FEMA: In Event of Fire, Get Out First, Tweet Later

By Melanie Arter | October 31, 2012 | 3:23pm EDT

In case of fire sign (Courtesy of American Red Cross blog)

(CNSNews.com) In a blog on its website about the observation of Fire Prevention Week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reminded those that use social media that in case of fire, leave the building first before tweeting about it.

“Earlier in October we observed Fire Prevention Week – with a focus on getting people to practice a home fire drill with their family. For those that frequently use social media (or have children that do), this sign might be an appropriate reminder of the sequence of steps to follow if a fire should occur,” said Lars Anderson in the blog section titled, “Fire safety in for social media users,” under the headline “What We’re Watching: 10/19/12.”

That is followed by a picture of someone walking downstairs while holding what appears to be a cell phone while a fire rages from the floor above him. The message underneath says, “Exit building before tweeting about it.”

The picture provides a link to a blog on the American Red Cross’ website, titled “In Case of Fire…” which explained the reason for the reminder.

“I laughed out loud when I came across this photo, not because pausing to tweet during a fire – or even a fire drill – is funny (it isn’t), but because seeing this sign (which is available for purchase and can be found in stairwells across the country) opened my eyes to the fact that we now live in a world in which we have to remind people NOT to pause to tweet during a fire,” Erin Ferris said in the Oct. 17 blog.

Social media has made “a positive impact on our communities in terms of making connections, increasing awareness, providing valuable information, and in extreme cases, saving lives,” Ferris wrote. “But there’s also no doubt that social media can have negative consequences if used incorrectly or at the wrong time, like when driving or when one should be getting the heck out of a burning building.”

“So today, one reminder to use social media for the right reasons and when it’s safe to do so, the blog said, also reminding people to “install and maintain smoke alarms, and plan and practice escape routes from your home, office, and/or school.”

“And for pete’s sake, exit the building before tweeting about it,” the blog added.

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