An emergency could be just around the corner.
And for certain industries, it’s important for you to be on top of keeping people in the know when these emergencies occur.
There are many ways to put out emergency information but none is more effective than texting, with open rates as high as 98%.
Other ways to notify people in the event of an emergency include email and voicemail (and in some cases WEAs).
Most ideally, you can use a combination (or all) of these methods.
How do you craft an emergency alert message that you can push out within 2 minutes or less when the need arises?
The best way is to have templates in place.
Here we’ll give you some emergency text message examples (plus email and voicemail examples for good measure), so that you can easily set up your own templates.
First, some general tips on creating emergency message notifications…
This same concept could be applied to SMS, as well as email and voicemail.
These different elements include the following.
What’s the source of the emergency information? Is it the police department? Local news? The National Weather Service? The governor’s office? The federal government?
Identify the source so that people know where you’re getting your info.
Let people know the recommended course of action.
Do they need to take shelter? Evacuate?
In an emergency, people need to know exactly what they’re supposed to do.
Explain what the actual emergency is and where it’s located.
Is it a tornado a few miles outside of town? Is it a public disturbance within a particular building on the university campus?
This will let people know why there’s a problem, so that they can stay alert.
What’s the estimated termination time for the emergency?
In other words, when is the emergency expected to be over?
State the termination time in the local time zone of your recipients if possible.
If the termination time is unknown, you can say “until further notice.”
If applicable, include a link at which people can find more information.
FEMA suggests considering linking to social media rather than your website. This would be particularly relevant if you have a large audience - your site may not be used to a lot of traffic at once and could potentially crash.
Giving people a link allows them some peace of mind since they can check for updates whenever they’d like.
If applicable, also include a phone number people can call with any questions or concerns.
However, if you do include a phone number, make sure you have the capacity to monitor and answer the phone calls.
Those are different elements you can put together to create your emergency texts and other messages.
Keep in mind that with SMS, it’s recommended to keep your messages at 160 characters or fewer if possible. If you include more than 160 characters, your message may be sent as more than 1 SMS.
In addition to trying to include the elements listed above, here are some other tips to consider.
Don’t allow for any confusion or room for misinterpretation in your message, if you can avoid it.
Stay away from ambiguous language that people may not understand or may take the wrong way.
Make sure your instructions and guidance in particular are crystal clear so that people know exactly what they should do.
Make sure your emergency messages don’t do more harm than good. Avoid language that will foster an attitude of panic.
Calm, clear explanations and directions will help people not get too caught up in fear.
When possible, make sure your information is accurate before sharing.
If it’s not possible to verify the info before sharing, let people know that the information is “alleged” or “reported” rather than stating it as fact.
If it turns out that the information is false, make sure to let people know right away.
You can consider the most likely emergency situations and craft the language you’d like to use when sending the message.
Then if the situation ever arises, you’ll already have that information available for easy reference, so you can save precious time by not having to start from scratch.
Now that you have an idea of some elements to include in your texts and some tips on how to craft them, let’s get into some specific emergency text message examples.
Safety officer advises taking shelter now - severe thunderstorm impending at your worksite area until 3:20pm. Cease work until further notice. Visit our Twitter page for live updates or call 504-339-2220.
Chancellor’s office - Campus closed and classes canceled today due to the blizzard. Campus will reopen tomorrow at 8am. Stay tuned for further updates!
[Source such as the National Weather Service, corporate office, administration, etc.] [guidance regarding what action to take specific to the type of weather emergency] [type of weather emergency] until [specific time, or 'further notice']. [Further instructions.] Visit [link] or call [phone number].
[Source such as the National Weather Service, corporate office, administration, etc.] - [Information pertinent to recipients, such as building closure] due to [type of weather emergency]. [Information about when the emergency is over, such as building reopening] at [specific time]. Stay tuned for further updates!
From HR - There has been a hazardous spill in Warehouse F. Please evacuate and report to the main office for further instruction.
From management - A fire has been detected on the main floor. Refrain from coming to work until notified by your supervisor (evacuate if you are already in the building). Visit LangstonELT.com or call your supervisor for updates.
From [authority source, such as HR] - [Information about what type of emergency occurred]. [Guidance regarding what action to take]. [Information on how to get further information/instruction].
From [authority source, such as HR] - [Information about what type of emergency occurred]. [Guidance regarding what action to take]. Visit [website/social media page] or call [phone number or specific person’s title] for updates.
CEO James Pelton has issued a building closure due to a system-wide power outage until further notice. Please do not come to work until you hear from your supervisor. Call 589-040-2494 with any questions.
From: IT - System is down. Expected fix within 30 minutes. Prompt response to customers during this outage is critical.
[Source, such as management] has issued [pertinent event, such as a building closure] due to [power or system outage event] until [expected time, or 'further notice']. [Guidance regarding what action to take.] Call [phone number] with any questions.
From: [source, such as management] - [Power or system] is down. Expected fix [timeframe, specific time, or 'to be determined']. [Additional information].
Urgent! From Security: There has been an alleged assault on campus, near Building D. Law enforcement is handling it. If on campus, please find a safe place and remain there. If currently off campus, please remain off campus until further notice.
Urgent! From Security: A potential explosive has been discovered in the Student Union. Evacuate immediately. Please await further instructions.
Urgent! From about safety threat, such as what the threat is and where it was discovered]. [Guidance regarding what action to take.] [Guidance regarding when and how to get more information].
The above are just a few examples of emergency texts you could send.
And the concept can apply even if your situation isn’t an “emergency” per se, but is an urgent situation requiring immediate attention.
This might include events such as:
The doctor is sick, so offices are closed today! Sorry for any inconvenience! We’ll plan on reopening tomorrow at 8:30am.
We’re in need of 2 people to cover the night shift tonight! Any volunteers?
Zumba class is canceled due to a family emergency! We’ll do a make-up class next week. (More details to come.)
The pool is closed due to maintenance. Apologies for any inconvenience!
Shift B has been changed to 11am tomorrow due to a staff illness. Please let your supervisor know if this presents any conflict!
Similar concepts about what messaging to include in an emergency text message can be applied to an emergency email and/or voicemail.
One difference is that you can include more information within those mediums than you might include in a text message.
However, people are much more likely to see their SMS first before they read your email or listen to your voicemail message.
We would recommend sending SMS, emails, and/or voicemails in conjunction with each other so that people are sure to get the emergency notice. You could even use SMS to instruct people to check their email for more information.
The bottom line is that SMS is a highly effective way to get your emergency message across.
Using the explanations and examples from above can help you save time when you’re in an urgent situation.
And those precious minutes can make all the difference when you’re trying to make people aware of an emergency.
And get 50 text message credits to try SMS for yourself for FREE (no credit card required).
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