Plain-Friendly “Amish Radio” Initiative Seeks To Save Lives Following Tragedy

Two springs ago, there was a particularly tragic story out of Bath County, Kentucky. High waters overcame an Amish buggy, overturning it in a swollen creek. Five children were washed away and lost their lives.

Image: WYMT

Now, local non-Amish efforts are seeking to help get weather alerts to Amish in this community. The answer appears to be an Amish-friendly radio – one that only gives weather information, and is powered in ways acceptable to Amish. From WKYT:

“I wanted to shift the focus away from thinking about it, to trying to prevent it from happening again,” York said.

That’s when the Warn Project was born.

“There was nothing. There was no safety information from any organization for the Amish population,” said Jane Marie Wix, warning coordination meteorologist for National Weather Service Jackson.

Taking a step back is, in some cases, reinventing the wheel, and for the Amish community, they have limitations on the technology they use. A normal weather radio has an AM/FM signal, along with giving weather alerts. So for Amish families, they needed something that can give the weather alerts with just the push of a button.

“We actually started talking to Midland Weather Radio and we talked to them about the restrictions of the population, that they would be willing to get weather information if it fit within their lifestyle,” Wix said.

From then, the radio idea started to blossom.

“Its going to be solar-powered with a backup crank,” Wix said. “It has the weather radio only. So no AM/FM. No extra frills.”

To get general weather information, Amish farmers will use somewhat old-fashioned yet reliable methods, like read the forecast in the newspaper, or call a hotline, for example. However that does not offer the convenience and timeliness needed for urgent inclement weather situations. Not all Amish have access to a phone, and even if you do, it might be far away and you’re less likely to go to it if it’s already pouring down.


It will be interesting to see how much traction this safety solution gains in Amish communities. I had not heard of it before this report, but I think it’s great, kudos to the non-Amish members of the community who have driven this effort. It sounds like they took the proper steps of getting acceptance for the proposal by the local Amish community. The article even closes by suggesting this radio is gaining popularity, describing it as a “national initiative” that is “taking off”. The video I’ve embedded above is worth watching.

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    1. Dan Holsinger

      Building a bridge

      According to what can be seen in the photo, the creek doesn’t seem to be very wide. Why not just building a bridge, a wooden structur strong enought for horse and buggy traffic?

      There are many wood workers among the Amish, maybe they could do it in an community effort like barn raising.

    2. Not just for Amish... useful for anyone who wants technology to serve people...

      I wish people would do more of this sort of thing in general: I’m not anti-technology, but I am in favour of being able to control it so it genuinely serves people.

      One of the problems I would identify is that in order to look up something like weather alerts online – which someone may actually need to do late at night – to use the same device that is full of news and business interactions and messages, which are better restricted to particular hours. Having a device that only gives you emergency information would be a wonderful tool.