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5 Actions To Take Before Hurricane Season Heads to Your Town

Hurricane Season Tips 2015

Weather watchers may be getting better each year at forecasting a hurricane, but that does not stop these severe storms from doing serious damage. Homes and businesses close to ocean coastlines are still at risk, no matter how far in advance the weather professionals tell you that there is a storm coming. As with most things in life, being prepared for the worst case scenario is always the best option if you are in an area that is threatened by the possibility of hurricanes and tropical storms.

As hurricane season approaches, you can help protect the safety of your citizens and their property with the following steps:

  • Have Clearly Designated Evacuation Routes - Designate your largest and most easily accessible roads as evacuation routes, just in case a large storm is heading your way. Keep the tree line on these streets 5 or 10 feet back to avoid a fallen tree blocking the way out of town. Mark these routes with orange street signs, and hand out pamphlets at schools and town meetings to ensure that all residents are aware of them.
  • Implement an Emergency Notification Service - If your town does not already have one, then right before hurricane season starts is a good time to sign up for an emergency notification system such as DialMyCalls. This type of system will connect you with one department or your entire town in minutes via phone calls or SMS text messages. It can be used to warn your residents of an impending storm, give them direction if you need to evacuate, and even keep in contact directly with your emergency personnel.
  • Conduct Annual Building Inspections - This might seem costly, but the alternative will not only be more expensive, it could mean devastation. Check that homes and buildings are within code for withstanding hurricane strength winds, and that they are equipped with storm shutters on the windows. This will minimize the physical damage to your town's structures, and help you to quickly recover after a hurricane has blown through.
  • Stockpile Essential Supplies - In the months preceding hurricane season hold various "supply" raising events in your town. Food drives should include canned goods and water, as well as flashlights, batteries, and first aid supplies. Flooding can cause outlying roads to be closed for days, and you want to make sure that there is plenty of food, water and other supplies on hand to see you through. Just remember not to use a basement for storage. An empty upper story room in your local hospital is a good place to store your hurricane supplies.
  • Talk About Hurricanes as Much as You Can - School assemblies, PTA meetings, your local Elks club, and town meetings are good places to hold quick reminder meetings about what to do in a hurricane. Talk about protecting windows, securing outside furniture and what to do in the event of an evacuation. Use your emergency notification system to let residents know about upcoming seminars, and remind them of how important it is to be well prepared ahead of the storm.

The last decade has taught us that an impending hurricane is not something you can take lightly. Avoid the devastation that other areas have suffered by having your own coastal town brace for the worst, long before the weather forecaster sees that small circle forming off in the distance.



Six Helpful Tips To Make Your Summer Camp Memorable

Summer Camp Tips

If you have taken on the responsibility of running a summer camp program, you are to be commended. Summer camps impart skills and values onto children that are not always emphasized at school. This is a special time for kids that will be remembered for their lifetime. Follow these tips to ensure that you create experiences that are looked back on fondly:

Choose Your Staff Wisely

Staffing your summer camp should not be taken lightly. When working with children, it is of utmost importance that you check the background of all potential staff members before offering them a position. As you screen applicants, look for attributes that will enhance the camping experience for kids, such as artistic or sports backgrounds. During interviews watch for signs of high energy, enthusiasm and a love for being around children. Summer camp is about having fun, and the kids won't have any if their counselor is not excited every day to be there.

Have Support Staff

Summer camp is not a controlled environment the way school is, and counselors need extra sets of hands and eyes to keep everyone safe and having a good time. Consider instilling a program where older campers are assigned to help with the younger groups, or if money allows hire a junior staff.

Keep Your Groups Small

Enough kids to make a soccer team is about the right size for summer camp groups. When hiring counselors make sure that you are taking enrollment into consideration and have enough staff members to cover all of your groups. With activities like swimming, hiking and sports, you can't afford the liability of allowing one counselor to be responsible for a large group of children.

Have Effective Means of Communication

In reality, your summer camp is double, if not triple, the enrollment size that you think it is. For every camper comes at least one parent who is anxious to know how their kid is faring. To make sure your parents are also having a memorable summer, update them regularly on your own time. Sign up for a mass notification service, such as DialMyCalls.com, that allows you to send voice broadcasts and SMS text messages to all the parents at once. You only need to upload their phone numbers into your web-based account, organize them into the same groups as the children, and then every couple of days send out a message that lets the parents know what their kids are up to.

Choose Stimulating Programs

Give careful consideration to the types of programs you will have in your summer camp, and ensure that they are individualized to be age specific. Your arts and crafts program for example should not have the 7-year-old campers making the same complicated birdhouses that the 13-year-olds are constructing. Try thinking outside of the box and come up with different programs as well, such as scavenger hunts. You can instruct the kids to find a certain number of different plants and then follow up with a quick lesson about how they grow. Camp can still fun, even when there is a little bit of learning thrown in.

