1 minute readDisaster

HOW TO: Get Red Cross Twitter Alerts During Emergencies


Last week, Twitter announced a new, exciting feature called Twitter Alerts, which will give users the ability to sign up for critical updates from verified emergency sources. This means that during a natural disaster or other kind of public emergency, accounts like local law enforcement, emergency management agencies, or response/aid organizations can push potentially life-saving information to people who have signed up to get them.

What does this mean for the American Red Cross? Our priority during emergencies is to provide you the most relevant and timely information we have on our Twitter account. Alerts are just another way to ensure that important, validated information that we share will be seen by people who want to see it.

We have signed up as an early Alerts partner, so you can sign up to receive our Alerts right now. Remember, you can always un-subscribe at a later date as well by just visiting the same page. You have a couple options for how to receive alerts:


  1. Alerts can show up on your regular Twitter stream with a special orange bell graphic below.
  2. You can receive text messages with the content of the Alerts. (Note: We will not have access to your personal phone number.)
  3. You can receive a notification via the Twitter app on your phone’s screen.

From the @RedCross account, you will receive Alerts during disasters that have national impact or prominence.

Here are some of the types of Alerts you can expect from @RedCross:

  • Updates on how to respond to imminent weather hazards that put multiple regions or states at risk
  • How to get help from the Red Cross after a major disaster
  • Safety guidance before, during, and after a disaster (e.g. Actions to take during an ongoing massive tornado outbreak)

In addition to our national account, we also have a couple local Twitter accounts that are Alerts-ready. You can see some examples of what to expect in this blog post by the Dallas Forth Worth chapter.

  • If you are in the San Francisco/Bay area, you can follow @RedCrossBayArea.
  • If you are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you can follow @RedCrossDFW.

For the most relevant critical alerts on safety and Red Cross disaster responses in your area, you should follow your local chapter on Twitter. Many of our local chapters are already actively talking about local events every day. During a local disaster, they will also put up important information about how to stay safe, get help, or give help.

You can use this handy list of local Red Cross chapters, or find your chapter’s social media accounts by searching your zip code at this link and visiting the official chapter website.

We will slowly be signing more local chapters and regions up for Twitter Alerts in the coming months- follow your local chapter today and get prepared!

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  1. Glad to hear that you are picking up this capability.

    How is ARC currently simulating social media play, such as Twitter alerts, during the drills and exercises you run? Been a lot of chatter about this lately on LinkedIn, and curious to see what sort of work around you currently have in place.

  2. Hi Gary,

    Great question – we do not typically simulate social media activity using particular tools during exercises, but we do often address how to be prepared to handle social media monitoring and engagement during various disaster exercises. For example, our public affairs team does trainings every year with disaster scenarios and we build in discussions about how to talk about breaking stories or misinformation on social sites.

    Thanks for commenting,


  3. There are those of us who are not social media users but who nevertheless have wireless devices that are capable of receiving emails, text messages, and, in fact, use them for one-to-one and one-to-many two-way communication (see:Zello, beOn, and others). I have been involved in public safety with a particular interest in communications for 40 years including 15 years in Disaster Services (Disaster Supervisor, Chicago Region 1974-1981; Vice-chairman, Disaster, Northern Vt Chapter, 1985-1989; Disaster rep and supervisor, Seattle Chapter, 1989-1991); Western Carolinas Region, Asheville, assistant communications lead volunteer, 2013-). I would be happy to talk with anyone about suggestions if interested.

    Mike Meehan