Monday, February 13, 2012

How To Pick An Emergency Preparedness Radio

A radio that breaks when you are trying to find out whether you have been ordered to evacuate your area is not very useful. Not every radio would make a good emergency or disaster preparedness radio. 

There are some criteria you can use to decide which radios will fill your needs during an emergency. They are not difficult and if you can't remember the important ones, you can write them down and take them with you when you shop for your emergency preparedness radio.

One of these requirements for a good emergency radio is the power. It is good to have as many ways to power your radio as possible. You can get a reasonably priced one that will work plugged into a wall, which charges a battery. You can run it off of the battery until it runs out and then you can use a hand crank to charge the battery again.These often have solar power as well which can charge the battery. 

I think it is a bad idea to get an emergency preparedness radio that does not have a hand crank that will charge it enough to run for a while. The hand crank needs to be big enough to hold on to easily even for a person with large hands. If you have small hands you still need to consider whether your emergency radio crank will fit everyone's hands. You could be unable to crank your radio and everyone will still need to know when to evacuate. 

The emergency radio handle should fold up out of the way so that it will not be broken accidentally. It should be easy to pull the crank into the operating position, otherwise it could be broken when someone tries to pull it out to operate it. 

When the crank for your radio is being turned the path the handle follows as it turns, should be free of obstructions that keep it from turning easily. I have found some emergency radios that were poorly designed and you hit your hand on a button every time you turned the crank. This is hard on your hand as well as the radio.

The emergency radio should tune in well to stations so that you can hear them clearly. The speakers have a lot to do with clarity as well. An order to evacuate is not useful if you can't hear it. Try the radio out and hear for yourself whether the sound from it is adequate. Radio Shack has a selection of emergency radios to choose from and has samples of each that you may try out in the store.

The prices on the Radio Shack radios are high compared to some you can order from the internet. Most of the Radio Shack radios are decent quality and it is good to be able to get hands on it before you buy it. I did find one there that had a handle where you hit your hand turning it, though. If you find that out in the store in person, you just don't get that one.

Some emergency radios have the internal battery soldered in place permanently so it cannot be replaced when that battery no longer holds a charge. That means the whole radio goes along with the battery. They can last a long time, but I don't like that.

An emergency radio that will receive shortwave radio broadcasts as well as regular radio broadcasts is an extra measure of safety. If a large area is affected by the emergency that caused you to listen to the radio, all of your regular local stations could be out. The shortwave broadcasts might be all you can get.

Some emergency radios have additional functions that are useful. I like those with a light. I would not like to depend on the radio light for my only light, but it is good to have backups. Emergency radios can also have the ability to charge other devices, such as cell phones. I even found one that included tips to fit different types of cell phones. If you buy the tips alone, they can cost $20 - $40.00 U.S.  That is pretty worthwhile as long as you have a reasonable expectation of being able to use cell phones in your area during an emergency.

My area does not have this. I know it could be a while before cell phones are operating again after the 6 hour emergency reserve of local companies runs out. If this is the case for you, you must decide whether you think it is worth it to pay extra for a tip to fit your phone and others.

Look at the radio and see whether it looks flimsy. Do you think handles look too skinny and liable to break easily? Does the whole thing look fragile?
If you like the looks of it and think it is durable, and the price fits your budget, then maybe it is the right one for you.

This post is getting too long so I will break here and continue with buying an emergency radio from the internet on another post.

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