Posts Tagged ‘emergency radio’

Emergency Radio Update

Thursday, May 12th, 2016
Panasonic Emergency Radio

How old do you think this radio is?

Radios — The Most Popular Piece of Emergency Gear

More of our readers “invest” in emergency radios than in any other one piece of emergency equipment. (Makes sense, of course. Without a reliable emergency radio, when disaster hits you could be completely cut off. Without a good emergency radio, you may not even know that a disaster is COMING!)

Because of this interest, we continually comment on what to look for when you’re shopping for a radio. And we regularly update our Best Emergency Radios review page to be sure the radios listed there are still available.

So it’s time for yet another radio update.

Status of our long-time favorite emergency radio

The Ambient Weather Adventurer, original cost around $30, has been our favorite for a while. We own more than one, and many of our readers have them, too. It’s a great radio to tuck into your pack or simply have on the kitchen counter.

Bad news! This model seems to have been discontinued. Here and there online you can find one for sale, but their prices make no sense! I saw one yesterday at $281!

So we aren’t recommending this model anymore. (Maybe you want to try to sell yours for a profit???)

New favorite, the Eton FRX5

Eton makes several different radios, and the brand carries a number of labels including one from the American Red Cross.

The FRX3 costs about $10 more than the original Ambient Weather, and has most of the very same features.

The one we’re recommending today, though, is the Model FRX5.  It costs nearly twice as much, but for that you get double the power, more lighting options, the ability to charge a smart phone, capture localized emergency alerts, etc.

Here’s a link to the radio: Eton FRX5 Hand Crank Emergency Weather Radio with SAME Alerts

And here’s what it looks like:

This is a very compact radio, just over 7 inches tall and a couple of inches wide. It operates on battery, AC, solar and crank. In fact, this radio earned the best score in a recent test measuring how much listen time was created by 2 minutes of cranking. (In this case, something like 10-12 minutes.)

What I like is the SAME Alert feature — stands for Specific Area Message Encoding. You enter in your county and the radio will automatically send alerts for that area.  (Seems to me this would be essential in Tornado Alley of the U.S.!)

When you click the link above, you’ll go directly to Amazon. Scroll down to the bottom of the Amazon page for a full description of this radio, with several more photos.

First time radio purchaser? Get answers to 7 important questions.

If you haven’t yet added a radio to your survival supplies, check out the Eton model above. Just click on the blue link to get started.

If you have NEVER shopped for an emergency radio before, go first to our Best Emergency Radio Reviews page because you’ll find there the 7 questions you need to consider before adding a radio to your pack, or to the survival kit of any of your family members. And you’ll see a number of other radios that we have reviewed and recommend.

The radio we would upgrade to if we were flush

I’ve mentioned before that we have an old Panasonic shortwave radio. (Joe’s had it ever since we’ve been together, and that’s over 33 years now, so its age is something older than that!) That’s the radio in the picture at the top of this page. Joe was changing the batteries, which explains the red ribbons at the bottom.

We have hauled this radio from coast to coast and back again, and Joe loves it.

Yesterday Joe handed me a spec sheet for the radio he would LIKE to have. It’s also available at Amazon, and also made by Eton. As far as I am concerned, it certainly looks a lot like the old Panasonic (!), but . . .Joe assures me that it’s “the ultimate” in radio receivers. It gets AM, FM, Aircraft, Longwave and Shortwave bands, has a rotating antenna plus you can tune-in stations by keying them in or searching for them. You can actually store 1000 stations!

If you’re really serious about emergency radios, check this one out.

Alert – Prices for the SAME RADIO vary considerably. Shop carefully to get the best deal!

Eton Grundig Satellit 750 Ultimate AM/FM Stereo also Receives Shortwave, Longwave and Aircraft Bands – Black (NGSAT750B)

And doesn’t it look a LOT like the Panasonic collector item above?

You need at least one emergency radio, and probably several. The good thing about radios is you can select the features you need (for each use or each person) and not have to buy features you don’t want, and you’ll save by choosing carefully.

Do you already have an emergency radio? Would you recommend it?  Let us know in the comments!

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

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Top 10 List of Emergency Preparedness Items

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Back to the Basics – 2017


But will they light?

