The Heart of Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross Tuesday announced its new free Red Cross Tornado App that notifies users of tornado warnings. As seen during Superstorm Sandy Hurricane, apps can help people prepare for disasters.
Launched during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the Tornado App is the latest in a series of apps created by the Red Cross. 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," said Dave Griffith, Heart of Missouri Chapter executive director.
The free app – available in English and Spanish – 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.
The app includes a high-pitched siren and "tornado warning!" alert that signals people when a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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.
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.
"Tornados often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping," Griffith said. "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."
On Wednesday, Heart of Missouri spokesperson Clayton Kennedy told The Mexico Ledger that the app already had more than 325 ratings, averaging at over 4.5 out of 5 stars. "So, it's well liked," Kennedy said.
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, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.