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American Red Cross launches disaster preparedness smartphone apps for Spanish speakers

The American Red Cross is launching a series of Spanish-language smartphone apps that officials say will help keep families safe when natural disasters are on the way.
by Silas Allen Modified: June 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm •  Published: June 11, 2014

The American Red Cross is launching a series of Spanish-language smartphone apps that officials say will help keep families safe when natural disasters are on the way.

The disaster preparedness apps will give Red Cross workers a new tool to reach Oklahoma’s growing Spanish-speaking community before, during and after natural disasters, said Ken Garcia, a spokesman for the Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma.

Five of the six apps offer real-time information about disaster threats in their area, Garcia said. Those disaster-preparedness apps cover hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. As hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes and floods approach, apps give users information on how to stay safe, he said. They also tell the user when the emergency has passed, he said.

A sixth app gives the user access to first aid information, including instructions on how to perform manual CPR, he said.

English-language versions of the apps have been available for some time, Garcia said, but they weren’t available in Spanish unless the user set his or her phone’s language mode to Spanish. The new apps allow the user to switch easily back and forth between English and Spanish, he said.

The need for an effective way of reaching Spanish-speaking residents came to light during the tornado and subsequent flooding that struck the Oklahoma City area on May 31, 2013. Nine of the 23 deaths in the disaster came from Oklahoma’s growing Guatemalan community. Five of those killed were children, including a 17-day-old infant.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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