As summer storms approach, officials urge awareness

WINDER -- For added peace of mind as the tempestuous storms of summer approach, officials in Barrow County are advising residents to tap into radio waves.

Penny Clack, Barrow County Emergency Management Coordinator, said a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio is the best means for receiving notification when the National Weather Service issues watches and warnings -- even when they're issued in the middle of the night. Advanced warning and preparedness can be the difference between life and death, she said.

"Having an emergency preparedness plan in place is something every family should have," Clack said. "Receiving advance warning of severe weather can greatly increase the chance of survival for you and your family."NOAA Weather Radios can be purchased at most electronic stores from $35 to more than $100, depending on the quality and number of features.

The radios work like this:

When the NWS issues emergency tones, it causes the NOAA Weather Radio to emit an alert. When set to "private," radio owners will not hear anything from the radio until that tone is set, Clack said.

"Having an early warning system like the NOAA Weather Radio can make a huge difference for you and your family," Clack said. "(A radio) will allow you to know that, even when you are sleeping, you'll be able to be alerted when a watch or a warning for Barrow County has been issued."

For more information on NOAA radios and sellers, log on to the NOAA Weather Radio website at www.nws.noaa,gov/nwr.

Officials offered the following tips on what radio features to look for:

Make sure the radio is tunable or adjustable to all NOAA Weather Radio frequencies and has a NWR SAME receiver, which allow you to program the Georgia counties of your choice. Also look for a radio with an AC adapter and a battery compartment.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency, working in partnership with the National Weather Service, has continued to expand the NOAA Weather Radio Network throughout the state. More than 98 percent of the state can now receive NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts, Clack said.