Hurricane Preparedness

The average life of a hurricane is nine days and it is most destructive during its first 12 hours onshore. As you think about preparing your business for a hurricane, you want to keep organizational communication top of mind. Utilizing precise communication before, during, and after a hurricane will help mitigate loss and improve safety outcomes for your people and organization. Here are the major considerations organizations should acknowledge to plan for a hurricane:

Have a Communication System in Place

As businesses and organizations conceive their hurricane preparedness and response plans, it’s vital to business continuity and employee engagement that communications are concise and streamlined on all fronts. Whether an organization needs to reach out to 10 people or 10,000 people, activating a quick, modern, and reliable communication system will help keep their people safe, informed, and prepared when a hurricane hits.   The right mass notification solution will be intuitive and easy-to-use for all users and provide multi-channel and two-way communication.

Maintain Your People’s Data

It becomes a challenge to communicate with a team of people if employee contact data is inaccurate or outdated.  A communication system will require that an organization gather, store, and update a large amount of contact information for those who will need to receive hurricane information. It is imperative that each user’s name, email address, cell phone number, direct office number, and office location are maintained and updated on a regular basis. There are multiple ways companies can ensure their communication system is updated with the correct data:

  • Upload an up-to-date CSV file
  • Manage/re-fresh your Active Directory sync
  • Leverage an API to sync with your HR system
  • Send a registration link to all of your people so they can update their data

Related: Beat Hurricane Season With Emergency Notification Templates

Subscribe to Sources

Sources are different media outlets and content producers that publish content relevant to your location and organizational operations. Examples of sources include the Weather Channel, NOAA, National Hurricane Center, and local news stations and authorities. Sources of interest and relevance are encouraged to be subscribed to year-round, but in particular, sources regarding weather-related events that affect an organization’s location are highly suggested.  Sources provide you with a real-time news feed, so that you can monitor relevant updates and warnings and proactively notify your team when necessary.

Have a Set Hurricane Preparedness Plan

FEMA states that nearly 40% of small businesses that close due to hurricane and other weather-related damage do not reopen. In order to prevent themselves from being another statistic, organizations need to prepare their people and businesses against the threats and dangers of hurricane season by having a hurricane preparedness plan in place – before a hurricane hits. With a modern mass communications tool, organizations can get ahead of the storms and better execute their hurricane preparedness plans and procedures by distributing company expectations for crisis communications, providing guidance and instruction, and empowering those involved to communicate from anywhere at any time. Having a clear and organized plan will eliminate chaos and help keep people safe.

Create Event Pages and Pre-Drafted Notification Templates

During a critical event, there isn’t always time to determine what group should receive an event notification or what the message should say. An event page acts as a central location where an organization can express need-to-know information and updates around a hurricane in real-time versus sending multiple mass notifications. Event templates enable organizations to add event details and upload resources as part of an “event page shell.” Helpful items to include on an event page include visual photos of office damage or location, resources, escape routes, facilities that have gas and water, and even elements that pertain to after the hurricane such as office re-openings.

As admins craft their event page(s) around hurricane season, it is important to also draft notification templates around all possible outcomes ahead of time, so organizations are one click away from warning and advising their people. In critical situations, organizations will need to deploy immediate notifications that are effective and result in responses. Common types are:

  • Surveys that encourage audience engagement by asking “are you ok?”
  • Surveys around financial offerings
  • One-way broadcasts with current status
  • Notifications with read confirmations around office closures, remote access, or power outage

Related: How Mass Communication Software Can Prepare You For the 2016 Hurricane Season

Know Who to Inform

In the event of a hurricane, organizations need to quickly identify the right audience for their messages. For example, if there is a hurricane in Miami, administrators need to ensure only employees in or around the surrounding areas of Miami receive these critical messages. Weather-related communications should be sent to the appropriate people or groups based on their proximity to the affected areas. Administrators should take the time beforehand to group together individuals based on their office location to better deploy location-based notifications. Grouping can be used in many different scenarios, but leveraging location services during a hurricane is key to ensuring all need to know individuals receive the message.

Use Multiple Communication Channels

Hurricanes bring a lot of uncertainty to the table and often can result in power outages and loss of network or cellular service, affecting how administrators communicate with their audience. Limiting communication to one notification channel.  Administrators should always utilize multiple channels such as text, voice-call, email, and mobile application pushes to ensure their messages have been sent and received by the users, no matter what external forces are at play. Increasing the deliverability rate through proper communication in crucial situations allows end-users to respond and react timely and effectively.