March is Red Cross Month and the organization is launching its official Tornado App, putting lifesaving information in the hands of people who live in tornado-prone area, according to a news release from the agency.
Sunday, March 3 was the beginning of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornado that ripped through Harrisburg, IL. Red Cross volunteers opened shelters and fixed meal sites and also drove into the demolished neighborhoods to deliver meals and help residents with their immediate needs, according to th news release.
The new Red Cross tornado app—available in English or Spanish—gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and some tablet users instant access to local and real-time information. 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.
“As we know from Harrisburg, Joplin, and the Good Friday tornadoes in St. Louis, tornadoes can happen anywhere in our area at any time,” said Cindy Erickson, Regional CEO of the Red Cross. “This app helps us prepare for the threat of a tornado. If NOAA issues a tornado warning—the app will alert us with a siren.”
There also was the New Year's Eve 2010 tornado that came with little warning and ripped through Fenton and then devastated parts of Sunset Hills.
More features of the Red Cross Tornado 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.
The Tornado App is the latest in a series of free mobile apps created by the Red Cross. The suite includes apps for first aid, hurricanes, earthquakes, disaster shelters and wildfires.