By MELINDA WILLIAMS
American Red Cross has launched a new app for mobile devices that will put potentially life-saving information in the hands of those in tornado-prone areas.
The app, which is free and available in English or Spanish, provides instant access to information so they know what actions to take before, during and after a tornado. The app even provides a high-pitched siren to announce when a tornado warning is active and an “all clear” alert when the warning has been cancelled.
iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users who download the app will be able to have real-time local information even if the app is closed.
“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,” said Amy Whittaker, regional director, public affairs. “The audible alerts in this app can save lives – even if users can’t monitor the weather because they are away from radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work.”
Other features of the app include:
•Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watch and warning alerts;
•Enhanced weather maps and information provided by Weather Underground, a digital brand of The Weather Company;
•One-touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way;
•Simple steps and checklists people can use to create an emergency plan and share it with household members;
•Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
•Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm;
•Locations of open Red Cross shelters, and
•Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.
The Tornado App is the latest in a series of emergency preparedness HYPERLINK “http://www.redcross.org/mobileapps”mobile apps created by the Red Cross that are to help save lives during hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.
“The Red Cross has made great strides in putting vital information in the hands of people who need it during emergencies. In fact, our apps are now on more than two million mobile devices across the country,” added Whittaker.
The Tornado and other Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to www. HYPERLINK “http://www.redcross.org/mobileapps” redcross.org/mobileapps. Although apps can help prepare people for disasters, they are not a substitute for training. For class information and how to register for training, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.redcross.org/takeaclass” redcross.org/takeaclass.
Donations can be made to the Red Cross by going to HYPERLINK “http://www.redcross.org” redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.