At least once a year, we try to quickly go over the items that belong in every survival kit. If you have a basic pack in the car, one in the office, and one in the house FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER, you can breathe a lot easier when someone asks,

“Are you really prepared for an emergency?”

Here’s our end of the year basic list, with some suggestions about how many of each item to get, where to get them and what they might cost. You’ll notice that the list stays pretty much the same, although our top recommendations change as new products become available.

As always, if you click on the product links, you’ll go over to Amazon, where you can shop for just what you want and likely get the best possible price, too. And as we’ve explained, Emergency Plan Guide may get a small commission on the sale — a commission that doesn’t affect your price.

You don’t have to do it all at once!

If you’re just starting to put together your survival kits, consider doing the research and getting just 2 or 3 items a week. Some of them you may already have — they just need to be assembled in one place. We’ve added these symbols –  〈〉 – so you can check off each item as you get it!

〈〉  1 – Water

If you can grab a bottle of water, or store one with your emergency supplies, great. But bottled water gets old, and is really heavy. What you CAN pack so it will always be ready is a water filter. We’ve written a whole review of water filters, here, explaining and showing the different types. For all-purpose use, we like this one, built right into a plastic bottle that can be refilled over and over again. Its priced around $25, which is what most filters cost.

LifeStraw Go Water Bottle with Integrated 1000-Liter LifeStraw Filter

〈〉  2 – Food

Frankly, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) with a 25-year-life sound pretty awful. Still, if you’re really hungry, having a couple of them handy make sense. Easier and tastier: sealed bags you fill with dried fruit, trail mix, or energy bars. Buy your family favorites and replace regularly — and after the bag gets raided by hungry kids.

〈〉  3 – Warmth

Camping out in the car overnight in a storm . . . uncomfortable at best. Stuff a warm coat into the trunk, or a blanket.  And for your emergency kits, grab a pack of Mylar survival blankets (preferably the sleeping bag model) and put one in every kit you are building. Shiny side out when you want to reflect the sun, shiny side in to trap body heat. The great thing about Mylar space blankets is their price — typically, less than $1 apiece for the simple ones!

This package includes 4 mylar sleeping bags: Pack of 4 Emergency Sleeping Bags, Thermal Reflective Survival Bags, MCR Medical

〈〉 4 – Light

Flailing around in the dark is plain scary and not very smart. You can hurt yourself!  Have an easy-to-reach flashlight — in the glove compartment of the car, in your bottom drawer at work, in every room of the house. Plus one for every survival kit. Yes, you need at least a half-dozen flashlights, and maybe more! Their prices range from a low of $4 to well over $100, depending on power, different light features (pulse, zoom, etc.) and size.

We have written before about the collection of different-sized flashlights described below. Each is top quality. Take a look to see if you could distribute these flashlights so they would work for your family. (Remember extra batteries, too.)

Feit LED Flashlight Kit | 3-pack with Case | 1000, 500, 250 Lumens | Slide Zoom | Batteries Included

〈〉 5 – Communications

In a widespread emergency the only communications you may be able to receive will be those being put out on official emergency channels. To get them, you need a radio – preferably one that operates with batteries, solar, and a hand crank. You may not need one for every person, but certainly you need a couple of radios, stashed intelligently at home and at work.

Our review of different emergency radios will give you a run-down of all the available features and prices. (As you can imagine, you can spend anywhere upwards of $25 dollars on an emergency radio.)

〈〉 6 – First Aid

You may be caught in a storm or other disaster and only be inconvenienced. But the chances of someone needing first aid are pretty good. Buy a kit, go through it, and add extras that you think you’ll need. Typically, purchased kits (ranging from $10 to over $80) are really skimpy on bandages, first aid creams, bug spray, etc. Once again, you’ll want multiple kits: one for the car, one for the office, one for the house. You could start with one like this:

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit (205-Piece), Red

〈〉 7 – Matches/fire

The warmth and light of a fire may be very welcome. They could also be life-saving. But don’t even light a candle inside unless you are SURE there are no gas leaks! And watch out for open flame in a closed-in area. You can kill yourself with carbon monoxide.

