Use Templates for Fast, Quality, Consistent Emergency Weather Messages

weather-template-img2!!!-for-blog

Message templates are a useful way to create high quality, consistent messages quickly and make sure that you’ve included all needed information. 

To be clear, we distinguish a message template from a pre-written standard message you might use in a specific situation. A pre-written message might describe a specific type of situation, such an active shooter or tornado alert, but not have key details specific to the actual situation. For example:

Pre-written message: “A tornado warning is in effect for this area.  Please take shelter immediately.”

Detailed specific message: “A tornado warning is in effect in northeast Clay County for the next 2 hours.  Please shelter in place immediately until 9PM or otherwise notified.”

While there’s a place for both, the extra information in the second message gives it additional authority and credibility, which can help its effectiveness. In journalism, they tell you to follow the 5Ws (what, when, where, why and who) model. As Dr. Dennis Mileti has noted, what the message says is really important. For example, lack of detail can undermine a message and result in people looking for confirmation and delaying action. 

We think most emergency managers agree. After reviewing hundreds of mass notification messages, we found at least some of these specific details in more than 80% of them.

We believe strongly in Dr. Mileti’s model, which converts the 5Ws into WHAT to do, WHEN to do it,  WHERE is the danger, WHY (the hazard or consequence) and WHO’s giving the message.  

Because SMS and IPAWS messages must be short, we recognize the need to abbreviate, but that’s an additional argument for creating templates – so you can make sure you pack the most information into the space you have. 

Fortunately, Hyper-Reach makes it easy to create unlimited customized and flexible message templates.  For each “W” element you need to write for a specific situation, you can just type a prompt or cue in curly brackets, like this: {describe hazard}.  Then, when you go to use the template, you’re prompted to “fill in the blank” by writing what would go in place of that prompt (we call them tokens.) 

In fact, we think templates are so useful, we’ve included them in our smartphone app – Hyper-Reach Launch™. We know that most of our competitors are lacking IPAWS support in their smartphone app, which makes us wonder if they have templates in BOTH their web interface and smartphone app.

Below you’ll find 90-character and 160-character messages we created for you to use or modify to your needs. The character limit for a single SMS message is 160 characters, although Hyper-Reach can send longer ones. While the old length was 90, FEMA has increased a WEA message length up to 360 characters on 4G LTE networks and beyond. WEA message length will continue to be a maximum of 90 characters on 3G and earlier networks.

Flood alert

90-character message:

{Source}: Flood Risk {Location}. Leave by {Evacuation time}. Msg Exp {Expiration time}

Example:

Source: Elm Cty Sheriff

Location: btw Main&Pleasant St, Woodton

Evacuation time: 2PM

Expiration time: 6PM

Resulting message:

Elm Cty Sheriff: Flood Risk btw Main&Pleasant St, Woodton. Leave by 2PM. Msg Exp 6PM.

160-character message:

{Source}: Flood Risk {Location}. Move {Secure distance} out by {Evacuation time} or you’ll drown. More info: {Link}. Msg Exp {Expiration time}

Example 160-character message:

Source: Elm Cty Sheriff

Location: btw Main&Pleasant St, Woodton

Secure distance: 2+ blocks 

Evacuation time: 2PM

Expiration time: 6PM

Resulting message: 

Elm Cty Sheriff: Flood Risk btw Main&Pleasant St, Woodton. Move 2+ blocks out by 2PM or you’ll drown. More info: goo.gl/ces2Ac. Msg Exp 6PM.

How your citizens will see it

 

 

Tornado Alert:

90-character message:

{Source}: TORNADO ALERT for {Location} until {Expiration time}. More info: {Link} 

Example:

Source: Fayette Cty EMA

Location: Fayette Cty, OH

Expiration date: 10PM

Link: goo.gl/5hyPLe

Resulting message:

Fayette Cty EMA: TORNADO ALERT for Fayette Cty, OH until 10PM. More info: goo.gl/5hyPLe.

