Not trying to sound alarmist, matter what the season, there's the potential for natural disaster out there. We've seen upticks in major storms, crazy weather patterns, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding, you name it. And it's all of our jobs to be prepared for when the worst happens. 

It starts with an emergency radio. It's important to stay informed before, during, and after something major hits, and emergency radios are key to communication when everything else fails. So what's the best emergency radio out there? Here are five top options that'll help you keep in the know to protect you and your family. 

MIDLAND WR300 Weather Radio

Don't only think of emergency radios as something solely for home. You should have a few stashed away in locations where you tend to spend a lot of time. That includes work, your car, a relative's home, or anywhere else too far from your living space to guarantee a safe return when things go bad. Remember, no survival equipment will help you if you don't have it near. 

The Midland Weather Radio (WR300)

A top emergency radio that'll warn you before things get bad

MIDLAND WR300 Weather Radio
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(price as of Sep 23, 2016)

If you live in an area which often experiences serious weather conditions that come up quick, you need some sort of device that'll warn you in real-time. This includes regions prone to flooding, tornadoes, and earthquakes, to name a few. Really any system of significant weather that gives you little notice. For these types of locales, this Midland radio is a lifesaver. 

It pulls in all of the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather channels and Environment Canada, and has smart technology that only gives you the data and alerts for your locale area.  It also alerts you when a warning has been lifted--important too so that you can live your life as normally as possible. These alerts are all customizable--from an actual siren to a simple flashing of the LED panel of the radio. 

It's also packed with an AM/FM radio, an alarm clock, and a calendar, so it can act as your bedside tool just as well as your emergency preparedness device. It runs on AC power, but takes four AA batteries for backup juice. That's important for serious conditions where power is not guaranteed. 

The Ambient Weather Adenturer

The popular all-in-one solution for emergency preparation

Ambient Weather WR-111B Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Digital RadioWhat can you say, as far as emergency radios go, this is the jack of all trades. It does a bit of everything, and it's pretty compact too (five inches in length and three inches tall). It's a weather radio, pulling channels from NOAA. It's an AM/FM radio to keep in the know with your locale stations. It's a pretty powerful LED flashlight to keep you out of the dark. It has an alert system built-in, and it's even a cell phone charging station for when you need a few minutes of talk time.

It's charging abilities are just as versatile. You can charge from AC wall power, from a USB device (like your laptop that still contains juice), from solar power, or via a hand crank. That's a lot of flexibility that can come in real handy in the worst of situations. This is the type of radio that you may never use,  but you'll be thanking yourself that you bought it if you're ever caught in an emergency scenario. 

The Emerson Portable Weather Radio And Clock

Emerson RP6251 Portable Weather Clock RadioYou may be all about getting either the Midland or Ambient Weather models above, and for good reason. They are serious life savers. But budget can be a factor in these decisions too, especially if you are considering buying a few emergency radios. It's good to have a budget choice that works well. It may not have the bells and whistles of the two emergency radios above, but it'll do the most important things that you need during rough times. 

This Emerson is that radio. It's economical, it's an AM/FM and NOAA weather radio, it has a digital clock display, and that's it. Nothing fancy, but it covers your needs during and after bad weather. It runs on AC power or via four AA batteries. This is a great model to tuck away at work or in your vehicle as a "just in case" radio. 

The Ambient Weather Compact Weather Radio

Another budget-friendly choice, and space-friendly too.

Ambient Weather WR-1059 Compact Hand Crank Solar Powered AM/FM Weather Band RadioSometimes small can pack a wallop, and this is one small emergency radio. Only four inches across and three inches tall. This is a top emergency radio for placing in out-of-home locations where there is zero power. And for its low profile (and low-cost) there are some nice touches still. It's both an AM/FM and weather radio, and it'll charge via a hand crank or solar power. It holds its charge well, too. 

This is an excellent emergency radio for camping and hiking trips. It takes up little space in your pack and relies on you or the sun for the power it needs. 

The Eton Weather Radio

A tiny all-purpose emergency device

 Eton Hand Turbine AM/FM Weather RadioIt sort of looks like a toy camera, but don't be fooled by this compact radio. There's a lot here. It gets all seven NOAA channels (and Environment Canada), it pulls in AM/FM radio, it's an LED flashlight, and it's a cell phone charger too. That's a lot of punch for something that's only five inches long and a little more than two inches tall. There's also an indicator that glows in the dark so you can find this mini-radio even when light is not available. It gets its juice via solar power, hand cranking, or DC power. 

Safety Comes With Knowledge

Getting the best emergency radio is only part of the challenge. It's having one at the ready if (or when) things go wrong. It's best to be prepared, and when the time hits, having one of these options by your side can be a real help during hard times. It can keep you in the know and ready for what's next.