In the week before we moved to Tennessee there was a rash of tornadoes that devastated cities throughout the region. We're not in the direct path of "Tornado Alley", but we're pretty close and Tennessee isn't wanting for more tornadoes. Part of the reason we decided to look east of Nashville for land was because west of Nashville typically gets hit worse during tornado season. That doesn't mean we're not at risk, however.
When we saw on the news that tornadoes were picking up in the Knoxville area it got me worried and I started to wonder how we would know if a tornado came through in the middle of the night (or even in the middle of the day). Tornadoes aren't like Hurricanes where you have a couple days (or even weeks) of warning time. With tornadoes your response time is typically measured in minutes. I hadn't given it much thought, but we were a week away from being isolated in the middle of forest (literally) and we wouldn't have a great way to be notified if the weather turned and a tornado warning were issued. That's when I learned about weather radios.
I lived in Memphis for four years and never even heard of a weather radio. Memphis is arguably at a higher risk for tornado damage than where we are currently, so why didn't I have a weather radio then? I don't know, to be honest. I probably should've had one. No one I knew had one. We were in the middle of a city, surrounded by other people, TV's, normal radios, the internet, etc, so I guess we were pretty safe in assuming that if there was a tornado warning we'd hear about it. Not so on the farm.
In the week before we moved I did some research and ended up getting two weather radios. One is for our bedroom on the nightstand and also serves as the morning alarm clock. I got sick of waking up to the cell phone buzzing and beeping, so having a radio alarm is a welcome treat to the morning. The model we chose was Sangean, although I'm not sure it's that big of a deal. It seems like there's tons of good ones out there. This one happened to get great reviews everywhere I looked, so I went with it. So far we've enjoyed it. It gives off a loud alarm when a thunderstorm alert or tornado warning is issued by the NOAA. It can also be programmed to pick up all kinds of alerts for the region, literally a full page of different alerts. That way you can set what you're interested in hearing about. It also has a button you can press that goes straight to the weather update for our area, which is nice if we just want to check in on the day's weather and the forecast for the week.
The second radio we got is my favorite though. It's a tiny little radio, but it packs a ton of cool features. It's an Eton hand crank radio with solar power as well. It gets the regular radio stations as well as the weather radio signals. In addition, it has a USB hook-up for cell phone (and other electronics) charging and a flashlight on one end. Seems like a great thing to have for when the power goes out or a tornado actually does roll through.
Maybe this is just standard practice for farmers and rural-dwellers, but I hadn't heard or seen much about weather radios. I suppose it's just one more ignorant city-folk item to add to the list of stuff we've learned about. Preparedness wasn't much of a concern for us in the past, but it's something I think more and more about every day we're out here.