Why a TV Antenna Might Be Your Best Friend During the Next Disaster

by | Last updated May 27, 2022

The easiest way to get live local news in real-time during disasters is often from broadcast TV news coverage.

A TV antenna might seem like an anachronism; something no longer needed, especially with the plethora of streaming services available today. But, in the past year or so, I’ve been so glad to have access to free broadcast TV through my antenna.

The reason is this: Broadcast TV is the most reliable medium for getting real-time news in times of crisis, surpassed only by a battery-powered radio (because that will work even if the power goes out).

Cable and Internet Infrastructure is Vulnerable

Cable and Internet service can be pretty flaky, even when there isn’t a disaster happening. How often does your Internet go down even when everything is normal? During a natural disaster such as a severe storm, earthquake, or flood, the Internet infrastructure is that much more vulnerable. All it takes is for the cable or optic fiber to be cut somewhere along the way to your home for you to lose Internet access. Telephone/internet poles go down all of the time during large storms.

And I haven’t even mentioned the possibility of a large-scale cyber attack bringing down the Internet, something that is definitely possible.

Therefore, I think it’s a good idea for those who have strong TV signals in their area to have a TV antenna, which you can use to get the latest news, as well as important information from the government during disasters via the Emergency Alert System (formerly the Emergency Broadcast System).

I know that not everyone can get broadcast TV, unfortunately. Many folks have weak TV signals which are pretty flaky. But if you live in or near a large city, you probably can get free broadcast TV pretty reliably.

My Story

I live in Santa Monica, or basically, Los Angeles, CA.  Last year we had brush fires so close that ash fell from the sky. This year we had riots and looters blocks away from our home and then more fires.  Then there was the pandemic of course.

In all of those cases, we relied on free broadcast TV to get the latest local and national news in real-time. Live local TV coverage was key for keeping us immediately informed of the situation.

How to Set Up Your Antenna

So, as part of good disaster preparedness, I’d recommend first visiting the Station Finder to see if there are broadcast strong TV signals in your area. If there are, you can get a low-cost indoor antenna. Set it up to make sure you can receive local stations. The next time your cable or Internet goes out during a crisis, you’ll be glad you have broadcast TV as a backup! – Brian

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Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com

I'm an electrical engineer (BSEE Caltech) with twenty years of experience designing industrial and consumer products, and now a web developer who loves to share ways to save money on TV content, Internet access, and cell phone plans! Read more about me here.

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