How Can I Leverage Emergency Notification Systems for Hurricane Season?

emergency-mass-notification-hurricane

Manage Before, During and After

We’ve covered how emergency mass notifications systems can help during severe weather situations in previous posts. With the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, and the threat of the approaching Hurricane Irma, in this post we will discuss how emergency notification systems can assist before, during and after a hurricane strikes.

Regardless of what kind of organization you work with, a hurricane can cause catastrophic disruption to your day-to-day operations. More importantly, it can put your people in danger, and the number one goal should be to keep them safe. Let’s look at ways mass notification can help you accomplish this.

See Severe Weather Alerting In Action (Video)

Before the Storm

When preparing for hurricanes, look for a system that can tie into the National Weather Service to automatically provide weather updates on approaching hurricanes. Having this set up ahead of time, especially in areas prone to hurricane activity, can save time and allow leadership team members to focus on how they are going to prepare and respond to the hurricane.

A worthwhile emergency notification system will be able to alert everyone in your organization by reaching out to them through multiple channels. Some systems only cover SMS text messages, and while many people will have mobile devices, using only one communication channel isn’t an effective strategy when trying to reach large groups of people. Ideally, you want a system that can do SMS text messaging, phones calls, emails, and audio and text messages to devices like desk phones and digital signage.

This is particularly important when communicating information like closings, delays and evacuations. If a storm is approaching, you want the people in your organization dedicating their time to stay safe, not worrying about whether your business or campus will be open during the storm. Determine how your organization plans to operate in the face of the storm and use a mass notification system to communicate this plan to your people. It will give them a clear sense of expectations and save your team leaders the headache of having to answer the same question multiple times.

Three Questions For Severe Weather Planning

If you are asking people to evacuate, it can also be helpful to utilize a system that can set up an area of interest. These can be set up so you receive alerts when people enter or exit a predetermined area using GPS. That way, you can keep track of everyone and know when everyone in your organization has gotten themselves away from danger.

During the Storm

Once a hurricane strikes, mass notification systems can be used to provide useful updates and instructions. While it may be too late for people to evacuate, organizations can provide instructions for where to seek shelter or to tell their people they should not come to their facilities. You could also share information regarding the condition of your buildings, along with emergency services information should people require it.

Learn About Designating Severe Weather Safe Places

Certain systems can be configured to send messages with confirmation responses. These messages can be set up to ask if people need assistance, or if they are still inside the area that is being impacted by the hurricane. This can give you a good idea of who is safe and who is still in danger.

If a major incident occurs, being able to gather key stakeholders to address the situation can become crucial. That’s why systems that offer automatic conference call features can be vital. When sending out a message, you want to be able to select the right people to manage a crisis event caused by the hurricane. Including in the message a direct number to open a conference call can drastically cut down on the time it can take to a gather people versus utilizing outdated methods like calling trees.

Again, it’s important to look at systems that offer multiple forms of communication to get messages out. Power outages, jammed telephone lines and/or internet connectivity issues can all prevent messages from going out. The more options you have to send out a message, the more likely it is you can still succeed in communicating should another option fail.

After the Storm

When the storm has passed, emergency notifications can help provide the “all clear” and offer guidance on procedures to helps operations get back to normal. As we mentioned above, setting an area of interest can also be used when people enter an area to alert you when people have returned from their evacuations. You can provide information about when buildings will reopen, or if people need to work from home until cleanup can take place.

The last step is to assess how well your plan was executed. Systems that offer analytics and insights into delivery and read receipts can help you understand what worked and what didn’t during your hurricane response. Then you can make adjusts to improve your planning and execution for the next time your organization faces a hurricane.

Discover Real-time Response Monitoring

These are just some of the features you should look to utilize when using a mass notification system to communicate during a hurricane. Every organization is different, but the bottom line is safety should be a top priority when severe weather is a factor. A robust system can make the difference in keeping people out of harm’s way.

 

 

InformaCast Online Demo