More than ever, Canadians are turning to tech during disasters

In the earliest moments of a disaster or emergency, we all want up-to-date and accurate information – and according to a new survey, Canadians are going online for that information.

The Information in Disasters Report, based on a survey by Canadian Red Cross, found that more than ever, Canadians are looking for online services and support as well as information during disasters and emergencies. This includes things like registering as an evacuee, help finding family members, answers for questions and concerns, and accessing support that's available. This survey follows a previous Social Media in Emergencies report that was released in 2012.

63 per cent of Canadians have experienced an emergency or disaster, and the average number of disasters has doubled in the last 30 years.

Infographic showing the different types of disasters experienced by Canadians

When a massive wildfire forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray and surrounding communities in 2016, social media mentions for the Canadian Red Cross went up by 6,000 per cent - and many of these were from people who were seeking direct assistance through Twitter and Facebook. Social media is a great tool to help reach people and to have them reach you, and we have seen this continue in other disasters, like last summer's wildfires in B.C., and spring flooding in New Brunswick earlier this year.

The survey found that Canadians are becoming more interested in getting reliable and official information on how to be better prepared for these situations. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they would sign up for emails, text updates or apps that would help provide this information, which is up from 50 per cent in 2012. Sixty one per cent of those surveyed said they would turn to Facebook as their source for information, followed by email and text as the preferred sources.

While mainstream media is still most Canadian 's first choice for information during disasters, the survey showed that the Canadian Red Cross is considered amongst the top trusted source of info, along with government communications and the Weather Network.

Learn more about the survey's findings in the Information in Disasters Report. 

Responding to the needs of Canadians online would not be possible without help from our awesome volunteers! You can learn more about this position and how to join us on our website. 


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