NOAA Apps for Summer Safety

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Summertime is a time of family vacations, road trips and outdoor adventures – where the smell of barbeque and sunscreen is never far away. For many places, summertime is a blessed reprieve from the harsh conditions of long winter months and families are quick to take advantage of ideal weather conditions. But like any time of year, being armed with pertinent information can be vital in protecting against unforeseen events and conditions that can be disruptive or downright dangerous.

Fortunately, there is a service geared specifically toward protecting people from these unknowns. The National Weather Service (NWS), also known as the NOAA, operates informational broadcasts to keep people safe year round, providing important information about weather conditions, road conditions, and other vital statistics.

These broadcasts can include information about:

  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes
  • Evacuation orders from areas at risk of fires, flooding, or natural disasters
  • Weather advisories and warnings of oncoming storm systems or hazardous conditions
  • Weather forecasts
  • AMBER alerts
  • Environmental hazards including spills or chemical releases
  • 911 telephone outages

These NWS broadcasts are a public service offered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

How to Stay Tuned to the NWS Broadcasts

Being aware of how to access the NWS broadcasts no matter your location keeps you armed against unforeseen environmental hazards. The NWS broadcasts are accessed by means of specific receiver frequencies that cannot be accessed by regular AM/FM radios. Fortunately technology has stepped up to the plate, providing a wide range of options to give people the ability to stay connected to this vitally important emergency resource.

The NWS Broadcasts can be accessed by:

  • Standalone Receivers – they often include AM/FM bands and handheld or desktop models are available to suit specific lifestyles.
  • Multi-Band/Function Receivers – bundled with a variety of features, these receivers can include scanners, CB radios, or VHF Marine radios depending on the model.

Regardless of what type of receiver you choose be sure to pay particular attention to the features recommended by the NOAA.

  • A tone alarm
  • Battery backup
  • External antenna jack
  • SAME technology
  • Customized alert events

For individuals who have a smart phone or device, the NOAA now offers an app for iPhone and severe weather alert apps are also available for Android devices – allowing instant access wherever you have service. But plan ahead because when traveling in more rural locations, a secondary backup device must be used to ensure uninterrupted access to this important information.

Have a Plan

The NWS broadcasts are just one of the available tools to protect you from these emergencies but they are no substitute for having an emergency plan. The weather forecasting provided by the NWS can help with planning recreational activities or assist in emergency planning but in advance of these scenarios having a plan to ensure family members know where to meet, how to communicate, and what to do are vital in ensuring safety in any situation.

In addition to having an emergency plan, families and individuals should always keep emergency supplies on hand. With supplies, planning, and access to NWS broadcasts families can be prepared to face any potential hardships or hazards summertime fun might bring.


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Updated: June 5, 2012 — 8:26 am