Storms, they are a’brewin’
Have you checked the weather lately? The 2016 hurricane season is starting out with a bang. NOAA has already issued several advisories for both the Atlantic and Pacific. Take a look at some of the latest headlines from the Weather Channel:
“Gulf of Mexico ‘Hot Tub’ Could Fuel Hurricane Season” and “Hurricane Season Forecast Update: 10 More Named Atlantic Storms Expected.” There are millions of people in harm’s way and hundreds of families and business bracing for the deluge.
Even those hundreds of miles inland often feel the impact of hurricanes and tropical storms. It is estimated that 10,000 people die annually from hurricanes, mostly due to flooding.
These storms leave economic scars, too, lasting decades as towns try to rebuild. In one study that looked at nearly 7,000 hurricanes over a 58-year span, it was calculated that “a cyclone of a magnitude that a country would expect to see every few years” can slow down an economy on par with “a tax increase equal to 1% of GDP, a currency crisis, or a political crisis.” For a really bad storm you may see every 10 years, the damage will be similar “to losses from a banking crisis.”
As a business owner or leader in your organization, there may not be much you can do to lessen the economic blow, but you can do quite a bit to ensure your employees are safe. Invest in mass communication software so you can plan ahead with timely communications and keep informed everyone who may be impacted.
Mass communication software is a lifeline
Let’s think about the millions of people in Florida and up the east coast who are bracing for hurricanes every year. Thanks to satellites and modern technology, meteorologists can give residents several days’ warning of an impending strike. Even a week or more before the hurricane hits, they offer Spaghetti Model Forecasts to show the most likely paths.
As frightening as hurricanes can be, at least we have warning. There’s time to plan. Mass communication software allows companies to reach the most people the fastest way on multiple channels so no one is left in the dark. When emergencies strike, your employees are going to be looking to you to tell them what to do. An emergency mass notification system ensures everyone is getting the same message at the same time, saving precious minutes and fostering a sense of calm as people know what to do and when.
Ideally, you’ve implemented and practiced a plan before, making sure every employee knows what to do when there’s a major event. You don’t want to be putting an emergency plan together right before a hurricane stirs in the Gulf. It’s important to plan ahead.
When we think of an emergency alert system, we think of the high-pitched siren on our TVs and radios tested periodically by the FCC. Today’s mass communication software goes beyond a simple alarm with instructions to those who happen to be watching TV or listening to a radio. It provides customized direction and a two-way line of communication on any channel. Landlines, smartphones, desktops, laptops, or notebooks all get pinged with voice alerts, texts, push notifications, social media posts, and emails.
Inform your employees on how the system works, what the messages may look and sound like, and actions they should take – regularly as a practice and before a known threat is looming as a calming reminder. Ensure admins and backups have been designated to activate the plan and know how and when to sound the alarm.
When the worst is on your doorstep, it’s time to send the alert. Your messaging should be direct so people get the information they need immediately. Use the software to:
- send customized reminders to your employees of the specific evacuation routes in their facilities and towns
- assign skeleton crews who may remain behind
- give instruction to IT staff who may need to work remotely to keep servers and technology online
- keep lines of communication open so people can keep their teams updated of any changes to the plan or with helpful ground-level details
- provide employees with a direct line to immediate help
Hopefully, since you’ve practiced, people won’t panic. When there’s an emergency, people just want to be sure they know what to do. If you’re in a plane that’s going down, you want a flight crew who is calm and tells you exactly what you need to do to stay alive. You aren’t worrying about if you should grab your laptop or leave it behind. Same goes with a natural disaster. The number one priority is to keep your people safe; assets are a distant second.
Survey the results
Once the threat has passed and your people are safe, it’s time to see how well your emergency system worked. Mass communication software often comes with analytics to help you measure your effectiveness so you can continually improve. If your company is in the hurricane-prone areas, such as Florida and the Gulf Coast, chances are you will have plenty of opportunity to hone your plan to a science.
Your people are your most important asset so it’s important to not only keep them safe, but give them a platform to discuss what went well and what needs improving. Encourage employees to give honest feedback on how well the plan was communicated, how much time the system gave them to prepare and take action, and if they felt informed before, during and after an event.
Other than our own residences, our workplaces are our second homes and where we spend huge portions of our days. Most employees haven’t mapped out their own emergency plan at home, let alone their workplace. They rely on you to do it for them and to be there when disaster strikes. Make sure you are using the most advanced mass communication software available to give both you and them peace of mind, even when our oceans are swirling.