Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

No, Western New York is not in Kansas. But Dorothy may be surprised to know that we seem to have a few tornado warnings here every year, including some actual tornado touchdowns. During this National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the Red Cross has launched an new Tornado App that puts help right into the hands of people who live in or visit tornado-prone regions. Best of all, it’s free and available for iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone and tablet users. The Red Cross app gives people instant access to local and real time information on what to do before, during and after tornadoes.
The app, available in English and Spanish, has a number of features including a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning!” alert that signals when a NOAA tornado warning is in effect. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled. People who are out of harm’s way can quickly tap the “I’m safe” button to send a message letting loved ones and friends know they are okay.

People across the country can now receive location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood alerts on their mobile devices and share them on their social networks. Users can share vital information via Facebook, Twitter, text and email. Even if someone doesn’t live in a tornado-prone area, users can have peace of mind knowing they’ll have instant information about loved ones who live in other parts of the country.

Other features of the app include:
·         Simple steps and checklists people can use to create an emergency plan and share it with household members;
·         Preloaded preparedness content that gives instant access to critical action steps even without mobile connectivity;
·         Toolkit with a flashlight, a strobe light and an audible alarm;
·         Locations of open Red Cross shelters; and
·         Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

Red Cross First Aid, Hurricane, Earthquake and Wild Fire Apps have already been downloaded more than 2 million times. People have not only downloaded the apps, but have used them to track storms, let loved ones know that they are safe, find Red Cross shelter locations and access other recovery resources. Download the apps today. 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

While apps can help prepare you for disasters, 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. Go to for information and to register.

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