The American Red Cross has released the results of a July 2010 online survey, which asked 1,058 adults about their use of social media sites in emergency situations. The survey found that one in five would try to contact responders through a digital means such as e-mail, websites or social media if they were not able to do so via 9-1-1, and that 16% of respondents have used social media to get information about an emergency.
If web users knew of someone else who needed help, 44% would ask other people in their social network to contact authorities, 35% would post a request for help directly on a response agency’s Facebook page and 28% would send a direct Twitter message to responders.
69% of respondents said that emergency responders should be monitoring social media sites in order to quickly send help; with 74% saying they expected help to come less than an hour after sending a tweet or Facebook post.
Respondents also said they use social media to share information about emergencies. 49% said that they probably or definitely would use social media to let loved ones know they are safe during an emergency, with 86% of those saying they would use Facebook, and 28% saying they would use Twitter. Younger respondents were somewhat more likely to use social media to mention emergency situations: 62% of respondents aged 18 – 34 said they were likely to mention “people needing emergency assistance,” compared to only 50% of respondents aged 35 and over.