According to a study that originally appeared in the Journal of Climate, a total of 438 blizzards took place in the United States between 1959 and 2000 – breaking down to roughly 10.7 on average per year.
But a blizzard doesn’t just bring with it tremendous amounts of snow. Each event is also incredibly dangerous due to poor visibility, terrible road conditions, chilling temperatures that leave people exposed to frostbite and hypothermia and so much more.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has long held the belief that being prepared during the storm isn’t enough to keep people safe – it’s also what you do both before and after an event that really counts. Being as prepared as possible really is the key to staying safe and for many communities, emergency notification planning and crisis communication often mean the difference between a mild inconvenience and an absolute tragedy.
Whether you’re talking about your home, a business or the larger communities that they exist in, being prepared is of the utmost importance. Incorporating emergency notification planning and communication for severe weather events into your plans is something that requires you to keep a few key things in mind.
The phrase “always be prepared” is perhaps never more appropriate than it is when a severe winter storm is just on the horizon. Having the right mass communication system in place before the storm actually arrives can be a great way to guide people all throughout this process.
Mass notification systems can and should be used to raise awareness about the event and to provide the type of preparedness information that people need to stay safe. Agencies can also issue periodic storm updates as conditions appear to change, can provide information about the locations of public shelters and can convey other essential safety precautions that are more specific to current events due to the real-time nature of these systems.
Winter weather is nothing if not unpredictable, which is another reason why mobile-based crisis communication is so essential. Conditions can change by the minute and a storm that was expected to be mild can quickly pick up steam and people need to be aware of any changes as they occur if possible.
Presque Isle County, Michigan is one example of a community that used OnSolve’s CodeRED solution to do precisely that in 2016. They received several inches of snow and experienced white out conditions, but at the direction of the sheriff’s department the CodeRED system was used to issue weather and road safety advisories all during the storm to keep people safe. People were kept up-to-date about road closures and were also issued warnings when the roads were re-opened again, allowing people to adequately plan for the storm itself while allowing clean-up crews to do their jobs in the safest way possible.
In terms of public safety, it is of critical importance for people to understand that just because a storm is officially “over” doesn’t mean that they are free from danger. High winds after a heavy snow fall can cause dramatically decreased visibility, poor road conditions, snow drifts and worse – which is why emergency notifications can and will remain important during this time.
During Winter Storm Jonas, for example, OnSolve’s CodeRED mass notification solution was used to deliver over 7.1 million calls, hundreds of thousands of texts, emails and more from agencies to the staff and residents that they serve. CodeRED was used to keep people aware of secondary storm impacts and to let them know that rising temperatures were likely to cause rising waters and heavy flooding throughout the area.
Every organization, whether it is in the public or private sector, needs to evaluate the risks that threaten the lives and property of stakeholders. Communication is a key element of any crisis response plan before, during and after an event occurs.Download White Paper