In our day and age, communication is king. Whether it’s sharing stories on Facebook, family pictures on Instagram, kittens on YouTube, or reading fine web content such as this site, our lives are now all about communication.
In an emergency, communication is just that much more vital. We’ve posted about ham radio and such here, but there’s another resource that seems to be underrated as a communication medium: Twitter (and other social media).
When emergencies happen, people take to social media. It’s not uncommon to hear about a disaster from friends on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, long before the commercial news outlets (CNN, local TV/radio, etc) start reporting it.
A number of important agencies have Twitter accounts. Some even have multiple Twitter accounts, just to handle communication for various departments or divisions. And a number of these can be crucial in informing you as early as possible.
Now, I’m not a huge Twitter guy. I rarely post, and when I do, it’s rarely important. And I almost never read tweets. It’s just not my personality. But I do want to know, for instance, when FEMA has something important to say for my region. And I want to know as soon as they tell me.
FEMA is one of many Twitter users that makes use of alerts. When you open up one of these account in the Twitter app on your phone, you will see an icon that looks like a ringing bell.
When you click this icon, turning it red, you will see a notification that, “You will receive mobile notifications when this account sends critical updates.” These are my favorite accounts to follow, because they are designed for critical alerts.
Other accounts allow you to receive instant notifications as well, without having to receive notifications from all of the accounts that you follow on Twitter. In the mobile Twitter app these also have a bell icon, but without the ringing part.
I have notifications turned on for a number of these accounts too. Some can be annoying (@SantaquinPolice likes to tweet a thank you note every time they get a follower), but I think it’s worth it to be able to see alerts when they do get tweeted.
The following are a number of Twitter accounts that I follow, and have explicitly turned on mobile notifications for. This list will vary a little for you, depending on your location, but it will also give you a good starting point.
- Utah Fire Info
- Utah Wildfires
- Utah Emergency Management
- Be Ready Utah
- Salt Lake County Emergency Management
- FEMA Region 8
- National Weather Service Salt Lake City
- Utah Avalanche Center
- Rocky Mountain Power
- Utah Red Cross
- Salt Lake Heath
- CDC Emergency
- Utah Highway Patrol
- Utah County Sherriff
- Santaquin Police Department
- Santaquin Fire Department
These accounts are less official, but still useful. Think of them like a Twitter version of a police scanner.