Regardless of where you live in the U.S., natural disasters can strike in a number of ways in the form of a hurricane, tornado or wildfire, just to name a few. When one occurs, it could force you to leave your home suddenly.
Not knowing where loved ones are before, during or after a traumatic weather event can be nerve-wracking.
The American Red Cross has several free apps you can download to your phone.
Even if you download just one, like the Hurricane App, it offers a lot of beneficial features.
"One of the best things about this app is safety at your fingertips, knowing what to do when emergencies strike, being able to let people know in real-time that you're ok if something happens, being able to track storms as they are approaching areas where you live, or maybe loved ones—where they're living," says American Red Cross Spokesperson Kate Meier.
This app also allows you to add contacts, evacuation points, pet-friendly hotels in your area, and establish an evacuation destination so everyone in your family will know precisely where to meet up if they are unable to return home.
There are also lots of emergency tools that could instantly turn your cell phone into a flashlight to help you navigate, or a strobe light that could be used to alert rescuers to your location.
If an evacuation is ordered for your area, the Hurricane App will show you where emergency shelters are located.
"You can find any open Red Cross shelter across the country," Meier says. "So, even if it's not hurricane related, if there is a wildfire in California, or tornadoes in the Midwest, you can open the hurricane app and open that section that says 'shelters' and you can get to one if you need help or help loved ones find one if they need help."
If you end up in a shelter, clicking on the 'I'm Safe' feature will immediately inform your friends and family that you're no longer in harm's way via your social networking sites or text message.
This could be very important if power to your area is knocked out, or if the phone lines are over capacity during some other non-weather related disaster like a terrorist attack or other man-made disaster.
In addition to the Hurricane App, the American Red Cross has a Shelter Finder App, First Aid App, Earthquake App, and Wildfire App.
Within minutes, the downloaded apps can be on your phone and Meier adds, "It's such an easy thing to do. Why wouldn't you do it?"
Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.
The following information is from the American Red Cross:
The following information is from Rick Schou, director of Emergency Services, Greater Carolinas Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The following information is from Kate Meier, Spokesperson Greater Carolinas Chapter of the American Red Cross.
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