Stay Informed of Hazardous Weather with Midland’s Weather Radios

Midland’s assortment of weather radios. Image by Michael Knight

Many parts of the United States are subjected to hazardous weather every year. One of the best ways to stay safe is to know when such weather threatens where you are located. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) runs a network of radio stations that provide weather information as well as weather watches, warnings and alerts 24-7. These broadcasts are in the VHF public service band on seven different frequencies with stations covering all 50 states as well as U.S. Territories including Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, the Marianas, and American Samoa. Midland offers several different types of weather radios to help you stay informed and safe.

What are Midland Weather Radios and Walkie Talkies?

Midland is an industry leader in communication technology and has a line of weather radios designed to receive NOAA weather broadcasts and alerts. Starting at around $30, Midland’s weather radios are available in home models, portable emergency radios, and even two-way radio walkie talkies that include NOAA weather alerts. They can be purchased directly from Midland or from several other retailers such as I had the opportunity to review four different Midland products for this article.

The WR120 weather radio. Image by Michael Knight

WR120 NOAA Weather Alert Radio

The WR120 is Midland’s basic weather radio. It can tune into NOAA weather broadcasts and will notify you of weather alerts for your area. It also features an alarm clock as well. 

Here is what is in the box:

  • Emergency weather alert radio
  • AC power adapter
  • Owner’s manual

This model can be placed on a horizontal surface such as a counter, table, or desk or it can be hung vertically from a wall or cabinet. Mounting hardware is not included. Three AA batteries are required for backup and will power the weather radio in case the power goes out. For most people, this weather radio is all you need to stay informed at home. It can be set to receive alerts for a single location or up to 25 different locations. Setting up the weather radio is quite easy. Set the time, and then set up alerts by choosing country (USA or Canada), state or province, and county or regional district. The type of alert can be customized so the radio provides a voice alert, an alarm tone, or just a visual alert that scrolls across the display. Finally, users select the NOAA weather broadcast station from 7 possible frequencies. While you can look up which frequency serves your area, it is almost easier to just cycle through them until you find the strongest signal. You can download a copy of the owner’s manual here. 

Once the weather radio has been set up, just press the Weather/Snooze button to listen to the NOAA weather station. In case of an alert, in addition to a voice or tone alert sounding, a warning message will scroll across the display listing the type of alert. Red, orange, and yellow indicators will also light up to quickly inform you if the alert is a warning, watch, or advisory respectively.The radio can store up to 10 alerts which are currently still in effect. Users can scroll through these alerts to review them. Along the side of the radio are ports for an external antenna, a cloning port, and even an external alert which can be connected to a strobe light or pillow vibrator for those with hearing or visual impairments. 

WR400 deluxe weather radio. Image by Michael Knight

WR400 Deluxe NOAA Weather Radio

The WR400 is Midland’s deluxe weather radio. It has all of the same features as the WR120 as well as an AM/FM radio. 

Here is what is in the box:

  • Emergency weather alert radio
  • AC power adapter
  • Owner’s manual

The WR400 looks like a clock radio and has the same weather radio and alert abilities as the WR120. However, in addition it also can play both AM and FM with 4 presets for each band. Furthermore, it has a headphone jack and even a USB port which can be used to charge devices including cell phones and tablets. The backup requires 4 AA batteries to save your settings and will run the radio for a few days. The WR400 is a great choice if you need weather alerts as well as a clock radio all in one package. You can download a copy of the owner’s manual here.

ER210 emergency radio. Image by Michael Knight

ER210 Compact Emergency Radio

Unlike the previous two weather radios, the ER210 is intended for use in an emergency. It can be used at home, while traveling, and even outdoors such as when camping.

Here is what is in the box:

  • Emergency weather alert radio
  • Micro USB charging cable
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Owner’s manual
  • FEMA recommended emergency checklist
Recharge the battery with the hand crank or solar panel. Image by Michael Knight

The ER210 is small and portable. The included rechargeable lithium ion battery does not need to be removed to charge. In fact, there are three ways to charge the battery: the included Micro USB charging cable, the solar panel along the top of the radio which requires direct sunlight, and the dynamo crank on the back of the radio. A red LED near the display will light up to indicate the battery is charging.The radio can be tuned to the local NOAA weather station as well as AM and FM bands. Weather alerts can be turned on or off as desired. When an alert is received, the radio will sound an alarm and the flashlight will blink on and off. Furthermore the flashlight has both high and low settings as can also flash out SOS in Morse code. In addition to the Micro USB input port for charging the battery, there is also a headphone jack and a USB output port for using the radio to charge a cell phone, tablet or other device. The ER210 is easy to setup and use.   You can download a copy of the owner’s manual here.

