How to Use Hurricane Notification Templates to Keep Employees Safe and Informed
Hurricane season is upon us, and now is the perfect time to update your hurricane communication plans. Use these hurricane notification templates to inform your employees and business before, during, and after a storm.
Meteorologists at Colorado State University released their predictions for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, and experts predict yet another “above average” season. According to FEMA, last year featured 21 named storms, making it the third-most active Atlantic hurricane season on record.
As businesses and organizations craft and update their hurricane preparedness plans, both employee safety and business continuity need to consider how to communicate effectively before, during, and after a storm. Timely and accurate hurricane communications are vital to keeping employees out of harm’s way and mitigating potentially costly and devastating impacts on your business. That’s why disaster preparedness experts recommend developing emergency response plans for different hurricane scenarios well in advance of a storm.
Fortunately, a modern emergency notification system can help you create customized messaging templates well before a storm (or any other natural disaster) threatens your people or property. And by having a documented emergency communications plan on hand, you can drastically reduce the time required to get pertinent information to those who need it most.
Here’s everything you need to know about what to send, which channels to use, and how to use your emergency mass notification system to keep employees safe, informed, and connected through every phase of a storm. We’ve included sample hurricane email messages to employees as well as sample text messages for before, during, and after the storm.
How to Communicate With Employees During Hurricane Season
In the midst of hurricane season, the Atlantic and Gulf coasts are usually on high alert. In fact, CSU researchers set the probability of at least one major hurricane (Category 3-4-5) making landfall along the U.S. coast at a staggering 71 percent (vs. an average of 52 percent during the last century).
When putting your hurricane notification templates together, you will want to focus on these core elements:
The notification type — Take advantage of versatile technology
When you send emergency alerts, consider the type of engagement that you expect from the message recipients. Examples include:
- Basic one-way notifications: Broadcast information to your audience
- Two-way communication: Ensure productive information sharing in both directions
- Interactive surveys and read receipts notifications: Solicit feedback and encourage audience engagement with the information
- Conference calls: Get an audience to collaborate on the phone to discuss issues in real-time
To determine the most appropriate notification type, consider the following questions:
- How time-sensitive is this information?
- How large is the audience you are trying to reach?
- On which devices are your employees most likely to receive notifications?
- Are you distributing information or requesting feedback?
- Is this a one-time update or information that will be revised over time?
The channel type — Ensure everyone receives critical messages
Hurricane notification templates should be created in such a way that you can easily deliver messages across all available communication channels, including:
- Text (SMS)
- Phone calls
- Mobile app push notification
- Any other communication channel your organization uses to get critical messages to your audience
During a hurricane, communications systems and providers often experience outages and other disruptions, which can impact your ability to reach people via standard channels (e.g., cell phones). To guarantee message delivery, take advantage of all of the channels at your fingertips.
The message — Draft notification templates in advance
Specific messages can be prewritten for each action plan in an emergency plan. Be succinct and provide clear instructions to keep employees safe. Use read receipts to verify the intended audience has received the message. This verification step ensures the recipient received the message, is safe, and can respond.
You should also consider the channel type when composing the message. For example, the maximum length of an SMS message is 918 characters and will be broken up into separate messages if it’s longer than 160 characters. So a text should be short and to the point, whereas an email can be longer and more detailed.
For communication channels where character counts are limited (e.g., SMS, mobile push notification), consider directing employees to an event page where you can include more comprehensive information (see example below).
The audience — Group recipients strategically
An emergency is not the time to figure out who should receive a certain message. Consider how you can simplify selecting the appropriate recipients for each message when using a notification template. For example, you can create groups in your emergency notification system based on employees’ office location or home address (which is crucial for organizations with a large number of remote employees).
This capability also ensures employees outside of the danger area aren’t bothered with irrelevant messages, and only the employees in harm’s way receive critical communications.
The event — Consolidate details and updates on a single webpage for employees
Use a tool like AlertMedia to create an event-specific website landing page. This “event” page will allow administrators to manage communications during the entire lifecycle of the hurricane, posting updates continually as the storm develops, when it makes landfall, and throughout the recovery process. In addition, keeping all notifications related to an event in one place allows employees to easily see all of the latest instructions and historical updates related to the hurricane, improving coordination and outcomes.
Hurricane Season Templates: Before, During, and After the Storm
As you build your hurricane notification templates ahead of time, keep in mind there are three distinct phases of a hurricane—each with its own messaging requirements. For example, while email is best when sending lengthy instructions or information, you should send shorter messages via text and push notifications, particularly in more urgent situations.
Before the storm
Thanks to science and technology, we now have far more detailed hurricane predictions from experts ahead of any impending storm. While the path of the hurricane often shifts, we typically have several days of warning to prepare.
