The American Red Cross announced today the launch of its official tornado app, which puts lifesaving information in the hands of people in tornado-prone areas.
The app is free and available in both English and Spanish. It can be downloaded to an iPhone, iPad or Android device.
The tornado app provides instant access to local and real-time information, telling people what to do before, during and after a tornado. The app includes a high-pitched siren and a tornado warning alert that signals when a warning has been issued in the area—even if the app isn't open on the smartphone or tablet at that time.
An "all clear" alert also lets users know when a warning has expired or been canceled.
“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,” said Mary Beth Birge, emergency services director for the Red Cross East Tennessee Region. “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 include:
—Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watch and warning alerts
—Enhanced weather maps
—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
—Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks
Launched during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the app is the latest in a series of mobile apps created by the Red Cross, the nation’s leader in emergency preparedness. The apps have been used 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 2 million mobile devices across the country,” Birge said.
After Hurricane Sandy, more than 400,000 people downloaded the Red Cross hurricane app, nearly 6 million alerts were sent, the app had 15 million page views and the average time sent using the app increased 300 percent, officials said.
Right after the superstorm, the hurricane app was updated with real-time recovery information including Red Cross shelter and feeding sites, FEMA sites, open gas stations and warming centers to help those affected by the storm, according to Red Cross leaders.
People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.