One of the best ways to get information during a disaster, aside from the plethora of social media platforms, is via radio. While most people listen to curated media--like Spotify or Pandora--having basic radio capabilities can be invaluable during a disaster. Here are several types of radios you should have on hand:
- HAM radio is a good option both for disasters and entertainment. While only licensed users can operate HAM radios (except during an emergency), these are great for receiving and providing information during a disaster.
- NOAA weather radio. If you live in an area prone to weather emergencies, a NOAA weather radio can provide a variety of information from emergency alarms to continuous weather information broadcasts.
- AM/FM transistor radio. These radios usually operate via batteries or plugged into an outlet and provide all of the AM and FM stations for news, music, and entertainment. I keep a small radio of this type in my bug out bag for emergency use during a disaster.
- RTL-SDR. This is software-defined radio which is popular with hobbyists and provides a range of radio services via a special dongle (which can be ordered from Amazon) connected to your computer.
- Satellite radio. This type of radio is most commonly found in vehicles (like Sirius XM radio) and provides radio stations from all over the country. If you are driving around the country, especially in typically "dead" areas that receive no other type of radio signal, this is a good option.
- Radio apps. There are numerous radio apps you can download to your cell phone to use during an emergency in order to listen to local, national, and international radio stations. I believe only the NextRadio app allows you to listen to the radio on your phone without cell or wifi service.
- An emergency radio. Emergency radios usually provide AM/FM and sometimes shortwave stations on a radio that can be powered in multiple ways (batteries, plugged in, hand crank, and solar). This is a great option to have on hand during an emergency due to the multiple power source options.
- MP3 radio. For people who don't want to drain their cell phone battery while listening to music, small MP3 radios (example here) allow you to download your favorite music to the device as well as listen to FM radio all on a tiny usb-chargable device.
- Police scanner. Police scanner radios (either desktop, handheld, or via scanner radio apps) allow civilians to listen in to police, EMS, fire, utility, air, marine, and other radio traffic (note this won't work if you local police radio has been encrypted).
- Car radio. The radio in your vehicle can be a viable option if you have no other way to access news and information via radio in your home during a disaster (just be sure to start your car OUTSIDE of your closed garage to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning).
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