Expect the Unexpected: Download our Tornado App!

When you hear the word “tornado”, Revere, Massachusetts is probably not the first place that comes to mind. However, on July 28, a tornado unexpectedly touched down in Revere, leaving a significant amount of property destruction in its wake. Any natural disaster, especially a tornado, often arrives without much warning and with little time to prepare. In this technological age, people are constantly using mobile devices to stay connected to those around them. Our society is becoming increasingly reliant on smart phones and tablets, especially as a lifeline for emergency information. In fact, a recent Red Cross survey shows that apps are now tied with social media as the fourth most popular way to get information during emergencies – behind TV, radio and online news sites. In response to this statistic, the Red Cross has created an extremely useful tornado app. This app gives people local and real-time NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) tornado watch and warning alerts- whether it’s in the area where they live or places where friends and family live. In addition, Tornado app users are provided with immediate access to information on what to do before, during, and after tornados with preparedness information developed by trusted Red Cross experts.

Once you have downloaded the app, it is important to familiarize yourself with it. One of the most important parts of this app is the alert feature. In the event of a tornado, a high-pitched, siren and “tornado warning!” message will sound when a NOAA tornado warning is issued in the area – even if the app is closed. In addition, an “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or been cancelled. These alerts are particularly useful because many tornados happen in the overnight hours. If the owner of the device is asleep, away from the radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work, the app’s audible alerts can help to save lives. In addition to providing users with alerts, there are also features like checklists to help families create an emergency plan, a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and an audible alarm, locations of open Red Cross shelters, and an “I’m safe” button that allows users to signal to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way.

Nearly one-fifth of Americans say they’ve received some kind of emergency information from an app they’ve downloaded, making the Red Cross app development effort even more important. The Tornado App is just one of many disaster-specific apps that can be useful during a natural disaster. During Superstorm Sandy, more than 400,000 people downloaded our Hurricane App. Right before and during Sandy, users spent the most time reading the preparedness information, tracking the storm, and reading and then sharing NOAA alerts through social media. The ability to share this information on social networks or by text or email can provide a peace of mind for frequent travelers or those with family in other parts of the country. Immediately after Sandy, people used the app to locate Red Cross Shelters and to let loved ones know that they were safe.

As we saw with the tornado in Revere, natural disasters can occur in places we wouldn’t expect. With the touch of a screen, you will be downloading an app that can potentially save your life. It is user-friendly and full of great information, so what are you waiting for? Download it to your device now!

The app is free and available in English and Spanish. It’s designed for iPhone, iPad and Android smart phones and tablets. All of our apps 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 redcross.org/mobileapps.

While apps can help you prepare for disasters, it’s important to remember that they are not a substitute for training. To learn more about Red Cross First Aid and CPR courses or to register, go to redcross.org/takeaclass.


Ugh? Snow forecast at end of March? Get prepared

photo 5We know. We don’t want this forecast either. But if you’re seriously talking about another winter storm, and well, we may be, you’ll want to get prepared while you’re around this weekend.

What are you going to need? Your kit should have the basics: Food, water, 7-day-supply of any medicines you take, a first aid kit.

And power up the cell phone — we’ll be at @RedCrossMA tweeting the latest about ways to stay safe.



Some Neighborly Advice from American Red Cross

Picture 001

Knowing your neighbors’ strengths and skills can help when disaster strikes. Meet with your neighbors to construct a plan and consider how you will be able to help children, elderly and the disabled in the interim before help arrives.

I met with my neighborhood watch organization and we designated a medical contact, a handyman with electrical and plumbing knowledge and a coordinator who would account for all members of each household. I, of course, will use my amazing blogging and social media skills to relay messages to the outside world that my street is safe.

rco_blog_img_BlogLogoBe sure to have a substantial stock of water and nonperishable food items at hand. It would also be useful to draft a master list of serious medical conditions and emergency contacts. It doesn’t hurt to be too prepared!

As always, you can check out American Red Cross website for more safety tips.

Stay safe in the snow

Temperatures are expected to be extremely cold over the next few days and the winds will make it feel like it is below zero. To stay safe during this winter storm follow these steps:

  • Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
  • After the storm, be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
  • Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
  • Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Avoid frozen pipes – run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
  • Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
  • Download the American Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores. See all Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.


Heating systems are running at full force and many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm. To avoid fire danger, you should remember the following:

  • Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  • If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  • Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

One year ago today … Hurricane Sandy

Sandy Disaster

One year ago today we were preparing for landfall of a 1,000-mile-wide storm.

Our Disaster Operations Center (above) was full and running, and shelters were open throughout Massachusetts.

More photos online here, but we know Massachusetts was spared the worst. Check out the Red Cross Sandy One-Year Report online.

Red Cross leads shelter training at MEMA

Alex training MEMA on shelter fundamentalsSeptember is winding down, but our minds are still on preparedness.

Today, Red Cross instructor Alex Ellis is helping make sure other agencies are ready for the next big storm.

That’s her, educating staff at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Association on the fundamentals of sheltering.

Want to know more about being ready for anything? Visit RedCross.Org/PrepareMassachusetts.

Eastern Mass volunteers deploy to Colorado

Colorado Floods 2013Three Eastern Massachusetts Red Cross volunteers are answering the call for help in Colorado, which continues to deal with flash flooding.

Melissa Sieminski of Scituate will be joined by Paul and Carol Neuger of Duxbury in Colorado, representing Eastern Mass as they tackle bulk distributing and volunteer staffing needs, respectively.

Melissa Sieminski

Melissa Sieminski

So far, the American Red Cross has:

  • Deployed more than 400 workers to staff shelters and evacuation centers
  • Mobilized more than 20 Red Cross vehicles to distribute relief supplies
  • Worked with community partners to provide more than 10,000 meals and snacks
  • Provided more than 1,700 health and mental health contacts

In the days to come, the Red Cross will be supporting Disaster Assistance Centers by offering relief supplies and other recovery support.

The Red Cross continues to work closely with local emergency management officials, the Colorado National Guard to help ensure people get the help they need.

Access to some communities is difficult due to flood waters and damaged roads. As flooded areas begin to re-open, the Red Cross will be there to assess the damage, distribute clean up supplies and support a recovery effort that will take weeks and months. We’re already planning for that effort now.

Please join us in wishing our volunteers the best of luck. To find out how you can help, visit RedCross.Org.

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