Emergency Communication Plan

 

  • Effective internal and external communication is critical to enhancing survival and expedite recovery efforts.
  • It is important that you have a plan for these communications that you and your employees understand and can implement.
  • Your emergency plan should address both pre-event and post-event communication.
  • Make an emergency contact list and distribute it to your employees.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What should be included in my communication plan?
Your communication plan should address the requirements for controlling and communicating information to your employees, customers, vendors, suppliers, corporate offices, branch offices, external agencies, local authorities, the media and the general public. Maintain an up-to-date list of phone numbers, computer and internet logon codes and passwords, email addresses, employee phone numbers and other critical information in a secure, but easily accessible, location.

I have quite a few employees, customers and vendors. How can I possibly call or communicate with all of them?
You should consider establishing a communication tree. Assign your customers and vendors to various employees and provide them with the information that you want to communicate. Divide your employees into groups by home location or work unit and assign each employee a list of employees to contact.

What should I plan to communicate and when?
You should plan to communicate information relevant to each of your target groups both before and after the event.

  1. Customers
    1. Before:  Make sure that your customers, especially your key customers, understand your plans for shutdown. Let them know that you have a hurricane survival and recovery plan and tell them what services they can expect. Let them know that you will be communicating with them after the storm passes to inform them of your status and to ascertain their needs and status.
    2. After:  As quickly as possible, let your customers know your status. Let them know if you are open and if not, keep them informed as to your plans and progress toward opening. They may have to seek alternative vendors while you are recovering, but you need to make every effort to win back their business once you reopen.
  2. Vendors/Suppliers
    1. Before:  Be sure to communicate your plans for shutdown with your suppliers and vendors. If they are local, you should also understand what they plan to do. If you have identified alternative vendors and suppliers you should alert them that, depending on the outcome of the storm, you may need their goods or services. Communicate with all of your vendors and suppliers, making especially sure to contact those with whom you have placed orders. You may want to delay, cancel or reroute orders pending the outcome of the storm.
    2. After:  Contact them as quickly as possible after the storm to advise them of your status. If you are able to reopen, be sure to renew your previous orders. If not, keep them informed as to your progress towards reopening and your expected requirements when you do reopen. If you have need for goods and services after the storm but cannot contact your primary or alternate vendors or suppliers or they are not able to service your organization, you should refer to Palm Beach County Emergency Management Needs Posting System.
  3. Employees
    1. Before:  Employees should be kept informed of the status of the storm during the storm tracking process. They should also be kept informed as to the status of your preparedness plans. You should review with your employees their responsibilities regarding post storm communication. If telephone communications are available after the storm, make sure that your employees have the correct number(s) to call for information. If there is no phone service, make sure they know which radio stations to tune to for information regarding your company. If you have established a communication tree, make sure that your employees have the up-to-date information to implement the tree. Make sure that your employees have a personal communication plan for their families and friends.
    2. After:  If telephone communications are available, make sure that the phones are manned or voice mail is activated, if applicable, to receive employee inquiries and to provide information. Call your employees yourself or implement your communication tree to determine their status. If no phone service is available, make sure you have some way of communicating with the radio stations to get your message out.

What should I do after the event if all the phone lines are down?
You should establish contact ahead of time with one or more local radio stations. Most local radio stations will require arrangements to be made in advance of any storm event. They may also require use of a code and/or passwords before they will announce any information. Some stations may not carry bulletins for small companies. Make sure you make your contacts early. It is also likely that some of your employees may have available telephone communication. If so, they may be able to handle some of the communication responsibilities from their home. This should be discussed with them and included in your communication plan. In the event there are no available forms of communication in operation you should have a pre-established protocol for your employees to follow in reporting to work. The protocol should include when and where to report.

Can I count on cell phones?
Many businesses think cell phones will be the solution to post disaster communication. They may not be the optimum solution you believe them to be. The repeaters that allow the signals to reach the party called may be damaged. Without these repeaters the effective range of a cellular phone is approximately one half mile. Beepers may have a greater range, but because of their nature, two way communications may not be possible. You will also need to verify your priority status with your existing cellular company. During emergencies, use may be restricted and allocated based on previous established priorities. Remember, even it cellular service is not shut down, it may be very congested and unreliable.

Can I communicate by e-mail?
If you have available electricity or a battery operated laptop with a viable internet connection you will be able to communicate by e-mail.

Will our digital phones work if the electricity is out?
If your phone lines are available but you have no electricity, your digital phones will not work. You should consider having at least one analog phone line installed for your business.

 

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