That's easily the worst part of any natural disaster -- not knowing if your friends and family are safe. Here in hurricane country, we're usually prepared, but there's always that short period right after a storm where things are a mess and you haven't heard from someone.

Facebook announced yesterday a new page where people can go to check on their friends in the event of a disaster. It's called "Safety Check," and it was first used in Japan after the major earthquake/tsunami there in 2011.

The way it works is that Facebook looks at everyone's profile page and sees where you live. They'll also look at the last location from where you've posted. If there's a disaster in your area, Facebook will notify you and ask you to check in. Doing so allows the people on your Friends list to see if you're safe. You'll also be able to note if you're not in the affected area. You and your friends can call check in, and you're status will only be pushed to those you know.

It'll be interesting to see how something like this actually plays out in real life. I mean, if it's a disaster, then there's always the chance that you won't have internet access to check in, even if you're okay. Still, it sounds like a really helpful idea for a time when anxiety is high. It might cause its own set of anxieties when people don't check in at a timely manner, but it's better than simply not knowing.