Preparing for Hurricanes During a Pandemic Using Mass Notification


Hurricanes During a Pandemic

With the hurricane season officially underway, many organizations are trying to adapt their plans to not only protect people from severe weather but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic can complicate hurricane preparedness in a number of ways, meaning many organizations cannot rely on the same plan and procedures that have worked in the past. Disruptions caused by hurricanes can be compounded if organizations do not factor in the extra precautions people need to take to also avoid exposure to the coronavirus.

Preparedness and safety often boil down to strong communication. Leaders need to have plans and messages in place that offer clear guidance on how to avoid danger in the event of a storm. Mass notification systems can help organizations prepare for a variety of outcomes with messages that reach everyone. In this blog post, we’ll outline how your organization can prepare for hurricanes while taking extra precautions for COVID-19 using a mass notification system.

Hurricane Safety

Hurricanes require organizations to monitor events and share messages when there is a potential for damage or harm. A mass notification system can be used to monitor CAP feeds from the National Weather Service to automatically trigger alerts when severe weather like hurricanes approach a defined geographical area. When the message is triggered, it can be sent in a variety of formats, such as audio, email, SMS text messages, desktop notification, and more to a wide range of devices including IP phones, IP speakers, desktop computers, mobile devices, and digital signage. Leveraging multiple communication channels and delivery methods means that people are more likely to see a message quickly so they can take actions that keep them out of harm’s way.

Some mass notification systems can also leverage the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to send alerts that reach people who may not be registered with an organization’s mass notification system. IPAWS provides public safety officials (federal, state, local, tribal, etc.) with an effective way to alert and warn the public about serious emergencies via the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). WEA can reach any cell phone within a geographic area with a message, and EAS can broadcast a screen crawl across TV screens for local TV stations. Utilizing these two methods extends notifications beyond devices that are connected to the system.

Pandemic Precautions

In addition to simply alerting people that storms are approaching, mass notifications can offer a way to provide instructions for how to seek safety and how to maintain healthy practices if people need to reside in shelters due to the impact of the storm. Devastating hurricanes can wipe out communities, forcing people to seek temporary shelter in community buildings.

At facilities being used for shelters, a mass notification system can be used to broadcast audio messages to on-premises devices with reminders about maintaining social distance, wearing masks, washing hands, as well as other appropriate preventative measures that minimize the risk of spreading the disease. Being in close quarters can make it difficult to manage people, so being able to share reminders with intrusive audio can get their attention in an impactful way.

People staying in the shelter can also be asked to sign up for mobile notifications by texting a designated number. This can sign them up as temporary recipients to receive notifications with reminders and updates. It can also be used to ask for confirmation responses so shelter workers can poll residents on their health and well-being and identify potential outbreaks before they get out of control.

Discover more tips from the Center for Disease Control

Understand the full capabilities of mass notification tools to fully prepare and adapt to changing circumstances to no one misses a message during an emergency.




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