Why Radios Matter During Disasters

6 features to look for when choosing a radio

When the unexpected happens, we’ve gotta be able to reach loved ones, contact emergency services, and stay up-to-date with emergency information. Reliable communication and information are so incredibly important!

Unfortunately, when disaster strikes, our ability to use our phones often becomes one of the first things that fail us. That’s because phones are heavily reliant on cell towers and the power grid.

Take, for example, Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Due to strong winds and flooding, which damaged cables between cellular towers, at least 17 emergency call centers and 320 cellular sites were disrupted.

The result? Over 148,000 people were suddenly left without access to cell service, Internet, or TV. Some counties even had cell-site outage percentages of up to 95 percent!

This is why in times of crisis, an oldie but a goodie is the most effective method of communication:

The Radio

Thing is, not all radios are built the same. Here are some key features that you should look for:

#1. Multiple power sources:
The best emergency radios will have a number of power options so you’re covered when the power goes out. Examples of alternate charging options include solar, hand crank, and batteries (rechargeable or regular).

Check this one out. It’s powered in 5 different ways: AC, battery, hand crank, solar, and even your computer!

Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500
Voyager Classic KA500

Voyager Classic KA500

$50.00

Specifically designed for emergency situations, the KA500 offers different methods to power itself including AC/DC adapter (not included), three AA batteries (not included), the built-in rechargeable Ni-MH battery, and the dynamo hand crank. Includes an internal generator that recharges the internal replaceable Ni-MH battery pack and powers the radio, flashlight and reading lamp. This radio also features a USB port, which you can use either to charge your radio with a PC or charge other electronic gadgets with the hand crank. 

Standard accessories include earphones, user manual and bonus multiple adapter tips for charging select models of Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and LG phones.

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#2. Extended battery life:
Disasters are unpredictable and who knows how long you’ll be without access to other communication methods. You want to have a radio that gives you at least 12 hours of performance when fully charged.

#3. For all things related to weather look for the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) logo:
If you live in a place where big storms or sudden tornadoes are common, you’ll want a radio with the NOAA label. NOAA certified radios broadcast the NRW (National Weather Radio) which keeps you up to date with weather warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These broadcasts cannot be heard on a simple AM/FM radio.

#4. Water resistance:
Having a water resistance radio is essential in extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis. Water and moisture may get into your gadget which can result in shorting the internal circuit. Plus, electric shock is not fun! This feature can save your radio and possibly, your life as well.

This one has a waterproof level of IPX3 and can be used during rainy weather!

Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio

Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio

$34.00

Keep your household prepared with this AM/FM & NOAA weather alert radio, broadcast emergency weather alerts for your area such as hurricanes, tornadoes and severe storms.

Features:

  • Table Lamp & 1W LED Flashlight: It can be used in emergency and survival situations to light up dark spaces and areas or to keep your room nice and bright after a storm cuts off your power.
  • Hand Crank Self-charge for Outage: 2000mAh rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of light or 4-6 hours of radio time.
  • SOS Alarm With Flashing Red Light: Ask for help in case you have an emergency or you want to warn somebody.
  • Multiple Ways to Charge: Hand crank, solar charging, Micro USB cable and 3 AAA batteries(not included). It can be charge USB port devices such as smart phones, to keep you connected and powered
  • Multifunctional crank radio, receives AM/FM/7 NOAA weather channels
  • SOS Alarm with flashing red light 
  • 1W Bright LED Flashlight, zoom adjustable
  • 4 LED Reading Lamp
  • 2000 mAh Battery will provide long lasting hours of radio time and flash light time;
  • Solar panel will provide continuous power to the radio, your battery will never die;
  • Hand crank self powered system
  • Micro USB, to charge the radio via USB cable;
  • Support AAA dry battery for backup(not included);
  • Waterproof Level: IPX3, can be used during rainy weather.
  • Provides up to date weather information. (AM:520-1720Khz;
  • FM:87-108MHz; NOAA:162.40-162.55MHz)
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#5. One-Way vs. Two-Way:
It’s basically what it sounds like. One-way communication allows you to get real-time emergency information from local authorities. A two-way radio is a fast and easy way to communicate and, unlike cell phones, you can use them anywhere without worrying about network restrictions. All you have to do is tune in to the same channel. Plus, don't worry about a cracked screen; quality 2-way radios are built to withstand all kinds of battles.

