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Think You Don’t Need a Disaster Plan? Think Again

Red Cross, Local Walmarts Partner to Build Resilient Communities
One of the easiest ways to get ready is by downloading the Red Cross’s free Emergency App, which gives people instant access to weather alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends at the touch of a button.

Boise, ID, April 4, 2017—With flood season already upon us and wildfire season just around the corner, the Red Cross urges Idahoans to get ready by downloading its free Emergency App today.

A recent survey by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found that nearly 60 percent of American adults have not practiced a disaster drill and that only 39 percent have developed emergency plans. If you consider that approximately 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit with weather-related disasters since 2007, and that the number and severity of weather-related disasters are on the rise, this has to change.

One of the easiest ways to get ready is by downloading the Red Cross’s free Emergency App, which gives people instant access to weather alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends at the touch of a button.

“When an emergency occurs, it’s important for families to stay safe and connected,” said Nicole Sirak-Irwin, CEO of the American Red Cross of Idaho and Montana. “Our Emergency App does that and more. It covers 14 different types of disasters and lets users customize more than 35 emergency alerts so that they will know exactly what to do in the event of a local emergency.”

“Family Safe” is a new, unique feature that allows the app user to notify loved ones who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster. The recipient can instantly see the alert details as well as specific “what to do now” steps, and then respond with either “I’m safe” or “I’m not safe.” This feature works even if the recipient has not downloaded the Emergency App.

The Emergency App combines many of the features of the Red Cross’s other disaster-specific apps, including:

  • Emergency first aid information for situations such as heart attacks, heat-related emergencies as well as water safety information;
  • Preloaded content so users can access guidance from Red Cross experts even without mobile connectivity;
  • A single map with open Red Cross shelter locations and weather information;
  • A home fire section with detailed prevention and safety tips as well as Red Cross “After the Fire” information;
  • A “Make a Plan” feature to help families plan what to do and where to go if a disaster strikes; and
  • The ability to easily toggle between English and Spanish.
  • The all-inclusive app provides expert advice on what to do in case of disasters such as floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, home fires, and more. The free app is available in app stores for smartphones and tablets by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to

    Red Cross apps have been downloaded more than 6 million times and nearly 400 million alerts have been sent since the launch of the first app in 2012. In the past year alone, more than 350 million pages were viewed and the “I’m Safe” feature was accessed just over 550,000 times across all preparedness apps.

    While apps can help prepare someone for disasters, it’s important to note that they are not substitutes for training. People can take Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED courses so they’ll know what to do in case help is delayed. They can get information and register at


    To help the people affected by disasters, please make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Please visit or call 1-800-853-2570. Contributions may also be sent to American Red Cross of Idaho, 5380 W. Franklin Road, Boise, ID 83705.


    People who are interested in ongoing or longer-term volunteer opportunities can visit and click on “Volunteer” to start their application. Training is free and open to the public. A background check will be performed on all applicants.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 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 or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.