Preparing for Communications Challenges during Disaster

Communication is a key component to any disaster response plan. While it is likely that your facility has already determined communication chains, methods, and points of contact for various emergency scenarios, it is also important that you prepare for the possibility that the systems used to relay those messages could break down.

Widespread power outages and cell service failures such as those seen in Hurricane Michael and the California wildfires will cause significant communication issues. Landlines, cable internet, and radio are also likely to be effected during these events. So how can you prepare?

Satellite Phones

In the companion animal response community, organizations often rely on the use of satellite phones to ensure that they will be able to communicate on the ground. While they may be expensive to purchase outright, procuring one or two satellite phones could be beneficial if your facility is in an area prone to sudden onset disasters such as wildfire. If your facility is more prone to events that are predicted in advance, such as hurricanes, there are a number of companies that offer rentals daily or weekly rentals for a much lower fee and will include next-day delivery.

Social Media

When communications are limited by disasters social media can be a double edged sword. It is an easy to use tool that can help you get out important messages quickly, but it is just as adept at distributing misinformation. It is important to make sure that social media is addressed in your communication plan, including guidelines for how it will be used and who the offsite point of contact will be in the event of a large-scale disaster.

If you would like to participate in a Working Group that will look to provide further guidance on the use of social media during disaster please contact us.