DEVICES: Introduction ; Emergency Survival Radio


In this section of our website we are going to discuss AND review Devices / Gadgets / Tools which we should have in our possession or readily accessible in order that we can use it or them in an emergency and even life-threatening situation.

Collectively, we’ll refer to them as devices.

When purchasing devices, some people choose to buy a few items at a time, often due to budgeting issues. On the other hand, however, some people can afford to buy everything (or nearly everything) at the same time. Whichever way you choose to do it, there are items you should focus on as your top priority. From our experience the following list includes the top purchases that anyone should make when they first start prepping.

(1). Communications : Emergency survival radios

(2). Navigation : Compasses (+ map of location and/or destination) ; GPS systems

(3). Tactical / Survival Watches

(4). Survival Knives


(6).Fire Starters

(7). Paracords

(8) Personal Safety & Self Defence : Tactical pens ; Pepper Spray device.

(9). Mountain Warehouse 7 in 1 Survival Whistle

(10). Portable Power Banks ; Rechargeable Battery Charger

(11) Portable Power Stations

(12) Anti-Flood Bags

[13]. Generators for Home Use >>> cf Survival Light Section : Part 1 => Power Outages (“Black-Outs”).

The following additional survival devices are discussed and recommendations reviewed in other sections of this website which can also be accessed from the menu list at top of the page just like the aforementioned 12 Devices :

  • Flashlights > Survival Lighting
  • Water Filters & Systems > Food & Water > Water Purification
  • Portable urinary devices (Male & Female options) > DEVICES > Car Emergency Kits & Accessories (Parts 5A and 5B).

It goes without saying that there are some items in the aforementioned list that we have already discussed. Hence, in this sub-section reference links will be stated when appropiate.

Also bear in mind that during future discussions and recommendations, what is most likely relevant to the beginner/newcomer will be at the forefront of our minds.

Finally, although we certainly do not want you either overload your Backpack, BOB or EDC bag nor exceed your budget limit, always try to carry an extra of certain items even if the ‘extra’ is perhaps of a lesser quality but still capable of serving the function you bought it for. I will explain this when a particular device is being discussed later on but please always try to bear in mind……….

” Carry redundant capability, not redundant gear

1). The Emergency Survival Radio.

If you’re lucky, you’ll never need to use an emergency radio. But if the recent events surrounding Hurricanes Isaias, Laura and Sally have shown us anything, it’s that you are never too prepared, especially if you live in an area prone to extreme weather events. 

Whilst technology has undoubtedly advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, the point is that if Mother Nature’s wrath is upon you, it is not wise to rely solely on smartphone apps to save your bacon. What you need is the kind of crucial information and practical help you get can from a quality emergency (survival) radio.

Simply speaking, an emergency radio is one which allows you to get information during a disaster. They are often also refered to as NOAA radios, crank radios, or survival radios.

With an emergency radio, you’ll get the kind of weather updates and emergency information that are invaluable when trying to determine whether you should close the hatches or if you should evacuate. However, finding a reliable, high-quality emergency radio with many useful features can be a daunting task if you don’t have any experience in this area (i.e. you’re a ‘beginner’).

Consequently, it is wise to begin with clear explanations and uses of important features. Afterwards we shall review the model options available which together with their features / Pros / Cons will make your final choice.. oh so much easier !

There are important differences between a Two-Way Radio (such as a ham radio) and an Emergency Radio :

  • Two-way radios are meant to provide communication between users.
  • Emergency radios allow the user to listen to broadcasts

In addition, emergency radios have longer ranges, better battery life, and features that you simply can’t pack into a portable two-way radio.

All that being said, there could be no harm in ALSO purchasing a ham radio for use at work and/or in your car whilst using the emergency radio only at your home address. (Remember “Two is One and One is None ” ?).

What Kind of Emergency Radio Functions / Features Do You Need Before, During & After A Disaster ?

(i) ‘Outdated’ Technology : Mobile emergency notifications are great, but older technology, such as radio, has an essential role in community disaster management. When communication systems and power grids fail, battery-powered radios, particularly those with a hand crank or solar charging options, continue to work.

(ii) Reliable Information : In an emergency, staying informed is crucial if you are going to make good decisions. Information that an emergency radio can provide includes :

  • What’s going on: Not all disasters or impending disasters are obvious. Radio reports let you know what is happening.
Having access to a specialized radio during an emergency situation can keep you and your family informed as you make critical decisions.
  • Related issues: Emergencies sometimes beget emergencies. A weather emergency could lead to power outages. This could lead to other problems, such as civil disorder or illnesses.
  • Official instructions: Because of the unpredictable and chaotic nature of some disasters and emergencies, it’s difficult to know what to do. Radio broadcasts include official instructions from emergency-management authorities.
  • Evacuation warnings: A radio broadcast can tell you if an evacuation is necessary or under consideration. Advance notice gives you time to pack and plan a travel route.
  • Local resources: Radio broadcasts tell you how to access local resources, such as food, clean water, or applications for disaster aid.
  • Expert perspectives: Interviews with local authorities, first responders, and charity executives provide insight into what is going on in your area.
  • Morale-boosting media: Your radio also provides a connection to the outside world. Hearing other people, along with music or other entertainment, can keep your spirits up.

