A comprehensive guide: The best emergency radios in 2019

Being in the middle of a crisis is, without a doubt, not a good place to be and it’s not something you can expect but you can definitely prepare for. With that being said, it’s common knowledge that natural catastrophes, unprecedented weather conditions, and even raging fires can emerge out of nowhere. In order to survive a world struck by disaster, you’d want to eventually seek help or, if possible, help others.

The emergency radio plays a crucial role here since it’s equipped to assist you in these times of need. Most of these devices don’t rely completely on electricity and can last for a while, making them the perfect communication options during power outages.

It’s always a good idea to conduct a thorough research before purchasing an item and it’s even more important to do if that product might end up saving your life someday. In this article you will discover all the beneficial features that should exist in an emergency radio and how you can use them.


What is an Emergency Radio?

Some winters are just harsher than others and you might find yourself stuck at home for a short while. The emergency radio is a tool which you can use to stay updated on such matters.

Now this is only an example, sometimes things could be much worse and leave you disconnected from the outside world. With this device you’ll be able to receive messages even when all other communication methods are down.


Is an Emergency Radio necessary?

Of course there are more important things you need to seek out when a disaster happens. Finding water for example is crucial however, that doesn’t mean that an emergency radio can’t make things a lot easier for you. Add to that the fact that they’re relatively cheap when compared to other radios so it won’t hurt to just add the device to your survival gear.


The reception of an Emergency radio

Just like any other radio, some models are equipped with powerful antennas that allow you to access a broader range of channels. Naturally, some emergency radios might not have the antenna you need so make sure you can replace it with a better option. It goes without saying that reception is key when you’re in a state of emergency.


Using the Emergency radio with other devices

Most models have a feature that allows you to charge other devices which can come in handy when you have no other source of power. In addition, you cannot initiate a back and forth communication with an emergency radio, you can only receive messages, which is why having a two-way radio as well is a good idea.


Doomsday Preppers and Emergency Radios

You probably noticed that on multiple occasions emergency radios were mentioned in the hit TV show “Doomsday Preppers”. The device is cheap, easy to operate, and can be highly beneficial if (or when!) a global disaster occurs.


Important features in an Emergency Radio

Every piece of equipment has a specific set of features that make it unique and useful in its own way. The emergency radio is no different.

Power settings

Most radios need batteries or another source of electricity in order to operate. The same goes for these devices but since they’re designed for emergencies, you can find that most models have other power sources such as a hand crank or a small solar panel. 


There are international and national agencies that provide continuous reports regarding dangerous weather conditions or even natural disasters. The most prominent are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS). Radios that have the “NOAA NWR All Hazards” label can pick up these channels and transmissions and that coincides with the main purpose of emergency radios.

Public Alerts

Most cities or regions have a public alert service that transmits important messages when the area is struck by a crisis. This feature will make your radio vibrate, light up, or play a specific tone in order to inform you of an incoming transmission.

Specific Area Message Encoding

Also known as SAME, this functionality is similar to Public Alerts since it keeps you updated on developments that are taking place in your area. In other words, you only receive helpful information and subsequently use less power.

Water and dust resistance

Sure that doesn’t sound like an absolute necessity but it can keep your radio functional for a longer period of time. Most models are water resistant and not waterproof which means that they can withstand a few splashes but they shouldn’t be submerged. This is equally beneficial for individuals who live in wet or dry regions.

Flashlight and additional accessories

None of the items listed hereafter are critical but you never know what you might end up needing especially when you find yourself in a predicament. Additional accessories like a flashlight, extra charging ports and battery packs, or even a small speaker can come in handy.
Don’t forget that more features means a higher price, so check your budget before picking a radio.


Two-Way Signal reviews the best Emergency Radios

Now that you have an overall understanding of emergency radios and their important features, it’s time to take a look at some of the best models out there. TWS always provides clear and informative reviews to keep you up to date with the latest equipment.

iRonsnow IS-088 Weather Radio

Generally speaking, emergency radios are not that expensive and the IS-088 is proof of that. With a low price of 20$ you can get a fully equipped device with almost all the necessary features.

Pros of the iRonsnow IS-088

  • Various channels: easily pick up the NOAA alerts in addition to AM and FM radio.
  • Small and lightweight: you can take this radio with you no matter where you go since it has a compact structure and even weighs less than 300 grams.
  • Large battery: use the radio for an extended period of time thanks to the 1000 mAh battery.
  • Charging options: charge your device using the USB port or, if need be, use the solar panel or even the hand crank.
  • Charging source: you can charge your cell phone or tablet using this radio.
  • Built-in LED flashlight: this can come in handy during a power outage.
  • Warranty and support: you can benefit from the 1 year warranty that comes with this item in addition to awesome customer support.

