5. Encourage citizens to inform and help others

Help is most often very needed during a crisis and many citizens are willing to help others, but do not know how they can. By specifying this need and providing some directions where and how citizens can assist others they can be effectively engaged. For instance, via social media users can be requested to inform their neighbours about a possible threat or to take care of each other and especially less-agile citizens. The diffusion of this type of information is especially important, as those who face the greatest risks during crises are often those with the least access to information.

Key steps: 
  • Define different kinds of help that could be provided.
  • Advise citizens on what they can do and what they are not supposed to do.
  • Explain to citizens where there is a need for help.
  • Ask followers on social media to encourage others to help each other.
  • Explain the importance of the information getting to the least informed and provide if possible examples of who this might be.
Attention point: Social isolation is a key risk factor for citizens during crises. This was also the case during the 2013 Heat waves in the UK. Older people, in particular, need to rely upon their social networks to ensure good health during heat waves.  Keep in mind that over-reliance on social media versus traditional communication methods may increase social isolation for those who do not use new technologies, and could adversely affect the most vulnerable during this type of crisis.

 

Example: 

People who might be able to help with discarding fallen trees need other “skills” than someone who can help out by transporting a neighbour to a shelter. It is important to provide options and state what help is needed where.

On the right different requests for help during the 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake that were tweeted are depicted. The lower one even specifies how people from overseas can help, other than by donating.

   

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