Even as tornado season is annual and already upon us, 2019 has still been such an extraordinary year that the storms are making headlines almost daily.
From mid-May to May’s end has been a particularly devastating period, with 13 consecutive days of at least eight tornadoes around the country being reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
So far in 2019, there have been roughly 300 tornado or severe thunderstorm watches issued, with more than 40 percent coming between May 17 and May 30. So far, there have been more than 38 fatalities, several dozen injuries, and millions of Americans directly in harm’s way. It’s been the deadliest year so far since 2014, and the season is just heating up. June is typically the peak month for tornadoes.
When tornado watches or warnings are issued, every second counts in informing communities to keep them safe.
That’s where mass notifications can help to directly contact people at risk, and literally save hundreds of lives. We know from our own research that reaching individuals on mobile devices and their phones is much more effective than even tornado sirens that are familiar, particularly in places with frequent tornadoes. But for far-flung, spread-out rural communities and larger cities, they often can’t be heard.
When evaluating the right emergency mass notification platform for your town, city or business, make sure it offers the following features:
- Integration with the system run by the nation’s foremost weather experts can help save lives and property, mitigate risks and ensure that your entire network remains prepared, diligent and safe.
- Regroup’s NWS/NOAA integration enables you to quickly disseminate and even automate multi-channel, location-based NWS watches and warnings, prime wildfire conditions and more, in real-time — reaching members of your network wherever they are when severe weather is threatening.
Critical Alerting On the Fly
- The ability to rapidly launch critical alerts and coordinate response efforts, whether in the office or in the field, and sound the alarm in a moment’s notice from computers, smartphones, tablets, and landlines.
- Pre-programmed templates can accelerate transmission of critical alerts and reduce the margin for human error. In a crisis, having the ability to issue evacuation orders or instruct people to shelter-in-place — with only two clicks — can save valuable time and lives.
Unified Emergency Communications
- Rapid transmission of critical alerts to multiple communication channels, simultaneously, including: mobile phones, landlines, digital signage, PA systems, websites, and social media ensures you reach everyone who needs the information, no matter where they are.
In addition to having a dependable mass notification system in place, before a tornado strikes, here are some additional tips to help your business and employees weather the next storm:
- Create a crisis management plan, including an emergency notification provision, to provide all employees, clients, customers and visitors with clear instructions in an emergency.
- Share your crisis management plan with your team and proactively solicit questions or feedback about the plan. For example, are the steps easy to understand? Do improvements need to be made?
- Conduct frequent drills to give the team time to practice the plan.
- Identify critical employees, and discuss what you expect of them during a potential disaster. These employees may need to work immediately following the storm to protect and reestablish crucial IT systems, maintain HR and payroll functions or continue to manage the supply chain.
- Investigate temporary office space and research travel, hotel, and meal arrangements in case employees do need to work remotely.
- Obtain and store extra water, flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, even non-perishable food, to make any potential time sheltering-in-place as comfortable as possible for team members.
- Consider designating a disaster shelter area and make sure this area is clearly marked on building maps and in the documented disaster plan.
During the Tornado
- In the event of a tornado warning, instruct employees to move to interior, lower-level rooms away from windows.
- Instruct employees to shelter-in-place, protecting their heads and necks with their arms.
After the Tornado
- Activate your emergency communication plan to alert employees of what’s happening and next steps.
- If your office was damaged during the storm, you will need to hire an inspector to assess the extent of the damage and certify the building is safe for re-entry.
To learn more about how Regroup can help your organization be better prepared for tornado season, schedule a demo today.