Assuming it’s safe, though, here’s what you need to get that fire started. You may need to practice getting a fire started BEFORE the emergency hits!

Magnesium fire starter with some extras:

#1 BEST Fire Starter – SurvivalSPARK Emergency Magnesium Fire Starter – Survival Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle

All-weather matches (not like the ones in the photo above!):

UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case, 25 Stormproof Matches and 3 Strikers – Orange

〈〉 8 – Shelter

Your kit doesn’t have room for a tent. The best suggestion: another simple survival blanket that you can string up as a lean-to. You’ll need a rope or some bungies to accomplish this, of course. You could also use duct tape to turn the blanket into a sleeping bag.

Emergency Mylar Blanket 52″ x 84″ – Pack of 12 Blankets

And here’s the cord you could use for your lean-to. Paracord bracelets are cool, too. All under $15.

Paracord Planet 100′ 550lb Type III Neon Orange Paracord

〈〉 9 – Personal items

This category could include extra eyeglasses, medicines, small tools that you know how to use, toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, sanitary items. (For children, it could include a favorite stuffed animal.) Include a list of important contact information, too.

Everyone needs a pouch for personal items (use baggies) and everyone’s pouch will be different!

We really like these wet wipes that are individually packaged, easy to tuck in your survival kits:

Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes Singles, , Fresh Scent, 24-Count (Pack of 5)

〈〉 10 – Something to carry it all in

A fully packed survival kit or go-bag, with everything possible in it, probably weighs more than you can carry. For sure, it weighs more than your mother can carry, or your 5 year-old. So, keeping their weight and size in mind, consider the best container for each person and each kit.

The best thing is to assemble the supplies for each person, and THEN decide how big a carrier you need.

A simple backpack is probably the best all-purpose carrier. Dig through your closet or head to your local sports shop or big box store and get a pack that fits the person who’s going to be carrying it. Here’s a new resource about backpacks: One Size Does Not Fit All.

Some packs have wheels. It makes them heavier, but may make them more flexible.  Here are some wheeled carts we’ve seen being used, too. Consider whether you will be in an urban setting, where you’ll be hiking along a road or sidewalk, or in a more rural setting, where wheels just won’t work.

The main thing is that . . .

Each person must carry his or her own survival kit.

Please use this list as a quick reminder. If you can check off each of the ten items, congratulations! You’re ahead of about 90% of the rest of the world! But let’s not stand around feeling smug. Share the list with other family members, clubs you belong to, etc.

The safer the people around us are, the safer we ALL will be!

Virginia and Joe
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

If you are interested in more details about any of these items, we probably have written at least one Advisory on it! You can use the search box at the top of the page or skim the list in the Advisory Archives. Or, drop a comment with your question and let others chip in.


Top Survival Resources: Five Popular Stories and Subjects

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Top Survival TrendsAfter 15 years of training and writing about disaster preparedness, and with well over 250 articles under my belt, I discover that some topics keep coming up again and again – in the news media, in questions people ask, and on the various internet sites and in specialty magazines that report on “survival trends.”

Thanks to Google Analytics, we can track which articles are most often viewed on our site, too – and they reflect these same topics.

Here are . . .

Five of the most popular topics on

with links that will take you immediately to more information on our site, and in many cases to outside resources including government and special industry sites.

Are you in the mainstream? Are these among YOUR favorite subjects? Check them out!


1. Emergency Radios and Radio Communications

If there is one topic that stands out, this is it.  In fact, radios and radio communications are twice as popular as anything else we report on!

A radio for your personal survival kit.

Are you ready to buy an emergency radio for yourself or a family member?  Check out our Updated Reviews of Emergency Radios with comments about solar, hand-crank, etc. Most of the radios we discuss are found on Amazon, where prices are as good as they get, and buyer comments are very helpful in selecting the best fit for your needs.

Two-way radio communications for groups.

Interested in how to use radios effectively for your group, whether it’s your family or a neighborhood response team? Then you need a way to not only listen, but also to speak.

We have used many different models, and review walkie-talkies here. also has a number of Advisories on walkie-talkie use:

If you are serious about building a neighborhood group, each of the books in our Survival Series has a complete discussion and a diagram showing one way to use radio communications, how to assign channels for your different divisions and specialty teams, etc.

