When I was about eight years old I got my first AM/FM weather radio. I remember it had a dial wheel and a little plastic bar that would move to see what station I was close to, not digital tuner for me. I would use masking tape and magic marker on the front face to mark about where my favorite stations where. On the side, it had a frequency switch AM/FM/Weather. As a kid, I quickly learned that if I move the switch to the “Weather” setting all I got was a lot of static and a very monotone voice telling me if was going to rain and when high tide would be. Ever since then that’s all I thought a weather radio was good for. Why would I need that if I have an App on my phone that guesses what the weather will be for the next month? Last year I completed the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program in my county and quickly learned differently.
One of the topics that came up during a CERT session was the need for a weather radio, especially as we a were approaching tornado season here in Indiana. Our instructor for that session was from the county EMA (Emergency Management Agency) and he talked about a federal program they ran to provide radios to at need households, much like the fire department does with smoke detectors. That gave me pause, every time we have moved into a new house or apartment one of the first things we do is install all new smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Not once have I considered adding a weather radio but that has now changed. After seeing a brief demo of the basic unit the EMA provides, the Midland WR120, and doing some online research we added one at home for about $26.
Here in Indiana, like most of the mid-west, we have sirens that go off to warn of possible tornadoes in the area. When they go off you may only have a few minutes to respond. We only live a mile away from the closest siren and typically can hear it without an issue. A couple of weeks ago it was late in the evening and we were watching TV. The windows were closed with the AC running full blast. We had no clue what was going on outside until our little Midland unit started going off. Within in a minute, we had grabbed our son that was upstairs asleep, our dogs, and were setup in the basement. While the storm missed our area it had done a good deal of damage 20 minutes north of us. Neither my wife or I had heard the sirens until we opened the door to the hallway but we had heard the radio.
The WR120 is a fairly basic unit that is easy to setup. The LED screen and arrow buttons allow you to quickly set the time and date. The unit comes with an AC power adapter but can also run off of batteries, in case you lose power. If you want it to double as an alarm clock it will do that as well. It uses the S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding) radio transmissions to receive weather notifications and alerts. In its default mode, it will alert you to any S.A.M.E. message that is broadcast in your area. You can also program it for specific S.A.M.E. regions. It has three different alert setting Display, Voice, and Tone. I prefer the Voice alert. When a warning comes in it sounds a 90-db alarm for 8 seconds, enough to bring even me out of a dead sleep, then switches to the local weather broadcast for 3 minutes. Once setup there is nothing more to do, set it and forget it, the unit will take care of the rest.
For $26 you can’t beat the piece of mind that this unit can give you, helping to protect your family.
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