How to See If Your Facebook Friends Are Safe During an Emergency

Facebook’s Safety Check feature lets you check in during an emergency to confirm you’re safe. If you have friends or family in an area that you haven’t heard from, though, you may want to ask them directly. Here’s how to ask someone to check in with the Safety Check feature.

Safety Check is designed to work automatically and consolidate all those “Are you okay?” messages. Ideally, people in an affected area (like during a hurricane) should get a notification they can respond to. Sometimes they don’t get it, or Facebook might not realize they’re in the area. You can always message your loved ones directly—and that might make sense for some people you’re very close with—but using Safety Check makes sure they’re not overwhelmed with messages, particularly during a disaster.

To ask if someone is okay, open the Safety Check section here, and click on the disaster your friends or family may be affected by.

Along the right side of the page, you’ll see a list your friends and how they’ve marked themselves. If you don’t see a friend or family member you’re worried about, click “Search for a friend.”

Here, you can search for someone’s name using the search box in the top-right corner. As you search, their names will appear in the list. Next to each is a box where you can either ask if they’re safe, or mark them safe yourself. Note: Don’t mark anyone else safe unless you know for sure that they’re okay.

This person will get a notification asking if they’re safe and they can check in when they are.

Remember, you can also donate to fundraisers on a disaster’s page, if you want to help out but don’t know anyone directly affected.

If multiple people ask about a person’s safety, the Safety Check notifications should be bundled together, to help cut down on notification spam. This can be helpful if the person affected is busy dealing with things in their area. While there’s nothing wrong with messaging your close friends or family, consider using Safety Check instead when you’re curious about more distant acquaintances, or people who may be fielding a ton of messages during a crisis.

Eric Ravenscraft covers smarthome tech for How-To Geek. He's a problem solver who never learned to say no to a project. When he's not fixing things, he's cosplaying at cons, playing video games, and watching too many comic book movies. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.