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New Study Shows More Reliance on Mobile Apps in Disasters

New App Study

Americans are becoming increasingly reliant on mobile devices during emergencies as a lifeline for information, a source for useful tools and a way to let loved ones know they are safe, according to a new survey conducted by the American Red Cross. Mobile apps now tie social media as the fourth most popular way to get information in an emergency, following TV, radio and online news. The Red Cross survey found that 20 percent of Americans said they have gotten some kind of emergency information from an app, including emergency apps, those sponsored by news outlets and privately developed apps. “People are using social media to help others during emergencies by spreading useful information,” said Coralie Matayoshi, Chief Executive Officer of the Hawaii Red Cross. “We’re seeing mobile technology take a bigger role in helping people find critical information, take action and let loved ones know they are safe during a disaster.” The Hawaii Red Cross has a Facebook page and a Twitter account (@HawaiiRedCross). For more information and to view the full survey and infographic, visit www.redcross.org.

Other key findings include:

• Emergency social users are also most likely to seek and share information during emergencies. While they look for the hard facts—road closures, damage reports and weather conditions—they share personal information about their safety statuses and how they are feeling.

• Three out of four Americans (76 percent) expect help in less than three hours of posting a request on social media, up from 68 percent last year.

• Forty percent of those surveyed said they would use social tools to tell others they are safe, up from 24 percent last year.

It is Hurricane season right now and September is National Preparedness Month. The American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter encourages all households to create a family disaster plan to make sure they are ready for the next emergency or disaster. Plans should include designating a meeting place right outside the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, an out-of-area emergency contact person and a location where everyone should meet if they can't go home or if they cannot access their neighborhood. All members of the household should work together on the emergency plan and each person should know how to reach other family members. Inclusiveness greatly increases your family’s chance of survival during time of disaster. “Disasters can strike at any time and being prepared is a family’s best defense,” said Ms. Matayoshi. “Making a plan is an important step in making sure all household members know what to do in an emergency.”

The Red Cross continues to encourage people to call 9-1-1 as the best first action when in need of emergency assistance. At the same time, the organization is responding to the interest in mobile assistance by releasing a series of free apps for both iPhone and Android users. The Red Cross Hurricane App helps people create a plan, share it with household members and over social networks. It gives instant access to local and real time information on what to do before, during and after hurricanes, includes a flashlight feature as well as one-touch, “I’m safe” messaging that connects directly to the users’ social media channels. The Red Cross First Aid app gives instant access to information on how to handle the most common first aid situations, and includes videos and interactive quizzes. It includes trusted Red Cross disaster preparedness information for a number of common situations. Both apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. The Shelter View App is also available for iPhone users only and can be found in the Apple App Store. Links to the apps can be found at www.redcross.org/mobile-apps.

Other Ways to Get Ready

The Red Cross has several programs to help people, businesses, schools and communities be better prepared.

• Be Red Cross Ready is an online tutorial that teaches people to be ready for emergencies. However, remember for Hawaii due to our isolation, we are asking households to be ready for 7 days instead of 3. www.arcbrcr.org

• Red Cross Ready Rating™ is a free, web-based membership program that measures how ready businesses, organizations and schools are to deal with emergencies and helps them improve their readiness level. Visit www.readyrating.org.

• The Ready When the Time Comes program trains employees from businesses so they can be used as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes.

• Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training courses provide participants with the knowledge and skills to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. www.redcross.org/take-a-class

• People can visit www.hawaiiredcross.org or www.redcross.org for information on what to do before, during and after emergencies and disasters.

The Red Cross is a non-profit humanitarian organization which provides assistance to meet the immediate emergency needs of those affected by disasters. All Red Cross assistance to disaster victims is free. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it depends on public contributions to help others. Your gift supports the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross in your community, across the country and around the world. To send a contribution, mail your check to: American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816. Make a secure online donation at www.hawaiiredcross.org or call: (808) 739-8109.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.