Red Cross Survey: More People Turning to Social Media in Emergencies

The general public is increasingly using social media, mobile technology and online news outlets during disasters, according to a survey by the American Red Cross, Modern Healthcare reports.

The two-part survey -- conducted by ORC International on behalf of the organization -- polled 1,011 individuals by telephone and 1,046 people online between June 23 and June 27.

Key Findings

About 24% of the general public and 31% of those online said they would use social media to notify their friends and family that they are safe during a disaster situation (Barr, Modern Healthcare, 8/24).

In addition, 80% of the general public and 69% of the online respondents said they believe national emergency response organizations should monitor social media sites routinely to prepare for prompt responses. Among online survey respondents, 39% said they expect first responders to arrive less than an hour after pleas for help are posted online (Gaudin, Computerworld, 8/24).

The Red Cross also found that:

  • 63% of the general public said they turn to online news during emergencies, while 90% said they rely on television news and 73% seek radio news;
  • 18% of the general public said they use Facebook to find information, while 5% use Twitter (Smith, National Journal, 8/24);
  • 6% of the general public said they would "definitely" sign up for email or text alerts or other ways to receive safety information, while 21% said they "probably" would (Modern Healthcare, 8/24).

Trevor Riggen, senior director of disaster services for the American Red Cross, said the survey "shows there is an opportunity for emergency responders to meaningfully engage their communities on the social Web" (National Journal, 8/24).


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