NOAA weather radios, a lifesaving gift

By: GEMA, FEMA
By: GEMA, FEMA

ATLANTA – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio is as essential in severe weather alerts as a smoke detector is in a fire.

Giving a family member, friend or someone you care about a NOAA weather radio could help save their lives during emergency hazards such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other disasters.

The National Weather Radio (NWR) broadcast forecasts severe weather watches and warnings 24 hours a day over the NOAA radio network. A watch means potentially life-threatening weather is headed in a particular area. A warning means that potentially life-threatening weather is imminent or is already occurring. NWR also broadcasts warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards: weather, natural, technological (e.g., chemical spills, nuclear power plant emergencies, etc.) and national emergencies such as terrorist attacks.

The broadcasts cannot be heard on a simple AM/FM radio receiver. However, there are many receiver options, ranging from handheld portable units that just pick up weather radio to desktop and console models that receive weather radio in addition to other broadcasts.

Make sure the radio you buy has seven channels, an audible and visual warning alert feature and a battery backup. A highly useful feature available on many models is Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology that lets users pre-select the alerts they want to receive based upon the area where they live. This feature allows residents to tailor their weather radio to meet their individual needs.

Most weather radios have a special alarm tone that signals a severe weather watch or warning. These tones activate the radio to alert you to the nature of the weather (e.g., tornado, hurricane, flood, etc.) so that you may take appropriate action.

A special-needs NOAA weather radio is available with visual, vibrating alarms and simple text readouts. You can get the text printed out in Braille. Liquid crystal display readout indicates specific warnings such as tornado or thunderstorm.

Prices for weather radios can vary from $20 to $200, depending on the model. They can be purchased at many retail stores that sell electronic equipment and some drug stores. NOAA weather radio can also be purchased through some mail-order catalogs or on the Internet.

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The National Weather Service does not manufacture, sell or endorse any particular make or model of receiver. Broadcasts are provided as a public service. The network has transmitters broadcasting frequencies over all 50 states, adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the U.S. Pacific territories.

Georgia has a robust NOAA weather radio network with more than two dozen transmitters from near the Florida border to the mountains of extreme north Georgia. More than 98 percent of the state can receive the NOAA weather radio broadcast.

FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

SBA’s disaster loans are the primary form of federal assistance for non-farm, private sector disaster losses. Disaster loans from SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and nonprofit organizations fund repair and replacement of disaster damaged real and personal property. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For information about SBA programs, applicants may call 800-659-2955 or online at www.sba.gov.


Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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