It is spring and that means it is also tornado season.
That is one reason why the American Red Cross is urging people living in tornado prone areas to take advantage of their official Tornado App.
The free app is available in English or Spanish and gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado.
It 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 Joni Smith, Executive Director, Red Cross Northeast Georgia Chapter. “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. It is my favorite Red Cross APP because I can keep track of weather throughout the country, where loved ones live.”
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; and
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. In fact, our apps are now on more than two million mobile devices across the country,” added Smith.
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, 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 www.redcross.org/mobileapps.