DOC/NOAA: 202-482-0702 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DHS/FEMA: 202-646-4600 Aug. 19, 2008
‘America Is Safer When Our Schools Are Safer’:
U.S. Schools Receive Life-Saving NOAA Public Alert Radios
Federal agencies have begun distributing more than 182,000 Public Alert Radios to preschools, Head Start programs, K-12 nonpublic schools and nonpublic school central offices, K-12 school district offices and post-secondary schools. In two earlier phases, the federal government distributed radios to all 97,000 K-12 public schools across the country, bringing the program to a close this September with life-saving radios in every school in the nation.
The radios sound an alarm to alert school personnel about hazardous weather and other emergencies, even when other means of communication are disabled.
The radios are distributed by the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and assistance from the departments of Education and Health and Human Services.
Commonly known as NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, these Public Alert Radios provide alerts and safety steps on a wide range of emergencies—from an approaching tornado, a telephone outage disrupting 911 emergency services, local roads overrun by flash floods, a derailed train posing a hazardous material threat, or the urgent need to be on the lookout for an abducted child.
The program also encourages school officials, emergency managers, human service providers, and Citizen Corps Councils across the country to partner and align their efforts with local emergency plans to build overall community preparedness. By coordinating with their local emergency managers and Citizen Corps Council, schools also can obtain technical and other assistance to improve their school safety plans and other emergency preparedness efforts.
For additional information on the Public Alert Radios for Schools program, see the Web site at http://public-alert-radio.nws.noaa.gov. The general public can learn about these radios at http://www.weather.gov/nwr.
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://public-alert-radio.nws.noaa.gov/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://public-alert-radio.nws.noaa.gov/register/ 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 already mandate that schools have radios?
Yes. To ensure that they have the most up-to-date equipment, the distribution also includes schools in the six states that currently mandate schools to have radios, which are Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida and Mississippi.
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 http://public-alert-radio.nws.noaa.gov/register/. 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
Child Abduction Emergency
Civil Danger Warning
Civil Emergency Message
Coastal Flood Warning
Coastal Flood Watch
Dust Storm Warning
Emergency Action Notification
Emergency Action Termination
Flash Flood Watch
Flash Flood Statement
Flash Flood Warning
Hazardous Materials Warning
High Wind Warning
High Wind Watch
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
Tropical Storm Warning
Tropical Storm Watch
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?
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, contact Jim Allsopp at 815-834-1435 or email@example.com
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 or program 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://public-alert-radio.nws.noaa.gov/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 Jim Allsopp at 815-834-1435 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to News Archive