TERRE HAUTE —
For the person who has everything, emergency preparedness experts recommend an all-hazard weather radio as the perfect holiday gift.
In fact, Vigo County Emergency Management Agency is distributing 80 of the radio units to area fire departments to give as gifts to economically disadvantaged households. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security has partnered with local EMAs around the state to give away about 8,500 of the radios to at-risk Hoosiers.
“The county-based fire departments are probably the best service organizations closest to the people to know who’s in need of an all-hazard radio,” said J.D. Kesler, deputy director of planning for Vigo County EMA, in explaining who will receive the radios locally.
The radios are not just about weather alerts, said Jerri Husband, director of the field services division for IDHS, during a visit to the Vigo County EMA office near Hulman Field on Tuesday. The radios also issue alerts about hazardous chemical spills, Silver and Amber alerts, and incidents such as gas main breaks.
Husband said each household should have a radio as part of its preparedness plan.
“People have become dependent on the outdoor weather sirens, like that is the only preparedness they need to have,” she said. “But when you’re snug inside your home, you may not hear that.”
Kesler said the alerts will come through the National Weather Service, and residents may program the devices to pick up only local alerts.
Most all-hazard radios require a Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) code number in order to limit the receipt of emergency messages to a specific geographic area. The list of Indiana counties and their corresponding SAME codes are available at www.weather.gov/nwr/cntycov/nwrin.htm.
Many people already know when a storm is approaching because of the news media, Kesler said, but for emergency incidents, the radios become an important tool to help residents avoid danger areas.
All-hazards alert radios disseminate more than 60 emergency alerts such as hazardous weather and other local area warnings, including up to date weather information broadcast directly from the National Weather Service. In the event of a power outage or an evacuation, backup battery power allows the radios to remain operational.
Federal grant sources funded the purchase and distribution of the radios. During the past four years, IDHS has distributed more than 23,000 radios and has provided weather radios to public schools in Indiana. IDHS has plans to continue the radio distribution in the future.
All Hoosiers who are able are encouraged to purchase an all-hazards alert radio, Husband said. The cost is about $30 or $40 online and at many retail outlets.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa