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Public Alert Devices
NWR Receiver Consumer Information
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards transmitters broadcast on one of seven VHF frequencies from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz. The broadcasts cannot be heard on a simple AM/FM radio receiver. However, there are many receiver options, ranging from handheld portable units which just pick up Weather Radio - to desktop and console models which receive Weather Radio in addition to other broadcasts.
Where to Buy One
While NOAA's National Weather Service staff prepare and produce Weather Radio broadcasts, NWS neither manufactures nor sells receivers. Receivers can be found at many retail outlets, including electronics, department, sporting goods, and boat and marine accessory stores and their catalogs. They can also be purchased via the Internet from online retailers or directly from manufacturers.
We can not recommend one brand of receiver over another, but we do suggest that you look for receivers which carry the Public Alert logo. The Public Alert Standard (CEA-2009) was developed by the Consumer Electronic Association in conjunction with the National Weather Service. Devices which carrying the Public Alert logo meet certain technical standards and come with all the features mentioned above
Residential Grade Radios and Features
Prices can vary from $20 to $200, depending on the model. Many receivers have an alarm feature, but some may not. Among the more useful features in a receiver are:
Tone alarm: The National Weather Service will send a 1050 Hz tone alarm before most warning and many watch messages are broadcast. The tone will activate all the receivers which are equipped to receive it, even if the audio is turned off. This is especially useful for warnings which occur during the night when most people are asleep.
SAME technology: SAME, or Specific Alert Message Encoding allows you to specify the particular area for which you wish to receive alerts. Most warnings and watches broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio are county- or independent city-based (parish-based in Louisiana), although in a few areas of the country the alerts are issued for portions of counties. Since most NWR transmitters are broadcasting for a number of counties, SAME receivers will respond only to alerts issued for the area (or areas) you have selected. This minimizes the number of “false alarms” for events which might be a few counties away from where you live.
Selectable alerting of events: While SAME allows you to specify a particular area of interest, some receivers allow you to turn off the alarm for certain events which might not be important to you. For example, if you live in a coastal county, but not right at the beach, you might not care about Coastal Flood Warnings.
Battery backup: Since power outages often occur during storms, having a receiver with battery backup can be crucial. However, unless you have a portable unit which you will use away from other power sources, an AC power connection is recommended.