How are you going to use social media when disaster strikes?
When the east coast felt its most powerful earthquake in nearly 70 years last August, many heard about it first on Twitter, before many feltthe physical effects. One blogger observed that the first Tweet occurred only seconds after the quake rumbled through.
I don’t know about you, but the first I heard about the April 3rd tornadoes that devastated Dallas was through my connections on Twitter. Even the Dallas authorities turned to Twitter to alert followers of the fast approaching storm and to make sure they were adhering to the warnings officials had put out. The agency also used the social media venue to provide tips on taking shelters, and then continued tweeting with information on where the storms were headed.
During a time of crisis, individuals look to social media as a means to communicate with one another – sending photos of damage, checking the safety of friends and family or passing along news and updates about the disaster’s effects. But people also look to social media channels for information from government agencies and companies.
There are several reasons why your disaster plan should include social media, especially considering such data based services like Social Media, texts and emails are less likely to experience a network congestion that often plagues the phone lines during an emergency.
Unfortunately, there are still people who roll their eyes at the mention of social media communication, or who refuse to learn how to send and receive text messages. What they neglect to realize is that they aren’t taking a stand against gossip, they are taking a stand against their safety by failing to have a back-up plan to get in touch with loved ones in an emergency. FEMA encourages family members to teach others how to use text messaging to avoid network disruptions, so if you don’t believe me maybe you’ll take their word for it.
The American Red Cross has conducted its second annual Social Media Survey to better understand the use of the internet technologies during disasters and disaster recovery. The survey provides the response community with information on how best to use crowd-sourced information in response efforts.
Of the general population, 80 percent expect national emergency response organizations to monitor websites and social media sites to respond to requests. And 35 percent would expect help to arrive in less than one hour if they post a request for help on a social media site.
The Red Cross created this infographic to highlight some the key findings of the survey:
Have you incorporated Social Media into your disaster planning?
Final Note: We all have cell phones and rely on having them with us in the event of an emergency, but what happens if you lost your phone, or if your battery is dead? Do you have important phone numbers memorized, or is that a tightly held secret by your cell phone? Make sure you have the phone numbers of family and close friends memorized. I promise you it’s not too difficult – chances are if you are reading this you used to memorize phone numbers in the land line days, so I have faith in you.