(iii) Battery / Crank Radios for emergencies and weather reports : Like most manual generators, the crank of a survival radio produces energy by means of a magnet coiled in a coil of conductive wire. When the coil is rotated or “bent” around the magnet, an electric current is generated. Simply put, this electricity is then used to recharge the emergency weather radio battery.

This is especially useful for emergency radios because other charging options depend on sources outside of the user’s control and / or are inaccessible.

Most radios have replaceable batteries and solar chargers. However, a wall outlet is useless when the power goes out. Solar chargers only work when the sun is shining and there’s no cloud cover. And eventually, you’ll run out of batteries. Having a hand crank means that the life of a radio is indefinite as long as you have functional hands.

(iv) NOAA NWR All Hazards or Public Alert Certified :

NOAA stands for “National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” It is part of the National Weather Service (NWS). NOAA issues warnings to the public about emergencies.

The NOAA broadcasts on seven different VHF frequencies. Not all standard AM/FM radios pick up NOAA frequencies. To find out the broadcasting frequency of your local area (in the USA or Canada), see the NOAA station listings webpage.

In addition to broadcasting alerts about weather-related disasters, NOAA issues alerts for:

  • Shelter in Place warnings
  • Volcano warnings
  • Fire warnings – more so on wildfires
  • Earthquake warnings – more so on earthquake survival
  • Civil Emergency warnings
  • Environmental hazard events (such as oil spills or chemical explosion hazards)
  • Amber alerts
  • Other emergencies

Only buy an emergency radio with the NOAA label!

Alternatively, you can look for an emergency radio with the “Public Alert” label.  These radios also get NOAA frequencies.  Some even carry both labels.

(v) Alarm Tone Feature : For emergencies like hurricanes, we usually get warned on the news days (if not weeks) before the disaster hits. But what about emergencies that come without warning ? This is where the “alarm tone” feature of emergency radios comes in :

  • The alarm tone feature of emergency radio allows you to keep your emergency radio turned on 24/7 but in silent mode
  • If a major emergency occurs, the NWS will send out alerts using a special tone.  This special tone will activate your emergency radio and cause it to turn on.
  • There are also emergency radios which have alarm features for disabled people.  Instead of a sound alarm, they might vibrate or use a visual signal like a flashing light.

(vi) S.A.M.E. Alerts : ‘S.A.M.E.’ stands for “Specific Area Message Encoding.” This feature lets you custom-program your radio. You get to choose which alerts trigger the alarm to turn on. With the S.A.M.E. feature programmed, you’d be able to only get alerts which are relevant to you.

For example, you may not be too keen on being disturbed at unsociable hours about an Amber Alert in a neighbouring region. However, a chemical spill in in your region /county will surely be of interest if only to discover if the drinking water supply is threatened.

If you plan on keeping your emergency radio on 24/7, then the S.A.M.E. feature is a must-have (in my humble opinion).

You’ll have to program the S.A.M.E. codes into your emergency radio.  It is pretty easy to do.  You can read more about What Is S.A.M.Eon the NOAA website.

(vii) Source of Power : Very important. In fact, it was the first feature I looked for because my logic was that as long as the power source was good / reliable, it would be possible to get some good mileage from the my emergency radio.

There are a number of power sources whose pros and cons are tabulated below. [ Info. taken from ].

BatteriesEasy to find/buy anywhere
Can stockpile lots of them
Work across multiple devices
Can use rechargeable ones
Drain quickly
Get damaged easily
May lose power during storage
Solar Renewable resource
Nothing to stockpile
Easy to recharge
Sunshine isn’t always available
Usually a pricier option
Slow to charge
Hand CrankMost reliable charging method
Usually affordable
Nothing to stockpile
Incredibly annoying to charge this way.
Poor quality cranks get jammed easily
USB ChargingCan be connected to solar chargers, power banks, and other USB power sources
May be able to output power to devices
Require USB charger
Many models don’t connect to wall outlets
AC/DC ChargingNo worries about draining batteries
Can keep it plugged in at all times to receive alerts.
Useless during a power outage.

(viii) Waterproof Rating : This is very important especially if your location is frequently or seasonally threatened by heavy rainfall, floods and hurricanes.

‘Waterproofness’ is listed as an IP code (which stands for Ingress Protection). Good emergency radios will actually list the IP rating.

