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 US being the worst affected. The situation will only get worse in the near future as the threat of extreme climate change looms over our heads. As many as six out of ten Americans believe they will 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 well in advance. 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 is essential to keep people informed and deliver life-saving instructions if required. Government agencies and businesses can do this by sending urgent announcements or evacuation instructions via a text alert system.
Keep reading to learn why text messaging is ideal for this type of communication and how it is 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. An SMS emergency alert system 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 via SMS 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 expected to blow through the facility later that day. If each worker could receive alerts to get everybody evacuated, a lot of money and lives would be saved.
Even high-reach channels such as radio or television cannot deliver a life-saving message to individuals as speedily as text. And let's be honest, most of us don't have TVs or laptops in our back pockets at all times.
Text messages are also highly reliable. They are sent over a cellular network, not wi-fi. Severe weather conditions often cause power and internet outages, but people get cell signals almost everywhere, at all times. They will thus be able to receive SMS weather alerts even if the local power grid is down.
Finally, SMS has a significant impact in terms of being visible. Typically, texts pop up as a notification on a person's phone screen, where they get opened and read 98% of the time.
Uses for emergency alerts and weather notifications
Several organisations and businesses send emergency alerts straight to mobile devices, such as local weather warnings or updates. Take a look at some examples below and learn how else weather text alerts can be useful.
Government agencies such as the National Weather Service
The National Weather Service (NWS) in the US and the Met Office in the UK 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 websites.
The National Weather Service also delivers weather alerts through wireless emergency alerts (text-like messages). Similarly, the U.S government uses WEA for public safety. It is an emergency text alert system that geographically targets mobile devices, particularly Android phones, letting them know of imminent threats to safety in their area. However, US mobile phone users should have the wireless emergency alerts function enabled on their devices if they want to receive alerts in this format.
Third-party weather services
Independent weather forecasting services such as AccuWeather, weatherUSA, and Skyview Weather offer the option for individuals to receive SMS weather alerts. Some of these services are free, while others are offered on a paid subscription basis.
Emergency service agencies
Several agencies and telecom providers in the UK have joined forces to set up a national emergency SMS 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 instructions on any necessary safety measures they should take.
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 factoring in a certain number of weather-related days off throughout the school year.
Sending prompt SMS weather alerts 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 alerts and warnings can't do much to protect crops out in the field, they can help farmers protect livestock and expensive machinery.
For instance, hypothermia is a leading cause of mortality in young lambs, so knowing whether a cold snap is about to hit is crucial for farmers. They must 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 can have an impact on package delivery times. Some delivery firms, such as DPD in the UK, use SMS alerts to inform customers when a parcel will arrive and to let them know if there is 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 warnings in time. At the very least, these alerts can keep people informed and allow them to make adequate preparations.
SMS is a reliable communication method that allows you to bulk text a single message to many individuals quickly. This is why it's the perfect tool for alerts for critical events.
Messente provides a professional SMS communication service for many different types of businesses. If you need to send SMS weather alerts 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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