Protecting your home and community

Weather Alerts: Thursday of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

NOAA and FEMA have designated the theme for today, Stay Tuned for Weather Alerts. There are a number of ways you can obtain severe weather information without having to touch that dial. Each one has pluses and minuses. It’s important to have a system that

  • Gives you enough warning time to be able to prepare and respond,
  • Doesn’t overwhelm you with false, or useless warnings, and,
  • Does let you know when severe weather actually threatens.


Since no system is perfect, the best approach involves having different sources of information. Then you aren’t relying on method of getting the information you need. For example, provides email alerts about impending severe weather events in the Boston area, but warns about watches and warnings for localities that are far enough away that they aren’t relevant. Nonetheless, it’s a good system and gets your attention.

A photo of a weather radio


Weather radios are great, and usually provide adequate warning about local severe weather events. However, make sure that the one you have uses household current and also has batteries. Battery-powered weather radios run out of juice fairly quickly because they have to be always on to work. If they are only AC-powered, then they are useless if your power goes off.

NOAA Weather Radios also can be made accessible to people who are hearing impaired. In some situations, it can be connected to an existing alerting system in a deaf or hard of hearing person’s home. For example, if a deaf person has a flashing light alert system connected to a doorbell or other sensor, the radio may also have the capability to be connected to that system. The same may be true with pillows that vibrate or beds that shake. Some come with an LCD display, warning lights, or simple texts that make alerts visible to deaf or hard of hearing people.


Having different and redundant sources of information also allow you to assess the likelihood of a severe weather event in your location. Using the alert to “remind” you to turn on the news, look online at a weather service, such as, The Weather Channel site, or Weather Underground, for example, is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the important information you need.

Rating System warning

Don’t just read the positive reviews!


There are a number of mobile phone apps that claim to provide information about impending severe weather. Read the reviews carefully! As the cartoon depicts, it’s more important to read the negative reviews than the positive ones when assessing safety-apps. The iTunes App Store and Google Play have many apps, both paid and free. Several of them are branded by the Red Cross. If you have experience with any weather warning apps, please comment on them here.


Wireless emergency alerts (WEA) that are transmitted to cell phones are becoming more available. Read more about them here.


Whatever your system, having an automatic way of finding out that bad weather is approaching without having to go looking for the answer is a great way to protect yourself and your family. It should be in your emergency kit, and using it should be a part of your preparedness plan.


Daily themes for National Severe Weather Preparedness Week:

Be a Force of Nature graphic from the NWS

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