In the Trump era, Twitter has become the de facto way that the White House communicates with the American public. But @realDonaldTrump isn’t the only government social media account out there. By keeping an eye on various authorities on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you can stay on top of just about everything: how to save energy, when you can get a deal on park entrance, how early you should get to the airport, and whether you need to board up your windows due to an oncoming storm.
1. National Weather Service
What it’s good for: Severe weather alerts nationwide, making it valuable to travelers. If you’re expecting a hurricane, a blizzard, or a flood, follow one of the local accounts the NWS maintains so you know whether you need to evacuate.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What it’s good for: Handy health info such as how to differentiate a cold from the flu, or where to get a yellow fever vaccination. You’ll also get warnings about food recalls due to bacterial contamination.
Add @cdcemergency to your follows, too. This is where the CDC puts its warnings about public health emergencies such as epidemics and natural disasters.
3. Department of Interior
What it’s good for: Stunning vistas and wildlife pics from our public lands. You’ll also get a heads up when admission to National Parks is free. These accounts will also alert the public if there’s a wildfire in a park or if a government shutdown is closing parks.
4. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
What it’s good for: Education on how to recognize financial scams, your rights when collectors call, and any changes in tax laws. Also, you’ll probably hear about a major financial data breach here first. (See also: 6 Ways Social Media Can Save You Money)
5. Transportation Security Administration
What it’s good for: Your travel questions get answered here, such as, “Can my husband carry on his dead bug specimen?” Turns out, the answer is yes! You’ll also find changes in ID requirements and carry-on rules. Watch for warnings about delays at specific airports as TSA rolls out new security screenings.
6. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
What it’s good for: Product recalls, and safety warnings you might not have thought of, like the importance of locking up the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes, especially if you have children or pets that could get into it. If it turns out a product you’re using can be deadly, you’ll want to know right away. You’ll also be exposed to hilarious safety-related memes.
7. Federal Emergency Management Agency
What it’s good for: Giving you a heads up when weather conditions may lead to disaster, such as a recent warning to Southern Californians that heavy rain coming in might lead to debris flows in burn areas. In case of tornado, hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, tsunami, or any other emergency, tune in here for evacuation instructions, local phone numbers for help, and other potentially lifesaving information.
8. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
What it’s good for: Cool videos from the International Space Station, Q&As with astronauts, contests, and job listings. Follow these accounts and you’ll be the first to hear about any massive asteroids heading toward Earth or alien attacks.
9. Department of Energy
What it’s good for: Energy saving tips. You’ll also find instructions on how to prepare for and avoid power outages during storms. Nuclear power plant emergency or massive blackout? You’ll hear that here first, too.
10. U.S. Geological Survey earthquake alerts
@USGSted on Twitter
What it’s good for: Popular in seismically unstable regions such as the San Francisco Bay Area, this feed will share the most recent quakes all over the world, so you can verify whether the shaking you just felt was a truck going by or an earthquake. If The Big One hits you, you’re unlikely to be able to pull up Twitter, but if The Big One hits the area where a loved one lives, you can monitor this feed for details.
11. U.S. Department of State
What it’s good for: A recent post advised citizens to apply for a passport before an impending price increase. You can also find official statements — often on video — to help you stay on top of developments on the world geopolitical scene. If our tensions with Russia and North Korea lead to World War III, this would be the ideal news source.
12. Your local government agencies
Probably the most useful government social media accounts are not national. You’ll want to subscribe to your local police department, transportation authority (I recently checked California’s to find out the conditions at Donner Pass on my way to a ski trip), and school district. Some cities have Twitter accounts you can use to notify authorities of things that need attention, like potholes and criminal activity.