Reaching Out to Residents as Part of Disaster Planning

Reaching Out to Residents as Part of Disaster Planning

It’s any site manager's worst nightmare—that moment when the phone rings to notify you that your world has been turned upside-down. The potential threats caused by natural hazards, such as hurricanes, wildfires, floods, winter storms, landslides, or earthquakes, happen more often than most people think. While a disaster occurring at your particular site may seem like a low probability, it is possible, and the impact on your site, staff, and residents can be tremendous. If your site isn’t prepared, there’s little chance that you’ll be able to manage through it successfully.

Communication is critical during a disaster event. Certain events will trigger mandatory evacuations, and the residents are going to look to the site management to help them know where to go and how to get there. That can be especially difficult during this high-stress time when a site manager's attention can be divided among preparing the site, ensuring the staff's safety, and taking care of residents.

To ease the burden, prepare emergency message recordings and communications ahead of time so they can be quickly invoked. Make sure that all staff members know how to program office phones to forward to another number, and how to change messages on the office voicemail system on short notice. Use recorded greetings to inform residents of important developments and updates, and be sure to set up a voice mailbox with adequate space for overflow calls from staff, residents, and relatives.

Time is critical when a storm is approaching. Your disaster plan should include templates for notices and memos that can be easily populated with information. For a sample notice, you can click here.