A Hurricane Communication Plan is KEY to Being PREPARED

Hurricanes are fast, furious and can last for days. Do you have a hurricane communication plan that you can use before, during, and after one hits? (Courtesy of AlertMedia, the Gold Award Winner in the 2018 'ASTORS' Homeland Security Awards Program. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)
Hurricanes are fast, furious and can last for days. Do you have a hurricane communication plan that you can use before, during, and after one hits? (Courtesy of AlertMedia, the Gold Award Winner in the 2018 'ASTORS' Homeland Security Awards Program. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)

The average life of a hurricane is nine days and it is most destructive during its first 12 hours onshore.

As you think about preparing your business for a hurricane, you want to keep organizational communication top of mind.

Doing so will help mitigate losses and improve safety outcomes.

Implement a Communications System

As organizations conceive their hurricane preparedness and response plans, it’s vital to business continuity and employee engagement that communications are concise and streamlined on all fronts.

AlertMedia
AlertMedia is known for mass notifications, but also supports efficient communications throughout the life of any event – from planning through resolution. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)

Whether an organization needs to reach out to 10 people or 10,000, activating a quick, modern, and reliable communication system will help keep their people safe, informed, and prepared when the weather turns.

The right mass communication solution is an important piece of your hurricane communication plan.

It will allow you to check on your employees, let them know when they can return to work, and give them specific instructions regarding their job duties.

Choose one that is intuitive and easy-to-use for all users.

In today’s mobile world, making sure the system provides multi-channel and two-way communication is vital–particularly when power and cellular service may be disrupted in a hurricane.

Channels include:

  • SMS text – perfect for quick communications
  • Mobile app push notifications – ideal for notifications that don’t require a response
  • Phone/voicemail – use for more detailed information with a callback number
  • Email – optimal when there is a lot of information, links, or attachments
  • Intranet – use Event Pages to keep incident-related information on one page
  • Social media – Excellent for enabling employees to communicate with each other
  • Custom channels – Fitting for organizations with non-traditional forms of communication

Being able to communicate across multiple channels simultaneously or individually ensures every employee receives the message on their preferred device, no matter what external forces are at play.

Deliverability rates increase, allowing end users to respond and react immediately per instructions.

Maintain Your Employee’s Contact Information

Communication is challenging when employee contact data is inaccurate or outdated.

It is imperative for an organization ensure their communication system is consistently updated with each employee’s correct contact information. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)
It is imperative for an organization ensure their communication system is consistently updated with each employee’s correct contact information. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)

A detailed hurricane communication plan will require that an organization gather, store, and update a large amount of contact data for those who will need to receive hurricane information.

It is imperative that each user’s name, email address, cell phone number, direct office number, and office location are maintained and updated with any changes.

There are multiple ways companies can ensure their communication system is updated with the correct data:

  • Upload an up-to-date CSV file
  • Manage/refresh your Active Directory sync
  • Leverage an API to sync with your HR system
  • Send a registration link to all of your people so they can update their own data

Inform the Right People at the Right Time

In the event of a hurricane, organizations need to quickly identify the right audience for their messages.

In order to keep everyone safe, no matter what device they are using in any part of the world, enterprise-level emergency notification solutions had to evolve to include any and all communication channels. Only a modern system can give organizations and employees peace of mind that they are protected and will be informed should an emergency or significant event occur.
In order to keep everyone safe, no matter what device they are using in any part of the world, enterprise-level emergency notification solutions had to evolve to include any and all communication channels. Only a modern system can give organizations and employees peace of mind that they are protected and will be informed should an emergency or significant event occur. Courtesy of AlertMedia

Hurricane communications should be sent to appropriate people or groups, including remote and lone workers, based on their proximity to the affected areas.

For example, if there is a hurricane in Miami, administrators need to ensure only employees in or around Miami receive these critical messages.

Administrators should take the time beforehand to group together individuals based on their office location to better deploy location-based notifications.

You can use grouping in many different scenarios, but leveraging location services during a hurricane is key to getting the relevant message to the right people quickly.

Subscribe to Sources

Sources are different media outlets and content producers that publish content relevant to your location and organizational operations.

On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, Hurricane Irma ranked among the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded. The ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, second major hurricane, and first Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 season, Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage throughout its long lifetime, particularly in the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys. (Image courtesy of NOAA)
On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, Hurricane Irma ranked among the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded. The ninth named storm, fourth hurricane, second major hurricane, and first Category 5 hurricane of the 2017 season, Irma caused widespread and catastrophic damage throughout its long lifetime, particularly in the northeastern Caribbean and the Florida Keys. (Image courtesy of NOAA)

Examples of sources include the Weather Channel, NOAA, the National Hurricane Center, and local news stations and authorities.

Identify the relevant sources to your business and subscribe to them year-round.

In particular, we recommend subscribing to sources that are specific to each of your company’s locations.

