In the mid-1980s, most states made it mandatory that all newly constructed and existing residential property had working smoke detectors. Could a weather radio be the new required safety device?

The Indiana House recently passed legislation to make it mandatory for a weather radio to be installed in all new manufactured homes sold in the state and in manufactured homes located in newly established manufactured home communities.

A weather radio can be purchased at local electronics stores and on the Internet. The price ranges from $30 to $100. Many weather radios can be programmed for a specific county and for various weather advisories, warnings and watches. Most are powered by electricity with a battery back-up power source.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Philip Hoy, D-Evansville, is a result of the deadly tornado that struck a Vanderburgh County mobile home park in 2005 without warning, killing 25 people.

“We support the legislation,” Dennis Harney, executive director of the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association, said Friday. “We believe [weather radios] should be in every home in the state.”

Harney said the association voiced concerns when the bill was first introduced about liability issues.

“Lawmakers listened to our concerns about liability,” he said. “These are owner/occupied dwellings, we have no right to enter to check and see if a radio is plugged in or batteries have been changed.”

Harney said the association believes the requirement to have a weather radio will make the homes safer.

“It is almost impossible to build any house or structure that can withstand the devastating effects of a tornado,” he said. “Any increase in the time people are notified of an approaching storm will help.”

Harney expects the legislation to be approved.

Miami County Sheriff Ken Roland said making the weather radio mandatory is a great idea.

“It sets off a tone during severe weather,” he said. “It would wake a person up and allow them to get to safety.”

With the devastation a tornado can cause to a manufactured home, people living in them should have a weather radio, Roland said.

“People should have them in every residence,” he said. “It could make a difference in saving a person’s life.”

Howard County Sheriff Marty Talbert supports the concept, but is concerned the radio will not be maintained by homeowners.

“It will be like smoke detectors,” he said. “We can mandate they be placed in every home, but the resident has to change the batteries on a regular basis.

“I’m surprised at the number of homes that don’t have a weather alert radio,” Talbert said.

Talbert said when the tornado hit in Vanderburgh County the sheriff’s department had 12 to 14 minutes of warning, but because the storm hit in the middle of the night many people were asleep.

“A weather radio with a battery back-up will provide a warning around the clock,” he said. “The alert tone will wake you up. Early warning is the key to saving lives.”

Ken de la Bastide can be reached at (765) 454 -8580 or via e-mail at

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