2. Emergency/Survival Kits

We know that some people simply don’t have time to actually build their own kit, so we start with a review of Popular Ready-Made Kits to be found on Amazon.  The purpose of the review is not to recommend any one kit in particular, but to highlight different things to look for as you shop. (Again, please be aware that if you buy something from Amazon through one of our links, we may receive a commission from Amazon. The commission does not influence the price you pay.)

Because every person and family is unique, we recommend strongly that you Build Your Own Basic Kit, and we have written a booklet to guide you through the various decisions that need to be made.  Once you have the basic kit, add items that fit your climate, your skill and your interest level.

We have also discovered that most people continue to improve their kit by adding specialty items. Some of the most interesting additions:


3. Special Preparations for City Dwellers

Much of the “prepper” literature deals with developing skills that allow you to survive by living off the land. For urban or suburban dwellers, particularly people living in apartments or condos, these survival skills need to be adjusted to the realities of the city.

Some of our popular articles on these special situations:


4. Emergency Water Supplies

We probably spend more of our time on water than on anything else (even though, as reported above, website visitors seem to prefer reading about radios!). How to store water for an emergency, where to find more water when the emergency hits, and how to protect yourself from contaminated water – these are ongoing challenges that need to be overcome if we are to survive.

A few of the most comprehensive articles focused on water:



And finally, one topic unique to  . . .

5. Counting on Neighbors  for Survival

We know that the first people to be there to help in an emergency are the people already there – the neighbor at home next door, or the co-worker at the next desk or in the next room.

With that being the case, we think that the more we all know, the better chance we’ll all have to survive, at least until professional help arrives.

We also know that professional help – police and fire – will be overwhelmed in the aftermath of a widespread disaster, so it may be hours or even days before they do arrive. A strong neighborhood team, ready to take action, just seems to make great sense.

Our 15-year commitment to neighborhood emergency preparedness has been focused primarily on building a neighborhood response team. It has been a labor of love – and yes, a LOT of labor!

The website has many stories about what it’s taken to build the group. You can find many of these stories by heading to the site and simply typing “CERT” into the search box!

We have even compiled much of this information into two in-depth resources:


I hope you’ll find this list helpful, and a reminder of areas in your own planning that may not be as secure as you’d like. Also, if you would like to see more on any aspect of emergency preparedness or disaster recovery, please just let me know!

Virginia and Joe
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


We mean it! Let us know in the comments what topics YOU like to read more about!


Hand-Held Survival Tool

Monday, December 15th, 2014

We have spent a lot of time talking about the various emergency radio choices that are available — solar/crank-powered for receiving emergency communications, and hand-held walkie-talkies for keeping in touch. We even did a video about workplace communications — you’ll see the link below this post.

But when you’re caught on the road . . .

But, it’s clear that we need to address the reality that few people caught on the road or away from home will be carrying their solar/crank-powered emergency radio with them — and their walkie-talkies won’t do them much good, either, since those are limited in range.

If you stay in the car, you’ll probably be able to get emergency news and weather reports on your car radio. But if you have no radio,

Or if you have to start walking . . .

You need a reliable alternative.

Reliable emergency radioThe only one we have found that is consistently reliable, affordable and the right size is the Ambient Weather WR-090 Emergency Pocket AM/FM/WB Weather Alert Radio with Digital Tuner and Flashlight

You can gauge the size of the radio by seeing it in the photo, in my hand.  In the photo, the antenna is fully extended; when you store it, of course, you’ll retract it into its 2-inch antenna stub  (shorter than my thumb).

When you select the weather band mode, there’s a red LED ALERT feature (right under the screen), and a clearly marked button on the side turns on a reasonable built-in flashlight.  (Photo insert)

This powerful gem is powered by three replaceable, AAA batteries. It only weighs 4 ounces (including the batteries) and

Easily fits into a pocket, purse or glove compartment of the car.

Most alkaline batteries have a shelf life of ten years. We recommend, however, that the batteries be changed at least once a year, depending on the frequency of usage and exposure of the unit to excessive heat, etc.

