Critical Communications, Severe Weather

Write This Way: Message Templates for Resident Alerting During Inclement Weather

By Shannon Gallo

From coast to coast, severe weather is a problem for every community.

To better protect your constituents during storms and other forms of severe weather, consider ways you can get better prepared, including evaluating your communication methods.

Inclement Weather Alerting

Throughout the US, predominant weather patterns vary from region to region. From mudslides, earthquakes, and droughts to hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods—no region is untouched by severe weather. In order to best protect your community, focus on how to provide mass notification before, during, and after such natural disasters. Long before severe weather becomes a real threat, your organization must already have plans in place and ready to be activated – especially when it comes to sending mass notifications. At the first indicator of inclement weather, you need to put your organization’s communication and response strategies into action. Be sure a reliable method for communication set up, tested, and fully prepared for such emergencies.

Emergency Alert Templates – Before the Storm

To help you get a better idea of what a message template for inclement weather warnings should look like, here are a few examples to use before a storm strikes:
  • Your community in [CITY, STATE] is in the direct path of the [NAME OF THE STORM]. We recommend that you call this number [EMERGENCY ALERT LINE] for more information.
  • Tornadoes have been spotted near [CITY, STATE] and there has been a tornado spotted in [CITY, STATE]. At this time, we recommend that you seek shelter immediately. Check our social media page at [FACEBOOK ACCOUNT] for the latest news.
The goal at this point is not to incite panic, but to provide outreach for residents in affected areas. They need to know resources that are available, if evacuation order are in effect, and who they can turn to when they need instructions or help. All of this information becomes life-saving when severe weather sets its sights on your community.

Facing the Storms Head On

Multiple times a year, agencies need to evaluate their response strategies or conduct after action reports when a crisis occurs. Take a look at your pre-created message templates and review their effectiveness. Ask yourself:
  • Did residents understand my message?
  • Where instructions clear and easy to follow?
  • Where recorded messages too long?
  • What questions or feedback did my residents have in response to my message?
Asking these questions and making changes based on feedback from your stakeholders will provide new ideas and adjustments that can be made to improve future responses. Your Emergency Notification Plan is an ever-evolving strategy; make sure it is flexible and that you evaluate it often. Here are some templates to use for your organization at this stage:
  • [NAME OF RESCUE GROUP] is providing shelter and food to anyone who comes to [NAME OF LOCATION] until [TIME] [DATE].
  • Contact our office at [NUMBER] to schedule a rescue boat to your address.
  • If you are currently unable to find shelter, call [NUMBER] or 911 immediately.

Improving Mass Notifications

Message templates are just one way that you can proactively improve your mass notifications process. Here at OnSolve, we know what it takes to create a streamlined, professional community-wide notification solution. We want to pass that information along to you so contact OnSolve today!