A modern mass communication system can organize these sources into a real-time news feed so you can monitor relevant updates and warnings, and proactively notify your team when necessary.

Have a Set Hurricane Communication Plan

According to FEMA, nearly 40 percent of small businesses that close due to hurricanes and other weather-related damage never reopen. No small business wants to be part of that statistic.

As admins craft their event page(s) around hurricane season, it is important to also draft hurricane notification templates around all possible outcomes, so organizations are one click away from warning and advising their people. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)
As admins craft their event page(s) around hurricane season, it is important to also draft hurricane notification templates around all possible outcomes, so organizations are one click away from warning and advising their people. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)

To avoid that worst-case-scenario, organizations need to prepare ahead of time for hurricane season.

A hurricane preparedness plan should be in place before a hurricane hits.

With a modern mass communications tool, organizations can get ahead of the storms and better execute their hurricane communication plan by:

  • Distributing company expectations for crisis communications
  • Providing guidance and instruction to employees
  • Empowering those involved to communicate from anywhere at any time

Having a clear and organized plan will eliminate chaos and help keep people safe.

Courtesy of FEMA

Create Event Pages and Notification Templates

During a critical event, there isn’t always time to determine which group should receive an event notification or what the message should say.

An event page acts as a central location where an organization can express need-to-know information and updates.

You can do this in real time, instead of sending multiple mass notifications.

Event pages provide your employees a single webpage to find the most up-to-date information on the event, without having to send a new notification with each new development. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)
Event pages provide your employees a single webpage to find the most up-to-date information on the event, without having to send a new notification with each new development. (Courtesy of AlertMedia)

Event templates enable organizations to add event details and upload resources to one web-page.

This event page becomes the hub for the most up-to-date information on the hurricane.

Instead of sending out a mass notification with each non-essential update, you can simply direct employees to the event page.

Helpful items to include on an event page include photos of office or location damages, available resources, escape and evacuation routes, facilities with gas and water, and information for after the hurricane (such as office re-openings).

As admins craft their event page(s) around hurricane season, it is important to also draft hurricane notification templates around all possible outcomes, so organizations are one click away from warning and advising their people.

In critical situations, organizations can then deploy immediate notifications that will elicit helpful responses.

Common types are:

  • Surveys that encourage audience engagement by asking, “Are you okay?”
  • Surveys around financial offerings
  • One-way notifications updating current status
  • Notifications with read confirmations and office closures, remote access, or power outages

Executing a Hurricane Communication Plan: Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center

Courtesy of Gulf cCoast Regional Blood Center
Courtesy of Gulf cCoast Regional Blood Center

As Hurricane Harvey approached the Texas coast in August 2017, many businesses started to scramble. Many did not have their hurricane communication plans in order.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, though, knew they already had a plan.

For the past year, they had been developing a hurricane communication plan and testing it using AlertMedia, their mass communication system.

So, when Hurricane Harvey hit, they simply had to execute.

Maintaining business continuity throughout the hurricane was critically important for Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.

Its headquarters in Houston serves the Texas Gulf Coast region as well as the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, with timely deliveries of blood.

(Learn More. Courtesy of the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center and YouTube. Posted on Sep 27, 2017.)

There’s always a need for blood to hospitals who use blood products daily. But that need is never more pronounced than in the throes of a life-impacting crisis.

During Hurricane Harvey, the Blood Center’s services were more important than ever.

Their first step was to use AlertMedia’s conference call feature, to immediately connect key stakeholders to discuss necessary plans and procedures.

Then, the Blood Center used status updates to connect with and account for all their team members.

Based on their responses, they were able to coordinate scheduling, determine who had the all-clear to come into work, and identify who might need assistance.

Thanks to uninterrupted communications, the Blood Center was able to coordinate plans for continued blood delivery to hospitals.

They were also able to inform staff of canceled drives and when they’d reopen.

With facilities spanning the Gulf Coast Region, AlertMedia played a vital role in keeping the entire center operational during Hurricane Harvey.

Beyond helping the Blood Center navigate one of the costliest disasters in U.S. history, AlertMedia has proved to be an invaluable ongoing resource.

Crafting Your Plan

It can feel overwhelming to start a hurricane communication plan from scratch.

Start by finding modern a mass communication system that fits the needs of your organization.

Then upload communication templates and discuss with key stakeholders what procedures make the most sense for your company.

Even if you don’t plan out every contingency, having templates ready, along with a general plan, will go a long way when a hurricane does threaten business continuity.

Hurricanes bring a lot of uncertainty to the table.

You can have peace of mind, however, knowing you have a hurricane communication plan that can be activated at a moment’s notice.

(AlertMedia is one of the world’s fastest growing emergency communication software provider. Courtesy of Austin Chamber of Commerce and YouTube. Posted on Jul 3, 2018.)

Looking for help on crafting hurricane communications for your business?

AlertMedia has created a set of templates that will help you craft messaging for all phases of a hurricane. Click here to download now!

