'Safe Place' campaign prompted millions of people to learn about weather safety

June 27, 2017

On the afternoon of July 11, 2008, Joyce R. was making pizzas with her grandchildren when her daughter called to warn that a tornado had been sighted in their area. She stopped what she was doing and led her family down to their basement shelter. Minutes later, an EF-3 tornado passed over their home, completely destroying it. But because Joyce knew where to go and acted quickly, a larger tragedy was prevented. She and her family survived the storm with no injuries. “After it’s all over and you have time to realize what all has happened, you’re just very happy to all be together,” Joyce recalled.

Weather-Ready Nation

Survivor stories like Joyce’s illustrate the importance of knowing what to do when extreme weather threatens. In fact, knowing your "safe place" is the number one preparedness action you can take. To help make sure that as many people as possible know where to go and what to do when faced with weather hazards, the National Weather Service turned to social media to launch the 2017 #SafePlaceSelfie campaign.

113 million

Twitter accounts were reached through the #SafePlaceSelfie campaign.

#SafePlaceSelfie was a grassroots effort on the part of NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation to get individuals, businesses, and all organizations ready, responsive, and resilient to extreme weather events. The National Weather Service reached over 113 million Twitter accounts with safe place information during the week of April 3-6 2017. 

Millions of people participated in the Safe Place Selfie campaign.
Millions of people participated in the Safe Place Selfie campaign. (National Weather Service)

This campaign also opened the door to additional preparedness actions people can take, such as creating an emergency plan or putting together an emergency kit. The devastating impacts of extreme weather events such as record breaking snowfall, violent tornadoes, destructive hurricanes, widespread flooding, and devastating drought can be reduced by taking advanced action. Ultimately to reduce the risk of being adversely impacted by extreme weather, people need to be prepared and know where to shelter when faced with hazardous weather.

The campaign ran from all three National Weather Service accounts including @NWS, @WRNAmbassadors, and @NWSOwlieSkywarn. On Thursday, April 6, the National Weather Service led a #SafePlaceSelfie tweet chat. The peak activity for this campaign occurred on this day, reaching over 4.6 million users that collectively saw the posts 30.5 million times. With such a broad reach, the NWS hopes that more people will know how to respond to weather threats.

Taking action and getting to a safe location can mean the difference between escaping unharmed and getting injured, or worse. Take it from a weather survivor. When asked what advice she had for others, Joyce responded, “I would tell them not to hesitate. Now when there’s a storm I get my shoes, my purse, my medication, and I go down into the basement.”

This story was provided by the National Weather Service, a member of the NOAA Education Council, as part of our ongoing effort to share education accomplishments from across NOAA.