Get instant news in an emergency
If there’s one thing that recent disasters around the world have demonstrated, it’s that Twitter is an extremely useful source of immediate information.
Even if you have no interest in Twitter for yourself you should regard it as an item that belongs in your emergency kit along with a radio.
But prepare yourself beforehand, so that if there is an emergency you already know how to access the amazing resources available on Twitter.
Sign up for a free Twitter account
Be ready by having a Twitter account you can use when you need it. Sign up for a free account at Twitter.com. Remember to note your password and username. Add them to your password storage app on your phone and computer so that you have them ready when you need them.
Follow some relevant Twitter accounts
Millions of people and organisations use Twitter, and perhaps you’re not interested in engaging with people on Twitter day to day. But some organisations use their accounts during disasters and emergencies to share information. Follow such organisations and then just ‘tune in’ when the time comes from your computer or smartphone.
It’s the same as the way owning a radio doesn’t force you to listen to it, but you can turn it on if you need to.
Some example Twitter accounts to follow
- The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management: @NZcivildefence
- Geonet: @geonet — Monitoring geological hazards (earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunami, and landslides) in NZ.
- MetService: @MetService
- New Zealand Police: @Police_NZ
- NZ Fire Service: @NZFireService
- NZ Defence Force: @NZDefenceForce
- Maritime New Zealand: @MaritimeNZ
- New Zealand RedCross: @NZRedCross
- AA Traffic: @AA_Traffic
- ChCh City Council: @ChristchurchCC
- Wgtn Emergency Mgmt: @WemoNZ
Other places to find useful Twitter feeds
Many local bodies have a Twitter account. Take a look on the website for your local bodies now and follow the Twitter account.
News services, such as TV and radio programmes have a Twitter feed. Some have a special ‘breaking news’ feed as well as an ordinary ‘everyday’ feed. Check their websites to find their Twitter feeds.
Emergency response organisations often use Twitter to quickly publish updates on their activities.
Hashtags and events
When the big Christchurch earthquakes hit people would add the
#eqnz hashtag to their tweets when they were tweeting about the earthquake.
Go to the Twitter website and you’ll see a search box at the top of the page. Type in a hashtag such as
#eqnz to find all tweets that contain the tag.
On the right side of the Twitter page after you’ve logged in is a section labelled Trends. Look in that section to find hashtags for trending events. Click on a hashtag to see all tweets that include it.
Get ready, get thru
Sign up to Twitter now while you don’t need it. Then when you do you’ll be able to get the instant information that could make all the difference in an emergency.
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Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, November 2011. This article has been modified for publication here.