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#51934 - 10/13/05 08:58 PM NOAA All-Hazard Radios
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
I was crusing around the Seattle/King Co. emergency preparedness website (http://www.metrokc.gov/prepare/) and ran across reference to NOAA Tone-Alert All-Hazard Radios. They say you can program them to just your county or to certain counties around you. Even though they are National Weather Service based, they will give notification of other disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, chemical spills, Amber Alerts, etc. An audible tone makes you aware that there is a problem. The price range is wide: $20 - $300.

"During an emergency, NWS forecasters interrupt routine broadcasts and send a special tone activating local weather radios. Weather radios equipped with a special alarm tone feature sound an alert to give you immediate information about a life-threatening situation.

"NWR broadcasts warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards: weather (e.g., tornadoes, floods), natural (e.g., earthquakes, forest fires and volcanic activity), technological (e.g., chemical releases, oil spills, nuclear power plant emergencies, etc.), and national emergencies (e.g., terrorist attacks). Working with other Federal agencies and the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Emergency Alert System (EAS), NWR is an all-hazards radio network, making it the most comprehensive weather and emergency information available to the public."

Does anyone have one of these? What is your opinion? Any tips on brands or models?


#51935 - 10/13/05 11:21 PM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
You want to make sure that the radio says it supports the "Specific Area Message Encoding" (SAME). This is what allows you to program the radio to receive specifc alerts. Do not concern yourself with "should I get one", or "are they useful?". Get one. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

With that said, you'll be comparing features for these radios. The basic functionality is what you will be concerned with (unless you live far away from a NOAA transmitter, then reception capability will be an issue)

A few issues:

1) Battery backup - It should be able to have continuous uniterrupted power while the power is out.

2) Number of "areas" accepted by the radio. In more densely populated areas, or where the "areas" are dense, you want to be more aware of incidents that could affect you.

Edited to add:

A simple Google search for "NOAA SAME" this is the first link:

NOAA Weather SAME Information

All the information you'll need for the system itself. Now you just have to get information on models and such.

Edited by ki4buc (10/13/05 11:24 PM)

#51936 - 10/13/05 11:24 PM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2015
Loc: NE Illinois
Any weather radio with the SAME feature will do the "same" thing -- allow you to set it up so only specified counties alarm. This NOAA.gov site gives a lot more information: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/ .

I have two radios - the Midland hand-held weather radio (yellow) and the Oregon Scientific WR-101.

By far my favorite is the Oregon Scientific WR-101. Reasons: it runs on either batteries or AC, if on AC the batteries act as backup in power outage, it can be setup for table top use or as a portable, it has a very small "footprint", its style looks nice in the living room (not a weird color or shape), and it has a large LED-lit lightbar that blinks ALL the time - green when OK, red when there is a warning/watch. It is also easy to use.

I really don't like the Midland radio since it ONLY runs on batteries, and batteries only last a few days if left on. The AC connection is only for recharging the NiCD batteries and the radio doesn't function while charging. (whose idea was that?) I also find the buttons very hard to remember how to use.

I think the Oregon Scientific model may be out of production, but they are still available if you look around - such as http://www.weatherradio.com . I really like them - I have two in my house.

#51937 - 10/13/05 11:27 PM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
harrkev Offline

Registered: 09/05/01
Posts: 384
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO
There are two basic types:

1) Ones powered off of the 120V lines and that have SAME.
2) Battery-powered models.

The SAME allows you have the unit in "standby" mode, but it turns on in the event of an emergency. What happens is that the radio is on, but the speaker is muted. When a special code is received, the unit "wakes up."

To me, SAME is only useful in a radio that plugs into the wall. Because the receiver is always running, running SAME on a unit powered by batteries does not seem like a good idea.
Darwin was wrong -- I'm still alive

#51938 - 10/14/05 01:31 AM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
I also have the Midland handheld weather radio. It's the only NOAA I've owned, so it's hard to compare. It's a nice small size, although its antenna is about as high as the radio itself, so that sticks out quite a bit. The inability to operate it off AC power is a big downer. There's an AC jack, but it's only for charging.

It seems splashproof, and the battery compartment door has a thin rubber gasket. I'd dropped it numerous times on a carpeted floor with no ill effects.

It runs off 2AA and using NiMH batteries, I get about 4 days of use. During use, a green LED flashes intermittently so you know its on, which switches to red when the batteries run down. With alkalines, the red light will flash for a couple days, so I have plenty of time to change the batteries. But with NiMH, the batteries drain very quickly so I rarely see the red warning indicator. Since I use NiMH, I'm frequently waking up to find a dead radio, which is a bad thing in a radio you want to warn you against sudden, unexpected hazards. I have train tracks near me and although I don't know if hazardous materials are transported on that particular line, but I would like to think that I would be alerted to any chemical hazard if there was a derailment or accident.

The buttons are rather complicated, too. Only your county codes are retained when the batteries are drained, so a few times a week, I need to reset the time, the calendar, 12/24 hour indicator, turn off alarm 1, turn off alarm 2, and finally set to standby mode. I'm quick at it now, but it's a pain.

For a handheld sized radio that will mostly sit by your bedside, I think the Oregon Scientific with an AC adapter is much more practical.

#51939 - 10/14/05 01:51 AM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
MartinFocazio Offline


Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
I have two. Avoid ALL the Oregon Scientific stuff - pure garbage.

#51940 - 10/14/05 03:06 AM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
xbanker Offline

Registered: 04/21/05
Posts: 484
Loc: Anthem, AZ USA
The owner/user reviews of various models on amazon.com provide some pretty good insight (search: noaa warning radio s.a.m.e.).

Here's link to Weather Receiver Forum on Popularwireless.com. Participants appear to be the weather radio-version of ETS-geeks (that's a good thing <img src="/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />).
"Things that have never happened before happen all the time." Scott Sagan, The Limits of Safety

#51941 - 10/14/05 03:16 AM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
xbanker Offline

Registered: 04/21/05
Posts: 484
Loc: Anthem, AZ USA

I've never owned any Oregon Scientific equipment, but am curious: what shortcomings can you share?

"Things that have never happened before happen all the time." Scott Sagan, The Limits of Safety

#51942 - 10/14/05 03:35 AM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
anotherinkling Offline

Registered: 03/09/05
Posts: 109
Loc: Chicago
I've had the Oregon Scientific WR-103 for awhile now. Works great and is cheap. I leave it plugged in by the bed, but it has a set of batteries in it for toting to the basement when the alert sounds and the sky turns green. My two bits...

#51943 - 10/14/05 04:27 PM Re: NOAA All-Hazard Radios
Craig_phx Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 04/05/05
Posts: 715
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
I have two older radios like this that can be set to interrupt when there is a NOAA emergency message. The 2-way radios do not cost much more than a NOAA radio and are more useful. Plus you might have it on when a message that is timely for you is broadcast.

Thermo-regulate, hydrate and communicate.

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