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In Disasters, Use Simple Language When Messaging to the Public

Big words should be eliminated from news releases, news conferences and warnings.

by Eric Holdeman / August 25, 2020

On Sunday I was watching a short television clip of the Governor of Louisiana talk about the two approaching storms threatening the state. The Governor, John Bel Edwards, made the comment that "congregant care sites would not be used."

It is an accurate statement of policy, that in the middle of a pandemic, in which Louisiana's people have suffered much, that you should not thrust people into a mass sheltering situation. Just as in the California fires they are handing out hotel vouchers to people versus putting them into gymnasiums.

The above statement would have been much clearer if he had said, "We will not be sheltering people in large groups at single locations, rather...."

You might use the term Non-Congregate Sheltering in your planning documents, but avoid using it, and other more complex words/statements in your messaging. 




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