This tornado was photographed Nov. 7, 2011, just northwest of Manitou, Okla., in southeast Oklahoma. The tornado formed around 3:15 p.m. CST and moved towards the northeast of the town. Courtesy photo
App’s audio alert feature can help save lives when users can’t monitor the weather
• American Red Cross
WASHINGTON – As National Severe Weather Awareness Week begins, the American Red Cross is releasing 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 smart phone and tablet users provides 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 when a NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area – even if users have the app closed. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.
“The alerts in the Tornado App can save lives,” said Jim Judge, preparedness expert, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Committee and chair of its Preparedness Sub-Council. “Now, when a tornado warning is issued in the middle of the night, the siren alert can wake people up so they can head to a safe area. Users can even receive alerts when they are away from their loved ones or don’t have access to radio or TV.”
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 via social media outlets 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 mobile apps created by the Red Cross, the nation’s leader in emergency preparedness. “With more than 2 million downloads, our apps have already helped save lives during hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires,” Judge added.
Mobile activity soared due to Superstorm Sandy:
• More than 400,000 people downloaded the Red Cross Hurricane App;
• Nearly 6 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 percent; and
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, warming centers and open gas stations 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.
Using apps can help people prepare 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 go to 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.