As temperatures in the area rise, so does the threat of severe weather, as demonstrated by Friday's severe weather warnings for Santa Rosa County.
Florida is one of the most tornado prone states, right behind Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. In 1962, there was a tornado that devastated the area, killing 15 and injuring 46. The tornado left a path of destruction eight miles long and destroyed 51 homes and damaged 64.
When a storm is approaching, accurate and reliable information is critical for public safety. Most try to keep an eye on severe weather threats, but there are times it's just not convenient - like overnight hours when people are sleeping.
One answer to this concern is a new mobile app released by the American Red Cross that addresses the threat of tornadoes. The mobile app has an audible alert that works around the clock to notify users there may be a tornado warning in their area.
This tornado app, when combined with mobile connectivity, has up-to-date weather information and updates during episodes of severe weather. There are also safety checklists and simple steps to follow, aimed to create a family emergency plan, according to the Red Cross. Along with updates, the app is loaded with information about how to prepare for a storm and what to do in case of emergencies. This information can be accessed with-or-without mobile Internet or Wi-Fi access.
"The most important thing would be access to information," Doug Watson, representative of the American Red Cross said. "And actually having it at your fingertips. That's first and foremost."
In the event of an emergency, the app can list open and available American Red Cross shelters. "It'll show you every open Red Cross shelter in the nation," Watson said. "Your family in another state could look up the nearest open shelter for you if you didn't have the capability."
When the app is paired with social media, a user can notify friends and family about their status and condition via their online profiles.
"The most important thing you can do is be informed," Joy Tsubooka public information officer for Santa Rosa County said. "Whether it be an app or a weather radio, it's extremely important that people have access to the information and are prepared to act in any situation."
The tornado app is free of charge and available for the iPhone, iPad and Android smartphone and tablet platforms. It can be found in the Apple Store and on Google Play, or by calling **REDCROSS. The Red Cross has apps available for hurricane warnings as well.