Yesterday Facebook launched their Safety Check feature , it allows users to quickly inform friends and family they are safe should a disaster occur in the area they are situated.
The feature was developed and launched in Japan, an area effected by the devestating tsunami in 2011. Naomi Gleit, vice president of product management  explained “Our engineers in Japan took the first step toward creating a product to improve the experience of reconnecting after a disaster” and continued “They built the Disaster Message Board to make it easier to communicate with others.”
Facebook explain how it works:

safetycheck1When the tool is activated after a natural disaster and if you’re in the affected area, you’ll receive a Facebook notification asking if you’re safe.

We’ll determine your location by looking at the city you have listed in your profile, your last location if you’ve opted in to the Nearby Friends product, and the city where you are using the internet.

If we get your location wrong, you can mark that you’re outside the affected area.

If you’re safe, you can select “I’m Safe” and a notification and News Feed story will be generated with your update. Your friends can also mark you as safe.

If you have friends in the area of a natural disaster and the tool has been activated, you will receive a notification about those friends that have marked themselves as safe. Clicking on this notification will take you to the Safety Check bookmark that will show you a list of their updates.

If you’re ever in a situation that would require you to use Safety Check, we hope it’s a tool that helps you stay connected to those you care about, and gives you the comfort of knowing your loved ones are safe.