Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

March 15, 2013

Tornado app could save lives

Red Cross adds to list of mobile apps designed to help plan for, respond to natural disasters


The American Red Cross last week launched its new “Tornado App,” and Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator Jamie Moore said the new app has the potential to save lives.

The free app is available in English and in Spanish for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and Android tablet users, giving them instant access to local, real-time information regarding tornado watches and warnings in their area. It includes a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning” alert to let the user know when a tornado warning has been issued in their area. And it sends an “all clear” alert to let users know when a tornado warning as expired or been cancelled.

T.D. Smyers, regional chief executive officer for the Red Cross’ North Texas Region, said the audible alerts allow users to monitor the weather even when they are away from the radio or TV and in places where weather band radios may not work.

The app also offers:

zx Location-based warning alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flood watches and warnings that the user can customize to specific locations.

zx Enhanced weather maps.

zx One touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to send texts to family members and friends.

zx Checklists and steps to create an emergency plan and share it with household members.

zx Pre-loaded content giving users instant access to critical action steps even without mobile connectivity.

zx A tool kit with a flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm.

zx Locations of open Red Cross shelters.

Moore, who checked out the app over the weekend as a line of storms moved through the area, said he is impressed.

“I think it’s great,” Moore said. “There is only so much that local officials can do to warn the public when there is a severe weather event. The public has to be proactive in protecting themselves, and this is a great way to do that.”

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