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How to Write an Effective Emergency Text Notification

Our guide includes tips and examples to help you craft an emergency text.

someone on their smartphone texting
May 22, 2024
Adam Houghtaling
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Reading time about 5 min

Text messaging can be a bit of a Swiss Army knife: need to promote a sale, set up automatic appointment reminders, or even interface with potential hires? Text messaging can do it. With a 98% engagement rate and 70% of messages being read within five minutes of delivery, it can do it all efficiently.

It’s just this adaptability and efficacy that has made texting a must-have tool for marketers, advertisers, human resource teams, logistics firms, schools, and municipalities. There is no other way to communicate important information as quickly and effectively. Here are some common reasons people have to send an emergency text notification:

  • Office Closings & School Closings
  • Severe Weather Alerts
  • Safety & Incident Alerts
  • IT Networking Outages/Status Alerts
  • Customer Communications
  • HR, Staff and Event Notifications
  • Employee Geo Check-in

But each application of texting is a little different. In recent weeks we’ve been thinking a lot about how texting is being used as an effective emergency notifications tool. So, here’s our quick guide to what to consider when composing and sending your emergency text notification.

Determine the Content

An effective emergency notification follows four simple rules. These are all good rules to follow in crafting almost any text marketing message, but they take on even greater importance when writing an alert.

1. Be Clear

As they say, "Just the facts." This is no time for extraneous information. Be sure to provide important links to additional information to expand your message.

2. Be Concise

We live in a world of concision, and no place is that more true than in text messaging. Keep your message slim to ensure it’s read and absorbed.

3. Be Timely

Emergency notifications and alerts are defined by their need for immediate attention or action. Knowing that 70% of text messages are read within five minutes means that you should be prepared for others to react to your message as soon as you send it.

4. Be Compliant

Yes, even in an emergency, there is no dispensation for compliance. For the purposes of sending a text notification, you just need to remember to add the following text at the end of the message: Reply ‘Stop’ to opt-out”. And, of course, anyone receiving texts you send must opted in to receive those texts. (If you need to know more about expanding your subscriber list, see our guide on How to Grow Your Marketing List.


Determine the Audience

This may seem straightforward, but consider it for a moment.

First, as noted above, remember that your users must opt into your text campaign to receive messages, even in an emergency.

Also, a good text platform will allow you to grow and manage your contacts to send targeted messages to previously created groups, such as “Maintenance” or “Delivery.” This allows you to send fast and efficient tailored messages to specified groups. As we all struggle to define normality in unprecedented times, personalizing your messages can add a small but comforting touch to schedule interruptions and last-minute changes.

After you send your message, look for any responses or additional questions. And don't forget to remind everyone when things get back to normal!

Writing an Effective Emergency Text Notification

Now, with a better understanding of creating an effective urgent notification, let’s look at some examples.

Weather Advisories

Sample Text Message

When inclement weather is in the forecast, an emergency notification can help spread the word so people can get to safety. Use an SMS text to announce a pending blizzard, storm, tornado, or hurricane. You could also use it to warn of a wildfire, flash flooding, or other hazardous weather conditions. In these situations, describing the threat and affected area and providing safety instructions is important.

For instance, a flash flood warning might look something like this “(SD Weather) A FLASH FLOOD WARNING for coastal areas is in effect until 3 a.m. Avoid flooded areas and do not travel unless under an evacuation order.”


Sample Text Message

No one likes to think about lockdowns, bomb threats, or active shooter situations, but it’s crucial to know how to share this kind of information via mass text as it could help save lives. In this case, you’ll want to announce the situation, describe where it occurs, and provide shelter-in-place directions. It’s also important to send updates and notify everyone when the lockdown is lifted.

An example of a lockdown message might look like this, “(VA Medical) EMERGENCY: There’s a report of an active shooter in the VA West Wing. Stay inside, shelter in place, & lock/barricade doors. More info to follow.”


Safety drills allow you to run through certain scenarios to educate everyone on what to do in the event of an emergency, such as fire, evacuation, or active shooter. Oftentimes, these drills require sounding an alarm, so it’s essential to make everyone aware ahead of time—and that’s where a mass SMS text can come in handy. You should send one off before the drill, notifying everyone of the time and place and any instructions they need to follow.

Sample Text Message

For example, if your office building is hosting a fire drill, you could send an SMS text to your employees saying, “(Administration) We’re hosting a fire drill on May 5 at 10 a.m. When the alarm sounds, locate evacuation routes & exit the building—do not use elevators.”

Closures, Delays, or Cancellations

Some situations aren’t considered emergencies, but they still require urgent notification to meet their intended audiences, particularly in the case of closures, delays, and cancellations.

text alerts for schools is a great example. Let’s say there’s extensive road and sidewalk construction that will prevent students and staff from accessing the school’s campus. If so, you must alert them that the school is closed until construction is complete. Or perhaps a water pipe burst at your fitness facility, meaning you have to alert your clients that your gym will close early so you can address the issue.

Sample Text Message

A mass text notification can quickly and effectively alert people to prevent them from showing up to a closed location or canceled event.

A sample cancellation or closure text message could say, “(LA University) Due to a campus-wide power outage, campus will be closed today, March 1. We will send out updates once the power is restored.”


Implement Text Marketing For Your Business Today

Mass texts can do everything from saving someone from the headache of showing up to a closed event to saving someone’s life in an emergency situation. If you want the opportunity to quickly and efficiently disseminate important information to your staff, students, clients, or customers, then it’s time to implement an SMS solution of your own. Try our free 14-day trial today!

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