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New free app gives alerts to tornado dangers

The American Red Cross recently launched its tornado app.

This free app, available in English or Spanish, gives iPhone, iPad and Android smartphone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information. This will help them know what to do before, during and after a tornado.

The app includes a high-pitched siren and tornado warning alert that signals people when a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tornado warning has been issued in their area, even if the app is closed. An all clear alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been canceled.

"Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping," said Phil Hansen, CEO, American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region. "The audible alerts in this app can save lives, even if users can't monitor the weather because they are away from radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work."

Other features of the app include:

--Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watch and warning alerts.

--Enhanced weather maps.

--One-touch "I'm safe" messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends.

--Simple steps and checklists people can use to create an emergency plan and share it.

--Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity.

--Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm.

--Locations of open Red Cross shelters.

--Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

Launched during National Sever Weather Preparedness Week, the tornado app is the latest in a series of mobile apps created by the Red Cross.

The tornado app, along with others, can be found in the Apple Store and Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross, or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.

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