Friday, March 8, 2013

From the DFW Food Truck Foodie Blog: Tornado App Warns Food Truck Owners and Customers of Severe Weather

This post is re-posted from our friends at DFW Food Truck Foodie. The DFW food truck community have always been wonderful supporters of the Red Cross and we're glad our new app can make a difference with this unique group. Stay safe out there, foodies & food truckers! 

Red Cross App Warns Food Truck Owners and Customers of Severe Weather
Severe weather can happen within minutes, with little to no warning. When the severe storms that are common in Texas strike, the last place most people want to be is in or near a food truck.  In Spring of 2012, there were several times when trucks were out and storms popped up quickly. In one storm, several trucks sustained significant hail damage. On April 3, when at least a dozen tornadoes hit the Metroplex, I heard several stories of food trucks being out serving lunch and the owners not knowing that tornadoes were in the immediate area. One truck owner was traveling for business and the truck was being manned by employees. The first the owner knew of the danger was when he received a text from a family member asking if the truck was secure. The next few hours were chaotic as the owner tried to contact the employees and instruct them on how to secure the truck while keeping themselves safe since there was not time to get to their commissary.

Recognizing that many food truck owners,  their employees, and often times the customers may not have warning of impending storms, the Red Cross asked me to join with them to share information about their new smart phone app that tracks and warns about impending severe weather in the area. 

The free app, available in both English and Spanish, sends real time information about tornado activity in the area to iPhone, iPad and Android devices.  In addition to a high pitched alert warning, the app transmits an "All Clear" when the warning has expired.

Other features in the app include:

  • Location-based NOAA tornado, severe thunderstorm and flood watch and warning alerts;
  • Enhanced weather maps;
  • One-touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way;
  • Simple steps and checklists people can use to create an emergency plan and share it with household members;
  • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
  • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm;
  • Locations of open Red Cross shelters; and
  • Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

I have been taking the quizzes and reviewing the checklists over the last few days. The App is full of information, some of which is new and some of which is a good reminder as we go in to the most volatile season of the year.

The Tornado App, along with other apps created by the American Red Cross, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.

The App monitors based on zip codes in both the US and Canada with the ability to monitor multiple locations simultaneously. I have set both my location and my out of town family's location for monitoring. I expect this App to be very beneficial to those working on food trucks, and their customers, who otherwise may not know how the weather is changing while they are serving; go download it now! 

Stay safe everyone! 

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