It’s that time of year again in New Orleans…hurricane season. If you are a local, it’s best to be prepared. You’ve got your game plan, your checklist and are ready to evacuate if the time comes. While Twitter and Facebook might not be on the top of that list, they are great resources to stay informed and in touch in the event of a hurricane this season. Below are a few ways to incorporate social networks into your hurricane preparedness plan.
Twitter provides real time news updates from the field. When you follow someone on Twitter, you have the option of receiving text messages to your phone with their updates. By adding a few of the key news resources to this list, you will get instant updates sent directly to you. I’ve compiled my own list of news resources to Follow on Twitter during an evacuation. Please feel free to follow.
Facebook is a great place to communicate with friends and family during an emergency. Regardless of where you are, you can update everyone at once with your status, instead of relying on a phone tree… or even a phone! In preparation, you can also create a dedicated page or group for your family or organization to provide a check-in spot. Invite people to post in this specific place to create a bulletin board that aggregates everyone’s information and provides a forum for discussions and updates.
During an evacuation, it can be hard to find hotels with open accommodations. However, many hotels are eager to help displaced residents. Travel and tourism is one of the fastest growing industries on social media. Most national chain hotels are on Facebook and Twitter and many will respond directly to questions via these sources. Before looking up each hotel option and calling for availability, a quick scan of social media might give you a better idea of what properties and opportunities are available.
Many businesses, even smaller mom and pops, are on Facebook and Twitter. As a business owner, this is a great place to update your customers and employees on your status. For example, hospitals, bank branches and schools can use these channels to announce openings or hours.
Similar to using networks to find business information, it is a resource to review infrastructure concerns, such as traffic jams or road closings in real time. Several Departments of Transportation and Development have their own Twitter accounts. You can get instant updates in New Orleans by following @NOLA_Traffic.
How will you be using social networks in the case of an evacuation? Please share your ideas and additional resources.