As soon as you have reason to believe your employees, locations, or assets may be impacted by an approaching hurricane, it is a good practice to begin communicating about the storm. By communicating early, you’re demonstrating to employees that you are aware and monitoring storm forecasts and have plans in place to keep them safe and informed.
As the hurricane nears and conditions change, you should continue to provide regular updates concerning the expected severity of the storm, its expected path, the anticipated impact, how employees should respond, and where they can find additional information.
Sample hurricane email to employees
Use this pre-hurricane email template to notify employees:
[NAME OF CITY] is in the projected path of Hurricane [NAME]. As the storm progresses, we will provide updates on office closures, evacuations, and expected impacts.
Please take home your computers/chargers (and other items necessary to complete your job) to prepare for unplanned office closures. If you are currently working remotely from a location other than your listed home address, please reply to this email with your current location.
Please contact your supervisor about any questions or concerns you have. You can also call [CONTACT NAME AND PHONE] with any questions and concerns.
Sample hurricane text message to employees
Use this pre-hurricane SMS / text template to notify employees:
Your location is in the projected path of Hurricane [NAME]. We will provide updates on office closures and evacuation orders as the storm progresses.
During the storm
During a typical hurricane season, a major hurricane will force most employees to either stay in a shelter or shelter with friends outside of the danger zone. With remote work at an all-time high, your employees also may be more dispersed than in past hurricane seasons and less familiar with the local area.
In any event, there are many reasons why employees might not be able to stay productive or work normal hours during a hurricane. This is the perfect time to send concise, thoughtful messages that affirm the company is concerned with their safety. Make it clear that you are not concerned with employees coming back to the office until it is safe, and you understand if it takes some time.
Sample hurricane text for office updates
Use this hurricane SMS / text template for office closures:
Due to severe weather caused by Hurricane [NAME], the [LOCATION] office will be closed on [DAY OF WEEK AND DATE]. For the latest updates, visit: [URL]
Sample hurricane email for office updates
Use this email notification template for office closures:
Due to severe weather caused by Hurricane [NAME], the [LOCATION] office will be closed on [DAY OF WEEK AND DATE]. Contact your supervisor to make arrangements and discuss your work schedule.
If you need to access the office before the storm arrives, please contact [CONTACT NAME] to coordinate.
We will update you [FREQUENCY] on the status of the office closure. For the latest updates, visit: [URL]
After the storm
Once the storm has passed, it’s time to check in with employees and begin the business recovery plan. Hurricane email templates and surveys are an effective way to continue communications post-hurricane. Surveys are a fast way to gain insight into the status of employees and facilities, next steps from management, and who can return to work.
Sample hurricane email for recovery updates
Use this post-hurricane email template to notify employees:
The severe weather from Hurricane [NAME] has moved out of our area, and our office will be reopening [DAY OF WEEK AND DATE] for regular hours.
If you are not currently approved to work remotely, please contact your supervisor if you can’t make it into the office to make arrangements. If you have other questions or concerns, reach out to [CONTACT NAME AND EMAIL].
Sample hurricane survey message for employees during recovery
Use this post-hurricane survey template to assess employees’ status:
We’re offering assistance to [COMPANY NAME] employees to help with their Hurricane [NAME] recovery efforts. If you’d like assistance, reach out to your supervisor or reply to this message so we can learn more about your needs.
Measure Your Effectiveness
After any major incident, you should take inventory of your response plans and assess their effectiveness. Review the performance of your notifications and messages to see what channels and messages were most useful as well as any communication gaps that require attention.
For example, using your emergency communication solution, you can determine how long each message took to send and if there were any bouncebacks. If so, you may have outdated employee contact information or records issues worth investigating.
Take advantage of surveys and go straight to the source. Following a major storm, consider asking employees that received messages:
- Were the notifications effective?
- Was the information provided sent at an appropriate time?
- Which communication channels were most useful?
This feedback will help you craft better messages and send them more efficiently next time. It will also engage employees and make them part of the improvement process.
Keep Your People Informed
Remember, your communication plan is only useful during an emergency you have a reliable way to reach those impacted by the incident, so partner with human resources to ensure you have accurate contact information, phone numbers, and location data for any employees who may need support during hurricane season.
Additionally, take time to rehearse your plan in advance so your emergency management personnel are as prepared for as many scenarios as possible. If you have access to a threat monitoring solution, such as AlertMedia, make sure you are carefully reviewing regional forecasts and staying in touch with employees in areas likely to be affected.
By keeping messages relevant to the intended audience and taking advantage of as many communication channels as possible, your employees will rest assured the organization is doing everything it can to protect them, no matter what the forecast brings.