My husband spent years as a volunteer firefighter. He bought a scanner, which he kept beside our bed and it was on all night, every night. In many ways, I hated it because of the number of times I'd be woken by the fire tones, many of which were not for my husband.
On the upside, the scanner was very interesting. There is a lot more to it than just getting fire calls. This one has 1000 channels and it can be set to hear just about anything that is being broadcast. Occasionally something will be blocked out, but that doesn't happen often. I love to listen to the police and highway patrol calls. I am able to get a sense of what is happening around my area, whether it's a robbery, car chase, prowlers, accidents or shoplifting.
The National Weather Service is one of the channels we have it set to and when storms are forecast, it gives us a lot of information as it comes in. Living in tornado alley, there are many times when severe weather is forecast and I hear the reports from trained weather spotters long before they are reported on television or radio. More than once I have called friends or relatives to tell them that a tornado has been spotted near their home. This information came directly from the weather spotters and I was able to inform them several minutes earlier than when the news would report it. With this kind of weather, a few minutes can mean life or death.
Two years ago, a major ice storm hit this area and my home was without power for 5 days. I was home alone. There was no electricity, hot water, heat or any other comforts that we all take for granted. My battery powered radio had died and I had neglected to replace it. I felt cut off from the world. Then I remembered the scanner. It was wonderful just to hear voices, but even more, the information about what the conditions were like around the region, accidents, trees down and so much more. The police kept me informed about my local area while the Highway Patrol provided more regional information. Having this scanner not only kept me company, it kept me informed. .
The scanner can be programmed to scan automatically to the set channels that are chosen, or it can be done manually. It runs on either batteries or electricity, so it's wonderful when the power is out.
Having a scanner makes me feel a bit safer, knowing I am getting information as it is being broadcast over the police or weather channels. But, I don't just use it for safety. There are times when I bring it into the kitchen as I'm cooking, or while I'm on the computer. It's a diversion from my daily routine and I sometimes listen to it when I go to bed, just to see what's happening in my own little part of the world. .
Radio Shack has a good selection of scanners and the people we've dealt with there are quite helpful and knowledgeable about how to set them up. They come in both desk size and portable. This is one product I will never be without.