As with any battery-powered electronic device, you always want to have extra, fresh, replacement batteries on hand. We prefer the premium Duracell Quantum or Energizer equivalent high-density core. These premium batteries deliver full power longer than the standard models. When you’re dealing with emergency-related devices, you want the best quality, most dependable power available.

(Store extra batteries in your Commuter Kit. )

We personally have three of these units, one for each of our two cars and one for the kitchen drawer.  You’ll feel better if you have a couple of them handy, too. Here’s the direct link to the radio at Amazon, which is where we get ours.

Joe Krueger
Emergency Plan Guide


If you’re interested in radios, here are three more resources:



Emergency Radios – Updated Reviews

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
Emergency Radio review

Where’s the radio?

The recent earthquake in Napa, California happened at 3:20 a.m. The electricity immediately went out, so no TV, no radio, no news! And for most people, no light. If you have seen any pictures of the insides of their homes, with furniture tipped over and everything strewn around, you can imagine how terrifying and how dangerous the situation was.

So it’s back to the basics. Having a good battery-operated or crank emergency radio HANDY will provide news and light to help you navigate the disaster. You can get a very serviceable radio for under $50, and more elaborate ones for less than $100. You probably want more than one radio.

I went back to our radio reviews to be sure that our recommendations still hold.

The best emergency radio of the bunch: Ambient Weather

The least expensive of the radios we tested is still the best, overall.  It’s the Ambient Weather Adventurer.  Sturdy, compact, lightweight. Charge it by cranking or with solar, and when fully charged it can power your phone. Use it to get NOAA weather alerts and local news.

As you know we use Amazon to deliver our recommendations, so I went further into the Ambient Weather site as well as the Amazon site to see what else I could find.

There are a couple of newer, more powerful models.

Add a siren: The original model 111 that we own has been upgraded to the model 112 with the addition of an emergency siren, a flashing red light (there’s already a really good   regular LED flashlight), and some internal improvements for charging. You have the option of getting a whole “connections” package to hook up to your various electronic devices.

Add AAA batteries:  The 333 models add AAA batteries to the mix, giving you a sixth way to charge the radio. (It already comes with a Lithium-ion battery, has solar, connects to AC — the wall — and DC — car battery — can charge from your computer, and, of course, cranks.) In direct sunlight the 333 will charge itself and play continuously, which means it’s pretty strong. (No solar charging at 3:20 a.m., of course.)

Add Shortwave:  All these radios have Digital AM/FM and NOAA Weather Alert channels; the 335 models add shortwave. According to the description, the 335 can charge your cell phone, MP3, MP4, Kindle, iPod, iPad, and iPhone. And your computer. The package comes with various adapter cords including, of course, an AC adapter.

From our experience with shortwave radios, if this is important to you, you may want to spend time looking at some of the other radios on our list that specialize in shortwave.  Professional shortwave (with fine tuning ability, for example) adds cost and you really want to be sure you have top-rated equipment if this is what you need.

We’ve added more to the reviews of the other radios in our list, too.

We have added new remarks to all our Radio Reviews, and upgraded to newer models.  Before you buy, take a look at all the comments here.

But do buy. Having an emergency radio that works is essential. And knowing you can get to it in the dark at 3:20 a.m. makes sense, too.

Your Emergency Plan Guide team


P.S. Don’t let your good intentions fade.  Sign up below to get regular reminders and tips.


Emergency Equipment Update

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
Radio Reset

Remove battery. Use paper clip to press reset button in tiny hole.

This isn’t exactly a recall notice, but, like everything else, emergency equipment gets old, and newer and better versions come online.

Here are a couple of things we’ve noticed about our emergency radios.

Our emergency radios have experienced some glitches.

First, let me be clear that our favorite emergency radio is still the same one: The Ambient Weather Adventurer. We have several of them (one in each emergency supplies kit), the most recent one purchased earlier this year. No emergency radio is perfect, but this one is useful and reliable and feels really good in your hand.

Two updates to our favorite emergency radio.

