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Communicating in an Emergency

Posted by on September 20th, 2017 Posted in: Emergency Preparedness, General

Learn how to communicate clearly during an emergency using words that people will understand.

Tips from the We Love Health Literacy Blog

“It is  on us to make sure important safety messages are clear to consumers — before, during, and after an emergency.”

Here is what  we need to keep in mind when we’re communicating in an emergency.

  • Write in plain language. Use short, bulleted lists with actionable headers to communicate easy-to-understand steps for staying safe in a disaster. Check out this example from healthfinder.gov.
  • Be specific in your word choices. Vague terms like “respond” and “hazardous” are never helpful, but an emergency is an especially bad time to keep people guessing about what you mean.
  • Make your messages accessible to everyone. Think about using icon-driven emergency communication, which can help you reach people with limited English skills and people who have cognitive delays.
  • Be honest — but avoid creating unnecessary panic. Be clear about what you know and don’t know. Put risk in context and point out what isn’t dangerous about a situation, too.
  • Remember that clear visual communication matters. Infographics can be an effective strategy for communicating weather safety tips — just make sure they’re accurate and well designed.

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This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012344 with the University of Utah, Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.​

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