great resource for those facing hurricanes, flooding, potential tornadoes, and other dangerous weather patterns.
The Emergency Alert System -- known for its occasional tests that take over commercial broadcast stations that show TV and radio programs -- is your best resource in the event of most emergencies. This system has the ability to connect citizens with government officials all the way up to the President of the United States, who is able to use the EAS system to reach all 50 states within minutes. In the event of a natural disaster, civil turmoil, a large scale attack, or another grave situation, turn to the EAS at once for information.