Plan on Rain

Unless your summer camp is in the middle of the desert, plan on hosting some rainy days. Be prepared for this with a large seating area and movie projector, a variety of board games for different age groups, and impromptu arts and crafts. If you approach grey skies with a positive attitude and a plan in place, not even torrential rains will ruin your camper's good time.

Summer camp is an experience that kids will never forget. If you follow these tips, you are ensuring that the memories made at your camp are always going to be good ones.



5 Scheduling Tips For Staying on Top of Your Hospital's Shifts

Hospital Scheduling Tips

No matter which department of a hospital you have been assigned to, scheduling and verifying staff for shifts is one of your most challenging responsibilities. This is a difficult job for any type of administrator, but when your scheduling decisions involve life and death situations, the pressure can be overwhelming.

Implement these tips into your scheduling process to streamline your job and make sure that you always have the right amount of staff on hand when you need them.

Scheduling Software

A number of software companies have developed comprehensive programs to help with administrative scheduling. A program that is specifically designed for the hospital environment, would help analyze patient volumes and help you decide the number of employees in each area you need to have available. These software solutions are only meant as a guideline however, you still need to double check using your personal knowledge of your hospital's needs.

Know Your Staff's Strengths

Everyone in your department has different levels of experience. When making schedules you should take this into consideration and staff your shifts accordingly. A nurse fresh out of school will benefit greatly from shifts with a 20-year veteran. Not only are you balancing experience this way, you are offering less-seasoned personnel to learn from the experience of others.

Take Notes During Shifts

When you are working, carry a notepad and pen and jot down any areas that look like there is room for improvement. You may realize there is not enough overlap between orderly shifts, or that too many people are taking lunch at the same time.

Update Your Phone System

This starts by updating your employee phone list. Implement a policy where you have to be notified of a change in phone number as soon as possible. Then create an account with a staff notification service like DialMyCalls. Not only will this let you reach all available staff if your department has a sudden surge, goes over capacity, or if shits need to be filled, you can also send messages to remind staff members of shift changes and overtime alerts. Using text message or voice message, you are able to reach everyone in your contact list at the same time.

Be Diligent With Availability

Nothing hurts your schedule more, or brings down morale, than an administrator who cannot keep track of availability. If you decide on a software scheduler make sure that you input availability of each individual member of your staff. This will help save you time later with last minute shift changes due to forgetting about someone's need to be off on a certain day or time.

With the hard task of scheduling made easier, you have the time and energy to focus attention on other critical areas of your hospital. In this type of work environment, each day brings a new set of challenges that can be faced knowing you have the right amount of staff behind you.



Important Tips For Creating A Successful Emergency Notification System

Emergency Notification System Tips

Leaders of communities both large and small depend on some sort of alert system to deal with a crisis. Whether you are in charge of a small college campus or a major municipality you have the responsibility of protecting that community in the event of an emergency. This is a multi-faceted project that starts with your emergency notification system.

There are more effective and convenient ways today than radio or television broadcasts to relay emergency information, even to groups of thousands. With a mobile device in practically everyone's pocket, this is your best tool to focus on for a successful emergency notification system.

Choose The Right System

Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes calling for an alert system that is versatile. You don't want to create the same type of reaction for a scheduled interruption of water service as you would for an impending tornado. A flexible alert system is one where you can use voice or email messaging for low level warnings as well as an SMS text message alert for imminent danger.

An automated emergency notification system allows you to reach out to thousands of people at the same time using their home or mobile phones. You create the message and the method of delivery, and the notification service takes care of broadcasting it. This has become a very reliable method of emergency alerts for hundreds of different communities of all types.

Encourage Voluntary Sign Up

This type of personalized emergency notification system does require participation from your community. They need to supply you with up-to-date contact information. Small communities like a college campus can make this a part of the class registration process, while administrators of a small town may need a different approach.

Make it easy for your community to sign up by going to them. Post a message on your web site or social media page that talks about the benefits of this type of system and allow them to register right there. Send notices home from your local schools and pass out flyers at supermarkets or sporting events. Take advantage of those places where you are reaching a large number of people at the same time.

Make Sure Your Community Understands How It Works

With the number of text messages received daily, it is important to make your emergency alerts stand out. With an emergency notification system provider like DialMyCalls, you can use a personalized SMS keyword as an identifier for the recipient. Save this for imminent danger messages and use something along the lines of "ALERTFORJONESTOWN". This lets the recipients know right away that this is a serious text message that needs immediate attention.

When people do register send them an email message that explains the importance of that sender alert and the steps they should take next. Also educate them on the other types of messages you might be transmitting and how they can access them. Detail the instructions precisely to avoid any confusion when it is time to send an emergency message.

In the recent past, there have been a number of tragic instances where this type of system was used with overwhelming success. Whole cities have been warned of an imminent threat, possibly saving dozens of lives as a result. With the focus today on handheld technologies, leaders can use that to their advantage to create a successful emergency notification system.



