In time for tornado season in Arkansas, American Red Cross has released the Tornado App.
The smartphone application available for free download on iPhone and Android phones is a warning and information system as well as a toolkit for use before, during and after a tornado event.
The app, released Monday, features an audible siren that sounds any time NOAA issues a tornado warning in the phone’s location, regardless of if the app is in use or closed.
"The app can wake you up with a tornado warning. It’s loud enough so that it can wake you from a deep sleep," said Brigette Williams, American Red Cross communications officer for Arkansas.
Williams said the state is notorious for having weather events in the evening hours, often when residents are asleep.
"Arkansas is called fatality alley because our tornados tend to occur overnight when people are asleep and unaware. This is huge to have a siren on there that will push out if the app is on or not," she said.
Flashlight, strobe light and alarm tools in the app’s emergency toolkit help when the power goes out or if the phone carrier needs to alert others to his or her location.
"The yellow strobe light can be used if your car breaks down or if you are just out walking. Have that light on so you can be seen," said Williams.
The "I’m Safe" button featured in the toolkit sends the simple message of safety out to friends and family through social media, text or e-mail.
Several locations can be monitored, according to Williams, if friends or family members live or travel out of the area.
Williams said it is always tornado season in Arkansas, but peak time is between March and May.
"We’ve had them every month. They’re not as common in January, but we have had them and Arkansans need to be prepared," she said.
The app is the fifth in a series released by American Red Cross.
Previous disaster emergency apps were the Wildfire App, the Earthquake App, the Hurricane App, and the Shelter Finder App.
The First Aid App is also available with a link inside the Tornado App.
To download the app, call **REDCROSS, or **73327677. It is also available in the App Store and Google play.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-xxx. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)