The notion that social media has revolutionized how we absorb, share and find information is not new. Twitter broke the news about Osama bin Laden’s death, and media outlets depend on social media as a source for breaking news. Lesser known is how social media and smart phones have become a valuable asset for disaster relief as they facilitate communication when other channels are compromised. Recent events like the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Japan prove the utility of social media during a natural disaster.

Combined with the mass adoption of smart phone devices, most of us have access to our social networks and the world in the palms of our hands. Especially in the wake of natural disasters, when electricity and phone lines are down, smart phones and social media networks serve as the best (and possibly only) way to communicate and share critical information.

We wanted to investigate the utility of smart phones and social media during crises a little bit deeper. In this infographic, we have compiled information that shows how smart phones and social media have aided communication during recent natural disasters. The research and stories were shocking. Tales surfaced about a man who used his phone, while stuck under rubble, to access first aid tips, and others used flash light apps to see when electricity wasn’t working.

These stories and statistics highlight the value of social media as an information sharing tool. Most of us already feel like we are married to our phones, so do not think of this as proof that you need to be plugged in 24 hours a day. That said, it doesn’t hurt to grab your smart phone on your way out the door either.