While Canada watches, waits and hopes that the wildfires are finally extinguished in Northern Alberta (and across Canada as more pop up), it is always amazing to see the power that social media can have during a disaster. From allowing people to check in with their loved ones, to complete strangers sharing their resources, social media has certainly proved an important tool during and after a disaster.
Of course, social media still requires technology and there are certain countries in the world where citizens don’t have access to the technology, even without a disaster occurring. Social media also requires an internet connection and after a disaster, the networks could be down which could also not allow people to use social media.
Putting those concerns aside, it is wonderful to see just how helpful social media can be to those wanting to hear from loved ones, and from those waiting to hear from their loved ones. Facebook has made is very easy for those affected by a disaster to let their friends and family know they are ok. Facebook Safety Check allows users to check in to alert their friends and family they they are ok. People have now come to expect in an emergency that they can quickly check Facebook and see if someone has checked in safe or not.
Social media has also allowed people to share important information and reach out for help. Townships/cities are able to share important news to their residents about the disaster. Residents can also reach out to their fellow residents to offer any help and assistance they can. It was great to see during the evacuation of Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas, the people coming together to support each other for supplies, and the towns and emergency crews responding and providing updates to the residents.
Social media also allows information to be spread about donations and about what supplies are needed. Red Cross and other emergency agencies often use social media to spread the word about their appeal campaigns.
Sometimes social media can be harmful as people sit behind their computers judging each other or making nasty unnecessary comments, however it is nice that social media can also help a community, country and world, come together to help those in a disaster.
How helpful do you think social media is in a disaster situation?