Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April Showers Bring Weather Warnings

We're getting some really interesting weather in Western New York right now. You can hear the rain pouring down and the thunder booming in downtown Buffalo at the moment. A Flood Watch has been issued starting at 7pm, and there's even a Freezing Rain advisory issued for 2am-11pm Thursday. This has the potential to be our first big spring storm, so make sure you are prepared.

Volunteer Diane Sargent looking over
flooded areas while deployed to Florida
in 2012
Flooding can happen quickly, and just six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you of your feet! Freezing rain means ice spots on the road, which could make travel difficult. If we get more than more ice than expected it could bring down trees and power lines, which of course could cause widespread power outages, as could the lightning we've been seeing.

Now's the time to follow our three steps to disaster preparedness--get a kit, make a plan, be informed. Take a moment to read these safety checklists and make sure you're ready, then monitor local media for updates. Hopefully you won't need your disaster kit this time, but it's better to be safe than sorry!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Wildfire? There's an app for that!

There are media reports this morning regarding a swamp fire burning in Lewiston. Officials say there's no danger to people or buildings at this time, but what if that were not the case? Wildfires may not be everyday occurrences in WNY, but they can happen, and the Red Cross has an app for that (and other potential disasters, too)!

Our FREE Wildfire App--available in English and Spanish for use on both iPhone and Android platforms-- includes the “Blaze Tracker” trio of features, which can be customized for alerts specific to locations where they live, travel or have loved ones:
  •        “Blaze Warnings” which let users see areas where NOAA has issued warnings that conditions are favorable for potential wildfires;
  •          “Blaze Alerts” inform users when a wildfire has begun within 100 miles of any locations monitored; and
  •          “Blaze Path” from which provides users with a current view of an existing wildfire’s perimeter, how it has spread and the fire’s current location when available.
Additional features include:

  •        One touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out of harm’s way;
  •          Locations of open Red Cross shelters;
  •          Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
  •          Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm; and
  •          Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.
The Wildfire App--along with the Tornado, Earthquake, Hurricane, and First Aid apps--can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. 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. People can go to to find a course near them.