Life Times Newsletter

July/August 2003
Vol. 5, No.4

Save lives: Develop a family emergency plan

Deadly tornadoes and Homeland Security Alerts remind us that every family needs to develop an emergency plan for dealing with both natural and man-made disaster situations. Your family emergency plan should include:

• Two places to meet: One right outside your home for an emergency such as a fire, and
   another outside your neighbor- hood in case you can’t return home.

• An out-of-state friend to be your "Family Contact." After a disaster, it is often easier
   to call long distance.

• A plan for pets. Pets are not permitted in emergency shelters.

• Emergency supply kits for home, work and vehicles. Store essentials in a backpack
   or duffle for easy carrying. Include: water, food, clothing, blanket or sleeping bag per
   person, first aid kit, prescription medicines, flashlight and extra batteries, extra set of
   keys, cash/ credit card, special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members,
   emergency tools and a portable radio.

• An "All-Hazard" NOAA Weather Radio.

What is a NOAA weather radio?
The National Weather Service broadcasts warnings, watches, forecasts and crucial hazard information 24 hours a day on NOAA weather radio. The goal of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to have a Weather Radio (NWR) in every home, just like a smoke detector, and in all schools, hospitals and other public gathering places. NWR gives people the kind of information they need before, during and after a disaster.

What makes NOAA Weather Radio so special?
When a threat is determined, routine weather programming will be interrupted and a special tone transmitted that automatically activates your weather radio to provide emergency warnings and information in the danger areas. Hearing and visually impaired can receive warnings by connecting weather radios to other kinds of attention-getting devices, such as strobe lights, bed-shakers, personal computers and text printers.

What is "SAME" technology?
A new digital technology called Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) can target specific counties or areas to receive only broadcasts for a specific area. Warnings from other areas can be blocked if desired.

Where can I purchase a NOAA Weather Radio?
Check with local retail stores that sell consumer electronics or home entertainment equipment. Prices vary, but many portable weather warning radio receivers, including those with SAME technology, can be purchased for less than the cost of a new pair of shoes, $25 to $100, depending on features and number of receivers.

What kind is best?
The radio should be capable of receiving all seven frequencies used by NOAA broadcasts. Radio receivers are battery-operated portables or AC powered desktop models with a battery backup. Some CB radios, scanners and AM/FM radios are capable of receiving NOAA Weather Radio transmissions.

For information on NOAA radio, visit:  Contact the American Red Cross for a free copy of "Your Family Disaster Plan," or visit: For emergency preparedness information, contact your Outreach and Extension office, or visit:

Rebecca Blocker, MS
Housing and Environmental Design Specialist

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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller