The technology of a crank radio may seem outdated, and you may not need to use one on a daily basis, but it could prove a vital tool during an emergency. Most crank radios are small enough to be packed away in an emergency kit, but if you're an avid camper or hiker, you should consider bringing one along on your next trek. The essential element of a crank radio is the crank itself because when you don't have a power outlet at your disposal, you need a device that can charge itself.

Some of the other key features offered by a crank radio are:

  • Built-in flashlight
  • USB charger for cell phone and other mobile devices
  • Solar panel for passive charging
  • NOAA weather station access

In an emergency, having access to light, local broadcast information and alternate power sources can save your life   and your sanity. One of the hardest things to access during a power outage or any environmental disaster is information. No power means no broadcasts, no television and no news. News stations can't broadcast their radio frequencies, in most cases, should the power go out. But the NOAA has developed radio frequencies that are built to stand the tests of Mother Nature. There are over 120 local weather forecast offices, and they issue hundreds of thousands of weather forecasts across the country.

In addition to emergency radio, every crank radio has access to AM/FM radio frequencies too. Some can even let you listen to shortwave frequencies, which tend to be more localized. If you live in an area that is prone to disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes or hurricanes, a crank radio can let you find information regarding storms and other natural disasters. Some radios also come with sirens or flashing lights that will give you weather warnings before they happen.

Typically, updated versions of crank radios are made extra rugged and sometimes water resistant to withstand weather, even rough treatment. This creates a beneficial companion for you during any long camping or hiking trips, not just for emergencies. Having a solar panel can be great for those occasions because you may be able to clip it onto your bag and let it charge while you are hiking. And some crank radios even have extra features such as bottle openers, barometers and altimeters.

These are just a few features that come standard with most crank radios. The typical objectives of these gadgets are to function off a crank and to take up as little room as possible. Efficiency with charging while making sure it doesn't take up a lot of space are benefits you should keep in mind. Make sure to get the radio that has the features that are most helpful to you. You're sure to find one with all the tools you need since emergency radios are the Swiss Army Knives of electronics.

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