Social media provides info but stick to official sites

OPINION: Be tech savvy during storm season.

The benefits of social media have perhaps never been more apparent than during a disaster.

The Fraser Coast has felt the effects of three floods in the past three years, not to mention storm surges and tornadoes, and it was during these that a number of residents turned to social media platforms for the latest information.

During ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald, we were able to post regular updates to our Disaster Management Facebook page www.facebook.com/FCRCDisaster outlining the latest information on road closures, power outages, evacuation centres and much more.

These platforms give residents information almost instantaneously, while allowing them to remain in contact with friends and family when phone lines and electricity may be affected.

I encourage residents to embrace social media as it can be a godsend during trying times, however there are a few simple guidelines you should follow:

  • Only source your information from official pages to ensure the information is correct, up-to-date and confirmed. These include council, QFRS, Queensland Police Service, Queensland Ambulance and the SES
  • Don't spread unconfirmed rumours - this can cause unnecessary panic among the community which doesn't help anyone
  • Be patient - it may seem tough during times of disaster but I assure you the emergency services release any and all useful information through their official channels as soon as it is confirmed

There are a number of useful apps available to be downloaded to your smart phones and tablets.

Council partnered with Southern Cross Media and Pulse Mobile to launch the emergency app which can be downloaded from www.emergencyapp.com.au

The apps provide a list of critical contacts including emergency services, roads and traffic, community services and wildlife rescue, among many others.

The key is to be prepared.

Mal Churchill is the Fraser Coast Regional Council disaster management co-ordinator.