The first number in an IP code is for how well it protects against solid items, such as dust or even insects. This number should be a 6, which is the maximum protection and means the radio will keep out dust/dirt.

The second number indicates how well it holds up against liquids.

I would recommend getting an IP rating of at least IP63. Ideally, you’d get a radio with IP67 rating.

Unfortunately, most emergency radios don’t test waterproofness so they don’t have an official IP rating. If your home were to get flooded and you accidentally dropped the emergency radio in the water, it might stop working.

Generally it is the two-way radios which actually have IP ratings (this is because they are often meant to be used outdoors, such as when hunting or camping).

Again, this is why it is smart to have both an NOAA emergency radio and a two-way radio which can pick up NOAA broadcasts.

Other Features

Some products come with extra features.  Some might seem excessive or gimmicky, but they could also be very useful in a disaster situation.

Here are some that are certainly not essential but are worth considering :

  • Built-in flashlight: If your shelter-in-place location is in a basement, having an extra flashlight in your radio can make a big difference. Do NOT, however, rely on your emergency radio flashlight as your primary flashlight.
  • Power supply outlets: Many models have outlets which let you charge devices like phones and tablets through the emergency radio.
  • Rubber exterior: This will protect the radio if it gets banged or hit by debris.
  • Digital programming: It is easier to use a digital programmer than trying to manually tune into the right stations.
  • Headphone jack: There may be some situations where you want to listen to the radio quietly, such as if your kids are sleeping in the shelter with you. Headphones also use less power than speakers.

The Reviews.

Midland - WR400, Deluxe NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio + S.A.M.E.
The WR400 Deluxe NOAA Weather Radio uses digital S.A.M.E. technology to lock into your county’s warning system, giving you instant weather updates from the National Weather Service. The USB output allows you to charge devices directly from the radio. Program up to 25 counties with 80 different emergency alerts. The WR400 is Midland’s most advanced emergency weather alert radio.

- S.A.M.E. Digital Technology
- Program up to 25 different counties/provinces (USA & CANADA)
- Customized alerts
- 85 dB siren
- Emergency power backup (requires 4 AA batteries, not included)
- Instant info from the National Weather Service
- AM/FM radio with alarm buzzer
- Color coded alert level indicators

- Not waterproof or very rugged
- Only has batteries as backup power source
- Only Available in USA & CANADA

Group II Options :

NAME of MODEL Kaito KA500 Self-Winding Emergency Radio FosPower Emergency Radio Midland ER210 Emergency Company Crank Weather AM/FM Radio.
INTRODUCTION. The Kaito KA500 emergency radio is renowned for its reliability and many features that have helped countless people prepare for, endure and come out of natural disasters of all kinds unscathed. Few emergency radios can compete with the KA500 when it comes to charging methods. It can be recharged using a hand crank, solar panel, USB input, wall charger or batteries. No matter where you are or whatever the conditions, you will have the power and information you need. The icing on the cake is that you can also use this emergency radio to charge your mobile devices. If you need help in an emergency, we can guarantee that the FosPower Emergency Radio is an exceptional unit designed to help you overcome any difficult situation. This is a device designed to be used for many purposes, both in your home and outdoors. It offers access to the NOAA Emergency Weather Show that keeps you up to date with all events on AM and Fm stations, to keep you safe at all times. The radio offers you three power sources thanks to its solar panel and its crank lever. This is a valuable tool for emergency situations. It not only keeps you informed during severe weather or civil emergencies, but it can alert search and rescue teams to your whereabouts as well. It can be powered via a solar panel, a hand crank, or its rechargeable Li-ion battery, ensuring long-lasting functionality.
FEATURES / CHARACTERISTICS. - 5-way solar power - Weather alert radio - Flashlight, Reading light - 2-band shortwave coverage AM, FM and AM - LED flashlight - 2000 mah power bank - SOS alarm - For home and outdoors - Multiple Sustainable Power Sources - NOAA Weather Radio with Alert - Cree LED Flashlight - 130 Lumens - SOS Flashlight Beacon - Battery Provides Up to 25 Hours of Life - Smartphone/Tablet Charger - Low, High Flashlight modes
PROS. The KA500 is compact and lightweight. Charge the built-in NiMH battery via plug, USB input, solar panel or hand crank. Or use AA batteries. The full 7 NOAA bands are available to you with the KA500. It is also a powerful LED flashlight so you can never be left in the dark in an emergency. Solar power, rechargeable batteries, AAA batteries and crank - Very Good ! Good reception sound is clear and volume easy for travel and emergency. Multiple power options, solar/battery/crank works for any scenario. Good for bugout bag or home use. Compact Design ; Ease of Use & Good Reception and Sound.
CONS - The solar panel is not as efficient as it could be. - The emergency radio manual leaves something to be desired. - No S.A.M.E. alerts - AC/DC adapter not included - Analog tuner. - Pricey considering what's on offer - Build Quality : plastic, " feels cheap ". - Pricey - Problems re-charging with the crank from some customer reviews.

