Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Emergency Management

NOAA All-Hazards Radio

What is NOAA All-Hazards Radio?

More commonly known as NOAA Weather Radio, or simply weather radio, a NOAA All-Hazards radio receives broadcasts exclusively from the National Weather Service. The radio can provide rapid warning, direct from the source, when hazardous weather conditions pose a threat to life and property. It is truly an "all-hazards" notification system, used not only for immediate flood or tornado related events, but also hazardous materials releases or other localized hazards. The radio receivers behave like smoke detectors, silently monitoring, and then alerting people to the initial warning message immediately upon receipt, providing more time to respond to the event. More information on the system is available directly from the National Weather Service here.

Why should you purchase a NOAA All-Hazards Radio?

We recommend that every household have an all-hazards radio. However, to help you decide, we are providing the following information and suggesting that you ask yourself these questions:

How do you receive severe weather and other public warnings now? Many people would say they receive these alerts from the outdoor sirens or from warnings broadcast on local television or radio. Are these sources always completely, 100% reliable? Do you have a back-up source of information?

Can you always hear the sirens when they are sounded? Indoors? At night, with the windows closed and the air conditioner on? Is the siren loud enough to wake you up when you are sleeping? Is your home within the effective range of a siren?

Likewise, local television and radio is a great way to receive up-to-date warning information, but it works only if your radio or TV is on and tuned to the right station. Again, what about at night when you are sleeping? Or when you happen to be watching a cable or satellite channel that does not carry the local warning information. In those cases, you are very likely to miss the warning.

A NOAA All-Hazards Radio, on the other hand, is designed to be an indoor warning device. It is always on and it will wake you up if you are sleeping.

Do you have a smoke detector? Of course - it alerts you of a fire hazard in your home and it will wake you up if you are sleeping. An all-hazards radio will alert you to many other immediate, life-threatening hazards in your area, like tornados, floods, and other dangerous events. Without this device, you could miss a critical warning message from that could save your life and those in your family.

Where can I buy a weather radio?

NOAA All-Hazards Radios are available through local electronics stores as well as from a large number of sources on the internet. The National Weather Service maintains a list of manufacturers and retail outlets, posted here.

Are there options for people who are deaf or hard of hearing?

Yes. Weather radio receivers capable of providing text information from the NOAA National Weather Service radio broadcasts are widely available.

Most basic models have a radio receiver and a strobe light to alert a deaf or hard of hearing person of a weather emergency. Most also have a text display indicating the type of watch or warning that has been issued. Many of these radios are also capable of activating external devices such as pillow vibrators or bed shakers to alert a person who is sleeping. Some can also activate strobe lights or other attention-getting devices in other rooms of the house to help assure that the alert is noticed.

This site, maintained by the National Weather Service, provides a good summary of available weather radio receivers and alerting devices.

How can I get more information?

Contact Dane County Emergency Management if you need assistance in selecting or setting up a weather alert radio to meet your specific needs.