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New Wildfire App Brings Red Cross Safety Info to Mobile Devices

American Red Cross Wildfire App

As Red Cross workers in Colorado are keeping an eye on three wildfires that could threaten populated areas, the American Red Cross has released its official Wildfire App for nationwide use. The app puts lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in or who visit wildfire prone areas.

This free app—available in English or Spanish—is the fourth in a series created by the American Red Cross, the nation’s leader in emergency preparedness, for use on both iPhone and Android platforms. The Wildfire App comes after the highly successful First Aid, Hurricane and Earthquake Apps, which have more than 1.2 million users.

“The Wildfire App gives Colorado residents instant access to our ‘Blaze Tracker’ features so they can prepare their households and businesses and make critical decisions that can save lives.” said Jaici Murcia, Emergency Services Director for the Red Cross Mile High Region.

The app comes on the heels of Colorado’s most destructive set of wildfires in history and in the wake of a busy wildfire season across the country – and arrives in time for continued use through the remainder of Colorado’s wildfire season.

Red Cross workers in northern and southwest Colorado are currently monitoring three wildfires that could affect populated areas, and are on standby in case Red Cross shelters become necessary. The Little East Fire on the La Plata/Montezuma county line has led to pre-evacuation notices to about 40 homes. Firefighters are also battling the Vallecito Lake Fire north of Bayfield and the Fern Lake Fire southwest of Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, although no evacuations have been ordered in any of the three wildfires.

“Wildfire season isn’t over yet in Colorado, and indeed, a wildfire can strike any time the conditions are present – we saw that with wildfires that broke out early in the spring in 2012,” Murcia said. “That’s why we encourage residents to download this free app, so that you can get help with your preparedness plans before disaster strikes, receive warning when threats arise, and have access to immediate information during and after a wildfire.”

This year, the Red Cross has launched 11 wildfire relief operations spanning 10 states. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, as of October 4, wildfires have burned 8.8 million acres in the United States this year.

The Wildfire App includes:

• The “Blaze Tracker” trio of features-which can be customized for alerts specific to locations where they live, travel or have loved ones:

o “Blaze Warnings” which let users see areas where NOAA has issued warnings that conditions are favorable for potential wildfires;

o “Blaze Alerts” inform users when a wildfire has begun within 100 miles of any locations monitored;

o “Blaze Path” from Inciweb.org which provides users with a current view of an existing wildfire’s perimeter, how it has spread and the fire’s current location when available;

• Comprehensive reporting of all wildfire activity for every geographic area in the United States;

• Options to view the app in English or Spanish based on user language settings;

• 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;

• 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;

• Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm; and

• Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

“The Red Cross has emerged as a leader in mobile preparedness. One reason is our ability to provide users with location customization. Wildfire App users can receive notification of wildfire risk and activity within 100 miles of locations that matter most to them – so they can help protect their loved ones and their property,” Murcia added.

National Red Cross experts in health, safety and preparedness have thoroughly reviewed and field tested the information and advice provided in Red Cross apps. 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, making the Red Cross app development effort even more important.

The Wildfire App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android 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 go to redcross.org/takeaclass for course information and to register.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year and we help people get ready to respond to emergencies by providing these apps for free. The Red Cross needs the help of the public to continue this lifesaving effort. People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

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.