Information is powerful. One problem with many emergencies is getting the right information or getting any information at all. Even a weather related emergency from a winter storm can cut a family off from all lines of communication. It is important to be able to hear news updates, weather alerts, and the current state of affairs so that you can make informed decisions.
We recently purchased the Discovery Expedition AM/FM/SW Weather Radio. We actually bought ours from Sears as we had some shop rewards to redeem. I can no longer find it on the Sears website so the link is to the same radio on amazon. This is a reasonably inexpensive small model that has AM/FM, shortwave, and NOAA Weather. It has a hand crank on the side and a solar panel on top that can charge the built in Ni-MH battery. It also has a handy USB port that can charge phones, ipods, or anything equipped with a USB charger.
|View of the box and hand crank|
There is a bright flash light on the side as well as a broad reading light on the back of the solar panel.
|View of the flashlight, band tuner, and volume|
|View of solar panel (Sorry about the picture quality)|
The hand crank worked immediately. You could crank it and listen while cranking or crank it enough to charge the internal battery and then listen to the radio. Obviously, it would be easier to charge the battery and then use, but that is not a requirement. The hand crank handle is plastic. I was aware of this when purchasing it. Most hand crank handles seem to be plastic on the models I have found. I would suggest to just be careful and not over do it so that it doesn’t break off.
The AM/FM and the NOAA weather radio picked up really well with the antenna extended. Even if you are just out of power for 24 hours it can provide some entertainment to keep your spirits lifted. We were never able to pick up too much of anything with the shortwave, but I had expected that. From my research, to get a strong shortwave signal from far away, you really need to get a more expensive model. We do hope to invest in a better shortwave radio at some point, but this was a good start to cover the basics. Also, chatter on shortwave can be a problem if there is a lot of frequency disturbances (waves in the air). Theoretically, we would not need shortwave unless something really disastrous has occurred that would most likely eliminate that excess chatter and then the shortwave would be clearer. That being said, we still plan on buying a better short wave radio when it can be worked into the budget.
I currently have my eye on the Grundi S350DL Deluxe AM/FM Shortwave Field Radio. It is not solar or hand crank powered, but has excellent reviews for strong reception and distance. I have looked at various other comparable models on various websites and the price and features on the National Geographic website is the best I’ve found right now. Of course, this is probably an ever changing thing.
Both the flashlight and the reading light on the radio work quite nicely as well. All in all, I think it is an excellent little product and the quality is right on target for the price. I did not even consider any other models that were less as they either had poor or no reviews or just looked really flimsy to me.