How to Use PA in a Noisy Environment
Noise levels can be a constant problem for many organizations. Hospitals constantly receive complaints from patients about high noise levels. Any location where manufacturing takes place can be extremely loud. Retail environments can fill with loudly talking customers. Schools can have students shouting in the hallways or in the classrooms. In normally quiet environments, it can still be noisy for individual people who could be using headphones or earbuds, preventing them from easily hearing a PA announcement. Or a normally quiet environments could easily become noisy in the event of an emergency. So how can you still use PA to get an emergency message across to those who need it?
Increase the Volume
The most obvious solution to making sure that people can hear a PA message in a noisy environment is to increase the volume. But this isn’t necessarily the best option. Not only might this make the announcement too loud at times when the environment is quieter. In addition, depending on the decibel level of the environment, increasing the volume above the noise level in the environment, the decibel level of the PA announcement could end up being so loud it’s dangerous for human ears. It’s best to consider alternative means of supplementing a PA paging announcement in order to ensure that people receive emergency messages.
MessageNet’s solution to this problem has been to add a visual component to paging to create audiovisual PA. The visual element of PA ensures that a message can be seen even when it can’t be heard. Things like headphones and ambient noise can prevent people from hearing an audio-only page during normal circumstances. Plus, anyone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing won’t be able to hear a PA page no matter what the ambient noise level is. On top of that, an emergency situation can either raise the noise level with people panicking or loud sounds like gunshots or an explosion, which could also render people nearby at least temporarily, if not permanently, deaf.
Adding a visual component to your PA system with LED or LCD signs, or with an all-in-one device like the MessageNet Omni, which has both a screen and speakers, as well as flashers that can get people’s attention, not only means that your organization is able to reach everyone in an emergency, it also helps you stay compliant with ADA regulations.
Multiple Methods of Communication
Because in noisy environments audio PA and paging are limited in their effectiveness, another option is to include other forms of communication in your emergency communication system. These alternate forms of communication can be visual PA, texts, e-mails, all-in-one devices, and more. The more methods used to get an emergency message out to the people that need it, the better chance they have at acting on the emergency.