Having lived in Florida for more than half my life now, I’ve come to expect that every year, from June 01st till around November 30th, there’s going to be rain, likely tropical storms, and that those storms have the potential to turn into dreaded hurricanes when the weather conditions are just right . People around the world may remember the catastrophic hurricane that devastated South Florida back in 1992 — Hurricane Andrew (a reported Category 5 Hurricane, with wind speeds at 157+mph).
Thankfully, we didn’t personally have to experience that natural catastrophe, however, we’ve been through our share of smaller named storms that left us without power, created local flooding, and many downed trees on our property — just so you know, a Category 1 Hurricane has wind speeds of at least 74+ mph.
As I perused the iTunes app store, these facts loomed in the back of my mind. So, when I came across the FREE, Hurricane by American Red Cross app (a FREE iPhone Weather app) created to help people learn about and properly prepare for Hurricanes, I decided it was worth a look — and it had good ratings to boot.
Hurricane by American Red Cross is more than just a Weather app, it could easily fit into the Utility or Productivity category as well due to all the useful components it contains. This iPhone app is segmented into 5 main categories: Prepare, Test, Alerts, Shelters, and More — and has a useful tool kit located behind the Tool Kit icon in the top left (which has 2 different flashlight functions, an alarm, and a “I’m safe” message function that allows you to send a message to concerned family and friends via Twitter, Facebook, SMS, or email to let them know that you are okay).
The Prepare area is packed with information and tips on what to do Right Before, During, After a hurricane, and how to best Plan Ahead for the next time. In this area you’ll also find lots of practical tips for each situation, a helpful checklist specific to each of these topics (such as making a preparedness kit with the necessary amount of water, food, medical kit, flashlight, extra batteries, insect repellent, sunscreen, and other needed items to make the days ahead bearable if hit by a hurricane), along with Related links that provide for even more in-depth information to explore.
Want to go even deeper into the app ? There are specific emergency categories that tell you what to do in each specific situation (Drought, Power Outage, Tornado, Tsunami, Water safety, Wildfires, etc); as well as a Learn First Aid section for a host of medical emergencies with information, step-by-steps, and short videos to watch that will guide you on what to do and not do if you find yourself in any of these situations.
Hurricane by American Red Cross iPhone App Details
You can test your knowledge once you’ve been through the hurricane information with a few mini tests (which is a basic summary of what you learned about hurricanes and preparation). The simple Challenges are in the following areas: History, Knowledge, and Prepare. When you complete the short mini quiz, the correct answers are given to reiterate what you’ve should have learned in this hurricane preparedness app — although it’s not really much of a test or quiz.
In the History area, I did discover that my specific map location has experienced 79 hurricanes with a top speed of 140mph in the last 150 years. These number of storms are shown with different colored lines, representing various strength categories for each of 79 storms (with a zoom-in-and-out map function) — I have to admit, this was one of those cool finds within the app that breaks of the vast amount of useful information presented.
When I moved on to Alerts — another area that I really liked because I discovered that not only could I set weather alerts for my own area, but that I could add and monitor other locations throughout the United States (and its territories) as well. I set up 2 additional locations to monitor since we have family throughout the hurricane prone region. Happily, I have no alerts warning me currently, but if bad weather was on the horizon, I’d receive alerts for hurricane warnings, watches, tropical storm warnings, tropical storm watches, flood warnings, and flood watches — with the location, date, and time.
There’s some peace of mind right there with this issued information coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA/National Weather Service). I didn’t find the Shelters as robust as I thought. There where only 5 listed shelters and only 3 showed up on the map as red – headed pinpoints showing the available and open shelters, 700+ to 1,000 miles away (with directions) -– In Oklahoma, Iowa, and Indiana. This struck me as a little odd and impractical, but hey, it’s good to know.
As if all this wasn’t enough, the More section provides additional information in the form of a few daily articles and blogs to read on their news and web surfing blog, as well as facts about the American Red Cross, how to donate, volunteer, take courses, get a medical kit, share a story, other available apps -– and more. If you’re looking for a practical and very informative app with helpful reminders and handy time-saving check lists to help you get properly prepared for the hurricane season, then you’ll find this app may be just what you’re looking for — and it’s FREE.