16 December 2013
East Yorkshire’s recent tidal surge saw a dramatic increase in people using Humberside Fire and Rescue Service’s social media output to help keep themselves safe.
More than 107,000 people viewed updates on the service’s Facebook page as conditions deteriorated with the number of ‘Likes’ or people subscribing to the page trebling to almost 5,000 in the same 24 hours.
During the same period, 1,000 more people became Twitter followers.
Now the service is aiming to capitalise on that interest by encouraging more people to sign up – with the reminder that becoming a follower is as easy as pressing a button.
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service encourages householders to spend a few seconds pressing the test button on their smoke alarms each week.
Now senior officers are suggesting householders spend a few seconds pressing another button – on their computer or smartphone, to follow the service on social media.
That gives access to real-time information which could help gain precious time in emergency conditions – as well as the service’s regular safety advice.
The system has become increasingly valuable because many people now have access to social media sites via smartphones or tablets, creating the opportunity to reach a substantial part of the community with the most up to date information.
Regular Twitter and Facebook updates from HFRS helped keep followers aware of where problems were emerging on the Humber Estuary and along the River Trent.
That type of information will be repeated in future, for example during extreme winter weather, along with other useful advice.
Chief Fire Officer Richard Hannigan was delighted with how messages were relayed during the tidal surge:
“Communication of key messages is always of major importance during a critical incident.
“The effectiveness of social media cannot be underestimated and I would urge all residents of our service area to just take a few seconds to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.
“It doesn’t cost anything and who wouldn’t want up to the minute key messages and advice in the future should the worst happen again?”