In 1993, when the Oregon’s “Spring Break Quake” occurred in Marion County, the effects of the 5.6 magnitude earthquake were felt up and down the Willamette Valley. The quake caused structural damage to houses, high schools and the State Capitol in Salem. Now, residents of the Pacific Northwest – and people across the United States – can receive real-time information on the location and impact of similar events, thanks to the new Red Cross Earthquake App. The app alerts users of an earthquake in their area the moment the United States Geological Survey publicly issues a notification and offers readiness plans in the palm of one’s hands.
The Earthquake App, which comes on the heels of the Red Cross First Aid and Hurricane apps, is extremely fitting for Pacific Northwest region. Since the 1870s, Oregon has experienced two to three measurable earthquakes each decade. In 1962, Portland was struck by a magnitude 5.5 quake and geophysicists say the area is vulnerable to even larger earthquakes. The Earthquake App is free and available in English and Spanish.
A recent Red Cross survey found that apps have tied social media as the fourth most popular way for people to get information during emergencies. The Earthquake App is the third in a series of apps created by the American Red Cross, for use on both iPhone and Android platforms. The First Aid and Hurricane apps have been downloaded more than one million times.
“This newest app gives instant access to local and real time information on what to do before, during and after earthquakes, which is critically important to those of us in the Pacific Northwest where the Cascadia Subduction Zone is located,” said Maree Wacker, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Oregon Region. “People who do not live in earthquake-prone areas can have peace of mind knowing they will have instant information about loved ones.”
Features of the Red Cross Earthquake App include:
· Earthquake notifications showing the epicenter, magnitude and intensity maps;
· One touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out of harm’s way;
· Options to view the app in English or Spanish, based on user handset settings;
· Locations of open Red Cross shelters;
· Simple steps and checklists people can use to create a family emergency plan;
· Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
· Information on events that may happen after earthquakes such as fires and tsunamis;
· Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm; and
· Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.
The Earthquake App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store by searching for American Red Cross. Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit redcross.org/takeaclass for course information and to register.