Preparing for Disasters Using Social Media

May 19, 2014


Social media enables minute by minute communication between people across the world. This resourceful tool that makes communication and information sharing so easy and efficient between friends, family, and colleagues is also a valuable tool for disaster preparation. Emergency planning and response is largely a matter of communication. Any method that enables and facilitates communication before, during, and after a disaster can be extremely valuable. Social media services like Facebook and Twitter are equipped to be useful disaster communication and information resources.

Local Awareness

One of the biggest benefits of social media is the awareness it raises and has potential to raise. People organize, plan, and inform through Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and increasingly Pinterest and Instagram–though the latter, more visually. What’s more, many of these services are essential, if not obsessively so, to day to day business. For raising local awareness about a cause, an event, or to simply dialogue with friends and family about a recent event, it is hard to deny the power social media can have to inform our interactions.

Disaster responses necessitate the same level of communication and information distribution, and social media is often the best way to reach more people. Most people with social media accounts such as Facebook regularly check their profiles and updates on the site. For disaster planning and alerts on a local level, this outlet can be extremely effective.

Community Planning

The community element, or social element, is the entire point of social media. Observing, following, and engaging with other people is the objective. For emergency disaster planning, there is no better way to coordinate local responses, distribute information, and raise awareness about a particular threat across a wide group. Severe weather alerts, emergency relief shelter information, volunteer campaigns, and other recovery plans are all part of a social media based disaster preparation endeavor. Since most natural disasters are highly regional events–state or county–planning for disasters locally through community connections on social media sites is a great way to prepare.

The unpredictability and suddenness with which many disasters occur make ongoing planning a necessity. Personal planning efforts can be communicated across social media platforms and broader planning undertaken. Of course, when disasters do occur, you’re not likely to be checking Facebook updates, but there is still value in having a social channel to fall back on as both a preparation outlet and information source after the fact.

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