Red Cross finds apps popular in emergencies

The Red Cross has several free apps and plans to release more this fall. (Courtesy of Red Cross)

WASHINGTON – Mobile apps are becoming an important part of emergency preparedness and management, a new American Red Cross survey shows.

The American Red Cross says the survey shows that mobile apps are tied with social media as the fourth most popular way to get information in emergencies. TV, radio and online news took the first three slots.

Twenty percent of people who responded to the survey, about 2,000 in all, half surveyed online, half via phone, say they’ve used apps in emergencies.

The survey finds subsection of the population becomes dedicated to using social media during emergencies. These “emergency social users” take action, based on what they see in their social networks. They contact friends and family, gather supplies or seek shelter.

The survey also found the following:

  • “Emergency social users” look for hard facts, such as road closures, weather conditions and damage reports, to share. They also share information about how they feel.
  • Seventy six percent of Americans say they expect help in less than three hours of posting a request on social media. Last year that percentage was 68 percent.
  • Forty percent say they’d use social media to tell others they are safe, up from 24 percent last year.

The Red Cross now offers apps for shelter, first aid and hurricane preparedness.

Check out the full results of the Red Cross survey and a PowerPoint presentation.

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WTOP’s Rosemary Frisino-Toohey contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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