In some countries, natural disasters are, unfortunately, a regular occurrence. The top four countries hit by natural disasters in 2019 were the United States, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines – with the U.S. being the worst affected. As many as six of out ten Americans believe they’ll be impacted by a natural disaster in the next three to five years.
Those at greater risk of experiencing a hurricane, earthquake or flash flood can help themselves by taking steps to prepare, should the worst happen. That might mean creating an evacuation plan, putting aside food and supplies, and saving up a cash emergency fund. Preparedness is one thing. But having enough time to get to safety should a natural disaster occur, is another.
In an emergency, it’s essential to keep people informed and deliver life-saving instructions if required. Government agencies and businesses can do this by sending weather alerts or evacuation instructions by text, in the form of a text weather alert.
Keep reading to learn why SMS is ideal for this type of message and how it’s used for severe weather warnings and emergency broadcasts.
Why send weather alerts by text?
If you need to deliver severe weather alerts to hundreds or thousands of people quickly, SMS should be your channel of choice. Most people don't think about planning for a natural disaster until it's too late. SMS emergency alerts can prevent this from happening. People only need to know what's going on and what to do in case things get worse. Businesses and government agencies can provide this information by using SMS emergency alerts. Text message alerts are the most suitable tool for crisis communication. Here's why:
Firstly, text messages offer the benefit of being sent and received more or less instantly, at the click of a button. In a disaster situation, time is of the essence, and you can’t afford to risk the message being delayed. An example is a local office building full of workers unaware that a destructive hurricane is going to blow through the building later that day. If each worker could receive alerts to get everybody evacuated, a lot of money and even lives can be saved. Even highly visible channels like radio or T.V. aren’t capable of delivering a life-saving message to individuals as speedily as text and let's be honest, most of us don't have a TV located in our back pocket at all times.
Secondly, text messages are reliable. They’re sent over a cellular network, not wi-fi, meaning signals can be received almost anywhere.
Providing an individual has a phone signal, the weather alert text should be received – even if the local power grid is down.
Finally, SMS has a great impact in terms of being seen. Typically, a text flashes up as a notification on a person’s phone screen, where they get opened and read 98% of the time.
Uses for emergency and weather alert text messages
Several organisations and businesses are already sending out local weather warnings and local weather alerts straight to mobile devices. Take a look at these examples below and learn how else weather text alerts could potentially be used.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in the U.S. and the Met Office in the U.K. are examples of government agencies that provide critical weather reports and climate science information to other organisations and the general public.
Individuals can look up weather warnings via these respective websites. However, the National Weather Service also delivers weather alerts through Wireless Emergency Alerts (text-like messages) to U.S. mobile phone users that have this function enabled on their devices.
Wireless emergency alerts are also used by the U.S government for public safety. It is an emergency alert system that geographically targets mobile devices, alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area.
Third-party weather apps
Other weather forecasting services, such as Accuweather or Weather USA, offer the option for individuals to receive weather alerts text messages.
In the U.K., several agencies have joined forces to set up a national emergencySMS service. While the service doesn’t send out disaster alerts, it allows anyone unable to make a voice call (for example, someone with hearing or speech loss) to request emergency help by sending a text message instead.
Travel and tourism companies
Many travel companies send out a range of SMS warning alerts (weather, terrorism, political unrest, strikes, etc.) to holiday and business travellers to inform them about delays and any necessary safety measures.
Extreme weather, like snow, ice, and heat, often means schools are forced to close at short notice. This can cause chaos for students, parents, and teachers alike, despite many schools building in a certain number of weather-related days off.
Sending weather alerts by text would help parents pre-empt the possibility of a school closure so they can make alternative childcare arrangements. Schools could also react faster regarding remote learning plans.
Extreme weather can detrimentally affect crop yield and agricultural production. While weather warnings and weather text alerts can’t do much to protect crops out in the field, they can help farmers protect livestock and expensive machinery.
For instance, one of the leading causes of mortality in young lambs is hypothermia, so knowing whether a cold snap is about to hit is crucial for farmers. They already follow weather forecasts very closely to mitigate the risk of livestock losses, and a simple text message alert could make weather monitoring much easier.
Severe weather conditions have an impact on timely parcel deliveries. Some delivery firms, such as DPD in the U.K., already use SMS alerts to inform customers when a parcel will arrive and to let them know if there’s likely to be a delay.
SMS for weather alerts and other crisis communications
In the event of a natural disaster or extreme weather, emergency alerts can help save lives and infrastructure if the population in the affected area receives text alerts prior to being hit by the weather. At the very least, these types of alerts keep people informed and allow them to make adequate preparations.
SMS is a reliable communication method that allows you to send a single message to many individuals, very quickly. This is why it’s the perfect tool for emergency weather text alerts.
Messente provides a professional SMS communication service for many different types of businesses. Read our case studies. If you need to send emergency or weather alerts by text for your organisation, we can help. Our messaging API can be easily integrated into your business application, ready for you to send out critical alerts when needed.
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