5 radios for emergency preparedness

The morning after Hurricane Hugo devastated my community there was one thing in common most everyone was searching for – information. Many were without power thus they could not turn on the TV. I jumped in my 1983 Ford Escort POS and turned on the radio. Reports were flowing in on wide spread power outages, destruction, impassable roads, and stories from those who witness Hugo’s raw power. We also received updates from Emergency Services and local power companies on when help could be expected.

Today things are not much different. Although communication has changed drastically since 1989 much of it is still at the mercy of electrical power. Radio – specifically AM/FM radio – remains the most reliable method to gain information in a disaster where power is interrupted.

There are a gazillion radios to choose from. Here are 7 that would be very useful in an emergency:

1. Kaito V1R Voyager AM/FM/SW Solar/Dynamo Radio with  LED Flashlight

This solar-powered radio can also be hand cranked for power to keep you connected and informed. Also runs on 3 AAA batteries (not included). 1 Minute of cranking powers up to 15 minutes of radio listening or 1 hour of light.  A built-in USB port lets you charge your small USB-rechargeable device like smart phones (Does NOT charge apple products) Bands include AM/FM, and shortwave. The 3-LED flashlight works very well and it has a built in HD speaker as well as an earphone jack.

2. Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Digital Solar/Dynamo AM/FM/LW/NOAA/SW Emergency Radio

The KA600 is packed with features including all the bands listed above PLUS solar charging the built in battery. The Kaito can also be powered via included AC plug as well as 3 AA batteries. It has an automatic alarm as part of the NOAA weather alert system so if severe inclement weather OR some other danger is evident the alarm will go off. There is a built in alarm clock, temperature reading, and a 5 LED flashlight. There are 335 memory spots for programming a crazy amount of stations for listening. Great if you travel and the stations change from one location to another.

3. Sony AM/FM Pocket Radio Model ICF-S10MK2

Inexpensive but highly portable dual band radio. Covers the AM and FM bands and is powered with 2 AA batteries. Telescoping antenna provides excellent range. Built in 3.5mm earphone jack allows for private listening.

This radio has over 2,000 5 star reviews on Amazon and has been manufactured for years.

4. Midland ER102 Dynamo AM/FM/NOAA Radio

Features include 7 weather channels in addition to all AM/FM stations. Extendable antenna brings in distant signals and the built in rechargeable battery can be recharged via the hand crank system. Weather alert system will alarm to warn of impending situation. Temperature is displayed and there is a built in alarm clock. Runs on common AAA batteries(requires three). Unique is the radio alerts you if the temperature drops below freezing. There is a USB port to charge devices or batteries via the hand crank and the radio is water resistant.

Did I mention there is also a built in LED flashlight?

5. Eton FRX5 AM/FM/NOAA Hand Crank Emergency Radio with Alerts

This is an extremely nice radio with tons of features. AM/FM bands are covered as well as NOAA frequencies. It has a built in alert system in case of impending bad weather. Built in solar panel will fully charge the radio in 5-6  hours of full sunlight. There is a built in 2000mAh Lithium Ion battery for high power and long life. The radio can be powered via 3 AAA batteries as well or by hand cranking. DC power input via mini USB port.

Of note is the ability to charge most ALL cell phones AND tablets. It has a built in 2.1A USB port which is required for many modern cell phones such as iPhones. This is not a common feature but very welcome.

There are many more features.

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This short list represents just a few of the radio communication options available. Most importantly is to have something you are happy with and back up batteries.

Remember – one is none and two is one. Have multiple back ups – just in case.

By the way – I have each of the radios above #1 through #4. All are excellent. #5 is on my “want” list.

Take care all –


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11 thoughts on “5 radios for emergency preparedness”

  1. Being a HAM as you are Rourke, I would have thought you would include the BaoFeng UV-5r for around $30.00 which you can use to tune in broadcast radio stations to listen too as well. 🙂

  2. Kudos to .22mag ammo build up. With Dragon lady now in charge of DOJ, we’re going to see a far greater attack on our rights. I realized ammo restrictions were coming while living Kalifornia, so I started a purchasing program of buying a brick of .22lr every payday. I have around 6,000 rnds an growing.

    I’ll look at boafeng. And I need to upgrade my comms, been researching PTT throat mic systems for our short range 2-ways.

  3. I’m guessing since Rourke recently put a post about Baofeng he didn’t include it again?…meh. Speaking of which. If your in the same boat as me and need to get your HAM license. The instructor/test giver in my area told me to get it before June. The Feds are going to change the requirements and make restrictions heavier. So get it now while you can.

  4. Rourke,

    Emergency Essentials, that perennial purveyor of super pail bulk foods (and I stock some) really fail when they venture into radios and bug out bag supplies. Instead of offering true quality for concerned customers serious enough to purchase a year’s grains, etc, they pander to junk including bright orange ‘survival’ packs and sure enough same quality ‘survival’ radios. Most such radios so marketed are dressed up cheap plastic junk with inferior innards.

    My recommendation for any prepper wishing some sort of shortwave receiver short of an amateur quality rig is to purchase an Alnico (or similar) wide band hand held such as the DJ-X11 E/T. Admittedly more expensive, these radios cover .05 Mhz – 1,2999GHz, with popular modulation modes. Not only is this a much better receiver than the cheap plastic so called survival radios, they are more rugged, inherently more portable, and infinitely more versatile. Some searching will uncover many more H/Ts like this, some even less expensive.

    My thoughts,
    Panhandle Rancher

  5. I would recommend having a Shortwave Radio with Single Side Band (SSB). If you are not a Ham you can use this radio on SSB with a long wire antenna to tune in the Ham bands. Amrron recommends this model. http://www.amazon.com/Tecsun-PL-660-Portable-Shortwave-Single/dp/B004H9C4JK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430419556&sr=8-1&keywords=Tecsun+PL-660+Portable+AM%2FFM%2FLW%2FAir+Shortwave+World+Band+Radio+with+Single+Side+Band%2C+Black You will be able to receive voice and digital. If you haven’t looked into digital you should. The program to receive it is fldigi and it’s free. You can go to amrron.com and do a search for digital and it will get you started.

    Here is a link to a video showing someone using SSB, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CJraG5BfvA

  6. @Rob; I can personally vouch for the Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Digital Solar/Dynamo AM/FM/LW/NOAA/SW Emergency Radio. Excellent reception and great utility features. I also keep a personal Midland NOAA weatherproof pocket radio in my truck as well as a Grundig SW/AM/FM Digital portable. All are very, very good.


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