Prepare for Stormy Weather with an Accessible Emergency Radio
by Bruce Atchison
Alberta, Canada

When severe weather threatens and the power goes out, the last thing a person needs is a radio that is rendered useless by dead batteries. Knowing what to do and where to evacuate is crucial during an emergency. The CC Observer, a combination weather radio and flashlight marketed by C. Crane Company, adequately fills the bill. Better still, all its functions can be operated by a totally blind person.

Unlike conventional radios, the CC Observer has its own built-in rechargeable power pack and a generator. In the event of electrical failure during a storm, the dynamo's handle can be unfolded from the receiver's right hand side and cranked for a few minutes to replenish the battery. Additionally, the pack can be recharged with an AC adapter. The receiver also has a compartment for three AA batteries. The set requires relatively little current to operate making either type of battery last a long time. In fact, it will play even when the cells are almost dead. Since emergencies happen at the worst possible times, this handheld portable radio is always ready for service.

The radio has seven preset weather channels, which can be accessed with a separate selector knob. Some emergency radios have a regular tuning control for these frequencies. In an emergency, owners of that style of set may become too agitated to locate the local weather station among all the other services on the band. These preset channels allow users to go directly to the station which comes in the clearest without fiddling with a tuning control.

The AM and FM reception on the CC Observer is remarkably clear. In my own tests of the set, I was able to receive FM stations from 60 miles away with little difficulty. At night, stations on the AM band came in from several thousand miles away. I heard some of them as clearly as the local ones. The weather channel reception is also good when compared to several older public service band radios in my collection.

Between weather warnings and watches, the radio is most useful for camping and other outdoor activities. Three bright white light-emitting diodes (LED) are built into the left side of the receiver. These semiconductor lights last for up to 10,000 hours of use, draw very little current compared to incandescent bulbs, and are almost indestructible. The light isn't as bright as a regular flashlight, but it does help in situations of total darkness. For people who have relatively good vision, the radio has a large slide rule tuning dial with white numbers on a black background. A white LED dial light illuminates the entire window. Unlike some radios, the light can be left on without continuously holding down a button. Additionally, the CC Observer has a 10-inch cable and five different adapter plugs to recharge cell phone batteries. The three jacks on the radio's left-hand side are different in terms of feel. A set of earphones is included. Although the receiver isn't waterproof, its satin-soft rubber case will resist minor scratches.

The CC Observer weighs a pound, is 7.25-inches wide, 5.5-inches high, and 2-inches thick. It comes in blue, green and black. The soft black leatherette handle on the top makes the radio convenient to carry. Best of all, it has no LCD readouts or tiny buttons, making it simple to use by everyone.

The CC Observer is a useful tool to have ready for emergencies as well as being handy for every day use. Priced at $49.95 US, this versatile receiver is affordable. It can be purchased online at  or by phone at 800-522-8863. The company also accepts print order forms with a check, money order or charge card details sent to C. Crane Company, 1001 Main Street, Fortuna, CA 95540.

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