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Tornado App Brings American Red Cross Safety Information to Mobile Devices

Saturday, May 4th, 2013 | Uncategorized | No Comments

ETMVAudio alert feature can help save lives when users can’t monitor the weather

In the wake of the severe weather that tore through East Tennessee on Thursday, April 11, the American Red Cross urges everyone to be better prepared next time by downloading its official Tornado App, putting lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in, visit, or have loved ones in tornado-prone areas.

This free app – available in English or Spanish – gives iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during, and after a tornado. The app includes a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning!” alert that signals people when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area – even if the app is closed. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.

“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 of the app 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 Tornado 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,” added Birge. “In fact, our apps are now on more than two million mobile devices across the country.”

Mobile activity soared due to Superstorm Sandy:
• More than 400,000 people downloaded the Red Cross Hurricane App
• Nearly six million NOAA weather alerts were sent
• Preparedness content was the most popular feature of the app followed by alerts and the shelter locator
• The average time spent using the app increased 300%
• The app had 15 million page views

Right after the storm, 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.

The Tornado App, along with the others, 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 redcross.org/mobileapps. Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit redcross.org/takeaclass for course information and to register.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year, and we help people get ready to respond to emergencies by providing these apps for free. The Red Cross needs the help of the public to continue this lifesaving effort. People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999, or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters, supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, teaches skills that save lives, provides international humanitarian aid, and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.

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