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Tips for Communicating with Employees During an Emergency

Communications are essential to any business operation. A communications failure can be a disaster in itself, cutting off vital business activities. Communications are needed to report emergencies, to warn personnel of the danger and to keep families and off-duty employees informed about what’s happening at the facility.

Emergency Communications

Consider the functions your facility might need to perform in an emergency and the communications systems needed to support them. Methods of communication include:

  • Messenger
  • Telephone
  • Two-way radio
  • FAX machine
  • Microwave
  • Satellite
  • Dial-up modems
  • Local area networks
  • Hand signals

Family Communications

In an emergency, personnel will need to know whether their families are okay. Taking care of loved ones is always a first priority. Make plans for communicating with employees’ families in an emergency. Also, encourage employees to:

  • Consider how they would communicate with their families in case they are separated from one another or injured in an emergency
  • Arrange for an out-of-town contact for all family members to call in an emergency
  • Designate a place to meet family members in case they cannot get home in an emergency


Establish procedures for employees to report an emergency. Inform employees of procedures. Train personnel assigned to specific notification tasks. Post emergency telephone numbers near each telephone, on employee bulletin boards and in other prominent locations. Maintain an updated list of addresses and telephone numbers of key emergency response personnel (from within and outside the facility).


Listen for severe weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service. Prepare announcements that could be made over public address systems.


Establish a system for warning personnel of an emergency. The system should:

  • Be audible or within view by all people in the facility
  • Have an auxiliary power supply
  • Have a distinct and recognizable signal


Make plans for warning persons with disabilities. For instance, a flashing strobe light can be used to warn hearing-impaired people. Familiarize personnel with procedures for responding when the warning system is activated. Establish procedures for warning customers, contractors, visitors and others who may not be familiar with the facility’s warning system. Test your facility’s warning system at least monthly.


For more information visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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