Enhancing Blizzard Safety with Mass Notification Systems


The Importance of Blizzard Safety

Winter brings with it a host of dangerous weather conditions that can cause closings, delays, accidents and other serious calamities that impact organizations. From personal safety to business continuity, winter storms like blizzards can have devastating effects on operations if organizations are unprepared.

As defined by the Red Cross, Winter Storm Warnings are issued when “Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours.” Whereas a Blizzard Warning is issued when “Sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater, plus considerable falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile, expected to prevail for three hours or longer.”

These conditions can be dangerous for organizations that do not take the proper precautions to alert and manage winter weather events. While there are many resources available to prepare for winter storms, in this blog post, we’ll look specifically at how mass notification systems can be used to facilitate safety initiatives during winter weather and blizzard conditions.

Be the First to Know

With the right mass notification system, organizations can monitor CAP feeds from the National Weather Service to automatically trigger alerts when severe weather approaches. Alerts can be configured to monitor for certain weather events like blizzards, and be set to specific geographical areas. Messages can be prebuilt to simply forward the text from the CAP alert or to send a message with more detailed instructions.

Learn more about using CAP for Weather Notifications

Organizations can also designate groups to receive the alert about an approaching storm. In some instances, it may only be necessary to initially alert upper-level administrators and management. These key stakeholders can then assess the information they are presented with and decide what they want to share with the larger population. This can help organizations deploy a better-executed response depending on what they need to do. The severity of the storm and the lead time an organization has to prepare will also determine whether they need to suspend operations or close.

The goal is to have as much time as possible so your organization can plan an appropriate response that keeps people out of danger and operations running smoothly.

Manage Schedules and Expectations

Once initial alerts are sent out, it’s important to follow up with safety instructions. With dangerous travel conditions, people inside and outside the organization need to know whether you will remain open during a blizzard. If a storm occurs during a work day, mass notification can be used to send people home early and shut down production equipment that may be vulnerable to damage. It can also be used to send notifications to remote workers to tell them to stay home.

Check out 3 Tips for Communicating with Staff about Natural Disasters

If extreme winter weather occurs overnight, mass notification can help spread the word about closings, encourage people to work from home or let people know when operations will resume. Just as important is letting people know if your organization will remain open and what expectations are. Mass notification can help manage schedules and ask for responses to know who has seen messages. This helps minimize confusion and prevents people from taking unnecessary risks because they are uninformed.

Get Back Up and Running

Once the blizzard has passed mass notification systems can be used to help get things back to normal. Sending an all-clear message lets people know regular schedules are resuming. It can also be used to share information about any damage buildings may have sustained, or plowing that still needs to be done.

With the right combination of messages, groups, and devices, mass notification systems can help spread information that keeps people safe and informed during blizzards and other severe winter weather. This helps organizations fulfill their duty of care, minimize downtime, and ensure limited interruptions to operations.

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