AlertMedia Takes Gold in 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program

AlertMedia

2018 ASTORS Gold

  • Best Mass Notification System-Software

  • AlertMedia Mass Notification Software

    • *AlertMedia was also recognized in the 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program

The Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program is specifically designed to honor distinguished government and vendor solutions that deliver enhanced value, benefit and intelligence to end users in a variety of government, homeland security and public safety vertical markets.

William "Bill" Bratton, former police commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Boston Police Department (BPD) and former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), will speak at the 2019 'ASTORS' Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East 2019, on Wednesday, November 20th, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center (Courtesy of Teneo Risk)
Bill Bratton, former police commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Boston Police Department (BPD) and former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), will speak at the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East 2019, on Wednesday, November 20th, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center (Courtesy of Teneo Risk)

The 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program drew an overwhelming response from industry leaders with a record high number of corporate and government nominations received, as well as record breaking ‘ASTORS’ Presentation Luncheon Attendees, with top firms trying to register for the exclusive high – end luncheon and networking opportunity – right up to the event kickoff on Wednesday afternoon, at the ISC East registration!

Over 130 distinguished guests representing National, State and Local Governments, and Industry Leading Corporate Firms, gathered from across North America, Europe and the Middle East to be honored among their peers in their respective fields which included:

2018 ASTORS

Over 130 distinguished guests representing National, State and Local Governments, and Industry Leading Corporate Firms, gathered from across North America, Europe and the Middle East to be honored among their peers in their respective fields which included:

  • The Department of Homeland Security
  • The Federal Protective Service (FPS)
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • The Department of Homeland Security
  • The Department of Justice
  • The Security Exchange Commission Office of Personnel Management
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Viasat, Hanwha Techwin, Lenel, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, Verint, Canon U.S.A., BriefCam, Pivot3, Milestone Systems, Allied Universal, Ameristar Perimeter Security and More!

The Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards is the preeminent U.S. Homeland Security Awards Program highlighting the most cutting-edge and forward-thinking security solutions coming onto the market today, to ensure our readers have the information they need to stay ahead of the competition, and keep our Nation safe – one facility, street, and city at a time.

The 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program is Proudly Sponsored by ATI SystemsAttivo NetworksAutomatic Systems, and Desktop Alert.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland SecurityAwards at https://americansecuritytoday.com/ast-awards/.

2018 Champions Edition

See the 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Champions Edition – ‘Best Products of 2018 ‘ Year in Review’ for in-depth coverage of the outstanding products and services of firms receiving American Security Today’s 2018‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards.’

Enter Today to Maximize Media Coverage of your Products and Services at Kickoff, and Get the Recognition Your Organization Deserves!

And be sure to Register Early for the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Luncheon at ISC East 2019 to ensure your place at this limited- space event!

2018 'ASTORS' Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East
2018 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East

Why the 2018 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program?

American Security Today’s comprehensive Annual Homeland Security Awards Program is organized to recognize the most distinguished vendors of physical, IT, port security, law enforcement, and first responders, in acknowledgment of their outstanding efforts to ‘Keep our Nation Secure, One City at a Time.’

Why American Security Today?

American Security Today is uniquely focused on the broader Homeland Security & Public Safety marketplace with over 70,000 readers at the Federal, State and local levels of government as well as firms allied to government.

The old traditional security marketplace has been covered by a host of security publications that have changed little over many years.

American Security Today brings forward a fresh compelling look and read with our customized digital publications that provides our readers with solutions to their challenges.

Our Editorial staff provides a full plate of topics for our AST monthly digital editions, AST Website and AST Daily News Alerts.

The editorial calendar and AST’s high drawing website features 23 different Technology and Marketing Sectors such as Access Control, Perimeter Protection, Video Surveillance/Analytics, Airport Security, Border Security, CBRNE Detection, Border Security, Ports, Cybersecurity, Networking Security, Encryption, Law Enforcement, First Responders, Campus Security, Security Services, Corporate Facilities and Emergency Response among others.

These sectors are part of the new integration, where these major applications communicate with one another in a variety of solutions to protect our cities and critical infrastructure.

AST has Expanded readership into vital Critical Infrastructure audiences such as Protection of Nuclear Facilities, Water Plants & Dams, Bridges & Tunnels, and other Potential targets of terrorism.

Other areas of concern include Transportation Hubs, Public Assemblies, Government Facilities, Sporting & Concert Stadiums, our Nation’s Schools & Universities, and Commercial Business Destinations – enticing targets for extremist or lone wolf attacks due to the large number of persons and resources clustered together.

To Learn More about notification templates, go to https://www.alertmedia.com/blog/beat-hurricane-season-with-emergency-notification-templates/

AlertMedia

To Learn More about how AlertMedia helps enterprise organizations securely and effectively monitor threats, streamline notifications, and improve employee safety across more than 90 countries around the world, please visit https://www.alertmedia.com/.