Whether you're backpacking through the wilderness or living in a storm-prone area, an emergency radio can provide you with comfort and safety. This type of radio is a standalone device that has multiple ways to obtain power, such as batteries, solar power, and hand cranking. Emergency radios can provide you with emergency weather alerts, AM'/FM frequency, and SOS systems to help ensure safety. They can also include features like USB ports for charging other devices, flashlights, and more.
There are plenty of great emergency radios to choose from; we've selected our 10 best radios to compare and designed a buying guide to help you pick the best option. Our favorite is the MMR-88 from Sangean because it's a durable, moisture-resistant radio with efficient power options and useful features. For more of our top picks, read on! Also, check out our buying guide for some suggestions on how to choose the right emergency radio for you.
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Emergency radios can quite literally save lives in dire situations. Before you shop, here are some tips to help you find the right one for you.
Emergency radios do not usually need to be plugged in; some will have multiple power options including battery, solar, and hand crank. Batteries eventually need replacing or recharging, but they will usually last fairly long. Solar energy is slow to charge but has an unlimited supply during daylight hours. Hand cranking charges fairly fast according to your cranking speed but requires you to expend energy.
Batteries are best for short-term power outages. Solar energy and hand cranks might be bester for longer trips or periods of time. Many battery-operated emergency radios are also rechargeable, which is great for situations like rolling blackouts. However, the best emergency radios can utilize multiple power sources.
Emergency radios will usually be able to listen to AM and FM stations, but many can also listen to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) channels. NOAA utilizes experienced scientists with cutting-edge research and methodology to provide the most accurate forecasts and severe storm alerts. It's very reliable, especially in emergencies.
Many emergency radios are cable of receiving NOAA channels, and some have automatic alerting features. There are over one thousand transmitters relaying NOAA channels in the United States, covering nearly 95 percent of the population. The stations can be received up to 40 miles from the transmitter but may run into interference in mountainous areas.
Some emergency radios are more waterproof than others. Each device is rated by the IPX rating system, where IPX0 cannot get wet at all and IPX9K can withstand powerful water jets. Most emergency radios will fall between IPX3 and IPX4, which means they are splash-proof, but must not be immersed in water.
If you prefer a waterproof emergency radio, look for something with a protective case. A case that covers important areas like the battery and ports is ideal. A regular plastic battery cover will not protect the radio if it is submerged in water. Some radios use rubber to seal ports as well.
For extra safety, some emergency radios also have built-in SOS alarms that flash bright beacon lights or make loud siren noises to let others know that you need help. Some radios also contain a flashing light that sends out an SOS signal in the universal Morse code. This feature might be especially useful in severe weather, at night, or for long-distance outdoor activities.
Some emergency radios also have extra features such as USB ports, flashlights, or dog whistles. USB ports can be helpful for charging other electronic devices when you don’t have power. It can be especially helpful to charge your phone from the radio in an emergency situation.
Flashlights are a very useful feature in emergency radios. Some radios will have an adjustable light so that they can be used for simple tasks like reading or something as serious as sending out a signal for help. Certain emergency radios will even contain dog whistles so that you can signal rescue dogs in the instance you are lost.
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This emergency radio is packed full of features. It contains an SOS strobe light, emergency alerts, carrying handle, headphone jack, and even a dog whistle. These amenities make it the perfect radio to keep at home or take on trips into the wilderness.
A common complaint about the radio is the telescoping antennae. Some reviews said it's prone to breaking; others wished it was more adjustable. Overall, most of the reviews praise the radio for having a great number of features and implementing them well.
This emergency radio has a lot to offer. In addition to NOAA emergency channels, the radio can receive broadcasts on shortwave. The speaker design allows for superior sound quality. With Bluetooth streaming and MP3 options, you have many ways to play your own audio. It even features the ability to record broadcasts.
Some reviewers wished that navigating the menus was more intuitive. They had difficulty finding specific settings and did not have the option to name sound files they had recorded. But overall, customers loved how this radio has so many features. A large number of reviews point out the great sound quality.
