Facebook Safety Check and Your Plan

Many people are seeing Facebook use the Safety Check button for the first time due to the recent Paris terrorist attacks. Normally reserved for natural disasters like 2011 Tokyo Tsunami and nuclear disaster and later after earthquakes in Afghanistan, Chile and Nepal as well as Tropical Cyclone Pam in the South Pacific and Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines, Facebook made the decision to use the notification system for a terrorist attack for the first time in history.

Although the tool is still only used for distinctly time sensitive large events that have been analyzed by Facebook staff for the scope, scale and impact, Facebook does not intend to use the app for ongoing crises like an epidemic or war, for example in the Middle East. We, at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, encourage everyone to use a variety of tools to notify the people in their emergency plans of their well being. This could be any combination of the following during an emergency:

  • Text message to friends and loved ones that you are safe
  • Phone calls to out of the area contacts (these people can then notify others)
  • Facebook or any other social media message stating your well being
  • Meeting at your designated meeting spot in person
  • Listing yourself at safeandwell.communityos.org
  • Posting messages on a community board and any other methods you see people using!

The key here is really repetition, make sure you let people know in multiple ways, not just relying on social media.

But what if you are not safe? How do you tell Facebook that? Well, we of course want you to call 911 if you are not safe and/or if you need medical attention. SF Dept. of Emergency Management does not want you to rely on social media if you need immediate help. Facebook and other social media outlets are great ways to spread a message, but when it comes to serious emergency situations rely on 911.

This is a great time to test out your emergency plan by calling your out of state contact, checking numbers, meeting places, and information. To learn more and download your own plan visit:



Posted on November 16, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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