We’ve all experienced hurricanes in our lives. However, in recent decades hurricanes are increasing in frequency and severity. There are major risks associated with severe hurricanes, including storm surges and tides, heavy rainfall and inland flooding, rip currents, high winds, and tornadoes.
Weather analysts and agencies predict that from now on, we should expect around 19 hurricanes a year, due to warmer Atlantic water and other environmental factors. Experts agree that an emergency mass notification system is crucial to limiting hurricane damage as much as you possibly can.
Many public and private sector organizations use networked crisis communication systems like BlackBerry AtHoc. BlackBerry AtHoc keeps personnel informed of hurricane warnings, evacuation orders, condition changes, and major outages and closures. Recent hurricanes have underlined best practices for system use.
- Make Sure To Actually Register –Eric Waters, an emergency operations officer with the U.S. Army, noted, “Ensure that you are actually registered in the BlackBerry AtHoc system. Utilize the purple globe, utilize the instructions that you got at the end of the month and actually log in and register your information.”
- Make Sure Your Information Is Up-To-Date –Ensure that your info is up-to-date in your mobile app and with your HR department. Current contact information removes the chance that you will miss notifications from the emergency alert system.
- Comply With All Messages – If you receive an alert, make sure to comply with it. Your possessions are replaceable but your life is not. Even though it can seem like an overreaction, make sure to stay in compliance. Conditions can change very quickly.
- Keep Current With Software Updates – It’s easy to put off software updates. With the BlackBerry AtHoc platform, make sure that you don’t procrastinate update installs. Technical glitches could render the system less effective, and jeopardize your safety.
There are other steps to take to ensure readiness when hurricane time arrives. Recent hurricanes have provided ample opportunity for lessons learned. First and foremost, you should prioritize the welfare your fellow employees and the community members, and then focus on getting back to business as usual. Here’s best practices from agencies and authorities around the country.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends evacuating if you live in an area where a storm surge threatens to appear. If you plan to stay home, take the following measures:
- Secure your home – That includes covering your windows, putting up permanent storm shutters, or even boarding up the windows with plywood. Don’t wait until the last minute - emergency preparedness means thinking ahead.
- Get informed – Know the weather forecasts, and check your local emergency management office for all of the latest storm news.
- Follow the instructions of local officials – especially when they order evacuations.
- Take refuge – Small interior rooms and closets on lower levels are best; the more walls between you and the outdoors, the better. Avoid windows and skylights.
Naval specialists at Station Mayport also had advice to prepare for the onset of hurricane weather conditions. They note that unless told otherwise, staying inside during a storm’s passage is the safest action to take. They also use the BlackBerry AtHoc notification system to alert the community, including on-base housing residents. Once a storm has passed, they have a special damage assessment team that goes out into the area to analyze the storm’s effects. When possible, obtain permission from professional authorities before resuming your normal activities.
Army specialists also offered hurricane tips to civilians during the recent busy hurricane season. Taking their cues from military mass notification practices, they follow a program called Ready Army. The program was designed to enhance readiness by informing the community of relevant hazards. They advised three simple tips for preparedness:
- Have an evacuation plan
- Put together a kit with three days’ worth of support items for family and pets – this kit can include items like a solar charger, a satellite phone, bottled water, flashlights, canned food, and spare batteries.
- Stay informed
Communication during a hurricane can differ from other natural disasters. Often, communities will have advanced notice, and certain regions are particularly susceptible. However, it can still be shocking when a hurricane blows through your region and there is no power, cell phone service, gas, or open stores. Communication is critical at these junctures. The advanced notice a hurricane allows will help you be as prepared as possible.