Iowa’s tornado season is almost here so the American Red Cross is launching a free application for smartphones and tablets that’s linked to tornado alerts via weather radio. Dan Cataldi, the Red Cross’ state response officer for Iowa, says the app is free — and it could be a life saver.
“It’ll actually sound an alarm and give you that warning even if the app is closed,” Cataldi says. “It’s great for people to have on their smartphones so if a tornado happens in the middle in the night, if the TVs are off and they don’t own a weather radio, they’ll still be notified and be able to get to safety.”
When the tornado warning has expired or been canceled, you’ll get an “all clear” notice. It also keeps you in the weather loop if you’re away from home. “It does have the ability to track your location,” Cataldi says.
“It can use your settings, if you allow it to do that. You can also program in to follow other locations, so if you have family or friends in another area and you want to follow the weather alerts in their area, for instance, my family is in Kansas City, I can track what’s going on down there. It will follow you but you can also follow other places as well.”
While tornado season will arrive with the warmer weather of spring, he reminds, tornadoes can strike during any month of the year. The app is designed to provide a host of useful information, including where the nearest tornado shelter is located.
“When you’re in a Watch phase, it gives you ideas and suggestions on things you can do to prepare,” Cataldi says. “It helps with recovery as well. After the storm has passed, it gives you the ability to send out a message very quickly telling people that you’re safe and okay, just through clicking a button within the app.”
It can also be set up to notify you about severe thunderstorms, flash floods and other weather warnings. The application is among several free apps being offered by the Red Cross, along with other useful programs covering topics like first aid, CPR, wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes and more.
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: www.redcross.org/mobileapps.