Safe and Well: Remembering the Boston Marathon 2013

As the day of the 2013 Boston Marathon began, I observed Facebook posts pop-up with happy scenes of runners victoriously running past my sister-in-law’s camera. She had volunteered for a second year to be at a hydration station along the route and had started the day really excited to be a part of something so integral to her adopted city.

Her posts applauded her racer friends, cheering them on through social media. Watching as her photos and posts came through my news feed, back here in Ohio it was just a typical day for me– laundry was folded, children were fed, toys were picked up and re-scattered.

Until the frightening news came through, a bomb had gone off at the marathon.

Our family didn’t have a clear concept of where my sister-in-law had been stationed or what was really going on in Boston. Phone calls would not ring through to her due to lines and circuits being jammed with callers. Two states away, we had no other way to confirm that she was okay.

That was, until one of the most beautiful Facebook posts popped up:

“I am NOT downtown. Praying for my friends and their families.”

And then she shared the link:

Safe and Well Share

The American Red Cross offers the Safe and Well system during a disaster to alleviate anxieties and provide peace of mind to individuals looking for loved ones who may have been affected. In the case of Boston, the Red Cross had 466 registrants who were separated that Monday.

The Safe and Well program information is primarily housed on its website, but as part of the registration process individuals may connect to their Twitter or Facebook page. This will allow the system to send out a select message such as “I’m safe” and a link to the main webpage, www.redcross.org/safeandwell. It can be initiated at Red Cross shelters, when individuals may not have access to the internet.

Safe and Well is also an integral part of Red Cross disaster preparedness/response apps, like the Flood, Tornado, Hurricane and Earthquake Apps. The apps can connect to the individuals Facebook or Twitter accounts to send out a message of safety to loved ones.*

As it turned out, my sister-in-law had been at an early hydration station which had closed. When the bomb went off, she was already at home. But without being able to know this, I am so thankful for social media which allowed her to reach out and communicate to her friends and family across the nation.

Our thoughts are with you today, City of Boston. Standing together you are truly strong.

– Mary, NEO Red Cross Communications

 

 

*The apps are available through the Google Play and Apple App Stores. For more information, visit www.redcross.org/apps

Learn more about Flood Safety Awareness with a new app from the Red Cross

On average, there are 89 fatalities and more than $8.3 billion dollars in damage each year as a result of flooding. Floods and flash floods are the most common, and costliest, weather related disaster in the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the organization that monitors and manages weather and ocean related data, predicts that minor flooding will occur this spring in Northeast Ohio. That prediction does not take in to consideration the potential for flash flooding, a type of flooding that occurs when water rises in a short amount of time, quickly with little or no warning.

In an effort to get the word out about the deadly nature of flooding, NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) observe Flood Safety Awareness week from March 16 through 22.

Screen Shot from the Flood App, now available from the American Red Cross.

Screen Shot from the Flood App, now available from the American Red Cross.

To celebrate, the American Red Cross released a free, Flood app.  The app helps users gain more information about how to prepare for and respond to a flood in their area. It features interactive quizzes and awards users with badges that can be shared on social networks.

Want to build an emergency kit in preparation? The app can help with that!

Most importantly, the app can be used during a flood. It provides an audible and location specific alert when a Flood Warning or Watch is in effect, plus a toolbox of helpful features such as turning a smart phone’s camera flash into a flashlight and helping the user post the message “I’m safe” on social networks. It will also map out area Red Cross shelters.

The app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store or visit redcross.org/apps