Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Your 20 Sources of News During a Disaster

During a disaster, getting information will be one of your top priorities. Here are some of your best sources of news and information both pre and post disaster:

  1. Cable television news--during a disaster, the cable news stations will be providing 24/7 coverage.
  2. YouTube--while cable TV will be providing continual coverage, YouTube generally has them beat as far as immediate coverage since it takes a while to get the news providers to the scene and set up. During many disasters both large and small, average citizens often post videos to YouTube within minutes of the event happening.
  3. Regular TV news (the kind of TV with an antennae, not cable)--I have a small, battery-operated TV that I have used quite a few times when the power goes out or we are away from home. Note that in February of 2009, you will need a converter in order to receive a signal for these types of TVs.
  4. Radio--radio news shows are an excellent source of information; this includes home radios, car radios, the radio on your cell phone, and portable radios.
  5. NOAA/Short wave radio--in addition to a regular radio, it is a good idea to get the type of radio that also includes weather bands and short wave bands.
  6. HAM radio--this is an excellent way to both give information as well as receive information from the outside world.
  7. CB radio--a bastion of news and info for truckers for decades, the trusty old CB radio is another great source for news.
  8. A police scanner--I often have my scanner on just to hear what is going on in the area. More than once I have taken a different route home because there was a car accident on one of the major streets or freeways that I usually take.
  9. Your cell phone--not so much to receive calls although during a disaster this is probably why you will be using it, but for the ability of many phones to get online and allow you to check the internet for updated news and information as well as receive text messages from various news update services.
  10. Your home phone--in some areas, your phone can be used for public information as well as for personal conversation. During the California wildfires, the reverse 911 system was used to call people in affected areas and tell them to evacuate.
  11. Weather info sources--in many disasters, weather plays a prime role. Sources for weather info include online and the Weather Channel on cable TV.
  12. Online news sources--these range from and other mainstream news sources to for the latest news and social blog posts.
  13. Other useful website--during local disasters, I have found reliable news on many local websites such as the local newspaper, the county and state Department of Emergency Management, the county roads department website, etc.
  14. Newspapers--depending on the location of the disaster, and if your local newspaper is still able to produce its product, this will be another source of news and information albeit not so timely as other immediate news sources such as TV and internet.
  15. Other people--friends, neighbors, and relatives who live both near you and far away will most likely be calling or visiting to share information and make sure that everyone is OK. Although news travels through the grapevine fairly quickly, this may or may not be the most reliable source of news and information.
  16. Internal/external communication from your employer--most employers have a plan that will kick in after disaster strikes. Most plans involve some sort of method for providing news and information to their employees whether it is a number to call to get emergency info, a website that provides news and info, and/or a phone tree-type system to keep employees in the loop.
  17. Online forums--forums and bulletin boards have been a place to share news and information since the advent of the internet. During a disaster, forums and boards will no doubt heat up with all sorts of information--just be sure to check and double check the news you find in these places as it may not be the most reliable.
  18. Public address system--some cities or areas of certain towns may have a public address system to provide informational announcements before, during and after a disaster. At other times, the police and fire services may drive through neighborhoods giving information and instructions over their PA systems in order to reach the most people as quickly as possible.
  19. Twitter--twitter messages can be posted/read online or on your cell phone. In one recent case, a many who was being hauled off to jail in a foreign country was able to send a "tweet" (message) so his friends would know where to find him and help bail him out.
  20. The local store/church/etc--basically anywhere that people gather (the local grocery store, the local coffee shop, church, etc) is a place that people will share news and information. Disaster planners are looking at these places, especially churches and community centers where people gather and generally have the attitude of helping others, as some of the bases for rolling out community aid programs during a disaster.

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