All weekend, the Central and Western Oklahoma Region of the American Red Cross sent out media alerts via email to tell those affected by the recent fires where they could get help and shelter.
The alerts told about shelter locations, distribution of items like dust masks and Gatorade, and upcoming damage assessments for the people who lost their homes, in addition to other information.
The Red Cross has long been known for being on the ground during disasters to offer support to victims.
In recent months, the international organization has added its presence to mobile devices with several applications for iPhones (and iPads and iPod Touches) and Android phones.
The most recent application, Hurricane by American Red Cross for both iOS and Android devices, may not directly affect Oklahomans, but it looks like the organization is developing related apps for release in the future, including for earthquakes and tornadoes.
The app provides information on what to do before, during and after hurricanes, offers weather alerts in locations you specify, and allows ways to tell people that you are safe. Since the local chapter of the Red Cross shares resources with traditional hurricane states Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, as noted in a news release, the app will be helpful to some as hurricane season begins.
In the aftermath of Oklahoma's fires over the weekend, the free American Red Cross — Shelter View (from VisionLink, Inc.) will be the most effective for now, with three emergency shelters in Oklahoma still open on Monday to help those who lost homes in the fires. Also, check out another app, First Aid by American Red Cross, as a good guide of what to do in any emergency — such as tick bites, head injuries, broken bones and more.
When you open the shelter app, you see a map of all current Red Cross shelters in the United States. You can view them by list and see why they are open (wildfires, flood, etc.). The app also includes a link to a website with related news.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has designated September as National Preparedness Month, and with these apps, the Red Cross has found a way to help families be as ready as possible for unexpected tragedies.
For tips to ensure that your data is secure in case of an emergency, go online to blog.NewsOK.com/get-appy. For information about the wildfires and how to help, see NewsOK.com.