Ensuring safety during hurricane season

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NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is saying there’s a 60% probability of another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, and many other forecasters making similar estimates. With 6 named storms so far (twice the long-term average for this time of year), a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), and 3 to 5 major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected.  Although one organization (Colorado State University) has reduced its estimate a bit, higher-than average storm counts are still predicted. The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30. 

Preparation and anticipation of what to expect in a hurricane event is one of the smartest things you can do.

Here are some preparation steps that you can take to help ensure the safety of your community:

  1. Start preparing your community before the hurricane hits. Summer is a great time for festivals, fairs and many local outdoor events. Take advantage of it and educate your community on how to get prepared for the hurricane season. You may organize a workshop or participate with a booth and provide useful safety tips on how to prepare for a hurricane, how to stay safe during the storm, and how to deal with the aftermath once the storm has passed. Engage your audience to participate in discussion and do not forget to post updates on social media and your website to reach even more people. 

It’s also a great opportunity to remind people to sign up with your current Emergency Notification System if they yet haven’t done that and highlighting that they would have a better chance of receiving alerts and updates from you if they register. 

These resources will help you to stay in the loop:

2. Create an emergency plan for your staff. Identify who is responsible for what task and what role they will play. Arrange a staff meeting and share the plan. A detailed preparation plan will help you to eliminate confusion and react faster during a storm. Do you have a tool for efficient internal communications? It’s critical to successfully coordinate the staff and share the important information fast during a hurricane. With the Emergency Notification System you can not only send messages to the public but also use it for internal communication. Hype-Reach has a dynamic list function that lets you create separate lists for different departments, skills and responsibilities to send the message to the right people in just seconds.

3. Use as many communication channels as possible. Do not rely primarily on one or two communication methods. People tend to consume content differently depending on their age, sex, income, interests etc. For instance, the older population tends to rely more on older technology, such as landline phones, while a younger audience uses social media frequently. An emergency notification system, such as Hyper-Reach, is a unified communication platform that lets you send the message out in so many ways: text message, phone call, social media post, push notification, RSS, and even more.

And Hyper-Reach has made it possible to send alerts via smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa, too. While great for lots of other people, Alexa can help those who are blind or visually impaired and who have other physical disabilities.  As a result, Alexa is already popular with the blind and physically-impaired who use it for tasks such as texting, phone calls, checking the calendar, “reading the news”, etc.  And now – with Hyper-Reach – you can send emergency alerts to these special populations. 

People who are physically impaired are especially vulnerable and might require special assistance during an evacuation. With Hyper-Reach Alexa notifications, your message has a much better chance to be delivered to them – and quickly – in case of emergency. 

Want to know more about Hyper-Reach Alexa notifications? Book our demo.

4. Use emergency message templates. They will help you to save time, avoid ambiguity and go through different possible scenarios ahead. Keep your templates simple and remember about the character limit. For instance, Twitter messages can be up to 280 characters, IPAWS WEA messages, up to 360 characters, and SMS messages should not exceed 918 characters. 

You’ll probably need these three message types at your disposal:

  • Pre-storm templates – the purpose of this type of templates is to prepare your community for the hurricane. Send them updates of the hurricane status, provide advice on shelter in place and evacuation options etc.
  • Hurricane alert templates in the wake of the storm – just before a hurricane hits, you’ll need to send out the hurricane alert with an approximate time and area affected in the description.
  • Post-storm templates communicate on the recovery process. You may need to send out a “boil your water” or “blackout” alert as a consequence of the storm or inform people when they are safe to return to their home, etc.

Feel free to use these emergency templates we’ve designed specifically for hurricane season.

Preparation is very important. As with every hurricane season regardless of forecast, knowing the essentials and preparing for the worst scenario could truly protect people’s lives and minimize damages. 

We hope you will find the information above useful. And let us know what your must-do hurricane preparation steps are in the comments below. We’ll be glad to share your best practices on our blog and social media.

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