X-Talker T20 walkie talkie 4-pack. Image by Michael Knight

X-Talker T20 Walkie Talkie

The X-Talker walkie talkies are small, handheld 2-way radios that also can receive NOAA weather broadcasts and weather alerts. They can be purchased in a two-pack with both walkie talkies the same color or a multi-color four -pack with individual walkie talkies in red, orange, green, and blue. 

Here is what is in the box:

  • 4 walkie talkie radios
  • 4 belt clips
  • Owner’s manual

Each walkie talkie requires 4 AAA batteries which are not included. There are 22 channels from which to choose and to ensure privacy, 38 privacy codes can be selected for each channel. In order for the walkie talkies to communicate, all must be set to the same channel and privacy code. The LCD display shows the current channel and privacy code. The radios can also be used hands-free by activating the Vox function with three levels of sensitivity. Within the setting menu, you can turn off the “Roger” beep at the end of a transmission and even put the radio into silent operation to disable all beeps and tones. However, what really makes these walkie talkies unique is the weather radio functions. By pressing the two volume control buttons and holding them down for 3 seconds, the weather radio is activated. Cycle through 10 NOAA radio channels to find the one for your area. The weather alert function can also be activated to work whether in weather radio or walkie talkie modes. If there is a weather alert for your area, the walkie talkie will beep for 20 seconds with an alert symbol on the display and automatically switch to weather radio mode. The T20 walkie talkies are a bit more difficult to set up than the weather radios, primarily because the display is smaller. However, the owner’s manual includes a quick reference chart and once you have gone through the settings and understand the symbols and icons, it is easy to adjust settings. You can download a copy of the owner’s manual here.

Why You Should Get  a Midland Weather Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published an article about widespread changes in weather patterns due to the rising global average temperature. It discusses the increased amount of precipitation in some areas including a higher prevalence of single-day high precipitation events. With increases in tropical storm activity, flooding, and other hazardous events, it is important to stay informed. No matter where you live, it is a good idea to have a weather radio in your home. Even with cell phones and television broadcasts, NOAA weather radio stations will always be broadcasting while cell towers can lose power and cable or internet connections can go down.

A friend of mine who is a meteorologist recommended the Midland WR120 weather radio which she has in her own home. I found that the radio works best when it is near a window rather than in the interior of my home. For those wanting their weather radio on their desk or nightstand, the WR400 looks just like a normal clock radio, can tune in AM/FM stations, and even has a USB charging port for your cell phone or tablet. Both of these weather radios can also be mounted to a wall so as not to take up space on horizontal surfaces. I would suggest either model of weather radio for all homes. I am sending purchasing and sending WR120 weather radios to my adult children who live in some areas prone to tornadoes, severe winter storms, and/or wildfire dangers. 

While weather radios will warn of hazardous weather, it is also important to have an emergency radio if the power goes out or you need to evacuate. I am very impressed by the ER210 emergency compact crank radio. It is easy to operate and can fit in a large jacket pocket or even small backpack. With the ability to charge the battery with solar power or the hand crank, or with the USB cable, this radio will always have power. In fact, FEMA actually recommends a battery-powered or hand crank NOAA weather radio with alerts to be included in an emergency supply kit. Not only is this radio important for emergencies, it is also useful for outdoor activities such as camping when cell phones may be out of range of a cell tower or you need a means to charge your cell phone. Be sure to take an emergency radio such as the ER210 with you for outdoor activities and put one in your emergency kit. 

Many people may think of walkie talkies as toys or even obsolete in the age of cell phones. However, those who frequent the outdoors realize that cell phone reception can be spotty or nonexistent in some areas such as the mountains or wilderness areas. Staying in contact with your party is important and walkie talkies are an inexpensive yet effective tool. I really like that Midland’s X-Talker T20 walkie talkies can tune into NOAA weather stations and receive weather alerts. I found the range of these walkie talkies to be quite good for normal needs. However, range is decreased by obstructions to line of sight, with buildings and structures decreasing range more than trees and vegetation. 

Midland is an industry leader in communication devices. They offer many other products than those I have reviewed with different features and prices. Weather radios is one area of focus for their products. No matter where you live, it is important to have some type of device that informs you of not only hazardous weather, but also dangerous conditions such as wildfires, earthquakes and even shelter in place warnings. If your home is one of the 90% in the United States that does not currently have a weather radio, I highly recommend that you put one in your home. Midland’s weather radios are a reliable and affordable way to stay informed. 

Disclosure: GeekDad received a sample of these items for review purposes.

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