  • First, the newest version comes with cables, and can be purchased either with or without an AC adapter.  I definitely recommend getting the adapter.   Even though the radio has a solar cell built into the top, in our experience you need every power option available.
  • Second, when we opened the box of our newest one, it didn’t turn on. No lights. No clicks. No nothing!I was so disappointed, but we had had such good luck before that I went online to find out what was wrong. On the Ambient Weather website I found the Users’ Guide, read through it carefully, and VOILA. In the Troubleshooting section I discovered the solution for a radio that is LOCKED UP.

Check out the photo.  It shows me using a paperclip to hit the RESET button! Did it, and everything went right back to the way I expected!  Hooray.

One radio has been removed from our list.

I update the radio reviews from time to time. I discovered that one of the radios we own has been discontinued altogether.

Now I don’t know exactly why they removed it, but here’s why I took it off OUR list — it has gotten STICKY!  Yes, the rubberized surface of the Eton FR-300 has changed from being a nice, non-stick surface to an unpleasant sticky one.  (This same thing happened to some of our emergency radios, too.)  So, while the lights still work (I’m testing them right now as I write this.), the radio has been removed from our Review Page and replaced with a new, non-sticky version.

Our Emergency Radio Reviews page has been updated.

If you are still in the market for emergency equipment, a crank/solar powered radio should be at the top of your list. Check out our radio review page to see what features  you should be looking for, and from there, click to get to Amazon where you can shop for the best deal.

I’d love to get your feedback on YOUR experience with emergency radios!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

Survival Kit Shopping List

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Basic Survival Gear You’re Not Likely To Have In the House

Here’s our list of basic survival items that we have searched out and purchased specifically for this purpose. Naturally, our complete list is much, much longer, and has many things on it that we already have here at home.

But these seven items are ones we didn’t have. We searched them out and bought them to be sure we’ll have them when we need them.

Take a look at this list and then head over to our Emergency Supplies Store where you can order for yourself, all at once, saving time and money. As you will see, these are items offered by Amazon, where we think you’ll get the best prices and, if you spend over $25, free shipping.

1. Emergency Radio

If you already have an emergency radio, great. But if you don’t, or if you need a couple more, look for these features:

  • Hand-crank so it never runs out of juice
  • Solar power to back-up its batteries
  • AM/FM and Weather Alerts
  • Bright light
  • Small and sturdy, easily packable
  • Can connect to and charge a smartphone or computer

You can see our reviews of the best emergency radios, here.

2. Glow Lights

We have emergency lights inside and out, with flashlights in nearly every room. But for your emergency supplies kit, consider glow sticks. They’re light, small, and store indefinitely without running out of juice. You can put one down in the middle of a dark room to light it up enough to move safely, or outside to notify someone of where you are. The Cyalume glow sticks last about 12 hours.

3. Small and Essential – a Fire Starter

Don’t smoke? Good for you. But that means you may not have matches or a lighter anywhere in the house, and certainly not in the car! So consider getting a magnesium fire starter. Inexpensive, safe, reliable. A no-brainer, perfect to tuck into your emergency supplies kit.

4. Basic Multi-Purpose Tool

Naturally, your list of “tools” starts with duct tape. We assume you have a roll or two already! But for your emergency kit consider a compact, versatile all-in-one utility tool like those made (in the USA) by Weatherman. Our choice, the Wingman, clips to your belt. The next size up, the Sidekick, has a saw in addition to the other tools. Either way, don’t waste your money on a cheap multi-purpose tool.

5. Space Blanket

Another inexpensive and terribly effective item that you are not likely to have at home! Mylar space blankets are waterproof and can serve as a temporary tent. They’re thin and not too tough, and come several to a package. You can get them as “tubes” to serve as sleeping bags, too.

6. Water Purification Tube

We write at length about the amount of water you will need to carry you through. What you can do about this depends on space available, etc. But all of us will be safer if we have a way to purify water we find after our stash runs out. This “drinking straw” water purifier is a great addition, and now there’s a water bottle with built-in filter.

7. Paracord

This is handy, strong, slim nylon rope that could be used and then reused for anything: lashing up a tent, tying something to your pack, holding a door open. With some cord and some duct tape you can fix just about anything!


OK, see anything you could use? Here’s the direct link to our convenience store, for more info and the best prices we’ve found.