Red Cross launches new technologies for use in Florida emergencies
By MICHAEL FINCH II
Palm Beach Post
As the 2011 hurricane season begins today, the American Red Cross is launching new iPhone and social media technologies to be used during emergencies in South Florida.
The Red Cross's Safe and Well website will allow users who register to broadcast their statuses through Facebook and Twitter, while a free application for the iPhone will help users find Red Cross shelters in areas facing a disaster.
Joe Hansen, spokesman for the Red Cross in the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast region, said that social media technology is currently being used by families who endured the tornado disaster in Joplin, Mo.
Recently, technology has played a huge role in the way that relief for disasters is coordinated. During the nuclear accident in Japan, Google created a web program to aid victims in finding their families.
"Everybody has a cell phone," Hansen said. "It's a constant evolution that every body is going through."
Even with the new technology, families shouldn't skimp on traditional methods of preparing for a tropical storm.
"There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to preparation," Hansen said.
The three essential measures for preparation are to be stocked with adequate food and water, make a plan to evacuate, and to stay informed, Hansen said.
This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted between 3 and 6 major hurricanes, down slightly from last years' prediction of 3 to 7 hurricanes.