Weather Ready Nation Post: The dangers of lightning are real #LightningSafety #SummerSafety

Lightning_signAs of July 8, 2015, 17 people have died from lightning strikes in the United States — ALL of these deaths were avoidable. This is double the average number of year-to-date lightning fatalities (8.8) over the past five years (2010-2014). There are several possible reasons for this, such as more convective activity across the country; an improved economy resulting in more people taking vacations this summer; the possibility of people taking more risks than usual; and the element of chance. But the most important issue is behavior: People must go indoors when they hear thunder!

The dangers of lightning are real. Resources can be found below, and join the conversation using hashtags: #LightningSafety #SummerSafety

Useful Links

Main NWS Lightning Safety Website:
Shortened URL:
Understanding Lightning:


Lightning_activitiesNumber of year-to-date fatalities as of July 6:

2015: 17 fatalities
2014: 9 fatalities
2013: 9 fatalities
2012: 7 fatalities
2011: 8 fatalities
2010: 11 fatalities

Key Messages


  • Lightning deaths are already double those than at this time last year.

  • ALL of these deaths were avoidable.
  • There is no safe place outside. You must go inside a sturdy building with walls, closed windows, electricity and plumbing, or get in a hard topped car with the windows rolled up
  • As soon as you can hear thunder or see lightning you are in danger.
  • Don’t WAIT… When thunder roars, go indoors!
  • Do NOT seek shelter under a tree!
  • Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from the storm.
  • Plan your activities so you don’t get caught outside in a thunderstorm.
  • If there are thunderstorms in the forecast, make sure you can quickly get to a safe shelter or reschedule the outdoor activity.

NY #VOST : After Action Report for Second Avenue Building Collapse #EastVillage, NYC #SMEM

FDNY second avenue building collapse NYVOST deployment v.2RR   Google DocsNew York Virtual Operations Support Team


Response/Exercise: March 26, 2015 – March 30,2015

Situation Summary

On March 26, 2015 at 1517 hrs, FDNY units were dispatched to 123 2nd Ave between 7th Street and St. Mark’s Place for a fire and possible explosion. At 1522 hrs a structural fire and building collapse were reported by arriving units. By 1554 the incident had reached a 7th alarm. Two 5-story buildings were fully involved with fire, as well as 3 floors of a neighboring 7-story building. Surrounding occupancies were evacuated and a perimeter was established. Outside operations commenced due to the large volume of fire. All three buildings eventually collapsed.

Integrating social media into Situational Awareness supports the enhanced quality of decision making and risk management processes. During the operational period, the NYVOST employed a range of emerging technologies to support an integrated Situational Awareness toolset for the FDNY Incident Management Team by:

  • Monitoring social media for mission-critical information from the public
  • Amplifying public safety messaging from the FDNY and related NYC sources
  • Performing quality assurance and reputation management for the activating agency
  • Archiving and AAR reporting

Operational personnel can gain much from practicing the actual tasks that would be executed in the event of a major disaster, such as Superstorm Sandy. NYVOST members (VOSTies) gained ninety six (96) hours of activation experience in total over the operational period. Individual practitioners gained between (4) hours and forty four (44) hours each, depending on their voluntary availability.

NYVOST Incident Response March 26 -30, 2015


FDNY Incident Management Team LogoThe New York Virtual Operations Support Team (NYVOST) activated at 21:27 on March 26, 2015 to provide social media emergency management (SMEM) support to the FDNY Type II All Hazard Incident Management Team at the scene. The FDNY-IMT’s Public Information Officer (PIO) liaised with the NYVOST’s Team Lead remotely, who coordinated the VOST response to perform the following missions:

  • Monitoring for issues requiring a 911 response, smoke conditions, displaced people,
    rumors and hoaxes.
  • Amplifying @FDNY twitter and other official response agencies and verified sources.
  • Identifying possible FDNY-IMT response gaps on social media or complaints as
    reported by the public.

These primary missions remained throughout the operational period, with a special instruction added on the second day to source, verify and curate images for FDNY use. The team’s Pinterest board, entitled #NYC Explosion March 26th 2015, fulfilled this need.
collage2-Pinterest  Discover and save creative ideas

Situation Reports

Monitoring results were first sent in a Situation Report via email to the PIO within thirty (30) minutes of activation, then periodically as needed. Monitoring activities that resulted in actionable or reportable items were escalated to the PIO per the VOST Modified ICS-204 Coordination Summary and Communication Protocols.

Amplification by NYVOST simultaneously supported important social media public safety messaging by NYC Government Agencies and verified sources, including FDNY, NYC OEM and the Mayor’s Office, in both English and Spanish. The total number of NYVOST posts on Twitter and Facebook was over 160 items. More than 100 images were verified and made available to the FDNY-IMT using the Pinterest curation platform.

Summary social media metrics are also included in the After Action Report (AAR) report for the purpose of analysis. Measuring how social media messaging has performed in an emergency or crisis situation helps the agency evaluate how well their critical messages are reaching the population. Social media is especially relevant to individuals and groups who may not have access to traditional media, cable television or local resources, such as NY1. The absence of actionable information for this population, as well as the diaspora, is a gap of vital importance. The NYVOST response helped bridge this gap.

