Given the recent rash of bad weather that has plagued the US, gadget geeks and tech troglodytes alike are looking to make sure they are better prepared when weather strikes so they aren't flung to the land of Oz should the storm's path happen to cross their threshold. No emergency kit is complete without a good weather radio, but here's one that does everything but physically carry you to safety. Read on to learn more:
Joplin Missouri, West Liberty Kentucky, these towns have become synonymous with tornadoes. Hundreds of people lost their lives, thousands more had property damage and estimations of the damage done just in Joplin are approaching $3 billion. To say that being unprepared can cost you everything is an understatement. The very first thing on the American Red Cross Tornado Safety Checklist is "During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about watches and warnings."
That may be fine in principle but in practice you may only have seconds to get to safety if a storm is heading your way. Often a siren signals as the twister has been spotted forming or already touching down. You won't have time to look for batteries, a flashlight and a portable AM/FM or NOAA radio before you make your way to shelter, unless all those things happen to be the same thing.
Introducing the Eton Microlink FR160
This little gadget is handy, and in addition to saving your life it's loaded with features which you hope you'll never need but features you'll be so glad you have access to if you're hit by severe weather.
The primary function of the FR160 is that it is an AM/FM Weather Radio.Tuning is intuitive and easy to do, usually I'm not a huge fan of analogue AM/FM knobs because it's difficult to dial in a station but with the telescoping antenna on the top it wasn't hard to find my favorite stations or a listenable weather band in no time.
The FR160 is small, weighing in at only 10.4 ounces (smaller than a man sized steak!). It measures just 1.8 x 5.2 x 2.5 inches so it can sit on a windowsill, ride in your glove box, or fit in with a small emergency readiness kit. Construction seems solid, I'd have no worries about damaging this radio as I shuffle to the safety of a basement or shelter. There's even a built in LED flashlight so my radio will tell me when to seek shelter, then it can help me find my way to that shelter if the power is out... brilliant!
Another cool feature of the FR160 is that it doesn't need batteries. There is a built in battery which can be charged slowly with a solar cell on the top of the radio, or much more quickly in a pinch using a hand crank on the back of the device. Just 90 seconds of cranking will net approximately 30-40 minutes of low volume usage, or 8-10 hours of direct sunlight can get 3-5 hours of play. No more worry about running out of juice when it matters most.
Probably one of the most compelling features included is a USB power outlet built onto the side of the FR160. Just switch the volume knob to the off position, and turn the tuner dial from AM/FM/WB to the "Cell" position, and when you crank you'll produce voltage to charge a cell phone. There's even a convenient LED indicator light to let you know if you're cranking fast enough to produce a charge.
The Short List
In case I lost you in the text body, here's a rundown of those features one more time.
- AM/FM Radio
- NOAA Weather Radio
- LED Flashlight
- Solar Power Panel
- Hand Crank Power
- Headphone Jack
- USB Cell Phone Charger
The Final Say
The American Red Cross won't put their logo on junk. This weather radio is inexpensive and the feature load is huge. I think every home should own such a device and after a recent batch of bad storms I am going to highly recommend that you don't waste too much time trying to weigh your options about which one. The MSRP is around $40, but through Amazon you can find these for less than that. What are you waiting for? The next time you think you'll need one you probably won't have time to wait for shipping!
If you'd like to donate to help the victims of the West Liberty Kentucky Tornado, please visit one of the following sites: