The hurricane season has begun. NOAA recently released their 2018 hurricane predictions – the season will be average or slightly above the norm. The forecast indicates a 70% chance of seeing between 5 and 9 hurricanes, with a total of 10-16 named storms.
It’s still impossible to precisely predict the number of hurricanes that will hit the coast, and even harder to predict how strong they will become or the extent of the damage they will cause. “There are no strong climate signals saying it’s going to be extremely active, like last year, or extremely weak,” Gerry Bell, a lead forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, recently told reporters. Because history has shown that the effects of such storms can be devastating, preparedness is critical.
The good thing is that unlike some other severe weather hazards, we usually have advance notice of hurricanes, so usually, there’s time for some preparation. As an Emergency Notification System provider, we’d like to focus on how to prepare an effective communication plan for the hurricane season and how your Emergency Notification System may help you with that.
Since you don’t get a chance to edit the weather alerts sent out by the National Weather Services, you’ll want to fill in the gaps by providing your community with detailed instructions and updated information during a hurricane. So we highlighted these 3 steps that we hope will help you to do that:
Step 1 – Prepare before the hurricane season begins:
Although the hurricane activity can’t be predicted precisely, we recommend that you don’t wait for the NOAA alert, rather include your communication strategy in your pre-season preparations.
This time you could spend on:
- Developing your hurricane communication plan. Modern notification systems, such as Hyper-Reach, let you use multiple communication channels to spread instructions to your community. You can send your alerts simultaneously via voice messages, text, email, social media and IPAWS. Remember to include links into your messages, if possible, to provide more detail.
- Ramp up your ENS enrollment efforts before the season starts – remind your citizens that hurricane season is on the way and that those who haven’t signed up for emergency alerts should do this as soon as possible. Explain the importance of this action and provide some good examples. Use all the means available to you to enroll your community members.
- Informing the public about your ENS communication plan, and that in addition to the alerts from the National Weather Service, they should watch for notifications from you that may include instructions and guidance.
- Preparing hurricane emergency notification templates. This will save you time during an emergency. Pay particular attention to the message structure. You can learn more about an effective message structure in one of our recent posts.
Step 2 – When the storms begin, follow your plan:
- If the hurricane strikes, remember to use your pre-designed templates and follow your hurricane preparedness plan. At this point, you should have already identified who will be responsible for preparing and sending these alerts.
- Keep your citizens informed on all stages of the hazard – provide updates with critical information and new instructions as needed before, during and in the aftermath of the storm. This will help people to stay safe and react appropriately:
- before the storm – tell your citizens what precautions should be taken. Here are some examples: let people know where shelter locations are, provide evacuation route, remind them to prepare an emergency preparedness kit and to keep important documents with them or in a safe place. Recommend them to monitor local news for updates as well.
- provide your people with as many updates as needed during and in the aftermath of the storm – give them accurate directions on how to avoid danger, and the evacuation plan, if needed. Update your citizens with flooding information, advice to be careful during the clean-up: avoid wading in flood water, touching wet electrical equipment and downed, damaged power lines etc. And finally, tell people when it’s safe to return back home.
Step 3 – Measure Your Effectiveness
Measure the effectiveness of your emergency communication campaign. A robust mass notification system, such as Hyper-Reach, will provide informative reports that allow you to measure performance of your notifications and see what channels and messages were most effective. This will help you to be even more prepared and efficient next time.
Emergency Notification Systems can be powerful tools. They have proved to be extremely useful in notifying the community about all types of dangerous situations. In many cases they have helped to save lives and helped citizens to avoid danger. If you don’t have such a system in place yet, or want to see how your current system compares with the Hyper-Reach Emergency Notification System, please request a demo and we would be more than happy to show you all the advantages Hyper-Reach provides.
As one of our many “firsts” in the ENS industry, Hyper-Reach will soon be releasing our new Push Notifications. Keep an eye on our upcoming blog posts for more details on this and other new feature releases!
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