According to the 2022 Old Farmer’s Almanac, this winter will be full of shivers, with below-average temperatures occurring across the majority of the United States. Additionally, winter storms are becoming more frequent and less predictable. This creates challenges for businesses and state and local governments who must keep people safe while continuing operations.
As the temperatures drop and the chances of a critical event rise, here are seven tips on how to prepare for winter weather.
Revise the Critical Communications Plan
Quick, effective communication is important in the chance of a winter weather crisis. Look at the winter plan when the leaves start to change and pumpkin-flavored beverages are in season. For example, create alerts ahead of time in a template, and revise them to fit the circumstance of a weather event; Make sure your system can send alerts in multiple formats; and, decide who is responsible for creating, approving and sending emergency alerts, and add it to the critical communications plan. Doing so will prevent any spilled eggnog when rushing to make a critical communications plan in the case of a winter weather event.
Update and Grow Your Audience
Critical communication alerts aren’t as impactful if no one is reading or receiving them. Encourage current users to update their contact information before winter, and consider the use of an online portal to make updating information easier. State and local agencies should encourage resident to sign up for emergency alerts, and should create a plan to keep employees safe in the case of a winter event.
Test Your Plan
Don’t wait until an emergency happens to see if the winter weather plan works. Use drills or computer simulations to find any gaps in the process, and fix them right away. Test the alert system, delivery rate and IT and network infrastructure to ensure resilience.
See the Big Picture
Has a fallen tree caused power lines to break? Any ice-y bridges or roads? What about a snowy car accident? Monitor data in real-time to see if the storm has caused a communication channel to go down, and use a risk intelligence product to assess the impact of a winter weather event.
Make Sure Alerts go to the Right People
Nothing is more annoying to a user than getting an emergency notification that’s not pertinent to them. Prevent opt-outs by getting the right message to the right people via text, email, phone call or push notification. For state and local agencies, this can mean alerting the public about power outages and road closures. For larger organizations who need to reach employees, try sending pre-scripted alerts to targeted groups. Send immediate alerts to employees and suppliers about changes in the supply chain.
Those caught in a winter event deserve to be told clear details about how to go forward once a winter event ends. Send accurate and timely alerts regarding relief services, restoration updates and contact information to report hazards, outages, openings, closings and delays.
Evaluate the Emergency Preparedness Plan
There’s always something to learn following a critical event. Document the performance of the current plan, review data and metrics, be honest about shortcomings and create a strategy for fixing them. Lessons learned from past events can help inform and improve upon an emergency response plan to be prepared for anything next winter.