To read additional information and latest offers regarding the models described above (i.e.Group II), CLICK on your amazon country website in the table below.

Kaito KA500Latest OfferBest OfferLatest Offerna
FoS PowerBest OfferLatest OfferClick Herena
Midland ER210*Click HereLatest OfferLatest Offer BUY HERE !
*For AND ONLY The Midland ER300 Model is available

Group III Options :

NAME of MODEL RunningSnail MD-090 NOAA Solar Crank. American Red Cross Weather Radio. (Eton FRX3) Sangean MMR-88 Weather + Alert.
INTRODUCTION. this one is built to take whatever Mother Nature can do and keep working so you can stay up to date on all the information relevant to your situation and your ultimate survival. It never pays to be unprepared for a natural disaster and with the MD-090 emergency radio you never will. It is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can be recharged using a hand crank, solar panel, or USB cable. And if you have AAA batteries on hand, it will work with them too. With the MD-090 Emergency Radio, you're never offline or in the dark. Anything named after the American Red Cross will have to live up to expectations, and thanks to Eton, FRX3 Weather Alert Radio is doing it. This is an incredibly versatile, durable and practical survival radio that will keep you informed, keep your smartphone running, guide you in the dark with its LED flashlight, and never get lost thanks to the locator glowing in the dark. Add multiple charging / powering methods, a red distress beacon and a headphone jack so you can hear what you need to hear and the FRX3 emergency radio enters your cabinet. The Sangean MMR-88 has earned its reputation as a solid and reliable emergency radio. It is extremely compact, extremely durable, and has an easy-to-read digital display that also monitors your charge level. The crank is smooth and efficient and the design makes sense with all that is easy to understand. This emergency radio is very stable when put down so you don't have to worry about it flying away. Plus, it has a built-in jack for your headphones so that important information doesn't get drowned out by the wind or other people's conversations in the emergency shelter.
FEATURES / CHARACTERISTICS Table lamp & ; SOS alarm with 1W bright red led flashlight. which lights up dark areas well ! 2000 mah rechargeable battery which can be replaced by 3 nos. AAA batteries. USB port lets you charge smartphones and other small electrical devices. Large ergonomic crank Superior audio quality 8.7 times longer play time Easy-to-adjust digital tuner. It has a lot of features to admire : Compact enough to carry Good Rugged design NOAA and Public Alert approved Rechargeable battery pack, solar, hand crank.
PROS Survival radio capable of receiving all 7 NOAA weather channels. Zoom able LED flashlight to keep your working area well-lit. The LED "table lamp" can be reassuring to children when the power is off. The MD-090 and your mobile devices are never dead. Waterproof according to IPX3, which means it is not afraid of rain or snow. Includes a powerful LED flashlight. Capable of receiving all 7 NOAA weather bands. Use it to keep your smartphone charged so you never lose touch with your loved ones. Manual crank, solar panels, USB charging or battery power options. Illuminated locator in the dark so you never lose sight of it. The convenient charge indicator is located in the front and center of the digital display. 3 charging methods: hand crank, solar or USB. DC Out port to charge your mobile devices. 4-function LED flashlight (low, high, flash and SOS). AM / FM and 7 NOAA channels.
CONS - Solar panels require a lot of direct sunlight. Unlikely in a weather emergency. - Reliable and sturdy although it looks a bit cheap. - Great Value for money. - You have to turn the crank to get a usable load - but it's doable ! - Solar panel charges slower than other models. - No alkaline battery backup for this emergency radio. - The included Li battery is of questionable quality probably because it was manufactured overseas. However, you can replace it with a better one.

To read additional information and latest offers regarding the models described above (i.e.Group III), CLICK on your amazon country website in the table below.

RunningSnail…Latest OfferBest OfferLatest OfferN / A
American Red XBest OfferLatest OfferClick HereN / A
Sangean MMR..Click HereLatest OfferLatest OfferBest Offer


The best crank radios are important allies when it comes to transcending a natural disaster. They allow you to stay in touch with the outside world and plan your survival or escape strategy based on accurate and timely information. Emergency radios often cost less than $ 50 and yet the information, electricity, lighting and, yes, the entertainment they provide to people in the event of a natural disaster is priceless. They are a worthy investment.

We now move onto the subject of Navigation and in particular the importance of the Compass (with map) and GPS ( i.e. The Global Positioning System). This for obvious reasons is a must know / must understand subject.

Navigation Devices –> LINK >>> Click Here.




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