It seems as though everyone has a smart phone or computer access these days and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency wants to encourage the use of mobile phone apps and social networking during hurricanes to receive vital emergency information from MEMA, as well as other state and local agencies.
“It’s a new world we live in, where we can share information instantaneously through cell phones and social media outlets,” said MEMA Director Robert Latham. “While it’s important for you to get the alerts and information, it’s ultimately what actions people take with the information that will ultimately keep them safe.”
MEMA primarily uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as vehicles to get messages out, in addition to the traditional avenues of public information like television stations, newspapers and radio.
The agency has 45,700 followers on Facebook, and more than 11,000 on Twitter. The public can follow updates and receive tips instantaneously, via twitter, by following the username MSEMA or visiting http://twitter.com/msema. On Facebook, search Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
As an example of the effectiveness of using social media, MEMA reached close to 700,000 people a day on Facebook during the April 28 tornado outbreak with preparedness messaging, real-time weather warnings and information of recovery efforts.
MEMA is the second most followed state emergency management agency in the country, behind only New Jersey. Many Mississippi county emergency management agencies are also using social media and Latham encourages you to follow them for information as well.
Other valuable uses of social media during emergencies:
You can get information on your cell phone even if the power is out.
Use it to contact friends and family to let them know your plans before a storm.
After the storm, phone lines may be down or jammed but text and data will be the best way to let people know you are ok and where you are.
In addition MEMA has a free mobile phone app available for android and iPhone users in the various app stores.