Emergency officials say the key now is getting the alerts to as many people as possible.
Barbara Law is checking the weather radio at one of the public pools she oversees. The pools use the radios to get information quickly about approaching storms so they can evacuate people quickly.
Now, those same radios will provide alerts if the National Terrorism Threat Level changes, or if there’s an actual attack.
Law says the additional information will be a great help.
“Absolutely because the number of people we have in these facilities, how would they know if we didn’t have a way of communicating that to them? They would be swimming here at the pool, just having fun, they’d have no idea what’s going on around them,” Law explains.
Weather radios are now able to issue alerts for other man-made disasters as well like nuclear power plant problems, chemical spills, even Amber Alerts for missing children.
The problem is you won’t get the warning if you don’t have a weather radio. Florida’s Emergency Management Director estimates only five to 10 percent of Florida’s population has a weather radio.
Craig Fugate with the Office of Emergency Management has long pushed for families to include a weather radio in their home disaster kits. He hopes more families will be motivated now.
“If nobody receives the warning, how could they possibly know what to do? So again, this is an important step but it still takes the public’s action to make these warnings effective,” Fugate says.
Whether it’s a terrorist attack or coming thunderstorm, the more advance notice you have, the sooner you can take steps to protect your family.
Weather radios usually cost between $35 and $70. There are many brands, but look for the words "all-hazard radio" or "weather radio" on the package. Those of course also key during hurricane season.