Archived Story

Red Cross app keeps citizens informed, safe

Published 12:39pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Severe weather preparedness: there’s an app for that.

The American Red Cross has launched Tornado App, a free application available for iPhones, iPads and Androids that provides real-time weather information.

“I don’t see why there’d be one smartphone in Tallapoosa County that doesn’t have it,” said Melissa Poe, executive director of the Alabama Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross “It can only do one thing, and that’s save lives. It would behoove everyone to have it on their phone.”

The app will include a high-pitched siren and ‘tornado warning’ alert that signals when a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tornado warning has been issued, according to Poe.

The Red Cross issued a statement on the nationwide app they say can awaken people while they’re sleeping and provide another way to access weather information.

“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,” Billy Baxter, executive officer for the Alabama region, said in a press release. “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.”

Poe said the app will utilize GPS to track weather but can also be programmed with the addresses of loved ones far away.

“I have a daughter and son-in-law in Birmingham,” Poe said. “I pulled their address in the app so I could warn them if there was a tornado headed their way.”

She said the app is also especially helpful in situations where people are traveling.

“Since it works off GPS it can alert you to weather conditions while you’re on the road,” Poe said. “This is a wonderful thing.”

In addition to providing weather information, Poe said the app has other useful features. She said the app includes a checklist and steps to create a family emergency plan; interactive quizzes; preloaded preparedness content that can be accessed without mobile connectivity; a tool kit with flashlight, strobe light and alarm; ‘I’m safe button’ that alerts family and friends danger has passed; and the locations of open nearby Red Cross shelters.

Poe said other Red Cross severe weather apps like the earthquake and hurricane apps have been extremely successful.

“We have seen excellent stats (with the other apps), and I anticipate that nationally the tornado app will be the most often used,” Poe said. “This is coming just before tornado season starts. It’s free – why not have it?”

To download the tornado app, visit the Apple App store for iPhones and iPods or the Google Play Store for Androids. The app is also available online at www.redcross.org/mobileapps.

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