|NOAA School Radio Program
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a NOAA Public Alert Radio?
Also known as the NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards, NOAA’s Public Alert Radio is a life-saving early warning tool that notifies radio users of all hazards in their area 24 hours a day/seven days a week, even when other means of communication are disabled. The radio will signal an audible alert with a visible indicator light as a “watch” or “warning” and a brief digital text message to advise on a wide range of emergency situations and post-event information for all types of hazards including: natural (e.g. earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (e.g. chemical releases or oil spills) and public safety (e.g. AMBER alerts or 911 telephone outages).
Distribution of NOAA Public Alert Radios
Which schools are receiving NOAA Public Alert Radios in 2008?
In 2008, NOAA is distributing public alert radios to about 183,000 schools in the U.S. and its territories including:
- Preschools and Head Start programs (public and nonpublic)
- K-12 nonpublic schools
- K-12 public school district offices and K-12 nonpublic school central offices
- Postsecondary schools (public and nonpublic 2 and 4 year schools)
In 2005, K-12 public schools in major U.S. cities, as well as the states of Kentucky and Alaska received radios as part of a pilot program. In 2006, NOAA completed its distribution to all 97,000 K-12 public schools in the U.S. and its territories, delivering 80,000 radios to those U.S. schools that did not receive the radios during the pilot program conducted in 2005.
Do schools need to request the Public Alert Radios?
No. Radios will be sent directly from NOAA via FedEx to each preschool, each K-12 public school district office and K-12 nonpublic school central office, each K -12 non-public school and each post secondary school .
When will my school receive its radio?
Most schools will receive their radios in either August or September. Radio distribution is already underway, and NOAA personnel will continue to work until each school receives a radio.
How do I request a radio if my school does not receive one by the end of September 2008?
For more information, go to the Web site:
(http://www.weather.gov/nwr/schools/proginfo.htm), find your jurisdiction and determine if your school is listed or not. Schools with post office box addresses will need a street address in order to receive the radios. There is a form on the Web site in this section that also will allow schools to indicate that they have not received the radio. For any additional assistance, please contact: The NWR School Radio Administrator at NWR.School.Radio@noaa.gov or 301-713-9480, extension 118.
Does my school have to pay for its radio?
No. NOAA Public Alert Radios will be provided at no cost through the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency for use in every preschool, K-12 nonpublic school, K-12 public school district office, K-12 nonpublic school central office, and post secondary school in the United States.
How will the radios be distributed?
Radios will be distributed to schools accompanied by a letter and brochure explaining the program's purpose and the intended use of the radio. Schools accepting the radios will be instructed to register online at http://www.weather.gov/nwr/schools/register_public.htm or at http://www.weather.gov/nwr/schools/register_nonpublic.htm to confirm they received and accepted the radios, and to agree that the radios will be used to receive “all hazards” public alerts and warnings. Public schools, as governmental entities, will be given the radios, while nonpublic schools, as nongovernmental entities, will have use of the radios under a licensing agreement and ownership will remain vested in the U.S. government.
Are NOAA Public Alert Radios being sent to schools in states that may already have radios?
Yes. To ensure that they have the most up-to-date equipment, the distribution also includes schools in states that may have already provided radios to schools.
If a school already has a radio, what should the school do with the pre-existing radio?
Schools should always check with the organization that provided the pre-existing radio to decide the best way to handle it. Possible ways to address pre-existing radios are to leave it in the school or to redistribute it to another critical location in the area, such as an assisted living facility or other location. Entities that previously provided schools with a radio and want more information on re-distributing a radio previously purchased with DHS Homeland Security Grant Program money can call the Department’s Office of Grant Operations at 1-866- 9ASK-OGO (866-927-5646) or e-mail ASK-OGO@DHS.GOV.
Registration of Radios
Why do I have to register my radio?
Registration is required to ensure that each school acknowledges receipt or placement of the radio and provides a contact to receive any further information regarding the radio or the program.
License Agreement for Nonpublic Schools
Who is required to have a license agreement?
Nonpublic schools that accept placement of NOAA radios are required to complete and submit a license agreement on the Web site. After the license agreement is completed and submitted, the school should print a copy from the Web site and retain the copy for their records.
What does the license agreement do?
The license agreement allows nonpublic schools to accept placement of the NOAA radios, while ownership remains vested in the U.S. government. Any nonpublic school that accepts a radio placement must submit a license agreement on the Web site. Placement of the radio in a nonpublic school under the license agreement does not make the nonpublic school a recipient of federal financial assistance.
When must the license agreement be submitted?
A nonpublic school official must visit the Web site registration and licensing link as soon as the radio is received to accept or decline the radio and to submit a license agreement when it accepts placement of the radio.
How can my school opt-out of the program if it does not wish to participate?
Participation is voluntary. A school that does not wish to participate may opt out by following the instructions on the NOAA registration page at
Arrangements will be made for the radio to be retrieved at no cost to the school.
How NOAA Public Alert Radios Work
How does the radio signal an emergency?
The radio will signal an audible alert with a visible indicator light as a “watch” or “warning” and a brief text message. In addition, Public Alert Radios can be connected to attention-getting devices, such as strobe lights, sirens, and peripheral alerting mechanisms to ensure that people with particular challenges can also benefit from the safeguards.
Who issues the emergency warnings?
Weather-related warnings and other information broadcast over NOAA Public Alert Radio are issued by the local forecast office of NOAA's National Weather Service that is responsible for your area. Civil emergency alerts are issued by local, state or federal emergency officials and are disseminated by NOAA's National Weather Service on their behalf via NOAA Public Alert Radio.
