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Tips | Bug Out Blog — Practical Emergency Preparedness

Online Police and Fire Scanners

Online police and fire scanners provide a fun and free way to get news as it happens. Check out these sites for free scanner streaming in your area

I received an email from “DL” about a few days ago asking if I had any recommendations for police scanners for her 72-hour kit. Unfortunately, I don’t have any recent experience in the area, but told her I’d do some looking around.

In the meantime, I thought it might be interesting to see if there were any live police/fire feeds online. BINGO! There are quite a few online sites that provide live feeds, and all you need is a computer with an internet connection. It can be a lot of fun to listen to what’s going on in your area via those feeds. What might be even more interesting would be emergencies, natural disaster or other large-scale events that you’ll be able to listen in on from across the country, something you wouldn’t be able to do with your own scan hardware unless you were in the same area. Some of these sites probably share a lot of the same information, but we’ve listed the best sites and apps we’ve found for online scanning below:

Favorite Online Police Scanners

Our favorite smartphone apps:

  • 5-0 Radio Lite- This is free, pretty basic scanner and the one we use most. Also available is 5-0 Radio Pro which we have not tested and is $1.99 in the Apple App Store.
  • Scanner911 – This app has some cool features including user recording and streaming. The app is only $0.99
  • Police Scanner – This app is $4.99, so we haven’t tested it.

Obviously these sites won’t be reliable in a disaster situation (lack of power, internet, computer, etc), so they’re no replacement for an actual scanner (especially battery-powered, handheld units). But they can be a lot of fun—and useful for those of us who spend a lot of time at the desk. Plus—they’re free!

After receiving her question from DL and thinking about the benefits, I’ve been looking for a good handheld scanner to add to my own bugout bag. I still haven’t decided on what to pick up (a lot of the scanners around $100 on Amazon have pretty mixed reviews), so if you have suggestions, please let us know.

And happy scanning!