I'm just going to plug an item everyone should think about getting, especially those who live in bad weather areas.
It's a NOAA Weather Alert radio.
During severe weather, you can't always rely on the sirens going off - or your hearing them. That is, even if your town has warning sirens. And you can't trust the television stations either. What if they are off the air, or you don't have power?
The weather alert radios have a battery backup, so they will work without power if needed. If you don't know what they are, here's a quick overview...
It's just a small radio that is tuned to your local NWS (National Weather Service) office. When they send out watches and warnings, the first thing they do (I'm making this really simple) is trigger an alert tone to all radios set to their frequency. This tone "turns on" weather radios with an extremely loud alert siren/tone. This is followed by the actual alert which is read over the air.
I've done some timings in my area, and usually my radio "tones" up to 3-4 minutes ahead of the television stations alerting the public, and even the sirens going off (if it's a tornado warning). And those 3-4 minutes could save my life if there's somethign headed right at me.
(Of course, since I'm a weather chaser, I'm "out in it" anyways. )
There are several cities in the US near "tornado alley" where having a weather radio is "mandatory." Just like smoke detectors.
you can pick them up at local Radio Shacks or other electronic stores. They aren't that expensive, and the nice thing now is they come with SAME technology.
SAME, or Specific Area 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.
Also, on some models, you can have it "ignore" warnings that you don't need to receive. Since I live in Michigan, I have "hurricane warning" turned off, since we rarely get hurricanes here.
Here's a link about the radios, what to look for, and where to buy...
Weather Alert Radios
We now return you to your regular programming.
And since it's thundering here, I've got to grab the cameras and head on out to "chase the wind."