What events does the radio recognize?
These Public Alert Radios have the ability to recognize the following messages:
- 911 Telephone Outage Emergency
- Avalanche Warning
- Avalanche Watch
- Blizzard Warning
- Child Abduction Emergency
- Civil Danger Warning
- Civil Emergency Message
- Coastal Flood Warning
- Coastal Flood Watch
- Dust Storm Warning
- Earthquake Warning
- Emergency Action Notification
- Emergency Action Termination
- Fire Warning
- Flash Flood Watch
- Flash Flood Statement
- Flash Flood Warning
- Flood Statement
- Flood Warning
- Flood Watch
- Freeze Warning
- Hazardous Materials Warning
- Hurricane Statement
- Hurricane Warning
- Hurricane Watch
- High Wind Warning
- High Wind Watch
- Evacuation Immediate
- Law Enforcement Warning
- Local Area Emergency
- Nuclear Power Plant Warning
- Radiological Hazard Warning
- Shelter In-Place Warning
- Special Marine Warning
- Special Weather Statement
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch
- Severe Weather Statement
- Tornado Warning
- Tornado Watch
- Tropical Storm Warning
- Tropical Storm Watch
- Tsunami Warning
- Tsunami Watch
- Volcano Warning
- Winter Storm Warning
- Winter Storm Watch
Is there anything different about the NOAA Public Alert Radios currently being distributed?
The NOAA Public Alert Radios distributed in 2005, 2006, and 2008 incorporate the latest technology and standards for advance notification of all types of hazards—not just weather alerts. Furthermore, the latest radios are programmable to specific regions, allowing users to hear alerts pertinent for their locality.
Resources for Assistance With NOAA Public Alert Radios
How do I set up and program the radio?
The Web site provides several guides to assist with setting up the radio. The manufacturer’s set up instructions are available at http://www.weather.gov/nwr/schools/cc_volunteer_material.htm. The Citizen Corps Volunteer Material Web link includes a set up checklist in the Citizen Corps volunteer material guide and “Quick Start Guides for Schools” for each brand of radio.
How can I get in person assistance with the radio?
Your local emergency manager, your local Citizen Corps Councils and programs, NOAA warning coordination meteorologists and local ham radio clubs can provide assistance with the radios. There are over 2,300 local Citizen Corps Councils around the country that can help coordinate technical assistance to your school; local contact information for these councils is available at www.citizencorps.gov. To find a local chapter of your local American of Radio Relay League (ARRL), whose club members have experience in programming and registering the NOAA radios, visit http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/club/clubsearch.phtml
Who will pay for maintenance, such as new batteries?
The NOAA Public Alert Radio is provided to schools free of charge to help protect our nation’s education institutions by providing early warnings of local hazards. Once the radio is delivered, users are responsible for ongoing maintenance, such as changing the batteries.
What if the NOAA Public Alert Radio is not receiving a signal or if there are other technical difficulties?
If you are unable to establish reception for NOAA Public Alert Radios in your area or have other technical issues, a NOAA warning coordination meteorologist (WCM) for your area will assist you. You can identify the WCM for your area at http://www.weather.gov/os/wcm-soo.pdf.
What if the radio my school receives is broken or defective?
For more information, please contact the NWR School Radio Administrator at NWR.School.Radio@noaa.gov or 301-713-9480, extension 118.
Are Citizen Corps Councils required to help schools program and test the NOAA Public Alert Radios?
Participation on the part of Citizen Corps Councils is entirely voluntary. To the extent that Councils assist schools, these efforts should be coordinated through the local emergency management agency.
If a Citizen Corps Council orprogram chooses to volunteer to assist in this project, where should it begin?
If a Citizen Corps Council or program chooses to volunteer assistance to local schools, then the council should first communicate with the schools to determine if assistance is needed. Then, the council should contact local emergency managers and, together, plan a coordinated approach for contacting school leadership to verify that the radios have been received and to offer assistance with registration and set-up. Individual Citizen Corps volunteers should work under the direction of their Citizen Corps leadership. All Citizen Corps Councils received a letter in August 2008 notifying them that the radios were being distributed and provided information on what their potential roles could be. A copy of the letter is available online at the following address: http://www.weather.gov/nwr/schools/cc_volunteer_material.htm. This page also includes a link to information for Citizen Corps volunteers, including a volunteer guide, quick start guide and manufacturers’ user’s manuals.
How soon should Citizen Corps leaders contact their local schools to assist with the NOAA Public Alert Radio Program?
If assistance is needed, Citizen Corps leaders should take time to plan with schools officials and emergency managers and coordinate their approach to offering assistance. This program is an opportunity to work with schools on their preparedness and alert plans and to promote communication between emergency management agencies and schools on emergency management plans. It is also an opportunity to connect Citizen Corps Councils to local education leaders so that schools are integrated into local emergency management planning efforts.
Whom should I contact if I still have questions about the NOAA Public Alert Radio?
For more information, please contact your warning coordination meteorologist through the National Weather Service’s closest Weather Forecast Office. These contacts are available at http://www.weather.gov/os/wcm-soo.pdf. You may also visit NOAA’s program Web site at http://www.weather.gov/nwr/schools/proginfo.htm.
Whom can I contact locally to provide resources and information related to this program?
We have provided a pdf document with this information. Please click here to download.
If your question is not among those listed here, please contact us.