What We Can Learn From The Most Destructive Hurricanes

Although the 2018 hurricane season has a “near average” forecast, we have repeatedly seen that even that type of storm prediction can still pose serious risks for businesses and homeowners. That is why it can be beneficial to act cautiously when drafting a hurricane preparedness plan for your business. A critical component is crisis communication, which we’ll discuss today.

Everyone remembers the hurricane damage done last year. In fact, Time ranked the 2017 hurricane season as one of the deadliest and the second-costliest of the past 20 years.

Hurricane damage from named storms like Harvey, Irma and Maria caused 103 fatalities and cost $200 billion in claims among residential, commercial and government sectors. From the physical hurricane damage to the disruption in their supply chains, organizations learned why a hurricane preparedness plan is critical.

Worsening Hurricane Damage

New research shows that hurricane damage will continually intensify, according to an article on arstechnica.com.

Scientists have noted that the pace at which the storms move has slowed over the last 70 years, essentially hovering through paths instead of progressing steadily through them.

This poses a significant challenge for homeowners and businesses, since they’ll have to endure longer, stronger winds and more rainfall, which could lead to greater flood risks.

Jim Kossin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) explains in a National Geographic article: One thing scientists do know is that the location where tropical cyclones reach maximum intensity has been shifting toward the poles. And, this may be related to or even causing the overall slowdown.

Another contributing factor to the slowdown may be global warming, since it weakens the summertime circulation of the atmosphere in the tropics. Longer storms can certainly cause greater damage and more flooding, which can only spell trouble for your business and employees.

Using Emergency Notification Systems and Writing Effective Alerts

Armed with this insight, businesses can use emergency notification systems (ENS) to prepare employees for a hurricane and check in with them during and after the storm.

AlertFind’s emergency communications guide, “The Right Communication at the Right Time,” is an ideal resource for emergency preparedness managers who use ENS. Among its many insights, the guide provides a structure for pre-written alerts.

As you script your alerts, consider your audience, be concise in your message and communicate across multiple channels.

Make sure your alerts answer these three questions:

  • What is the hazard?
  • Where is the hazard located?
  • What protective actions do you want people to take?

Concise messaging is critical; otherwise you open yourself to the risk of creating more problems and confusion with vague or wordy alerts.

For example, imagine a hurricane is heading for your area. An example of an effective alert is: “Category 2 storm is expected to make landfall at 2 p.m. tomorrow. The office is closed today and our remote working procedure is in effect. Please respond to wellness checks on this system tomorrow.”

As you can see, a short message can succinctly reduce the risk of injury during a hurricane. Drafting alerts that describe evacuation plans, alternate routes, or warnings to stay off-site, for example, saves time and should be included in your hurricane preparedness plan.

As the guide advises, “The best alerts are brief and stick to the facts. Remember, your goal is to get the necessary information out to people so they can react quickly and stay safe.”

To learn more from disaster preparedness expert Joe Trainor about how to ensure your organization is ready for hurricane season, watch our new webinar, “Is Your Organization Hurricane-Ready? 5 Actions To Take Now.”

Watch the Webinar Now

You are well on your way toward protecting your staff and organization.

Take the next step toward protecting your organization by learning more about emergency notification systems and the vital role they play in your emergency preparedness plan.