Red Cross apps help people prepare for, respond to disaster - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Red Cross apps help mobilize before, after disaster

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    How you can help the victims of the Moore, Oklahoma recover from the May 20 tornado in the Oklahoma City suburbs.
    How you can help the victims of the Moore, Oklahoma recover from the May 20 tornado in the Oklahoma City suburbs.

Pretty much everything can be done on a smart phone these days, so why not make an app that makes it easy to help those in need? Turns out, the Red Cross already has.

After disasters like the tornado that decimated Moore, Okla., those who are spared from the devastation often look for ways to help. The Red Cross will collect millions for those affected -- and the need is certainly great.

Yet, the response experts with the Red Cross say the best thing anyone can do is take time to get prepared before disaster strikes -- and yes, there is an app for that.

Jason Viana's job with the Red Cross is to make people think about the unthinkable by asking them what they would do if an EF-5 tornado tore through their neighborhood.

"There's nothing difficult about preparedness, it just takes time," Viana explained. "The key is to make sure you do it. Putting together a disaster kit, it's not rocket science, but you have to make it a priority."

The Red Cross brought disaster planning into the 21st century with four apps that can be downloaded to any Android or Apple smart phone or tablet.

"The app will guide you, step-by-step, in putting together your kit, putting together your plan and making sure you have access to information no matter if you have power, electricity or cell phone signal," Viana said.

Much like how tax software took the guesswork out of filing annual returns, the free Red Cross apps guide people through the various stages of a disaster, from planning ahead to cleanup and recovery. In fact, there's even an interactive map to the nearest Red Cross shelter in the event of a disaster.

"Ideally, downloading this app, knowing where to get your information, having a disaster plan for your family -- do those things before the sirens go off," Viana urged. "You have a much better chance of making it through unscathed."

Be it a tornado, wildfire, hurricane or flood, the first question that often comes to mind is: Is everyone I know OK? The app lets users check in with the Red Cross database called "Safe and Well" or even send out a personalized message to put others at ease.

"Through this app, you can go to Safe and Well through the Red Cross, you can tweet directly to your Twitter account, you can post on Facebook -- any one of your social media resources," Viana said. "You can, in one place, tell everyone you know and love you're OK."

Another app that can help in life-threatening situations is the Red Cross' First Aid app, which instructs users on life-saving techniques and includes demonstration videos on things like CPR.

For those who want to help people recovering from disasters, the apps make that easy as well by offering quick donation information and telling people where they can give blood.

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