We’d like to think we’d know what to do in an emergency, but studies show many Americans are not as prepared as they think they are. If we, as private citizens, haven’t prepared our homes and families for emergencies, how can we expect our employers to have a plan in place?
Preparing your home for an emergency is quite different than your workplace. We assume our managers and executives have some sort of plan in the books, right? Maybe the answer is in a poll that revealed more than half of Americans assume local authorities will come to their rescue with disaster strikes, whether at home or in the office. If you’re a business owner or have a management role, particularly related to security, maybe it’s time to look at mass notification software as part of an emergency plan.
Get the Word Out with Mass Notification Software
Mass notification software is the easiest way to ensure organizational leaders can rapidly get the word out to every employee when a critical event is looming or in progress. Unfortunately, many companies rely on email or phone systems alone. We are a mobile society and chances are, you aren’t logging into email or voicemail when there’s an emergency. If you’re like 97 percent of Americans, texting is your preferred mode of communicating outside of face-to-face dialogue. Texts are fast and require no passwords, likely the reason text messages have a 98 percent open rate, compared to only 20 percent with email.
When a company needs to communicate important information to its employees about a critical event, the best method to ensure the most coverage is to send the message across multiple channels. People check their smartphones an average of 85 times per day. Sixty-two percent of people check email fewer than 10 times a day. Voicemail is virtually archaic these days. The point is, in a critical event, an organization can’t rely on one, or even two methods of communication. Mass notification software ensures your message is not only sent, but received loud and clear across multiple channels.
Other Components to Emergency Plans
What else should companies consider as part of their emergency plan?
An effective emergency plan should have a well-defined “all hazards” process in place that considers the enterprise as a whole and the most probable scenarios, as well as more customized processes for any satellite locations. Each location may have varying risks and assets to consider. A good emergency plan will have just enough detail to cover the most likely critical events, but not too much to bog people down or confuse them.
It is important to have a complete list of who to contact and who is in charge in the event of each emergency. Every location should have its own list of people with backups in case they are absent. Who do remote employees contact? Who will be designated as administrators of information? How will employees be able to connect with leaders? Many of these questions can be addressed with mass communication software that makes two-way communication much easier and faster.
Every plan needs an evacuation process, shelter-in-place procedures, and where follow-up information can be found. It is also important to know how to secure critical records, software, and hardware, if possible. If your company deals with suppliers and contractors, do you know who you would call to obtain supplies or materials in the event of a disaster?
Need Help with Your Emergency Plan?
It’s a lot to consider when thinking of critical events. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you in your planning. Here are a few we’ve put together to get you started:
- A plan should be aligned with local and national emergency preparedness standards. OSHA sets forth regulations for a proper emergency action plan and cites “hazard communication” as the second most frequently failed standard. It also offers a lengthy publication on how an employer can best protect its employees in the case of an emergency.
- The Department of Homeland Security also offers tips for planning and preparing for a disaster.
- FEMA provides a fill-in-the-blank worksheet businesses can use to construct an emergency plan. The worksheet covers risk assessment, key personnel, suppliers and contractors, evacuation and shelter-in-place plans, and of course, communication plans.
- The Red Cross published notes from a training class it offers companies, titled “Managing an Emergency Like the Pro’s Do.” It also provides a short tutorial to prepare your business “for the unthinkable,” and an “SMB Prepared Playbook” with tips for small businesses.
We hope you never need to put an emergency plan into action, but chances are, you will. Be prepared, stay informed and connected, and practice your plan.