Social Media should be part of your Emergency Plan

The tragic and unimaginable devastation we have all watched and read about in Japan this last weekend has been horrific and terrifying for everyone around the planet.  The people of Japan have had the worst earthquake in their recorded history, followed by a tsunami of immense size that coupled together, caused the most damage they have seen since the end of World War II.  This tragedy cannot be understood in its scale and long-lasting impacts and in the coming days and weeks, we will learn its full devastation.  We can only hope and pray for the people of Japan, so that they are able to recover, grieve and rebuild.  Hopefully, with the world’s help, they can try to rebuild, but they can never replace what they have lost.

One aspect of the recovery and re-organization that the people of Japan have demonstrated is the use of Social Media like Twitter, Facebook and Mixi have enabled survivors to post information about their health, location, condition, status of neighbours and people around them. They are able to use the internet, on their smart phones, when there is no internet access around them.  They have been able to post requests for help, for rescue, to post pictures and videos, and to even report overseas on their conditions.  They can find information on the nearest rescue center and also the condition of the evacuation near the Nuclear Power Plants.

Many news reports from North America are basing their entire Sendai Earthquake reports on Social Media status updates, from tweets and Facebook posts, to blogs to  Skype interviews.  Social Media has been the only reliable communications infrastructure to survive the earthquake and resulting Tsunami.  It has been literary, the lifeline of many to rescue, the only source of information for worried families and the most accurate and up-to-date information for news organizations.

So, the importance of using Social Media as not only a professional tool, or a vanity-based publishing medium is over, as Social Media has proven that it can be a very valuable asset in an Emergency and all of us should plan on using our Social Media Networks in any Crisis in order to stay in touch, report the status of those around us, and to seek and request assistance if we need it.  We all should include a portable cell-phone charger or an extra battery for our phones so that we can still access these important communication avenues in the event of no power for 72 hours.  We should also make sure that we have pre-set our connections in our Social Media Networks so that we don’t have to search for the right people during a crisis.  Having all your family and friends available to you through your Smart Phone and Social Media when the cell phone networks are clogged and/or down will be a live-saver.

I hope that the next few days start to show the Japanese people recovering from this horrific tragedy and that there are stories of rescue, survival and rebuilding.  We can all show our support by donating to the Red Cross and by helping others prepare their own emergency preparedness kits.

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