On March 4, 2013 the American Red Cross released its Tornado app for Android and iOS platforms. Of primary function, the app will provide an audio alert, allowing people to be aware of the imminent danger of a tornado in their area, even if they are not near radios or TVs. To use the app in this way, the user will need to have his location services on.
In line with the ARC’s mission of preparation and education, the app is also rich with preventative content, what to do if a tornado is imminent, and post-event recovery information. It even has an “I’m Safe” notification tool so people can let others know they’re alright via social networks.
The preparedness portion of the app instructs users on the steps necessary to stay informed and prepared for an impending tornado, including saying up to date via radio announcements, being ready to evacuate, move to an underground shelter, basement, or safe room, and (for God’s sake man) stay out of mobile homes. It then goes into some event planning like home and tree concerns, securing loose yard items, and get animals indoors. The post-event recovery section of the app is extensive, and includes continuing to monitor the radio, and how to help emergency crews (or at the least, not hinder them), and inspecting your home for damage.
A test section evaluates your knowledge of tornado preparedness, and history, and the user can earn badges for taking the tests.
As mentioned, the Tornadoes section will alert the user of any tornadoes in his area as long as the device’s location services are active. Alternately, the user can program in areas by ZIP code for alerts in that area if location service activation is not desired. This id also useful to keep up on conditions where remote family members or loved ones may be.
A shelter section provides the location of public access shelters for tornadoes. There appear to be none programmed in southeastern Michigan as of this article’s publish date, but as these apps become more popular, that is likely to change.
ARC apps like this have grown in popularity after Superstorm Sandy. Over 400,000 people downloaded their Hurricane app, and its preparedness and shelter locators were the most often used features. With southeastern Michigan under periodic tornado watches, this app is very useful for people in our area.