As organizations across the United States focus on a safe and healthy reopening of the country, another force of nature needs attention and preparation. With tornado season in full swing and the start of an above-normal hurricane season in June, emergency preparedness is crucial for employers who are concerned for their employees’ safety and obligated to keep their employees safe. Reliable communication channels are essential to reach and alert employees instantaneously when severe weather is on its way. It is widespread knowledge that all available communication channels should be utilized to assure message delivery. However, are your current channels sufficient? How can employers improve crisis communication during tornado and hurricane season?
As with every tornado and hurricane season, the need to be prepared is critically urgent. In case of tornadoes and hurricanes, outdoor warning sirens should never be your primary warning method – to be sure your employees have enough time to find shelter, don’t rely on just one source for your crisis communication. It is with good reason OSHA requires all workplaces with more than ten employees to develop a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP); additionally, employers are required to have an Employee Alarm System. It is vital to employee safety that tornado or hurricane communications can be sent out rapidly as conditions change.
Deploy all communication channels
To be sure employees see your messages or alert, send information to all available communication channels. Digital signage screens, alerting app with push notifications on employees’ smartphones, text messages, and desktop alerts all are reliable communication channels to keep your employees informed and safe. They show information repeatedly and allow you to send push notifications when matters get urgent. Additionally, they enable you to target your audience with certain information, so recipients only receive those messages that apply to them. This helps avoid confusion during a stressful event like a tornado or hurricane. You can even add a quick action to your message, so employees can mark themselves as safe or call 911 with the touch of a button.
Organizations that are prepared by having an emergency notification system in place will be ready to react quickly when tornadoes or hurricanes arrive. The University of Tennessee Medical Center uses Netpresenter to inform 7,000 people instantly in case of severe weather. The fastest way to send out warnings is to create alert scenarios prior to severe weather, so the information is ready to be sent to your employees when a storm arrives. In a few easy steps, you can send out an alert to all your employees. An emergency is not the time to figure out who should receive what information, so having a set of premade scenarios can save valuable time, which, in turn, can save lives. Sending out an alert doesn’t even require you to start your computer: you can simply select one of your premade scenarios on your smartphone and publish it on the fly, saving even more time when time is crucial to give your employees a chance to seek shelter or evacuate. UTMC demonstrates how it works in the video below.
Various information, various channels
As you prepare your severe weather communications, bear in mind some channels are better suited to convey certain information than others. Digital signage screens and screensavers are ideal for messages that should be brought to your employees’ attention repeatedly in preparation for severe weather. They can be used to keep your employees informed about weather conditions or shelter locations, for example. Text messages and full screen push notifications on smartphones are great ways to send shorter messages, especially in more pressing situations, such as when the time has come to find shelter or to evacuate the building. That is why an all-in-one platform is recommended for your emergency communication.
Emergency communication should not only be applied during an actual emergency. Organizations should maintain momentum year-round. Not only can tornadoes occur all year round, but also because repetition is essential for effective communication. We forget ninety percent of what we learn within thirty days. To make sure people know what to do, should the occasion arise, you should repeat your protocols throughout the year.
Are you worried your organization might not be properly equipped for effective communication in times of emergency? Download our free infographic to find out. If you think you could use more or better methods of communication, we could have your all-in-one platform deployed in as little as two weeks. Do not wait for the next storm to hit, contact us right away!