Unpredictability is the defining characteristic of an emergency. A disruption to your day-to-day operations throws many variables into chaos. When people are confused, equipment isn\u2019t working properly, or danger is imminent, you need turn to your emergency communications plan.\r\nDuring a crisis, your first step is letting people know the crisis is underway. Often, this step involves a mass alert. Sometimes you want to tell an entire community to evacuate, or an entire worksite to begin emergency response. Have these communications templates ready and waiting to go.\r\n\tA poorly written mass alert can create widespread panic and move your further away from your emergency response goals. Here is the checklist you need to craft effective emergency communications.\r\n\t1. Have You Decided When To Deploy Your Template?\r\n\tWhen you\u2019re creating your emergency communications templates, keep criteria in mind for when to send them. It\u2019s not always clear when you should deploy a message, and ultimately, it will come down to a judgment call. To assist your decision, ask the following 4 questions:\r\n\t\r\n\t\tIs this disaster very likely to happen or is it already happening?\r\n\t\tDoes this disaster require public action?\r\n\t\tDoes this event threaten life or property?\r\n\t\tAre there other, more effective ways to communicate this urgent message? \r\n\t\r\n\t2. Have You Chosen Your Audience?\r\n\tThe words in your mass communications template are important, but the recipients of the message are equally important. If you need to alert executives and emergency responders first, don\u2019t send a note out to your entire organization. Instead, pre-define your audience and build segmented employee and stakeholder lists. This task can be done well before an emergency strikes.\r\n\t3. Have You Specified Evacuation Procedures?\r\n\tDon\u2019t have one uniform evacuation procedure. Instead, map evacuation procedures to their corresponding crisis. For example, in a flood, certain stairwells, elevators, escalators, and entry points may be off limits. Fires, active shooters, and hurricanes might all need different evacuation routes. Develop routes, maps, and templates that correspond to specific scenarios. That way, you don\u2019t cause confusion or fear among affected individuals.\r\n\t4. Have You Considered The Weather?\r\n\tWhether you\u2019re in the mountains, on the coast, or in the middle of the plains, you should consider the weather when creating emergency templates. If you have remote employees or employees that need access to public roads, understand how disasters will affect their ability to move or get in touch. Use segmentation to group employees based around locations and susceptibility to weather.\r\n\t5. Have You Conveyed A Sense Of Certainty?\r\n\tAvoid relaying any sense of confusion in the tone of your template or in the content within it. There\u2019s no need for you to express unknown factors at this point. Only describe with is known, without including guesses or speculations. Do not overstate or understate the facts of the situation, or include emotional rhetoric.\r\n\t6. Have You Maintained Consistency?\r\n\tAll of your templates should be both internally and externally consistent. Within the message itself, there should be no facts or directions that contradict each other. Externally, your template content should coincide with messages being distributed via other channels. For example, if you\u2019re telling local agencies that your organization is evacuating, but you\u2019re telling your employees to shelter in place, you\u2019ve got to make a change. Alerts and warnings should stay as consistent as possible throughout all channels.\r\n\t7. Have You Identified Risks And Assumptions?\r\n\tThis planning phase is the best time to check for risks and assumptions, and remove them where possible. Don\u2019t assume people know where exits are. Don\u2019t assume they\u2019ve done emergency drills before. Don\u2019t assume they will act in a calm, orderly fashion. Don\u2019t assume the media will approach your disaster from a certain angle, or wait until you\u2019ve figured out an emergency response plan before they begin reporting. Review all risks against your communications so that you don\u2019t incite confusion, panic, or anger.\r\n\t8. Have You Included All Pertinent Information?\r\n\tIn an emergency, you want to communicate quickly and effectively. Use this simple template to guide your communications:\r\n\tAPPLICABLE COUNTIES\/AREAS: AT [h:mm AM\/PM] ON [mmm dd, yyyy] EFFECTIVE UNTIL [h:mm AM\/PM]. Message from [Sender Name]. [Description] [Instruction]\r\n\r\nDepending on the communication channel, this message can be longer, shorter, or more detailed. Your ultimate goal is to improve organizational and public safety through the rapid dissemination of your message, moving people and assets out of harm\u2019s way when possible. Make sure you spend time and brain power on creating these templates. The wrong message can turn a hazard into a full-scale disaster, while the right message can save lives.