Social media use rises in emergencies: study

Oct 9, 2012 | News

A study by Ipsos for the Canadian Red Cross shows Canadians are relying more on social media for information during emergencies. PHOTO BY ALEX FULLER

By Alex Fuller

A new study commissioned by the Canadian Red Cross indicates many Canadians are expecting a stronger presence in social media from emergency response teams.

The results of the Ipsos Reid study released Tuesday show 63 per cent of Canadians think emergency response personnel should be ready to respond to calls for help posted on social media websites.

Furthermore, 54 per cent of Canadians say they would use social media to keep people informed in the event of an emergency.

The study, which was done in June and July, involved 500 online surveys and 500 telephone surveys.

It was the first study done on the topic in Canada, although the American Red Cross has performed a similar study.

“Information is key to keeping people safe in an emergency,” Conrad Sauve, secretary general of the Canadian Red Cross, said in a news release Tuesday.

“With the majority of Canadians already engaged on social networking sites, these platforms can be used to get more information on local emergencies and inform people how they can give or receive help.”

“We wanted to know how people were using social media in emergencies,” Melissa Fougere, the Canadian Red Cross’ manager for Ontario East for Disaster Management, told Humber News.

911 still recommended

According to Fougere, the Canadian Red Cross still recommends that people who need help call 911, and that social media is more effective when it’s used to educate people on emergency preparedness.

Another of the recent survey’s findings is that 66 per cent of Canadians are not prepared for major emergencies such as floods, fires and other disasters.

The Canadian Red Cross website lists tips for preparing for emergencies.  Among them are storing 72 hours’ worth of supplies and taking first aid courses.