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How to Send SMS Emergency Alerts & Texts for Disaster Relief

Emergency SMS for disaster relief is a no-brainer. Learn why, and get tips on how to send alerts through text to start saving lives.

Incoming safety alert text message concept
May 22, 2024
Kathleen Crampton
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Reading time about 5 min

When a disaster occurs, time is precious. So many things can change in minutes — so every minute counts. SMS emergency alerts are crucial for disaster relief organizations, companies, local governments, and nonprofits. With a 100% open rate within 3 minutes, it’s no doubt that text messages are the best way to get the word out in emergencies.

The sooner you send an emergency SMS, the better your chance of saving someone’s life. Read on to learn about the various ways that you can leverage SMS in emergency situations and how to write an effective emergency notification.


Local Weather Alerts

If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, like tornadoes, wildfires, or hurricanes, you’ve probably received emergency alert text messages when the weather is bad. Whether it’s a potential hazard or an imminent threat, local weather alerts via SMS are the best ways to reach residents.

SMS Sample Message

Often, cities or municipalities send these alerts to tell people where and how to take cover and provide information on the safest evacuation routes. For example, messages might only include a weather warning; if the disaster is approaching, they might include links to other local news resources and safety information.

When writing a weather emergency alert, create a sense of urgency while keeping the content concise. Readers need to get all the necessary information at a glance.


Company-Wide Alerts

Another way to send SMS emergency alerts is through company–employee communication. With the rise in hybrid work, employees are more on the go than ever. But one thing that is always by their side is their smartphone.

SMS Sample Message

When your business needs to share important information regarding a building-related emergency or a local disaster, don’t rely on email and instant messaging platforms — use an emergency text messaging system. Your employees can learn about time-sensitive information quickly without having to click into an app or be in the office.

Just remember that your employees must opt-in to text messaging from your company. Remind them of the importance of the alert system and how it can help to keep them and their coworkers safe.


Disaster Relief Volunteer Mobilization

SMS Sample Message

For organizations like FEMA, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army, volunteer mobilization is key to disaster relief. Using a text blast service, like EZ Texting, these organizations can quickly and efficiently gather volunteers, resources, and other outside help.

The sooner volunteers can help, the better chance people have of getting rescued, and the area cleaned up and made safe. Learn more about how text message alerts can save lives.


Post-Disaster Messaging

After a disaster occurs, relief and crisis organizations, local governments, and nonprofits can also utilize emergency SMS to share crucial safety information with residents or those affected by the disaster. An emergency SMS alert system should be used to circulate information about what happened, safe havens to get clean water and a safe place to sleep, and where to access other important resources.

For example, people can sign up for FEMA text message alerts and safety tips by texting a specified keyword and zip code to a five-digit short code. This is an easy way for people to get up-to-date information with just the tap of their fingers.

But what if people aren’t on your SMS contact list? No problem. Create SMS links on your website so that people can click to text and receive more information and updates.


Disaster Relief Nonprofit Donations

Texting for marketing and fundraising is a no-brainer for nonprofits. But text-to-give is another helpful and effective way to boost donations for disaster relief. Nonprofits can send texts to their contacts, and promote the donation program on other channels, to allow people to easily send money via text.

SMS Sample Message

A well-known example of emergency SMS for disaster relief is when the Red Cross launched a text-to-give program after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, drawing in about $43 million in disaster relief funds. This tactic was hugely successful, with 50% of donors having given money immediately upon receiving the emergency alert text message or seeing the donation program promoted elsewhere.

Start Using SMS for Your Organization

Given that the open rate for text messages is much higher than for emails, it only makes sense to use SMS during emergencies. Notify people quickly using SMS emergency alerts, garner more donations, and increase volunteer efforts — all with a text messaging service like EZ Texting. Start building your contact list today, and start saving lives.

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