For this operation, NYVOST comprised three (3) seasoned volunteers rotating shifts with minimal gaps due to leveraging time zones. Two of the three were located in Suffolk County, New York and one was located in Australia. Additional monitoring effort was contributed at initial activation by a professional EM located in Suffolk County.

The team demobilized with the FDNY-IMT at 18:00 on March 30, 2015, at which time the team had logged a total of 96 FTE hours. The next day, the team followed-up by posting additional recovery resources for the public benefit. For AAR, a data specialist located in New Jersey assisted.

Working with NYVOST increased FDNY’s reach and exposure, as well as that of other NYC Government agencies, in both English and Spanish. It also allowed those departments and agencies to keep their essential messages “current”. The amplification of messages by quoting and retweeting to appropriate hashtags (or keywords) assists in keeping select essential information prominent in the timeline of a “trending” hashtag such as #EastVillage.

The 22 page After Action Report about NYVOST’s support of the FDNY Incident Management Team’s response to the Second Avenue Building Collapse in March 2015 is now available. You can request a copy using the contact form below.


AAR cover photo: FDNY fire operations continue in the East Village Joe Esposito, Commissioner NYC Emergency Management, March 27, 2015

French #VOST : Association VISOV publishes new #SMEM GUIDE in French and launches new #MSGU website.



As part of its awareness campaign for the use of social media in emergency management (MSGU) , the Francophone association VISOV (International Volunteers Virtual Operational Support) publishes a new guide 1 , translated from the reference document ” Using Social Media for Enhanced Situational Awareness and Decision Support “, originally published in English in June 2014 by the US Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology.

This 50-page document , “UTILISATION DES MÉDIAS SOCIAUX EN GESTION D’URGENCE (MSGU) “ is full of tips, techniques and #MSGU examples.


To download the document, go to the new VISOV tab in the main menu!

VISOV wanted to make this guide available in French as a priority for the attention of French and Québec organizations responsible for emergencies, also for French speaking Emergency Managers throughout the world. And that, in order to help them to systematically integrate a SMEM (MSGU) approach in their planning and emergency response.

Created in January 2014 but already active since 2012, the VISOV association has twenty digital Francophone volunteers that are multidisciplinary, such as firefighters, rescue workers, crisis managers and consultants in communication.

During disasters (primarily weather) or major events (earthquake, tsunami …. ), VISOV may support technical and methodological reinforcement for Internet monitoring (crowdsourcing) collaborative mapping (crowdmapping) and broadcasting messages on social media, such as precautionary and public safety advice.

In coordination with the authorities 2 (fire, prefectures …) or NGOs and other operators who apply to the association for assistance, VISOV members act from the heart. They support the actions of the emergency forces to locate and assist people in disaster, to identify those on social media asking for help before, during and after a crisis and to achieve a wider dissemination of messages and advice related to civil security.

In 2014, VISOV was particularly active during the floods in south-eastern France, an annual predicament lasting several days (sometimes involving 24/7 VOST support), with hundreds of volunteer hours accumulated.

VISOV, like its international counterparts 3 , advocates for a useful and practical solidarity of the digital presence for each.

With their good knowledge of MSGU and thanks to their high level of availability and involvement, digital volunteers in emergency management can:

  • Contribute to saving lives (geolocation, prevention messages, accelerating research and detection of affected persons / missing …), the ultimate mission
  • Gain faster access to information in real time and benefit from a better understanding of the current event,
  • Assist and guide both protection / civil security authorities and citizens in difficulty,
  • Participate in the dissemination of alert messages and relaying communications from public authorities to citizens,
  • Interact with people in distress or present at impacted places,
  • Verify, correct information, or even cut short the rumors 4 ,
  • Relay critical information about the crisis upstream to official allies / partners.

“Through its presence on social media, the web in general and more through their mobile phone, any citizen can and must become an actor of his own safety and that of all. VISOV is positioned as a relay and an interface between the public and civil security authorities such as firefighters, government crisis units and NGOs.” says Ludovic Lux, President of VISOV and volunteer firefighter in the Bas-Rhin in the Alsace region (East of France).

1  In 2012, VISOV had already made ​​available a guide to best practices MSGU in New Zealand in French.
2  In July 2014, members of VISOV received official congratulations from the Directorate General of Civil Security and Emergency Management (Ministry of Interior) for their support to the operations conducted by the COGIC (Operational Center of Inter Management Crisis).
3  Internationally, VISOV is recognized as a VOST – Virtual Operations Support Team (list available on / ) . In recent months, members of the association provided assistance during weather disasters in the Philippines. Assistance in Internet mapping and monitoring is underway following the tragic earthquake in Nepal.
4  The actions of VISOV were hailed in the After Action Report for the train accident in Brétigny-sur-Orge on 12 July 2013: “this collaboration has enabled [us] to stem rumors and 2 to sort Relevant information [that is] circulating. “

Contact VISOV

In France: Marina Tymen 00 33 (0)-0775830206 – @Matymen
In Canada: Guylaine Maltais 819 6687292 – @Planifaction

Download the document here and give us your feedback!