By utilizing the S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding) system, the radio connects to your county's warning system. By doing this, it is able to give you instant weather updates. This radio offers a variety of ways to customize your weather alerts, including a siren alarm, voice alert, or LED flasher. It will also automatically display the warning on the radio in case you miss it the first time.
The main complaint from reviewers is that its display is so bright, it's difficult to sleep if it's in a bedroom. Otherwise, most reviewers praise this radio for letting them filter weather alerts that they want to hear and for having a clear visual display. They highly recommend this radio for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.
Whether you're camping, barbecuing, or having an unexpected weather emergency, this radio can keep you connected with its many functions. It has Bluetooth, three different power options, weather alerts, a huge, bright LED light, and a red emergency beacon.
One common complaint is about the size of the buttons and dials, stating they are too small and obscured by the handle. But most reviewers are impressed by the ambient light feature, the Bluetooth system, and the speed of charging. They say this radio is very helpful for power outages.
Sometimes simple is better and you want to focus on the radio instead of a flashlight or phone charger. This radio excels at the basics for emergency weather conditions. It has 25 memory preset stations, so you don't have to search for common stations every time, and AM auto-tracking for outstanding sound and AM reception.
A few reviewers complain about the lack of a carrying handle; they wished the radio was more portable. Otherwise, most reviewers are satisfied with this radio's clear display and ease of use. They say the weather functions are great, and they love using the radio just to listen to.
Whether it's an emergency or camping trip, this radio has functions for almost any situation. It has a 4000mAh replaceable battery and will allow you to charge your devices while functioning as a flashlight or reading lamp. It also has a loud SOS alarm.
Unfortunately, this radio does not have a weather alert function, so some reviewers complain that you must constantly have it on the weather station if used during an emergency. But most reviewers find this radio easy to use. They like that there's a power status light and say it has pretty good sound quality.
This radio has shock-resistant rubber on all its edges to handle drops, and is also moisture-resistant. One minute of using the hand crank will provide five minutes of listening time. This radio also has an LED light with four functions, including an SOS pattern.
Although there are other methods of generating power, reviewers complain that this radio uses 18350 rechargeable batteries that are less common and more difficult to replace. Besides that issue, most reviewers are impressed with this radio's sound quality, construction, and power options.
This radio boasts an alert function that keeps you updated with any emergency weather alerts broadcasted in your area. A glow in the dark indicator makes it easier to locate this radio in the dark. It can also charge your devices as well as work as an alarm clock, flashlight, and SOS beacon.
Some reviewers are not satisfied with the build and wished it was sturdier. Most reviewers are pleased with the sound quality, volume, and reception of this radio. They say that it will play the radio all day if left out in sunlight. They also state that the hand crank is easy to use and charges decently.
This little radio is very compact with many essential features, making it a great radio for traveling, hiking, or moving around in general. While the radio is smaller than most cell phones, it still features three ways to charge it, a flashlight, and a USB port to charge devices.
Some reviewers warn that this radio is very small and takes a lot of cranking for listening time compared to bigger radios. Most reviewers like that the radio is still packed with features despite the smaller size.
This little radio is best for those interested in receiving information from multiple sources. The radio has shortwave and single side band capabilities for listening to broadcasts from long distances. It even receives transmissions from aviation, FEMA, and the coast guard.
Some reviewers were not satisfied with the audio quality and wanted it to be sharper. But overall, customers were excited over the fact that such a little radio had powerful capabilities. Many say it picks up a lot of signals and has a great range for such a compact radio.
NOAA emergency weather stations are accessed through one of seven frequencies. They can also be located by state and call sign at the link below.
It's better to be too prepared than to be not ready for unexpected weather or disasters. Check out some of our other articles for products that can help you get through.
If you are interested in learning more about emergency radios or you need a place to start, check out Amazon's best selling emergency radios.
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