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The American Red Cross has released an app to help residents in hurricane alley prepare, evacuate and return smoothly if a major storm strikes.
The free app, available to iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android users, provides a storm preparation "how to" guide and a tool kit, complete with a flashlight, strobe light, pre-programmed "I'm safe!" messages for social media, plus maps to storm shelters.
The application can be found by searching "Red Cross Hurricane" in app stores or by going to www.redcross.org.
Although there are other hurricane and emergency apps available, most primarily seem to track storms and send notifications about severe weather, according to a search through app stores. The Red Cross app offers preparation guides, first-aid tips and emergency information, in addition to GPS technology that can pinpoint the user's location and send National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather alerts. Users also can enter loved ones' locations and monitor severe weather in their areas.
A hurricane evacuation can be overwhelming, but Red Cross to-do lists allow users to check off tasks such as filling vehicles up with gas, turning off propane and making an evacuation plan before they leave home. The lists can be found on the "Right Before" part of the program.
"Make a kit, build a plan and stay informed," Red Cross of the Lowcountry communications manager Nancy Olsen said. "We know people aren't going to walk around with their (hurricane) plan in hand, but you can keep it all in the app."
The plan can also be emailed to friends and relatives using a smartphone.
The tool is the second app produced by the Red Cross. The first -- a first aid and emergency situation guide -- was launched about a month ago. Tornado and earthquake apps will be added soon, according the Red Cross website.
Follow staff writer Anne Christnovich at twitter.com/IPBG_CrimeNOB.