Maui: A Warning About Warnings

The tragic fires that hit Maui hit us particularly hard. We have visited the places that were destroyed and mingled with the people there, and we grieve with those who lost loved ones and their homes and businesses. At the same time, Maui exposed holes in how we put together warning systems. The latest and greatest technology can’t do it all.

While everyone is enamored with text messages, it has long been our demand that if you have an emergency, call our office – 973-433-6676. Never send a text; you never know when we’ll be able to see it. If I can’t answer the phone, we have a trained answering service to get your information and determine if I need to be interrupted from whatever I’m doing to call you back. Oh, you should know that our office number is a landline. We find it most reliable, as you’ll see.

In Maui, according to reports I read, they sent text messages, made cell phone calls, sent emails, and made announcements on radio and TV. They never used a proven, low-tech means of warning: sirens. They will work as long as there is power at the sirens’ location. When you send a text or email – or make a cellphone call or broadcast on radio and TV – you never know that the recipients have power and appropriate signal transmission conditions. We just can’t rely on technology all the time.

As we look to learn how to respond better to emergencies, we have to ask the question: Do you have a disaster plan in place? Whatever you believe, we are becoming more prone to weather-related disasters anytime during the year. If a disaster hits anywhere in the country, it could affect you if you have a national base of customers/clients and/or suppliers. You may have employees anywhere in the country and local people who may or may not be able to work at home when a disaster strikes. How will you communicate with all of them?

Here are some basics:

  • Have multiple ways to contact everyone who needs to be notified.
  • Have multiple ways for people to contact you – or a designated person(s) who will coordinate disaster response activities.
  • Have “captains” who can notify groups of customers, suppliers, employees, etc., of the disaster and what each of them needs to do. The “captains” can also be the ones people reach out to for more information.
  • Use blast emails, text messages and even WhatsApp or chat groups to supplement the individual contacts. Don’t overlook any way of reaching people.

In the aftermath of a disaster, you should have a recovery plan in place to replace equipment and devices and restore your data management system.

We can help you set up and update/upgrade the systems you need to communicate disaster information and recover from a disaster. Most of our clients already have some type of plan in place, but as your business changes, your plan should keep pace with those changes. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to review your disaster management plans and make the necessary changes.