Hurricane app debuts for free from American Red Cross

Connects to social networks to say 'I'm safe,' share weather data

A new, free hurricane app from the American Red Cross offers location-based NOAA weather alerts and a one-touch "I'm safe" message that users can broadcast via social networks to family and friends in an emergency.

This screenshot shows the tracking of a hurricane with the a new American Red Cross Hurricane app, which is available for iOS and Android.

The app became available today, the start of the third month in the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The season starts in mid-May for the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The app, dubbed simply "Hurricane," can be found in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.

Red Cross officials expect the Hurricane app to be popular. The organization's free First Aid app had nearly 600,000 downloads in six weeks.

"We're especially proud of the [Hurricane] app's social features that will help friends and families stay in touch during storms, reducing much of the fear and uncertainty for loved ones and property owners," said Jack McMaster, president of preparedness and health and safety services at the American Red Cross, in a statement.

In addition to the one-touch "I'm safe" message that can be tied to a user's social media, the apps provide weather alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Remote monitoring of weather alerts from other locations where family and friends reside is also possible.

The app also provides locations of open Red Cross shelters in emergencies and checklists for a household emergency plan. There is also a set of emergency steps for users in the event a cell phone or tablet's wireless connection is lost.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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