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

By Brian Shim
Published 07/08/2020
 | Updated 07/25/2020

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).

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.  Oh, then there's the pandemic of course.

In all of those cases, we relied on free broadcast TV to get the latest local news in real-time. Everything turned out fine for us, but live local TV coverage was key for keeping us informed of the situation.

Cable and Internet service can be pretty flaky, especially during disasters. 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.

Therefore, I think it's a good idea for those who have strong TV signals in their area to have a TV antenna. That isn't everyone; many folks have weak TV signals which are pretty flaky too. But if you live in or near a large city, you probably can get free broadcast TV pretty reliably.

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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Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story! - Brian

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