Summer and early autumn are a popular time for vacations and various outdoor events: fairs, festivals, carnivals, cultural and sports events. And with many people vaccinated against COVID-19, we’re gradually returning to normal life. Half of the US population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the White House said last Friday. After an 18-month hiatus, concerts, festivals, sports, and other big events are slowly recovering.
Have you taken all needed precautions and are you ready to communicate with your community during these summer-autumn events effectively?
Below we have highlighted some great tips to help you keep your community safe and get maximum benefit from your notification system during the summer-autumn seasons. (If you don’t have a mass notification system in place, you might want to consider getting one:)
- Remind people about COVID precautions and any restrictions they need to take during events and holidays. CDC guidelines encourage event organizers to follow state and local regulations on gatherings (updates on Covid-19 restrictions in all 50 states can be found here). Meeting planners should continually monitor the outbreak and make adjustments to the event plan as needed.
“Event planners should work with state and local health officials to implement this guidance, adjusting to meet the unique needs and circumstances of the local community,” reads the document. According to the CDC, “this guidance is meant to supplement — not replace — any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which gatherings must comply.” More about risk factors to consider can be found here.
2. Warn residents about extreme heat. Although we all love summer for its holidays, relaxation and fun, it also can be very dangerous during heat waves, especially for the elderly and children. And the prevalence of extreme heat events is also rising. One study of 13,000 cities estimates that people’s exposure to extreme heat more than doubled between 1983 and 2016. Cities across the world fight extreme heat by developing “cool corridors” and “cool roofs”, educating their people about extreme heat and how to behave during heat waves. For instance, the Indian city of Ahmedabad, after a devastating heatwave in 2010, developed an action plan with these three elements:
- raising awareness about how people can protect themselves from extreme heat;
- creating an early warning system for heatwave forecasts;
- training medical staff to better recognize and treat people suffering from extreme heat.
One estimate suggests that the program has saved 1,190 lives a year, and a similar approach has been rolled out for more than a dozen other cities across India. Now that US cities are experiencing triple-digit heat waves, there are lessons for us here. Use your notification system to remind people to protect themselves from the extreme heat and raise their awareness. Here’s some useful information you can share with your folks on how they can protect themselves and the people they love:
- https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.html – tips for preventing heat-related illness
- https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/extremeheat/index.html – keep your cool in hot weather.
3. Use weather alerts to help people prepare for, change and even cancel their travel plans. Beyond heat, the summer-to-autumn months are the high season for hurricanes, floods, and wildfires in many US states. Many of your residents will welcome updates on extreme weather. And because many people are travelling during summer holidays, it’s important to get the message out to summer visitors in addition to the residents who are registered for alerts. Hyper-Reach (or another mass notification system) can help you do this in two ways. For the most extreme events that threaten life or properly, you can use IPAWS WEA alerts. Or use our event alert feature to create an easy “register-by-text” code that visitors can sign up for when they visit your area.
4. Let people know about unexpected emergencies. Public events can present all kinds of issues: a missing child, a traffic hazard, even an active shooter. You need to be ready to get the word out to minimize the crowd panic, get people’s cooperation, and get the situation under control as soon as possible. We found some useful guidelines on preparing for, and responding to a missing person situation here.
5. Prepare for traffic issues. During summer holidays and events many communities experience big increases in traffic. You may need to send updates on traffic problems, road closures, etc. so folks can avoid travelling near bad situations or at peak periods.
6. Prepare for staffing issues. Summertime can be a much slower time of year for many organizations including public safety agencies. Employees may go on vacation, meaning you might face staffing shortages during emergencies. A mass notification system can not only help you send the word out to the public quickly – and with minimal effort – but also coordinate with available staff effectively and get shifts covered fast.
7. Remind folks about back-to-school. August is back-to-school month. Children heading back to school means more children on the streets, and more safety precautions to be taken. It’s time to remind parents, children and drivers to be vigilant of the increased movement of school-aged children. Mass notification software gives you the capability to send unified messaging across multiple channels, helping children, teachers and the community stay safe and informed.
8. Get the message right. To make the communication process faster and smarter, use message templates, which allow you to use a “fill-in-the-blank” approach to writing mass notification messages. They will help you create high quality, consistent messages quickly and make sure that you’ve included all needed information. Feel free to use and modify these weather templates we’ve highlighted for you previously or create your own.
9. Use events to get more people registered. Local events are a good occasion to remind people to register for emergency alerts and more. You may attend with a booth or organize a safety workshop at a fair or other local event.