Cons of the iRonsnow IS-088

Some reviews have noted that their radios are not lasting as long as expected which is mainly due to a faulty charging process.

RunningSnail MD-090 Weather Radio

Slightly more expensive than the previous one, the MD-090 has everything you might need in dire times and even more. It’s extremely lightweight and versatile making it a good option in case you plan on moving around.

Pros of the RunningSnail MD-090

  • Large power bank: with a power of 2000 mAh, you can charge all your small devices with it.
  • More channels: you can pick up NOAA weather alerts and AM/FM radio as well.
  • Long battery life: you can use this radio for almost 6 hours if the lights are off.
  • Included flashlight: speaking of lights, you will find a built-in 1W LED flashlight to help you get around in the dark.
  • SOS Alarm system: the radio emits a flashing red light in case you want to warn those around you.
  • Various charging methods: the usual micro USB port is there but  you can also use the hand crank or the solar charging.

Cons of the RunningSnail MD-090

There have been several reports claiming that the battery was draining relatively fast even if no lights were on. This is a bad issue especially if the radio dies when you need it the most.

Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio

The best thing about this radio is the fact that it’s highly reliable and versatile. The MMR-88 is equipped with all the functionalities that you might require during a crisis, all at an affordable price.

Pros of the Sangean MMR-88

  • Perfect for Public Alerts: this device will keep you updated about the latest weather conditions.
  • Triple charging: this means that you can use the USB port, the hand crank, or the solar panel to charge the radio.
  • Removable battery: you can choose to get rid of the included battery and add another one.
  • Different channels: this radio can pick up AM and FM broadcasts in addition to the weather channels.
  • Water resistant: IPX3 rated which means it can handle a bit of water but shouldn’t be completely immersed.
  • Additional accessories: benefit from the built-in LED flashlight or buzzer that sends audio warnings to those around you.

Cons of the Sangean MMR-88

The included battery is weak when compared to other radios but this shouldn’t be an issue because you can remove it and add another, more powerful one.

Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio

No matter where you plan on going, the KA500 can locate radio signals for you. It’s arguably one of the best models on the market today and it’s highly useful in an emergency.

Pros of the Kaito KA500

  • Several charging methods: similar to all previous models, you can charge this radio using the USB port, A/C adaptor, solar panel, or the hand crank.
  • Runs without batteries: just put the radio under the sun and it will activate thanks to its high-quality solar panels. You don’t need to put batteries inside.
  • Different channels: the usual NOAA weather alerts and, of course, AM/FM broadcasts.
  • Shortwave reception: even if it’s an emergency radio, it can pick up shortwave radio broadcasts.
  • Built-in light: the LED flashlight is powerful but it doesn’t drain a lot of battery, surprisingly.
  • Feature rich: this radio includes all the necessary features and more but with a price tag of 50$, it’s not expensive at all.

Cons of the Kaito KA500

Try not to use any other chargers since it might damage the radio. Moreover, the crank is made of seemingly weak material.

Kaito KA700 Emergency Radio

Another product from Kaito and the KA700 is in a league of its own! It goes beyond the necessary features that you need in an emergency since it contains additional, more luxurious accessories.

Pros of the Kaito KA800

  • 4-way charging: includes a micro USB port, dynamo cranking, solar panel, and a rechargeable battery.
  • Various channels: this radio will pick up AM/FM broadcasts in addition to NOAA weather alerts.
  • Dependable power source: use this device to charge your cell phones or tablets.
  • Fully lit: contains a built-in flashlight, 5 LED reading lamp, and an SOS emergency light.
  • All in One music machine: why not listen to music during a crisis with the MP3 player that has its own SD card.
  • Bluetooth speaker: connect your phone to the radio and benefit from hands free control.

Cons of the Kaito KA800

The only downside to this item is its price since you’ll need to pay around 80$ to own one. Now this might not seem a lot but compared to other emergency radios, this is relatively expensive.

Midland ER310 Emergency Radio

An emergency radio focused on power and charging. The most distinguished feature about the ER310 is that it can operate even when the batteries are drained which might be really important when facing a crisis.

Pros of the Midland ER310

  • Various channels: of course you’ll find the NOAA weather alerts in addition to AM/FM radio.
  • Large battery: you’d be glad to know that this radio has a big 2600 mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery.
  • Multiple charging methods: the usual USB port is there but you can also charge it using the hand crank or the solar panel.
  • Power source: use the radio to charge several other devices like cell phones or tablets.
  • Additional accessories: when you purchase this radio you’ll notice the built-in flashlight, a large backlit LCD screen, a headphone jack, and even an ultrasonic dog whistle because who knows what can happen in an emergency.

Cons of the Midland ER310

There have been numerous reports highlighting the same issue that involves a weak charging port which broke down in the first few months after purchase.


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