Emergency Management

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Forms of Communication

During a major emergency, officials will work to provide timely, accurate information to the public. Several public information procedures and/or tools are in place that may be used during a major emergency or disaster.


Officials will coordinate with all members of the media, radio and television, to deliver accurate information to the public.


This system will send a recorded message to telephones in a geographically specified area or to a pre-programmed list of contacts. Sign Up for CodeRED.

Outdoor Warning Siren System (OWSS)

OWSS is an outdoor, all-hazards siren system that is used to warn the general population of a potential danger in a short amount of time.

NOAA Weather Radio*

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards transmitters broadcast on one of seven VHF frequencies from 162.400 MHz to 162.550 MHz. The broadcasts cannot be heard on a simple AM/FM radio receiver. There are many receiver options, however, ranging from handheld portable units which just pick up Weather Radio broadcasts, to desktop and console models which receive Weather Radio as well as other broadcasts. Prices can vary from $20 to $200, depending on the model. Many receivers have an alarm feature, but some may not.

Among the more useful features in a receiver are:

Tone alarm: The National Weather Service will send a 1050 Hz tone alarm before most warning and many watch messages are broadcast. The tone will activate all the receivers which are equipped to receive it, even if the audio is turned off. This is especially useful for warnings which occur during the night when most people are asleep. (Public Alert - required)

SAME technology: SAME, or Specific Alert Message Encoding allows you to specify the particular area for which you wish to receive alerts. Most warnings and watches broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio are county-based or independent city-based (parish-based in Louisiana), although in a few areas of the country the alerts are issued for portions of counties. Since most NWR transmitters are broadcasting for a number of counties, SAME receivers will respond only to alerts issued for the area (or areas) you have selected. This minimizes the number of “false alarms” for events which might be a few counties away from where you live. (Public Alert - required). Please click here for the county codes in Iowa.

Selectable alerting of events: While SAME allows you to specify a particular area of interest, some receivers allow you to turn off alarms for certain events which might not be important to you. For example, if you live in a coastal county, but not right at the beach, you might not care about Coastal Flood Warnings. This feature may also be called "Event Blocking" or "Defeat Siren". (Public Alert - optional)

Battery backup: Since power outages often occur during storms, having a receiver with battery backup can be crucial. However, unless you have a portable unit which you will use away from other power sources, an AC power connection is recommended to preserve battery life. (Public Alert - required for radios, optional for other devices)

External antenna jack: While most receivers come with a whip antenna which can usually be extended out from the unit, depending on your location you may need an external antenna to get a good reception. Some receivers come with an external antenna jack (normally in the back of the unit) which will allow you to connect to a larger antenna (which can be indoors or outdoors). You can often purchase these as accessories at the same place where you bought your receiver, or from most stores with an electronics department. NWR broadcasts are in the Public Service VHF frequencies, just above FM radio and between the current TV channels 6 and 7 - so an antenna designed for analog VHF televisions or FM radios should work. Or, you can make your own antenna. Go to this web site for more information. (Public Alert - optional)

External device jack (special needs): Some radios have a jack to plug-in external notification devices, such as strobe lights or bed shakers, which can be useful for those with special needs. (Public Alert - required for institutional receivers, optional for consumer receivers). 

Programming Your NOAA Weather Radio

The National Weather Service does NOT manufacture any brand of weather radio receiver. To get assistance programming your receiver, or to discuss problems, you may be experiencing with its operation, please contact the receiver's manufacturer. Below is a list of some of the NWR manufacturers that have been approved by the National Weather Service. For a more detailed list please click here.

Weather Radio Receivers for Consumers


The following manufacturers have had their radios evaluated and approved by the National Weather Service. NOAA WEATHER RADIO approved manufactures may also produce other models which are not approved by the National Weather Service. Visit their web sites to view specifications and owner's manuals to compare features.
Note that these manufacturers may also produce other models have not been approved by the National Weather Service. Visit their web sites to view specifications and owner's manuals to compare features.
The links below take you outside this government site.


Company   Information


Midland Radio

5900 Parretta Dr Kansas City, MO 64120

Phone: 816-241-8500 
Email: mail@midlandradio.com

WR120; WR11; WR300; HH54; HH50; 1001LWX; WR10; ER120; XT511; GXT2000; GXT1000; GXT860; LXT600; LXT560; 9001Z; 75-822 NT3;

Oregon Scientific

19861 SW 95th Place  Tualatin, OR 97062

Phone: 503-639-8883 
Fax: 503-684-8883 
e-mail: customerservice@oscientific.com

WR602; WRB603; WRB603JD; WR608;


300 RadioShack Circle,MS WF4.136  Ft. Worth, TX 76102

Customer Relations
Phone: 817-415-3200
Fax: 817-415-3240

12-500; 12-550; 12-522; 12-521; 12-519
1200991; 1200993;

Reecom Electronics Inc.

3603 Woodlark Drive Roswell, GA 30075

Phone: 770-641-9228 
Fax: 770-641-1040 
Email: sales@reecominc.com

R-1630; R-1650;

With several brands and models of NOAA Weather Radios available to the public for the protection of life and property, there are many different ways to program the differing radios. In an effort to gather as many Users Manuals in one place, the NWS Springfield Weather Radio team has compiled a list of some of the more common radios. For information on how to program your radio, find your brand and model number and click on the link. If you do not see your model number, click on the brand name and you will be taken to the manufacturer’s website.

Midland   Radio

Oregon   Scientific

Radio   Shack







WR-300   or WR-301





















Reecom   Electronics Inc.






*Information provided by the National Weather Service. For more information please click here.

Emergency Vehicles’ Public Address Systems

All emergency vehicles are equipped with public address systems. These can be used to make announcements to citizens.


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Contact Us

Polk County Emergency Management
1907 Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314
(515) 286-2107

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