National Preparedness Month: Year-Round Strategies and Lessons Learned

As September’s National Preparedness Month comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the lessons learned throughout the month and how these lessons can evolve into helpful preparedness strategies throughout the year.

In September alone, there was a major hurricane that threatened the east coast of the United States, the effects of which are still being felt, as well as other manmade threats of violence and active shooters. On a daily basis, we are reminded of the need for clear communication that will help your residents know how to react when your community faces a threat.

National Preparedness Month Message Templates

One way you can prepare for community emergencies is to pre-create message templates. These messages should contain blueprints for various scenarios that you know could be a possible threat to your community. In addition, you can use these messages to send out training calls and event notices to internal and external publics as a training exercise.

Audiences need to know where emergency alerts and updates will be coming from, so getting them comfortable with receiving these alerts now will pay off in the long run. Here are several examples of templates that can be helpful as you create your own messaging.

Training Exercise Message Templates

  • Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to sign up for emergency training exercises this September.
  • Get First Aid/CPR training for every applicable member in your household. Click the link to learn more.
  • Help other families in your community to train for what to do in case of an emergency in the household.
  • Share your stories of surviving emergencies with others in your community to spread the word about the need to be prepared.

Safety Tips Message Templates

  • Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. Install a new unit if your old device is no longer functioning.
  • Invest in a backup power generator if someone in your household requires electricity for medical purposes.
  • Prepare an emergency survival kit and emergency bag for each member of your household. Include enough water, food, clothing, and medicine for at least three days.
  • Have a first aid kit in the home that is filled with supplies that are not expired.
  • Maintain digital records of all important documents and paperwork, such as driver’s license and birth certificates, for each member of your household.
  • Establish a daily routine kit that includes personal hygiene tools, medications, stuffed animals, books, and personal items. In an emergency, this kit offers comfort and a sense of normality, especially for younger victims.
  • Sign up for public health warnings from the Centers for Disease Control.

Preparedness Exercises Message Templates

  • This week make an emergency escape plan for your family. Draw out a map and follow through with timed evacuation exercises.
  • Check out available emergency notification apps including [NAME OF EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION APP] in your community.
  • For children in your household, download the free Red Cross Monster Guard app for emergency preparedness training.
  • Get an In Case of Emergency Contact Card from the Save the Children organization for each child in your household.
  • Establish an emergency support network of friends, family members, neighbors, doctors, etc. to assist your family in case of an emergency.
  • Create a fire drill and map for where to go in case of a fire, and practice with your household.

Importance of Clear Communication Channels

When responding to emergency events, a necessary first step is deciding which communication channels you will use. Often, the best answer is to use all available communication methods to get the best chance of reaching as many people as possible. During recent large-scale events, we have also seen agencies use social media to post updates quickly. While Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms are successful for sharing information online, these platforms should not be used as the main source of information.

The optimal solution is to choose a dedicated emergency notification platform that can handle a wide range of communication methods. This way you can communicate via email, text message, voice message and mobile alerts, while tracking your acceptance and response rates in real time. This data can be collected after the event, and then used to analyze and teste the emergency plan for effectiveness in future emergencies.

Promoting a Successful Emergency Plan

An emergency communication plan is only as good as the database you have available. As National Preparedness Month comes to a close, evaluate how many contacts you have, connection rates, and other information that will indicate the health of your database. Promoting your emergency notification system with instructions on how to opt-in will help boost your numbers and provide you with better connection rates and calling records if a crisis were to actually occur.

Start with community events, such as fair booths and information tables, where you can connect face to face with community members. This one on one contact is the ideal way to get your message across, but it is a timely process.

You will also want to implement social media platforms, local signage, radio ads, television commercials, and digital advertising. The more people that hear about the plan and notification system, the greater a success that your plan can become.

Preparedness is a year-round exercise. Be sure you use all the tools at your disposal to implement a successful crisis communication plan you can rely on.

Article Cover 5 Ways to Get Buy-in From Your Community

5 Ways to Get Buy-in From Your Community

You’ve put in the groundwork, done your research and are finally ready to purchase a mass notification system. So, now what? Without the attention and understanding from your residents, your emergency alerts may not be as effective as you hope.

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