Spring is just around the corner, with it will come certain changes in the weather. Spring is also a time of year when storms can quickly develop, sometimes causing life-threatening conditions. One of the best ways to stay updated on severe weather is via a weather radio, which the National Weather Service says “public safety efforts agree should be standard in every home.”

In some cases, not knowing about weather changes can merely result in discomfort caused by an unexpected cold front or afternoon thunderstorm when you don’t have a jacket or umbrella. But the result can also put you at risk when dramatic weather changes erupt and bring about flooding, tornadoes or other severe conditions. The National Weather Service says warnings provided by weather radios can save people’s lives during severe weather.

Although it’s sometimes easy to stay updated on weather conditions with Internet connections or TV news programs, what if threatening weather strikes in the middle of the night, or power outages and loss of Internet connectivity compound problems? One solution is to have a weather radio in your home with a battery backup.

A report from the Federal Emergency Management Association notes, “During life-threatening weather conditions, NOAA Weather Radios send out a special alarm tone to signal a watch or warning alerting listeners to take appropriate safety measures. The signal transmits anytime day or night, even if a family is not listening to the broadcast. Early warning is critical because weather can quickly turn deadly.”

While the primary emphasis of weather radios is – of course – weather, they can also alert people about other threatening conditions, according to FEMA, such as chemical releases, oil spills, public safety warnings, alerts on child abductions and even telephone outages.

The Weather Underground website says weather radios are the only reliable warning systems – especially if a tornado is involved.

Weather radios equipped with a backup battery are the only “truly fool-proof way to get your severe weather warnings,” Weather Underground states. “Even city-wide tornado sirens are fallible — tornadoes have been known to tear down siren alert systems in their paths.”

For those who are deaf, hearing impaired or heavy sleepers, the National Weather Service says that some weather radio receivers can be hooked up to devices that can alert people by shaking the bed, vibrating their pillow or activating strobe lights or other warning features. The hearing impaired can then receive messages via hearing aids or cochlear implants.

The weather radios are available from many department stores, electronics stores or online. The price of stand-alone receivers can range from $20 or less to more than $100, depending on size and functions, according to the National Weather Service, which does not market or sell the devices. Many, but not all, of the radios, have an alarm that alerts people to various warnings in their area, but having that feature is highly recommended. Devices with external alarm systems for the hearing impaired start at $100, the NWS notes.