Ask Don: preparing for winter weather

Don Hall, ECN's Director of Government Relations
Don Hall, ECN’s Director of Government Relations

Winter season is in full swing, and for most of the United States it came in a little early and with a vengeance. While most regions are very accustomed to significant snowfalls and freezing temperatures, the weather can still pose a great deal of danger and hardship for several days. In other regions where severe winter conditions are not as prevalent, the dangers and hardships seem to be even higher as those communities are not as accustomed to these extremes and not as well prepared due to the infrequency of it.

In either case, when adequately used, the CodeRED mass notification software has the capability of providing multiple life-saving messaging campaigns to your residents. Utilizing the many message dissemination modes that CodeRED provides will allow you to reach as many residents as you can within a single launch process. This is an extremely valuable feature unique to CodeRED that will and has proven to save lives day after day.

It is important to use your mass notification system pre-storm and post-storm. Most system users have the mindset that a system like CodeRED should only be used as an event is unfolding as with no notice incidents, emergencies or real-time evacuation orders. While that is a very good time to use your system, the need doesn’t stop there. There are dozens of reasons why you should consider using your system to transmit important information to your community.

Unlike a severe summer storm or a hazardous materials incident which may be short lived, a severe winter storm event will likely shut down the normal activities of the community for several days. Weather can affect businesses, cause utility outages, closed roads, schools and even hamper emergency services response. Using your mass notification system during these times to keep residents informed of the progress of local government, updated on continued weather effects, utility restoration and even safety precautions will be very helpful and will be received favorably by the greater majority of your community.

Below is a list of suggestive uses for your mass notification system before, during and in the aftermath of a severe winter storm:

Pre-storm:

  • Storm awareness and preparedness information
  • Introduce or re-introduce your plans to communicate with residents through your MNS
  • Urge residents to provide contact information within your MNS by opting in to receive messages
  • Periodic storm updates
  • Safety precautions
  • How to report damages / utility outages
  • Where to get utility outage updates moving forward
  • Locations of public shelters

During the storm:

  • Continue to provide periodic updates about the storm and preparedness tips
  • Share community closure announcements
  • Update on the status of government
  • Advise when State of Emergency or Snow Advisory Plans have been activated, along with any pertinent instructions that are required.

Post storm:

  • Continue to provide updates from the pre and during storm information
  • Emergency plans in effect
  • Travel advisories
  • Road closures
  • Status of local government services and closures
  • Request damage assessment reports
  • Provide shelter information and transportation assets available
  • Provide any new safety precautions due to the current situation
  • Report when all roads are open or as government services are starting to become available
  • Check on elderly and disabled neighbors

We encourage everyone to continue to share best practices and lessons learned with us and your fellow public safety peers. As always, please feel free to contact us at 866-939-0911 if we can help you in any way with the use of your CodeRED mass notification software.

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ECN’s Director of Government Relations, Don Hall, has spent more than 40 years in public safety so his emergency management experience makes him ideal for helping our current clients, potential customers and the emergency management community to interact with regarding the need and use of mass notification systems for state and local governments.

If you have anything you would like to ask him, please click here to email your question and he will address your question directly in our “Ask Don” blog.

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