The Rapidian

Red Cross Tornado App keeps GR residents ready for storm season

Smartphone tornado early warning app from the American Red Cross give families the tools to be prepared.

It's finally spring in West Michigan, that means storm season. After a dramatic and neverending winter, barometric pressures in the Midwest have been sporatic since the thaw, and tornadoes have already touched down this spring across most of our neighboring states. A few weeks ago, there were rumors of twisters and extreme winds just north of Grand Rapids, near Rockford and further north.

Living in a state with such extreme weather can be fun and exciting, but as we've learned from floods and severe ice over the last few years, it can also be quite dangerous. While we can't prevent tornadoes, we can be prepared for them.

As anyone who's ever watched the movie Twister knows, when a tornado is near, there isn't always a lot of warning. Residents who are close enough to hear a town's tornado alarm might have only minutes, or even seconds, to get to a safe shelter.

So what's the best way to stay prepared in a storm? As with most other things in life, there's an app for that! 

American Red Cross' Tornado App is free to download and available for iPhone and Andriod. It has a built-in tornado warning system which is rumored to go off before local tornado alarms do, by two or more full minutes. Like any well-designed app, it also has a slew of other tools and info for those who like to be prepared for anything. From the app, you can access instructions for preparing your evacuation route, planning ahead, finding nearby shelters and, of course, info on what the local storm scene is doing at any given time. You can even test your tornado preparedness with a series of "self challenge" quizes. 

It's actually quite fun. A great educational tool for adults and kids alike.

If you like American Red Cross' Tornado App, you should also download our other emergency preparedness apps. The free First Aid App has information on how to deal with just about any medical emergency you could imagine, well organized and easy to access in case you need it. Like Red Cross' other apps, it's got a wonderful educational component and self-testing center.

For those who want to take part in American Red Cross' mission to "prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies", the American Red Cross Team App is a great start. Engage with Red Cross and accept "missions" to help coordinate during disasters and spread the organization's mission. The Team App is a great way to get involved in local community and volunteership.

So head to your App store and download these apps. While we'll certainly all be hoping for a break in the extreme weather for a while, it's good to be prepared just in case.

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