160-character message:

{Source}: TORNADO ALERT for {Location} until {Expiration time}. Take shelter now. Check local media & authorities. Possible evacuation orders: {Link} 

Example:

Source: Fayette Cty EMA

Location: Fayette Cty, OH

Expiration date: 10PM

Link: goo.gl/5hyPLe

Resulting message:

Fayette Cty EMA: TORNADO ALERT for Fayette Cty, OH until 10PM. Take shelter now. Check local media & authorities. Possible evacuation orders: goo.gl/5hyPLe.

 

Hurricane Alert:

90-character message:

{Source}: HURRICANE ALERT {Location} until {Evacuation time}. Take shelter! {Link} 

Example:

Source: Fayette Cty EMA

Location: in this area

Evacuation time: 7/14 @ 6PM

Link: goo.gl/5hyPLe

Resulting message:

Fayette Cty EMA: HURRICANE ALERT in this area 7/14 @ 6PM. Take shelter! goo.gl/5hyPLe

160-character message:

{Source}: HURRICANE ALERT for {Location}. Take shelter by {Evacuation time}. Urgently complete efforts to protect life and property. More info: {Link} 

Example:

Source: Fayette Cty EMA

Location: Fayette Cty

Evacuation time: 7/14 @ 6PM

Link: goo.gl/5hyPLe

Resulting message:

Fayette Cty EMA: HURRICANE ALERT for Fayette Cty. Take shelter by 7/14 @ 6PM. Urgently complete efforts to protect life and property. More info: goo.gl/5hyPLe

 

Snow squall alert

90-character message:

{Source}: Snow squall alert for this area til {Expiration time}. Icy roads. Slow down! 

Example:

Source: Monroe Cty

Expiration time: 1/29 at 10PM

Resulting message:

Monroe Cty: Snow squall alert for this area til 1/29, 10PM. Icy roads. Slow down! 

160-character message:

{Source}: Snow squall alert for this area til {Expiration time}. Slow down or delay travel. Near zero visibility & icy roads in heavy snow. Updates: {Link}. 

Example:

Source: Monroe Cty

Expiration time: 1/29 at 10PM

Link: goo.gl/7hwPXe

Resulting message:

Monroe Cty: Snow squall alert for this area til 1/29, 10PM. Slow down or delay travel. Near zero visibility & icy roads in heavy snow. Updates: goo.gl/7hwPXe.

 

Wildfire alert1

90-character message:

{Source}: Extreme heat {Location} til {Expiration time}. Possible wildfires. Monitor news.

Example:

Source: San Diego Cty SO

Location: across the cty

Expiration time: 7/12

Resulting message:

San Diego Cty SO: Extreme heat across the cty til 7/12. Possible wildfires. Monitor news.

160-character message:

{Source}: Catastrophic fire danger forecast in {Location} til {Expiration time}. Avoid bush fire prone areas. Monitor local news. Updates: {Link}. 

Example:

Source: Monroe Cty

Location: some areas of the cty

Expiration time: 7/12

Link: goo.gl/7hwPXe

Resulting message:

San Diego Cty SO: Catastrophic fire danger forecast in some areas of the cty til 7/12. Avoid bush fire prone areas. Monitor local news. Updates: goo.gl/7hwPXe

 

Wildfire alert2

90-character message:

{Source}: Wildfire {Location}. Evacuate {Evacuation time}. Call {Phone}.

Example:

Source: San Diego Cty SO

Location: north of Hwy 14, east of Route 5

Evacuation time: now

Resulting message:

San Diego Cty SO: Wildfire north of Hwy 14, east of Route 5. Evacuate now! Call 211.

160-character message:

{Source}: Wildfire {Location}. Evacuations occurring! Avoid high-risk areas. More info: {Link}. For evacuation call {Phone}.

Example:

Source: San Diego Cty SO

Location: north of Hwy 14, east of Route 5

Link: goo.gl/7hwPXe

Phone: 211

Resulting message:

San Diego Cty SO: Wildfire north of Hwy 14, east of Route 5. Evacuations occurring! Avoid high-risk areas. More info: goo.gl/7hwPXe. For evacuation call 211.

 

 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.