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Preparing For Lost Reception During A Storm

A Low-Cost Safety Net

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QUESTION: "I live in an area that gets a fair share of bad storms. I subscribe to satellite, and wonder why it loses reception every now and then when these storms hit? My concern is that I might miss an important weather alert. Because I have a contract with this provider, I can't just walk away from it and get cable. What can I do?" ~ A Concerned Father

ANSWER: This is a great question, and something I talk about with my Mom everytime we get a storm down here in Texas. This is actually something I just went through a couple of weeks ago. Here's what happened, and what I did to hopefully fix the problem.

The wind was whipping through trees like a jockey riding a horse on the backstretch. Rain was coming down sideways. The sky was dark and loud. It was just another storm in the springtime in Texas, or as we know it – tornado season.

I was on my couch glued to the television watching the local weather report getting the latest information about the storm in my area. Just as the weather person said, “All of those in (my area), please be advised that…” the television went black. Quickly, I grabbed the remote, and changed to another channel. It was black. There was a message on the screen saying I lost my signal.

Luckily, this particular storm didn’t produce life-threatening dangers, but waiting it out without any information was tense. The next day I called my satellite provider, and asked why my signal failed during the storm. They said the receiver dish has a hard time picking up the signals from space during inclement weather. Apparently, that’s not uncommon.

This is when cable subscribers start saying, “That’s why I don’t subscribe to satellite.” However, cable isn’t always reliable either. I remember watching my weather update during a bad storm a few years ago when my cable went out. I quickly called the cable company. The service agent told me a car hit a master cable router in my area, and it would be repaired as soon as possible. It took them over two hours to restore the signal.

This is an example of what can go wrong will go wrong. While my story is based in Texas, losing reception affects anyone who relies on a cable or satellite provider for television programming. While rare, our cable/satellite receivers can lose reception when we need it the most.

With regards to my issue, I wanted a back up plan. So, I went to my local electronics superstore, and bought an antenna for one of my televisions. It’s nothing elaborate – just your basic rabbit ear antenna that sits a top the television. It’s quick and easy to install. On my particular model, I only need to plug it into the coaxial connection on my television.

Stuff happens. During a bad storm or sunny day, it's nice to have an affordable safety net. While I haven’t had to use it during a storm yet, I have tried it. I’m impressed with the quality of picture it gives me. While nothing is 100 percent when discussing the reception of over-the-air signals, I feel comfortable knowing I took whatever precautions that were available to me the next time my satellite goes out.

Also, I am now keeping a small battery-powered radio tuned to the local news station near my flashlights just in case the antenna fails or the power goes out.

I hope this answered your question. If anyone would like to ask me something, email me at tv.about.com or click here to open your default mail browser.

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