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What is an Emergency Crank Radio?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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The emergency crank radio is a very important part of any emergency kit in a home. Natural and man-made disasters or simply long power outages can mean people are without important information that may be broadcasted on various radio channels or frequencies. While many rely on powered sources to get their news, like TV, plug in radios, and computers, these may not be available when a disaster hits. The emergency crank radio can provide a backup source of information, and other features that can help people get the information they need during such times.

As the name implies, the emergency crank radio is powered by using a hand crank, usually for about half a minute to two minutes, to provide the radio with power for about a half hour to an hour. Many of these radios feature other power sources too. Some can be battery operated, have an adapter to plug in when the power goes back on, and many also can be solar powered. The multiple ways in which the radio can get power make it more useful, and people should look for radios that have numerous power methods to increase their options in emergency settings.

Most types of the emergency crank radio receive AM/FM channels and others are capable of receiving shortwave radio signals that can allow listeners to hear international channels too. Another important feature to look for is that the radio has ability to tune into the weather band, which broadcasts information specific to natural disasters, especially those caused by weather systems. Ability to tune into multiple channels, wavelengths and bands is desirable for improving chances of finding information in an emergency.

In addition to working as a radio, the emergency crank radio may have several other functions. Some have a built in emergency flashlight that is also powered through the hand crank method. A few feature adapters that can be used to charge cellphones. Such radios may come with protective cases or be water resistant, which could certainly be of assistance in water related power outages like floods. Most radios are lightweight and easily portable, weighing between one to two pounds (.45-.91 kg).

Price on an emergency crank radio varies but average for well-reviewed brands is about $50-100 US Dollars (USD) or more. Those packing these radios away for emergency kits should look for those styles endorsed by the Red Cross. There are plenty of reviews of radios online too, and these can help determine which radios have been judged to be the most durable and are most recommended in emergencies.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Feb 11, 2014

Some people don't just use these for emergencies -- they use them as their primary, portable radios. A lot of people are interested in "going green," and using a crank radio instead of batteries or AC power is often of interest to those people. You'll find a lot of crank devices for emergency use out there such as flashlights, weather radios, etc.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia...
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