emergency storm

Hurricane season is upon us and based on a recent report from The Weather Channel, you can expect it to be “busier’ than usual. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects 11-17 named storms to hit this season, 5-9 of which are predicted to become hurricanes. This means that 2-4 of these storms are expected to become major hurricanes. These predictions put the expectations for this season above the thirty-year average for the Atlantic Basin.

June 1st marked the first day of hurricane season, so people up and down the Gulf and the East Coast are prepping their homes and businesses to withstand and hopefully defeat the destructive forces that come along with tropical and hurricane storms. As businesses and organizations craft their hurricane preparedness plans, it’s vital to business continuity and employee engagement that your communications are concise and streamlined.

Why? Because FEMA states that nearly 40% of small businesses will never reopen after a disaster strikes. So whether you run your own business or are a leader within your organization, you need to prepare your people and your business against the threats and dangers of hurricane season. With modern technology, you can get ahead of the storms by establishing emergency action plans with an emergency notification system – a technology you can use to communicate with your people anywhere, at any time.

Hurricane season is coming…

How well you communicate during a disaster sets the tone for how effectively your action plan is executed. A critical component in communications during events like these is time. You’ve practiced evacuations and safety drills and have a plan in place, but what happens when the storm really hits? You must be ready to notify people immediately as you receive updates about unpredictable weather. Being prepared to provide information or direction for any circumstance or for any safety procedure is essential on an organizational and employee level to ensure an effective emergency action plan.

One of the most important ways an emergency notification system can save your organization time is by using notification templates. You can create notification templates for any possible circumstance – office closures, active shooters, system outages – including all weather-related events common to a hurricane. As you finalize your safety procedures around all the possible weather outcomes hurricane season can bring, you can draft your messages, alerts, and action plans ahead of time, so that as soon as a situation seems to be on the rise, you are one click away from warning and advising your people.

Hurricane season is here…

As we enter the second month of hurricane season, the Atlantic surely gets accustomed to being on high alert. Those organizations that have an emergency notification system and related templates in place will be able to react quickly, without delay during the arrival of any storm. When putting your hurricane notification template together, you will want to focus on these core elements of a template:

The notification type: When you send a notification, you need to consider what type of engagement you’ll expect from the message recipients. You can create basic notifications for a one-way broadcast to your audience, surveys or read-receipt notifications that encourage audience engagement, or conference call notifications that get your audience on the phone together to discuss an issue in real-time.

The channels: Your hurricane notification template should have messages delivered over all channels – text, phone call, application pushes, emails, and any other communication channel your organization uses to get critical messages to your audience. The reason you’re using an emergency notification system is because some messages are way more important than just email – you need to absolutely ensure message delivery.

The message: You need specific messages for each of your action plans. Be succinct and provide clear instructions to keep your people safe. Use read-receipts to verify that your people have received the message – this is a request that the message recipient communicates their safety back to you and your administrators.

The audience: During an emergency, you need to quickly identify the right audience for your message. When you create a notification template, you will want to select the appropriate recipients for each message. If you’re communicating to your employees in Boston about an office closure, make sure you include only the people who need to receive that message.

The event: Group a collection of notification templates together to create an event. This grouping construct will allow you to manage the lifecycle of your hurricane – the warning, the in-event actions, and then finally the resolution. Keeping all notifications related to an event allows your people to easily see all instructions related to the hurricane, which improves coordination and outcomes.

Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

Once a storm has passed and the dust has settled, it’s time to assess the damage (if any), make sure your employees are safe, and begin your business recovery plan – all of which you can embed in your pre-planned notification templates. Are you worried that your office building or equipment was affected? Or is there an employee still needing assistance? You can formulate these questions in a form of a survey, that way responding only takes a couple of seconds and you can quickly gain insight into what the next course of action should be.  Finally, you need to assess the performance of your notifications and messages to see what channel or messages your people responded to most actively. Your emergency notification system should provide you with reports that allow you to assess and reorganize as needed to ensure that your emergency communications and disaster recovery plans are bulletproof for the next big storm.