Posting videos online is an easy way to make information accessible and reach millions of people.
Producing videos and posting them online takes more time than posting a message on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but YouTube is a key way for emergency managers to get their messages to residents. Why is that? More than 800 million people visit YouTube each month. According to YouTube, in one month, more than 3 billion hours of video are watched on the platform. Here are five ways that emergency managers should use YouTube:
1. Use videos to explain what your agency does and its goals. Fairfax County, Va., posted a video on YouTube that explains why its Office of Emergency Management was established as well as what the EOC is and what happens when it’s activated. It also goes into personal preparedness and how residents can receive alerts about emergencies.
2. Use entertaining characters to explain why it’s important to be prepared for an emergency. Prepare Metro KC posted a video about Disaster (“a busy guy who is always up to something”) and Preparedness, two characters that explain preparedness and the constant threat posed by potential emergencies. Seven episodes use Disaster and Preparedness to discuss different aspects of preparedness, including when to shelter in place and how to put together an emergency kit.
3. Highlight ongoing programs and ways that citizens can be involved in the efforts. Riverside, Calif., posted a video on YouTube about its Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). It discusses what CERT is and how it could benefit the city during and after an emergency. In addition to featuring Emergency Manager Anthony Coletta, CERT members discuss why it was important for them to join the program.
4. Share the basics of emergency preparedness. Richmond, Va.’s Emergency Preparedness 101 video features Mayor Dwight Jones explaining the importance of preparedness followed by Anthony McLean, the city’s emergency management coordinator, detailing the three steps to preparedness — get a kit, make a plan and stay informed.
5. Explain what to do during specific circumstances like extreme heat. Many locations in the U.S. experienced record-breaking hot weather this summer and excessive heat warnings were posted for many states. FEMA posted a video on YouTube in late June that outlines the effects of extreme heat and how to stay safe during it.
And a bonus tip: YouTube is a social network and isn’t strictly about posting in-house videos. Other agencies as well as businesses and even citizens create videos that provide important information. Finding and promoting other videos allows organizations to find new ways to share preparedness messages. For example, pet preparedness has become an increasingly popular topic as people are learning about what’s needed for their animals when they must evacuate. Although there may not be nearly as many opossum owners as there are for dogs and cats, the following video about “proper opossum emergency preparedness” explains the basics of creating an emergency kit for pets.