Uploading Contacts Just Got A Whole Lot Easier!

Contact Management Queue

We have added a queue system to our "Upload Contacts" option that helps you manage your phone numbers more efficiently.

Customers that are using version 2.0 of DialMyCalls no longer have to worry about being timed out when uploading large contact lists. Our development team implemented a new feature that will now utilize an upload queue when adding contacts to your account. 

A pop-up window will be displayed as soon as you begin to upload a contact list into your account. You will see the name of the file that is being uploaded as well as a real-time status bar that will let you know when your entire list has been successfully added to your account.

The main benefit of our brand new uploading queue system is that you no longer have to remain logged into your account, waiting for the list to upload. Customers with large lists can now add the list to the queue, log out and come back a little later to check on the progress of that list - the days of being timed out in the middle of a huge upload are over!

*Only files uploaded in the past 24 hours are displayed in the queue window.

For a complete overview regarding how to upload contacts into your account, please click here.



How Pivoting Took Our Company From 4 Figures To 7 Figures A Year

Everywhere you turn these days in the startup / business community you hear about pivoting your business, it has become one of the most overused buzz words of the past couple years. However as overused as it is, it can play a pretty important part of your companies toolkit. Pivoting is what eventually brought DialMyCalls to fruition after years of running a wake up call service I had started back in the year 2000 which was aptly named WakeUpLand. Here's a quick story about how our little pivot was an entire game changer.

AND SO IT BEGINS

It all started when I created WakeUpLand out of my dorm room as a side project to better my web design skills. At the time there were no other wake up call services online, so it seemed like an interesting niche to target. After a couple weeks of getting the site up and launching it an order actually came in, at the time that $0.99 order blew my mind. Orders came in every couple days and I had many tired zombie-like days after waking up at 4am to make sure everyone received their wake up calls - I had not thought about the fact that I would be the one making all of these calls.

After a couple weeks of running on little to no sleep I ended up reaching out to a company that did wake up calls via toll-free number. We were able to negotiate a small deal and for the next few years I was able to load up my wake up calls into their system and they would automatically send them out. It was a great little side business netting anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand bucks a month, and basically ran on auto-pilot - not a bad deal for a few weeks worth of work!

THE RISE OF VOICE OVER IP

A few years later VOIP was becoming much more popular and I started looking at the possibility of sending our own calls rather than going through the wake up provider I had partnered with. The provider was taking 50% of my sales and if I switched to VOIP I'd be looking at a fraction of the cost, meaning a way better profit margin. I reached out to a developer who was a friend of a friend and pitched him the idea of sending the calls using VOIP. After a few months we were actually able to send out our own calls through our own platform, it was amazing, and instantly increased the bottom line of the company. WakeUpLand was rocking and rolling, but this is when a little epiphany hit me smack in the face...

THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT

A customer emailed in asking if we could send a call out to his church about an upcoming event. I politely answered "no", but then a couple days later, after thinking about it, I asked myself, "why can't we?" We had just created our own calling platform capable of sending calls at reasonable rates, the game had completely changed right in front of our eyes. I reached out to Chris the developer and the wheels starting turning. We were dead set on creating the best voice broadcasting platform we could come up with.

I finally met up with Chris, the programmer, at a hotel in Orlando, Florida - the room we rented for a weekend became our base of operation. Countless hours were spent sketching up ideas and storyboarding the entire website, trying to figure out how to make a somewhat complicated process as user friendly and easy as possible. Picture easels, poster boards, papers, empty cans of Redbull, and stuff taped everywhere - I wish I had taken a picture of the creative madness that took place that weekend.

I went to work creating the front end of the site and the user interface, he worked on the backend and phone dialer - it was a good 5-6 months before we had anything useable. It took a lot of back and forth with consultants and experts to fine tune everything to work how we wanted. We spent a ridiculous amount of time working on the Answering Machine Detection in order to have the most accurate AMD out there. After we were happy with the results we slowly launched with the name DialMyCalls.com in early 2008, the rest you can say is history. To this day we still have some of our customers who signed up that first week using the system, I love logging into the admin and seeing our old double and triple digit account numbers sending out broadcasts.

EMBRACE YOUR PIVOTAL MOMENT

Since its initial inception as a wake up call service website that was created in my college dorm room, DialMyCalls has become one of the leading voice and text message broadcasting providers available. We have had over 50,000 users sign up, including churches, universities, fortune 100 companies, and everything in between, to send their alerts through us. We have an amazing team of ten people who kick butt every day, two offices, and 7 figures in revenue. I'd say as overused as the word pivot is these days, it's something to definitely keep in your back pocket. Don't be afraid to try new things with your company whether it's brand new and you're throwing ideas around or a 5 year old side business just making a few extra bucks.

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