Tornado by American Red Cross 1Tornado season is well under way. Although the devastating weather has been late on arrival this year, last week’s tragedy in Oklahoma shows that Mother Nature is not weakening. If anything, she is a stronger force than ever.

If you are in an area that ever has or ever will experience a tornado, the American Red Cross has your back with their Tornado app. Use this app to plan for emergencies, prepare for a rescue, and pick up the pieces after the disaster is over…

Design

The app is designed much like the American Red Cross’s other disaster apps. The color scheme is based on the iconic red and white imagery that is so familiar to us. The app is simple to use and offers basic information to help you when you are panicked, but also includes details for planning ahead of time. So, be sure to read over all that the app has to offer before it is too late.

The main page includes how to get help, what to do before and after a tornado, a section for planning ahead, and links to important weather news from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) via the Weather Underground.

There is also a digital emergency toolkit that includes a flashlight, strobe light, alarm, and test siren. The emergency tool kit also features an emergency plan outline where you can add family members names, meet up locations, and more. There is also a section that lets you create a list of contacts to send a quick “I’m O.K.” message to. This is handy for letting multiple recipients know that you are not injured and will contact them when you can.

There is also a quick-access button at the top-right of the screen that lets you send a message to friends and family that you are safe. You can post the message to Facebook and Twitter, or share it directly through text message or email.

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App Use

This app is full of useful information for planning for a tornado, dealing with the disaster as it is happening, and dealing with the aftermath and tragedy. If you need to contact someone for help immediately, tap the “Get Help” tab where you will find links to the American Red Cross, FEMA, local housing and rideshare options, and more.

The section dealing with right before and during a tornado includes tips on dangers to watch out for, listening to weather updates, preparing for evacuation, bunkering down underground, and more. You can also listen to tornado warnings, prepare for power outages, and properly evacuate a mobile home or RV.

Once the tornado has ended, this app will help you with careful reentry to your home, letting loved ones know your are safe, helping others that may need medical attention or special assistance, and keeping track of pets. There is also information on recognizing traumatic stress in animals and dealing with your own emotional health. There is a link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help with severe depression and anxiety that a person may experience after a tornado hits.

The recovery section offers tips on how to reinforce your home and things to ask a professional when determining damage done.

In the Plan Ahead section, see how to put together an emergency kit, find out how to familiarize yourself with your local warning system, prepare your home for a future tornado, make sure your work and schools are ready, and more.

The section with severe weather information includes links to the NOAA Weather Radio station near you so that you can listen for current and approaching weather conditions. You can also see the U.S. Severe Weather map from the Weather Underground.

In addition to the information on what to do before, during, and after a tornado, there is a test section to help you and your family become more familiar with tornado preparedness. There is also a location-based alert feature that will send you a notification if there is a tornado warning in your area. The Shelters section will show you the nearest American Red Cross shelter, including the distance from your current location.

You can also donate to the American Red Cross by tapping the Donate button in the “More” section. You will be able to make a donation of $10 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund via text message through iTunes.

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The Good

There is a lot of useful information for preparing for a tornado. Whether you are currently dealing with a disaster, planning for the future, or dealing with the aftermath, this app features tips and links to important websites that will help you deal with the tornado. The digital toolkit, which includes a flashlight, strobe light, and siren, are very useful for improving your chances of being rescued. The “I’m O.K.” feature is great for sending a quick message to everyone in your family that you are safe and will contact them later.

The Bad

I do not live in a state where tornadoes populate, so I was unable to determine whether the tornado tracking, warning, and alert features worked. However, a couple of user reviews in the App Store claim that these important aspects of the app did not work. I can’t attest to its reliability.

Value

This app is free and might have the ability to save your life. So, if your existence is valuable to you and you live within a tornado-populated area, you should probably have this app on your iPhone at all times.

Conclusion

If you live in an area where tornadoes can hit, you should add this app to your emergency kit. Even if it doesn’t send you tornado warning alerts properly, the information included in the app will help you in many other ways. If, like me, you don’t live anywhere near tornado alley, this app is useful for offering information on knowledge and preparedness for a tornado. Plus, you can donate to the Disaster Relief Fund with just the tap of a button. Tornado By American Red Cross is available for the iPhone and iPad. Download it in the App Store today.

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