In the midst of severe storms like Hurricane Sandy, when electricity is lost, a battery powered radio is one of the most critical emergency supplies. It’s with this in mind that the American Red Cross in 2006 partnered with radio maker Etón Corp. of Palo Alto, Calif., to deliver a range of co–branded radios fit for almost any emergency situation, including utility power outages so long that even the batteries die.
Today, Etón is launching the newest model in its American Red Cross range, the ZoneGuard weather alert clock radio ($39.99) — the first that warns about approaching severe weather even when it’s not tuned in to an emergency broadcast or weather radio channel.
The means is a newly developed audio–visual warning system that marries a flashing LED light bar on the top of the radio to a loud alarm sound. Weather warnings are indicated by the light bar flashing red; weather watches by the light bar flashing orange; and weather advisories by the light bar flashing green.
Users can program the radio to monitor as many as 25 locales by entering associated county codes, and the built–in radio tuner will pick up AM, FM and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather alert channels.
With three AA batteries, the ZoneGuard radio can stay on for as long as 16 to 18 hours, but Etón intends it to be continuously powered with the supplied AC adapter, according to a company spokesperson. A detachable stand allows the ZoneGuard radio to be propped up on a desktop or shelf, or the device can be hung on a wall.
One useful feature not offered in the ZoneGuard but available in 10 other Etón emergency radios is a hand crank that generates electricity when it’s turned and can be used to recharge a built-in battery, which in turn can be used to recharge a cellphone through a built–in USB port or to power an integrated LED flashlight (in models that include those features, too). These 10 models range in price from $14.99 to $59..99. The newest of them — the FRX1 ($24.99), FRX2 ($39.99) and FRX3 ($59.99) — debuted last May.
All Etón–American Red Cross products are available at Etón’s online store and at Amazon.com. Select products, including the ZoneGuard, are also available at Radio Shack.