These specialized receivers represent an investment in safety.
By Morton Abramson, F352527
When my wife and I check into an RV park, we ask for the location of, and directions to, the nearest storm shelter. Many parks at which we stay have emergency procedures. At one park a brick office building was designated as a storm shelter.
Because our motorhomes have no basements into which we can retreat, we can be exposed to danger when bad weather threatens. However, we can take steps to increase our safety in the event of a violent storm. Weather-wise, it helps to know what is happening as far in advance as possible. This allows you to put your survival plan into action. Minutes count in any emergency, and surviving bad weather is definitely no exception. A weather monitor can give you the extra minutes you need to make a decision that could save your life.
A weather monitor is a radio that receives transmission frequencies used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which administers the National Weather Service. Specialized weather monitors remain silent, in a standby mode, and turn on only when weather or other emergencies affect selected counties. This broadcasting technology is known as “Specific Area Message Encoding” (S.A.M.E.).
S.A.M.E. allows a compatible weather monitor to be programmed to sound alerts only for the county or counties selected by the user. This technology eliminates alerts for locations outside the selected area. Without S.A.M.E., a weather monitor could receive alerts from as far as 100 miles away, because of the distance these radio signals can travel. When you receive an alert for the area you are in, you should act according to the information contained in the alert.
You need to decide quickly if you should put your survival plan into action; however, a weather monitor cannot help you if you do not have a survival plan. You can get help formulating a survival plan by discussing your options with your RV park manager or local authorities.
Plans will vary according to your location. What your plan will be depends on where you are, how close you are to a shelter, and how you will get to it. Usually, local police, fire, or emergency management organizations are available to answer your questions. When seeking information, just remember not to call them on their emergency numbers.
To help select a weather monitor that best meets your needs, you’ll need your computer. This NOAA Web site (www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/nwrrcvr.htm) lists most weather monitor manufacturers, with links to almost all the listed manufacturers. By accessing a manufacturer’s Web site, you can read descriptions of its products. You can get additional information by searching the Internet for forums relating to weather monitors. Customer reviews at online retailers (such as http://www.amazon.com/) also offer real-life experiences with the specific brand and model number that you may want to buy.
We selected the Midland WR-300 all hazards weather alert radio as the best weather monitor for our needs. When doing our research, we found it received excellent customer reviews. We have enjoyed good technical support. The WR-300 receives local National Weather Service forecasts and has all the alerts, features, and setting selections that we wanted, including the following:
An event expiration indicator, which shows when a statement or warning has expired.
S.A.M.E. localized reception. We can program the radio to receive alerts from one county up to 23 counties. What was important to us RVers is that when we are on the road and changing locations, we do not need to program specific counties. When ALL is selected, the monitor can sound alerts for counties up to 100 miles away.
We can add and remove alerts, and can program for specific alerts (flash flood, tornado, snow, wind, etc.) in the locations we select.
The radio receives seven NOAA channels, which gives us coverage in 93 percent of the United States.
A Selectable Warning System allows us to choose a 90-decibel siren alarm, voice alerts, or a red LED flasher.
An emergency power backup uses four internal AA batteries to keep the monitor operating in all functions through power outages, or during portable outdoor use.
The clock with a 12-hour display, including the date, is a nice touch.
We don’t use the alarm clock with snooze. A nice feature, but we are retired.
An AM-FM radio.
The Midland WR300 has been upgraded for 2008 and is available as the WR310. In addition to the features listed above, the WR310 displays all hazard and weather alerts in the user’s choice of English, Spanish, or French.
After you decide which monitor may be best for you, be sure to search the Internet for the lowest prices. The “street price” (the actual selling price in stores) of most merchandise is usually significantly lower than the manufacturers’ suggested retail prices. Just make sure the warranty you receive is good in the United States.
Midland Radio Corporation
5900 Parretta Drive
Kansas City, MO 64120
Be Prepared For Severe Weather
1. Stay Tuned. Keep a weather monitor radio on board to remain apprised of threatening storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.
2. What’s Your Location? Know what county you’re in for severe weather announcements.
3. Abandon Ship. If a tornado is approaching, or a severe thunderstorm with high winds is imminent, leave your motorhome immediately. Seek shelter in the lowest possible structure nearby (a campground bathhouse, for example), and stay away from doors and windows.
4. Grab And Go. Keep an emergency supply kit ready, and determine who will grab it if you need to evacuate. Pack flashlights and batteries (or a crank-up flashlight); rain gear; your weather radio; a first-aid kit; nonperishable food; bottled water; blankets; prescription and nonprescription medication; extra eyeglasses; pet supplies; copies of insurance policies, driver’s licenses, phone numbers, and credit cards; and any special items needed for children, disabled occupants, etc.
5. Making Plans. Devise an emergency evacuation/survival plan. Consider different scenarios: one in which you leave the coach behind to seek safety, another in which you evacuate the area in your coach. Make sure each occupant knows what jobs he or she should do prior to departure (i.e., disconnecting hookups, retracting slideouts and awnings, stowing away loose items).
6. Work The Plan. Periodically practice your survival plan. Run through the various procedures needed to prepare the coach for an emergency departure, both inside and out. Consider what tasks could be eliminated to save time.
7. Keep In Touch. If time allows, let someone know where you’re going, and leave them your cell phone number or other contact info.
8. Trip Routing. Have a route in mind for each direction you may need to go.
9. Time Is On Your Side. Don’t wait until the last minute. In the case of an approaching hurricane, for example, leave at the first sign of severe weather to avoid traffic snarls.
10. No Tanks. Keep your gray water and black water holding tanks as empty as possible, or, if time allows, dump before you leave.
11. Think Safety.