Emergency radios for sale in Clay County Gov. Bill Janklow said hundreds of citizens have responded to the state's emergency-alert radio project and he hopes that more South Dakotans will purchase the special radios for their homes and businesses.
Nearly 8,000 of the 10,000 radios have been sold or distributed so far. Approximately 2,000 remain for sale at $30 each. They are available in every county at many state offices and many sheriff offices. In addition to the radios available through the state program, many businesses also sell various models of the radios.
In Clay County, about 34 radios remain available through the state program at the local Social Services and One-Stop Career Center office.
Janklow announced the plan in January to expand usage of the National Weather Radio system to better warn and inform South Dakotans in case of a terrorist attack or other threat to public safety. Also known as weather radios, the devices are equipped with a special alarm tone feature, which sounds an alert and provides immediate information about a life-threatening situation locally or nationally. This means people can receive instant alerts when they are sleeping or at other times when they are not listening to a normal broadcast on television or AM/FM radio.
The system was used during the Grizzly Gulch forest fire last summer to help alert citizens of the Lead-Deadwood area to evacuate.
Working with the federal Emergency Alert System, the National Weather Radio system is an "all hazards" radio network that previously was used primarily for weather information. Janklow has directed the state Division of Emergency Management to work with the National Weather Service and law enforcement to use the weather radio system to broadcast other types of information in case of an emergency.
"This has tremendous potential. We can issue information statewide or tailored to specific communities. But to truly make it work, people need to do their part and buy the radios," Janklow said.
National Weather Radio requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of picking up the signal. Each transmitter typically covers several counties. The newest models of weather radios feature Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), so they can be programmed for each local area.
"With the new SAME technology, it means you can program your weather radio so that you're not bothered by alerts or thing happening hundred of miles away that don't affect you," Janklow said. "It also means we can provide very specific information about what to do in each community or area."
As part of the plan, Jankow negotiated the purchase of 10,000 weather radios with the new SAME technology at a reduced price. More than 5,000 were given to public officials, emergency personnel, schools, public institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, registered daycare centers, universities and other facilities responsible for the safety of others.
Janklow, acting on a suggestion from Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead, directed his staff to pursue the plan.
as part of South Dakota's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Programming instructions are included with the radios. Retailers selling the radios can also provide programming assistance.