Check these two-way radios out:

Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Front side of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Front side of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Front side of the radio in the included charger.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Front right side of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Right side of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Back right side of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Back of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Back left side of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Left side of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Front left side of the radio.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Front side of the radio in the included holster.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Right side of the radio in the included holster.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Back of the radio in the included holster.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Front side of the radio in the included charger with the power supply.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Right side of the radio in the included charger with the power supply.
Kenwood NX-P500 two-way radio. Back of the radio in the included charger with the power supply.

Kenwood NX-P500

$210.00

The Kenwood NX-P500 is a small, light and powerful UHF digital transceiver with mixed mode capability allowing for digital and analog communications for interoperability. This promotes a simple method for transitioning to digital operations at your own pace. Ideal for business, retail, hospitality, education and the restaurant industry.

Put your employees in touch with each other instantly and raise the level of communication for better service. A stronger collaboration through communication increases team work quality.

Kenwood NX-P500 radio highlights

  • Digital or analog transmissions
  • 6 preprogrammed channels (99 presets available)
  • UHF (450-470 MHz) frequency band
  • 2 watt max power output
  • 7 Color LED notification light
  • 15.5 hours of battery life
  • Lightweight 5.64oz (160g) design
  • IP67 rated - water and dust proof
  • 2 year warranty

Model number

ProTalk NX-P500

Supported system technologies

Simplex radio to radio only

Included NX-P500 accessories

Shop all NX-P500 radio accessories

Fixed UHF Antenna  
Battery KNB-81L
Holster w/ Belt Clip
KBH-22W
Charger
KSC-50K

 Resources

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#6. Bonus features:
Today’s emergency radios are often designed to serve multiple purposes. Our favorites are those that have a built-in flashlight, cell phone charger, and panic/SOS button. However, be wise in choosing the features you need so that you don’t end up draining your battery.

This one has an SOS Alarm with flashing red lights, 1W Bright LED Flashlight, and 4 LED Reading Lamps.

Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio

Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio

$34.00

Keep your household prepared with this AM/FM & NOAA weather alert radio, broadcast emergency weather alerts for your area such as hurricanes, tornadoes and severe storms.

Features:

  • Table Lamp & 1W LED Flashlight: It can be used in emergency and survival situations to light up dark spaces and areas or to keep your room nice and bright after a storm cuts off your power.
  • Hand Crank Self-charge for Outage: 2000mAh rechargeable battery provides up to 12 hours of light or 4-6 hours of radio time.
  • SOS Alarm With Flashing Red Light: Ask for help in case you have an emergency or you want to warn somebody.
  • Multiple Ways to Charge: Hand crank, solar charging, Micro USB cable and 3 AAA batteries(not included). It can be charge USB port devices such as smart phones, to keep you connected and powered
  • Multifunctional crank radio, receives AM/FM/7 NOAA weather channels
  • SOS Alarm with flashing red light 
  • 1W Bright LED Flashlight, zoom adjustable
  • 4 LED Reading Lamp
  • 2000 mAh Battery will provide long lasting hours of radio time and flash light time;
  • Solar panel will provide continuous power to the radio, your battery will never die;
  • Hand crank self powered system
  • Micro USB, to charge the radio via USB cable;
  • Support AAA dry battery for backup(not included);
  • Waterproof Level: IPX3, can be used during rainy weather.
  • Provides up to date weather information. (AM:520-1720Khz;
  • FM:87-108MHz; NOAA:162.40-162.55MHz)
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In addition to having a powerful 3 LED flashlight, this one also acts as a power bank so you can charge any device.

WB Crank Radio
WB Crank Radio
WB Crank Radio
WB Crank Radio
WB Crank Radio
WB Crank Radio
WB Crank Radio
WB Crank Radio

WB Crank Radio

$22.00

This combination smartphone charger, flashlight and emergecy tri-band radio is easily charged via DC power using USB cable, solar power or by hand crank. Once charged, the radio will charge most other smartphones and other devices by using a USB cable. 

Features:

  • Compact AM/FM NOAA Weather Radio and a powerful 3 LED flashlight, with cell phone charger
  • Offers a choice of self-charge, solar and external recharge power options. 1000mAh battery.
  • 3 ways to charge: micro usb/hand crank/solar.
  • Dimensions: 5" x 2.4" x 1.6" .
  • Weight: less than 0.5 lbs.
  • Very compact, light, and easy to carry
  • Light brightness of 5000lux @120mm, 0.25W/7 Lumen.
  • Range is approximately 60KM (38 Miles) for FM, 100KM (62 Miles) for AM. 
  • Weighs less than half a pound and only two and half by five inches. 

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No matter what, remember:
don’t worry. be ready.