In an emergency, it is very likely that regular communications channels – phones, cell phones and computers – will be unavailable, at least for a while… precisely at the time you need to communicate most desperately.
Which threats are you planning for at your business?
- Earthquake, explosion or windstorm? Power lines will come down, dropping phone lines, too.
- Tornado or wildfire? Power lines and cell phone towers may be purposefully shut down to protect the grid.
- Flood or ice storm? Again, lines or towers may suffer damage or be partially or totally disabled.
Can you answer these three emergency preparedness questions?
Even a basic Disaster Recovery or Business Continuation Plan should answer these questions:
1. Which of the above situations is most likely to occur at your workplace? (Or are there other, even more likely, emergencies to plan for, such as a chemical spill or train wreck?)
2. If ANY emergency occurs, what are your plans for keeping in touch with employees, customers or suppliers? How about regulators?
3. How long can your business go WITHOUT communicating with any of these groups? What’s your first priority?
Protecting lives must be your first priority.
In an unexpected power outage, with employees’ lives in danger, how will you let them know? Obviously, using the normal communications channels won’t work.
Only self-powered communications systems will work – and that typically means a system operated by battery power. Examples are emergency lighting, fire alerts and sirens.
These simple alerts may help employees take shelter, but do not help them know how serious the emergency is, where to go to be of assistance, etc.
Best communications method for employees? Two-way radios.
Simple hand-held radios, or walkie-talkies, can allow employees to talk to one another and to headquarters, depending on how far the distances between them.
Using walkie-talkies, employees can be directed to escape danger. They can be given instructions for fighting fires, saving inventory, or giving assistance to colleagues who have been injured. With walkie-talkies, there are no busy signals, no messages, no disconnects – it’s a direct channel to someone on the other end. As long as users have basic training on how to take turns speaking, communications can be instantaneous.
Simple radios cost as little as $25 a pair. For more of an investment, you can get radios with extra channels, more features, and a longer range. All the models, however, work with the same push-to-talk technology.
If you are responsible for emergency planning for your business, and you haven’t considered emergency communications, you may want to look at using two-way radios as a basic component of your plan.