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Getting the Best Out of Your Emergency Alert System

As a business owner, you want to secure your investments – not just the business itself, but your properties and people as well. Knowing how important it is to have an emergency preparedness plan, you do your research and get the emergency alert system that you think will best serve your specific needs. However, getting the most updated notification tool is not all there is to emergency preparedness; you must also take action to get the best out of your emergency alert system.

Here are 12 points you must consider in using an emergency alert system:

1. Risk Analysis. In order to make a comprehensive, extensive and effective overall emergency plan, you must identify which factors can negatively affect it. Most of all, make sure that your alert system fits into your overall disaster plan.

2. Communication Channels. It is generally expected that there will always be some confusion and disorder during times of emergency. Some people will be unreachable by phone and will not receive your message. It is critical to use various modes of communication like SMS, push notifications, audio alerts and digital signage to ensure the safety of everyone.

3. Administrative Controls. Part of emergency planning is identifying the key people authorized to issue alerts. Make sure that the emergency alert system you choose has features that allow you to limit control to a certain group.

4. Types of Alerts. When will you be using the system, and for what situations? It is best to create alert messages ahead of time, so when disaster strikes, you can choose from the pre-written messages, tweak them if necessary and send them with one click.

5. Clear and Simple Messages. Emergencies call for clear and concise notifications, especially because you cannot afford confusion during times of disaster.

6. Alert Testing. Test your emergency alert system to get everyone used to how it works. After every drill, get feedback so you can see how successful the process is and see what improvements you can make.

7. Realistic Testing Times. You need to know how your employees would respond to alerts, so you must do real-world testing that can occur at any time of the day, no matter how busy everyone is. Since this can be annoying and inconvenient to your staff, make sure to inform everyone beforehand. You must, however, be careful not to test too often, or your people will stop responding to your notifications.

8. Decision Making. Who will be your first responders and decision makers in case of emergency? Create a group of individuals who will receive more frequent messages and will take the lead for small teams and departments.

9. Information Dissemination. Make your staff understand what the emergency alert is for, what they can expect from the system and how it will benefit them.

10. Message Delivery. Which methods are most appropriate for the notifications you need to send? Never use the all-or-nothing approach. The most common course of action is to first send an email or SMS, followed by voice messages and other methods of delivery.

11. Staff Training. Emergency alert systems are generally easy to use, but even the most knowledgeable and skilled staff can be rattled in times of crisis. Prevent this by regularly training your authorized staff to issue alerts so they can get used to all the features of your system. You can also make mock drills involving a small group of employees.

12. Document system changes. Record all the improvements you make on your emergency notification system so that if you need to change personnel, you will encounter no problems trying to determine how the system works and why it works that way.

Creating an emergency notification system is not easy, but by following these tips, you will be able to get the most benefits from your system.

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