Social media makes person tracking easier during disasters

April 16, 2013 9:01:37 PM PDT
When disasters strike, people rush to find out if their loved ones are OK. The task is being made easier by social media, but families have to make a plan first.

Twitter and Facebook are not the only social media tools for helping someone get the word out that they are OK in a disaster. There are people finding sites out there too, but your family needs to have a plan in order to make these tools effective.

In the moments after the Boston marathon bombing, thousands of of people were turning to social media to find out if their loved one was OK. But the time to figure out how to use social media to calm nerves is long before a disaster happens.

"You've got to have a plan as a family and not just for the emergency, but you got to have a plan for basically a structure for the family," Former police officer Brian Hoffner said.

Hoffner says family members should know how to access social media and exactly where to look for information. One good starting point is Google Person Finder.

"It is a very easy way to find someone who may have been in a disaster and get an update. When all these disasters happen sometimes cell phones don't work," said Alex Diaz with Top Tech Experts.

Google Person Finder's home page currently has a link for the Boston marathon explosions. Click on the link, enter a name and if information has been posted here, family members can see it. We even found where some victims were treated for injuries.

The information is added by the person themselves or on their behalf. Another aid to helping find a loved one, setting up a free online Google Voice account.

"You get phone calls online, it goes to your email. The message is transcribed on your email and you can call the person back on your computer, your iPad, or even on your phone," social media expert Ashley Small said.

Also phone finding apps can help you locate a person, if they have their phone on them and the web site tweets near by can help you see who is sending out tweets near you, which can help you find a loved one if they are updating social media near you.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13


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