NWR for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The material provided in this document is general information on how you can use NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) as an alerting tool for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not an all-inclusive listing of how the system can be used, what products are available or an endorsement of any product listed here.

You can purchase at least one off-the-shelf NWR receiver system that provides an alert for the deaf and hard of hearing. In some cases, if you already have a home security system, you can connect the NWR receiver to your existing alerting system, much the same as a door bell, smoke detector or other sensor. If you have some electronics skills, you may be able to purchase an NWR receiver and other components and assemble them into a system designed to meet your special needs.

In simple systems, alarm devices are directly connected to the output of the NWR receiver. In more complex installations, using wireless and wired remote modules, connections are made through devices that allow more remote and versatile placement of alarms. Alarms may require external power from batteries or modular power supplies. Make sure the alarm will work during a power failure. See the block diagram below for system layouts.

The National Weather Service (NWS) does not guarantee the proper operation of any of the equipment or systems listed here and is not liable for any damages as a result of non-receipt of alarms, alerts or warnings from these systems. Inclusion of a product in this document does not imply endorsement by the NWS. Some general questions and answers regarding use of NWR by the deaf and hard of hearing follow.

QUESTION: What good is a radio to people who are deaf or hard of hearing?

ANSWER: NWR offers non-verbal information imbedded in its broadcasts to provide timely, critical warnings of life threatening events to the deaf and hard of hearing. Some receivers are equipped with special output connectors that activate alerting devices such as vibrators, bed shakers, pillow vibrators, strobe lights and other alerting systems.

With Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology, NWR receivers can be programmed to set off an alarm for specific events (tornado, flash flood, etc.) and specific counties of interest to you.

QUESTION: How does it work?

ANSWER: Forecasters at your local NWS Weather Forecast Office determine a severe weather event is occurring or about to occur, or local authorities determine that a hazardous event (nuclear power plant problem, a chemical or biological accident, etc.) has occurred. The information is immediately input to a computer at a local Weather Forecast Office and broadcast by NWR transmitters to areas at risk. Digital codes are added to each broadcast to identify the event (tornado, flash flood, local civil emergency, etc) and the specific counties affected. When the Warning is received by an NWR SAME receiver, the receiver turns itself on, sounds an alarm, activates a Warning light, writes a short message (TORNADO) on the display, and activates connected external devices, strobe lights, sirens, vibrators, etc.

QUESTION: What do I do when I have received a Warning from NWR SAME?

ANSWER: If the Warning is for a tornado or flash flood, you should immediately take steps to protect yourself. Every household should have an emergency plan that lets everyone know what to do to prevent injury or death. These actions may include moving to the basement, a safe room, or lower, interior levels of your home during a tornado or evacuating to higher ground along a pre-established route during a flash flood.

QUESTION: Where can I get additional information about the event that caused the Warning to be issued?

ANSWER: The NWR SAME Warning message broadcast you receive also triggers the Emergency Alert System at your local television and radio stations. The message is also immediately available on the Web and at nws.noaa.gov. Either or both of these sources of text information can be monitored to get additional information, if you can do so without putting yourself at risk.

QUESTION: Where can I get the necessary equipment and what does it cost?

ANSWER: Ready-to-use systems are marketed by Silent Call and Harris Communications. The cost of a basic NWR SAME receiver is $50 to $80. Systems packaged with external alarm devices start at $100.

NWR SAME receivers with features useful to the deaf and hard of hearing, such as an output to activate external devices, an LCD display, and battery back-up power are manufactured and/or sold by several companies, including Radio Shack, Midland, Uniden, and First Alert. Connecting some of them to external alarm devices requires a knowledge of electronics and some electronic technician skills for proper installation.

QUESTION: How can I find out if my home or office is covered by NWR?

ANSWER: Check out the coverage maps or station lists on this site to determine if the area in which you live is covered by NWR.

QUESTION: Where can I buy an NWR receiver and accessories for the deaf and hard of hearing?

ANSWER: Contact one of the vendors listed below. Purchase an NWR receiver or system only with the understanding that if it does not work in your area that it can be returned for a full refund.

Vendors of NWR Specifically Packaged for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

NWR Alerting Equipment

NWR Receivers with NWR SAME and an Alarm Output
Special Receivers that can tune to NWR frequencies and trigger an auxiliary output on the basis of a received "All Hazards" warning from the NWS for a specific event in a specific state and county.

  • Radio Shack Model 249
  • Midland 74-105XL
  • Radio Shack Model 250
  • Midland 74-200
  • Silent Call WX-67*
  • Midland 74-210
  • First Alert WX-67*
  • Uniden WX-100
  • Reecom R-1630
  • Reecom R-1650
  • Midland WR-300
  • Midland WR-100
  • Midland 74-200
  • Thunder Eagle Alert Eagle 100
  • Thunder Eagle Alert Eagle 400

Power Module Interface or Signaler
Converts the output of the NWR SAME receiver into a signal that is carried by electrical wiring in the home or by means of a wireless transmission that can be received anywhere in the home.

  • Radio Shack RSU 10037745
  • Sonic Alert DS 700
  • Silent Call SC-DOT1003-2
  • Alertmaster AM-AX, AM-DX
  • Silent Call X67T*
  • Remote Modules or Receiver
  • Receives the signal from a Power Interface or Signaler and coverts it into something that can activate an internal or external alarm.
  • Radio Shack RSU 10037752
  • Sonic Alert SA 201
  • Silent Call SC-REC09214, SC- REC1001-N
  • Alertmaster AM-RX2
  • Thunder Eagle Alert Eagle 400

Alarm Devices
Converts the alarm signal into visual, audio, or mechanical form that is more easily sensed by a person with a hearing disability.

  • Strobe Light
  • Radio Shack 49-527
  • Harris HAL-2737
  • Harris DATA-1005
  • Silent Call WX-TRS*
  • First Alert WX-TRS*
  • Thunder Eagle Alert Eagle 400

Siren

  • Radio Shack 49-490 or 49-488

Bed /Pillow Shaker

  • Harris SA-SS120, SS-SS12V , NFS-BV6670
  • Silent Call X67-V*

Appliance module

  • Radio Shack 61-2681, 61-2684, RSU 11486479

*Can be purchased as a system.

The above are available from the sources listed below:

  • Radio Shack - See local store
  • Harris Communications 1-800-825-6758*
  • NFSS Communications 1-888-589-6670
  • Potomac Technology 1-800-433-2838
  • Wireless Marketing 1-847-839-0015 2
  • Midland Consumer Radio 1-800-241-8500
  • Silent Call 1-800-572-5227*
  • Thunder Eagle, Inc. 1-888-877-8022

* Vendors of Silent Call, Uniden, and First Alert packaged systems for the deaf and hard of hearing.

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The National Weather Service does not guarantee the proper operation of any of the equipment or systems listed herein and is not liable for any damages as a result of non-receipt of alarms, alerts, or warnings from these systems. Inclusion of a product in this document does not imply endorsement by the NWS