Communication Communications & How to Begin
Strategies Emergency Planning It’s best to create your own
communications strategy before a crisis
Communicating during an In contingency planning, a strategy occurs. There are several items to consider
emergency situation requires developing a for communication can be divided into two when developing your public water system’s
strategy in advance. It requires you to categories: communications strategy. Listed below are
carefully “map out” the different paths to get some examples to help you begin.
• “Internal” communications, or
your water system through an event quickly • Create a list or table of operations
communications of commands, requests,
and safely, using the resources available to performed daily in order to maintain
or directions by and between water
you at that time. It’s necessary to answer service from your water system. What
system personnel and others associated
questions such as to who, how, and when forms of communication are used to
with the specific disaster or emergency
your water system is going to communicate support each operation?
during an event.
• “External” communications, or • Determine needs for back-up
A communications strategy communications, including messengers,
communication of notifications, warnings,
provides structure to public water systems’ telephones and high-frequency radios for
or general information to the general
contingency plans. A failure in each operation. How would each
public and the water system’s customers.
communications can be a disaster, cutting operation be impacted without the ability
off vital support needed during an Your public water system is most to communicate vital information during
emergency. Consider some reasons why likely responsible for communication efforts an emergency event?
your system should develop a strategy: in both of these categories even though you
may not be directly responsible for • Prioritize each operation’s need for back-
• to coordinate response efforts; up communications when normal
transmitting general information to the
• to notify the general public of health and public. working conditions are affected by an
safety concerns; event. What operations have the
greatest impact on safety and health and
• to warn personnel of danger; on communications? Which of these
• to inform off-duty employees of their should be restored first? (Remember to
responsibilities; and include procedures for restoring
communications in your emergency
• to maintain consumer confidence.
• Identify strengths and weaknesses of
communications between employees of
Stay in-touch with resources on your water system and emergency
security & emergency responders.
information provided for water • How will information about the
utilities through WaterISAC. What communication alternatives are
emergency event be collected and
available to your system when there is
communicated to the public,
no electricity and the backup generator
www.waterisac.org does not work?
stakeholders and the media?
More Information ANTICIPATE what forms of
communication are vital to the operations
of your water system. Also, consider
• Each water system’s contingency who you or another employee might be
plan should include procedures on communicating with during an
communications during an event. emergency event.
• Typical forms of communication PREPARE a communications strategy
include person-to-person, telephone, as part of your water system’s Communication
fax, cellular phone, internet and e- contingency plan.
mail and portable radios.
PRACTICE the procedures you have Strategies
• Each public water system should developed to ensure communications will
consider whether its back-up not hinder your system during an A Guide for Public Water Systems
generator is able to power emergency situation.
equipment in addition to powering
required operations. Test this
capability regularly; do not wait for an For more information, please contact
emergency to occur. Ohio EPA’s Division of Drinking and Ground
• Know your county’s Emergency Waters at (614) 644-2752 or
Management Agency (EMA) visit our Security Web site: Internal & External
personnel. Exchange emergency
www.epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/security.aspx Communications During
• Determine if and ensure your Emergency Events
communications equipment, including Get to know your county’s Emergency
back-up equipment, are compatible Management Agency (EMA) personnel. Call
with your emergency response the Ohio EMA’s 24-hour number at (614) 889-
7150 or visit their Web site for more
• Identify whether your system has information:
prepared communications for water
use advisories, boil orders, limited www.ema.ohio.gov/ema.aspx
use advisories and no use advisories.
Prepare these communications in
advance and incorporate them into
your contingency plan as part of your
communications strategy. Be
prepared to provide information to 50 W. Town Street, Suite 700 Division of Drinking
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Ohio EPA, the media and the general (614) 644-3020 and Ground Waters
Ohio EPA is an Equal Opportunity Employer Winter 2008