Americans Increasingly Reach For Smartphones In Emergencies

A few decades ago, it was unimaginable for most of us. Would you have believed that even regular old middle-class people would have a device like the smartphone? It’s about the size of a pack of cards, with hours of battery life, and you can use it in a time of natural disaster to get the latest news, learn about road closings and emergency services, send mass updates to friends and loved ones, and maybe watch TV or play some games. In a pinch, it even makes phone calls. Yes, as long as cell towers are still up and you can charge the battery, a phone is an ideal companion in a natural disaster. The Red Cross confirmed that this week, releasing a survey of American adults that shows more of us are getting our emergency information in app form: then, presumably, playing Angry Birds.

People are relying less on traditional media outlets for their emergency information. 81% of poll respondents said that they relied on TV news for their information, compared to 90% of respondents last year. Fewer respondents said that they used online news as well, but there was a small increase in people using mobile apps to get information.

Of course, all of this social networking has a downside: people expect someone to answer their pleas for help sent via gadget. 36% of respondents said that they expect help to arrive within an hour after posting a plea via social media. The Red Cross, and common sense, point out that you’re better off calling 911 in the case of an actual emergency. You know, with the phone. That you have in your hand. That you’re using to ask for help on Facebook.

More Americans Using Mobile Apps in Emergencies [Red Cross]