Appropriate and Responsible Employee Social Media Communication in an Emergency

While people often feel sharing information is helpful in an emergency situation, UAB employees need to consider ethical, legal, policy and other issues regarding UAB-related social media and other communications. Communication related emergencies need to be handled carefully, accurately, sensitively and through the appropriate channels.

  • The UAB Police and Public Safety Division and University Relations are approved communicators during an emergency affecting UAB. If a public statement is necessary in social or traditional media, they will confirm facts and provide the appropriate statement.
  • Employees can share official communications but should not post/share information that has not been vetted and approved through proper channels.
  • Employees should recognize that their communications (e.g., original statements, shares, reactions, etc.) about UAB carry an implication of official information, and can therefore have unintended consequences.  

o   Many employees act as ambassadors in social media for UAB and are known UAB employees. Even if an employee does not identify themselves as a UAB employee – either on their profile or in posts – he or she may be a known UAB employee to recipients of a message.

  • Communicating during an emergency – whether the information is accurate, inaccurate or couched as speculation – can have serious consequences for the individual and/or the institution.

o   Accurate and inaccurate information alike can impede a police or institutional investigation and/or violate federal privacy laws, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

o   The sharing of information and details of an emergency can also be psychologically damaging to those most closely involved, who often request a level of privacy that should be respected. Because employees may not be aware of requests or sensitivities, they are encouraged to follow the institution’s lead in what information is shared or not shared.

  • If you have information regarding an emergency of which you believe officials are unaware, contact your supervisor.
  • If you are asked to share information about an emergency situation, we recommend you state that you are not the appropriate person to address that question/inquiry, and refer the individual to University Relations and/or the UAB Police Department.

UAB's primary concern during any emergency or severe weather situation is the safety of its students, faculty, staff and visitors.

UAB’s diverse community requires multiple, overlapping means of communicating with the campus, including direct, live communication from UAB Police officers at the scene of an emergency. Communications plans are reviewed frequently to consider alternatives and enhancements in technology.

During any actual emergency or severe weather situation, this site -- uab.edu/emergency  -- will be the official source of UAB information. In addition, the UAB Emergency Management Team will use B-ALERT, the university’s emergency notification system, to communicate through voice calls, SMS text messages and e-mails to the entire campus all at the same time. B-ALERT also integrates with Facebook and Twitter.

The UAB Severe Weather & Emergency Hotline at 205-934-2165
also will be updated as appropriate to provide official updates on the university's and UAB Hospital's opening and closing status

To register for B-ALERT
or update your existing information in the system, go to uab.edu/balert. All registration is connected to your BlazerID.

Not part of the UAB community but are on campus and still want to be notified? From your smart phone you can text the keyword "contractor" (without quotes) to 888777 and receive real time emergency information by text message. You can opt-out at anytime.


B-Alert Registration


More Information on B-ALERT

E-MAIL
B-ALERT e-mails will come from the UAB Emergency Management Team address: UABAlert@uab.edu

All BlazerID-connected UAB e-mail addresses are automatically included in the system; you will not be able to opt out of receiving these e-mails. If there are other e-mail accounts where you would like to receive notifications, register those separately in the system.

TEXT
Register at least one SMS-capable mobile device with the B-ALERT system. Why? Because message delivery in an emergency is usually quicker via this kind of messaging. Any time you register a new SMS text device, you will receive a message allowing you to opt out of the service. Should you choose to opt out, which is not recommended, update your preferences through the registration form at uab.edu/balert. Responding to the message will not complete the opting out process.

TELEPHONE
Register your cell, office and home phone numbers in order to receive voice messages at all numbers during a crisis situation.

SOCIAL MEDIA
Follow emergency notifications on Facebook at facebook.com/uabalert and on Twitter under the handle @UABAlert: twitter.com/uabalert

IDENTIFYING CODES AND NUMBERS
Text messages from the system will come to your cell phone or other handheld device from something called a short code; it will be either 23177 or 63079. Voice calls will originate from B-ALERT at 205-975-8000. Store these numbers/codes and program them all as B-ALERT so you will recognize them as the official source of UAB emergency and/or severe weather information.