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It's Hurricane Season - Are You Ready?

wea00418_caption.jpgToday is June 1, 2011. While today may seem to be of little significance to the average person, the first day of June is an important marker for folks along the Gulf coast and across the eastern seaboard of the United States. Today marks the official start of the 2011 hurricane season.

According to The National Weather Service, NOAA predicts an above-average season for hurricanes in 2011, forecasting 12 to 18 named storms with winds 39mph or higher, six to ten of which could become hurricanes with winds 74mph or higher. Of those, NOAA predicts between three and six could become major category 3,4, or 5 storms.

NOAA also predicts each of these ranges has a 70% likelihood, but does not predict when or where any of the storms will hit. "The tornadoes that devastated the South and the large amount of flooding we've seen this spring should serve as a reminder that disasters can happen anytime and anywhere", FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate was quoted as saying on NOAA's web site. "As we move into this hurricane season it's important to remember that FEMA is just part of an emergency management team that includes the entire federal family, state, local and tribal governments, the private sector and most importantly the public," Fugate said.

The uncertainty is all the more reason to be prepared. To help everyone get ready, NOAA prepared a series of audio and video public service announcements to educate the public. They are available in English and Spanish at http://www.hurricanes.gov/prepare.

Communication is a key component in the preparation for any weather event. Staying on top of ever changing weather conditions before and during a hurricane can mean the difference between life and death. NOAA does a great job of providing up to date, localized weather alerts to keep everyone informed and ready for weather emergencies. However, they can only send out the warnings. It is still up to the public to receive them, hear the warnings and heed instructions. Fortunately, there is an easy and inexpensive way to stay tuned in. Emergency weather radios.

Emergency radios come in a number of types and packages. They are easy to set up and easy to use. They are also inexpensive, some as economical as the cost of bottled water and some batteries. For instance, the Midland HH-50 Pocket Weather Alert Radio is a small, pocket-sized device that fits in the palm of your hand and is capable of receiving all hazard alerts from the National Weather Service as well as other emergency alerts, such as amber alerts, nuclear power plant warnings, biological hazard warnings and civil emergency messages and warnings - and it costs less than $20.

The Midland HH54VP Portable Emergency Weather Alert Radio is a handheld radio with S.A.M.E. technology, a system that allows you to program the radio for emergency alerts in specific or localized areas. The HH54VP features an alarm clock with snooze, a large, backlit display with continuous backlighting option, battery backup, user selectable alerts and color coded alert indicators.

Desktop models include the Midland WR-120 and WR-300 weather radios. Also featuring S.A.M.E. technology, these radios sound an alarm when NOAA activates the emergency alert system and are designed to wake you up in case of a weather emergency such as a tornado, where every second counts. These units can be programmed to receive alerts for multiple areas and feature battery backup systems so you can stay informed of emergency weather conditions even if you lose power.

Perhaps the most versatile of all these emergency radios is the Midland XT511 Base Camp Two Way/Emergency Crank Radio. It is a combination FRS/GMRS two way radio with NOAA weather alerts, AM/FM receiver, alarm clock and three LED flashlight all built in. The feature set is quite useful, but the real versatility is in the power options. It runs on AC, AA batteries, is rechargeable, and can be powered and recharged with a built-in hand crank. It even includes a USB port so you can charge your cell phone with it. The Midland XT511 is definitely a handy radio to have, especially when the power goes out.

No doubt a good radio is indispensable in any weather emergency such as a hurricane. Of course, it's not the only thing you need, but it is an important item to have in your kit as part of your emergency preparedness plan.

May 22-28, 2011 was National Hurricane Preparedness Week. While that week has ended, the true deadline for preparedness is the moment a hurricane hits your area. Don't wait until the warnings are issued to get ready. Prepare now.

For more information on emergency weather radios, listen to The Two Way Radio Show Episode 13 - Emergency and Weather Radios.

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