By Gail Marsh
Would you drive your RV through flood waters? Or let your children swim as lightning strikes? Of course not! But that assumes you are alerted to flood conditions or the potential for lightning in your area. RVers love nature. However, nature doesn’t always reciprocate. When storms threaten, it’s important for campers to know about them. Whether in a tent or inside an RV, being forewarned enables us to take precautions to stay safe.
One essential that campers need to pack each and every time they venture out is a weather radio. Tornadoes, flash floods, avalanches, and other natural or man-made disasters can occur any time in any place. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA radio can often mean the difference between life and death.
What is the NOAA Weather Radio system?
The NOAA Weather Radio system is comprised of a group of VHF FM radio stations. They broadcast over the frequencies 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz to radios with a VHF-capable receiver. NOAA radio stations are based throughout the United States and their signal is transmitted over 1,000 antennae located in the U.S. and its territories. No matter where you travel in the United States you can receive radio transmissions from NOAA. (Canada has a similar system operated by Environment Canada. It uses the same radio frequencies as NOAA.)
Where does the weather signal originate?
The National Weather Station in your current location will broadcast necessary information to NOAA so you can be sure the information is accurate and current for your area.
NOAA also collaborates with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to transmit information relating to non-weather emergencies, like electrical outages and AMBER alerts for your location.
What does a NOAA radio cost?
Dependable NOAA radios range in price from less than $20 to more than $100 and can be purchased online or in most sporting goods stores.
What kind should I buy?
Most recommended is a hand-cranked weather radio. Some models feature a backup battery option as well. Take the time to investigate all of the “extras” available on some NOAA radio models. Some have helpful features like a flashlight, strobe warning lights, and cell phone charging capabilities. Purchase the weather radio that best fits your needs and budget. There are lots to choose from.
Note: This is the one the RVtravel.com staff uses and highly recommends! It’s a radio and flashlight, and it will charge your phone with its built-in power bank. It’s a good one to have in case of emergencies.
Where should I keep my NOAA radio?
Do not “store” your radio thinking you’ll grab it when you need it. As you arrive at the campsite, your radio should be one of the first things you put into place. Make sure everyone in your group knows the radio’s location and how to operate it.