Weather Alert Radios

Weather Alert Radios Save Lives! - How Will You Know When An Emergency Happens?

As the temperatures start to rise outside, residents of the Lake Zurich community are reminded that severe weather is a threat at this time of year. How will you know when a watch or warning has been issued?
"The best way to receive emergency information about an approaching storm is through a weather radio,” said Lake Zurich Fire Chief and Emergency Management Agency Director John Malcolm. “Outdoor warning systems should not be relied upon when you are inside your home. Every residence should have a tone-activated weather radio as part of your home preparedness plan.”

Weather radios receive broadcasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information. NOAA also broadcasts emergency information about natural or environmental disasters or public safety hazards including floods, tornadoes, oil spills, 911 telephone outages, terrorist and AMBER alerts, as well as post-event information.
“Weather radios are as crucial to family safety as smoke detectors or alarm systems," said Malcolm. “These life-saving devices alert you immediately with severe weather or emergency information, when minutes or even seconds count, day or night. This early warning can be the difference between life and death. A weather radio should be considered standard equipment for every home.”

The weather radio receivers come in many sizes and have a variety of different features. Some weather radios are equipped with a special tone feature, which can sound an alert and give households immediate information about potentially life threatening situations. During an emergency, the National Weather Service (NWS) will interrupt routine weather radio programming and send out a special tone that activates weather radios in the warning area.
Weather radios are reasonable in cost and are manufactured by several companies. It is recommended to select a model with a Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) receiver that can be set up to only sound for a single county. That way, the tone will only be heard when severe weather is headed directly for that county and will minimize the number of false alarms for events that may be a few counties away.

Here are some additional features to look for when purchasing a weather radio:

  • Alarm tone - This allows the radio to be set on silent but produces a special tone to alert you to severe weather.
  • Hand crank or battery operated - A radio should be able to operate on batteries or be hand-cranked to produce operating power. When purchasing a weather radio, look for radios with an AC adapter and either a battery backup or hand-crank capability.
  • Tunable to all NWS frequencies. (Visit for frequencies.)
  •  For those with a hearing impairment, look for a feature that allows radios to connect the alarms to other attention-getting devices such as personal computers and text printers.
According to Malcolm, families should get ready for severe weather by taking three simple steps: prepare a Ready Kit of emergency supplies; establish an emergency communications plan; and stay informed about severe weather events. More information can be found at

“Get the entire family involved in the process so everyone knows what to listen for and how to react,” Malcolm concluded.