Tuesday, March 05, 2013
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New Tornado App brings American Red Cross safety information to mobile devices

Audio alert feature can help save lives when users can't monitor the weather

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[March 05, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- The American Red Cross has launched its official Tornado App, putting lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in, visit or have loved ones in tornado-prone areas.

This free app -- available in English or Spanish -- gives iPhone, iPad and Android smartphone 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 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 canceled.

"Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping," said Amy Eden, emergency services manager for the Illinois Capital Area Chapter of the Red Cross. "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."

Other features of the app are:

  • 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.

  • Tool kit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm.

  • Locations of open Red Cross shelters.

  • 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 2 million mobile devices across the country," said Jamie Davis, emergency services manager for the Mid Illinois Chapter.

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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.

  • 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, is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.

Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. For course information and to register, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year and helps people get ready to respond to emergencies by providing these apps for free. The Red Cross needs the help of the public to continue this lifesaving effort. People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.


The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters, supplies nearly half of the nation's blood, teaches lifesaving skills, provides international humanitarian aid, and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization -- not a government agency -- and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

[Text from file received from the American Red Cross, Illinois Capital Area Chapter]

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