Free Red Cross Apps For Emergencies Near You

| Free on iTunes

You may not know the name Shonda Rhimes unless you're a fan of Grey's Anatomy, and even then you may not know the name unless you pay attention to the show's credits. Then you'll recognize the name as the creator and writer of the long running hit series.

If you're a recent Dartmouth grad then you'll also know the name. Ms. Rhimes was this year's commencement speaker. She is also a Dartmouth graduate.

Free on iTunes

I mention Ms. Rhimes because of her speech to her graduating fellow alumni. I read the speech online and it spoke to me almost as if I were sitting in that audience clad in cap and gown. You can read the entire speech yourself, it's well worth the read, but the gist of the message she delivered was this: don't dream about things, do things. Anything. Just don't sit on your rump and do nothing but dream.

The speech spoke to me because it's how I've tried to live my life. Maybe not as boldly as some, but certainly by doing what needs to be or should be done within the boundaries I've set for myself. But that was just the thing, Ms. Rhimes implied that we shouldn't set boundaries. That doing something, even if it's beyond the boundaries of your dreams, is worth the effort because it frees you to discover yourself and the world around you.

Another name you may not know is Jean-Henri Dunant, a Swiss business man. In June of 1859 Mr. Dunant was in route to an audience with Nepoleon on a business matter when he witnessed the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino, where around 40,000 soldiers lay dead or dying. Mr. Dunant abandoned his appointment and convinced the local townsfolk to help the injured regardless of the colors they wore. He then wrote a book of his experience which influenced policies and, through further actions by Mr. Dunant, ultimately coalesced into the formation of the International Red Cross.

Dunant, then Rhimes both followed the same ideology. Rhimes didn't settle for dreaming of becoming a writer, she did it and her success is not because she imagined it, it's because did something and that became something others dream of. Dunant didn't just dream of a day when war wounded were cared for regardless of who they fought for. He created an organization that accomplished that and so much more.

After reading Ms. Rhimes' speech and a bit about Mr. Dunant I'm starting to feel inspired. I can do so much more if I actually "do" more. Shed some boundaries and see where that takes me.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Dunant's legacy is still with us today. The Red Cross is now a global organization with affiliates in nearly every country. And it doesn't rest on its laurels, however many it may have. Its purpose is to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering.

Technology is one way the achieve these goals and the Red Cross has embraced smart devices in a big way by creating a list of applications aimed at helping us before, during, and after major calamities. They've wisely focused each app of a particular type of natural disaster. For instance, there's a Red Cross Earthquake app, Flood, Hurricane, Wildfire, and Tornado apps. Separating the apps was a smart move because while there is some overlap, we respond to each differently. Dedicated apps give the info you need quickly in emergency situations.

RedcrossThis is Hurricane by Red Cross. The others are similar and worth having

Which brings me to another point; while each app is different they they all follow the same design. There are large touch spots that link to pertinent info or actions. Everything is easy to see, read, and understand.

All apps have the following sections:
- Right Before: What to do if a disaster is imminent
- During: How to stay safe during a calamity
- After: What to do and watch for once the situation improves
- Plan ahead: Be prepared the next time disaster strikes
- Make a Plan: Step by step planning instructions

You'll also find sections that list the locations of open shelters, where to go the take a sponsored course, there's even a section that will quiz you on the things you've learned and the plans you've made. And there's a toolkit with a flashlight, strobelight, and alarm for emergencies. What I really like, though, is the "I'm Safe" feature which you can preset to send a message to those who care about you and let them know you're ok.

redcrossTool Kit is great and you can configure "I'm Safe" here

There's also a disaster tracker, a section geared to track and inform you of a type of disaster. It features a interactive map, warnings and alerts with settings, and more depending on the type of disaster.

Beyond the disaster related apps there is also a first aid app which everyone should get regardless of where you live and which type of disaster your area is prone to.

In First Aid you'll find a list of common injuries, illnesses, and other maladies you may encounter and how to deal with them. Tap one and the screen is filled with clear, simple animations and text instructing on what to do for that situation. No internet connection is needed.

redcrossFirst Aid by Red Cross should be on everyone's device

There are sections to help you prepare for common emergencies (wounds, breaks, etc), location of hospitals, and a test. But more importantly, you'll a section dedicated to emergency first aid.

redcrossThe Emergency section alone is well worth the download

First Aid is a must-have and the other apps you should select given what you may encounter where you live. Better still, get them all and be prepared for almost anything. These are top notch apps.

That's a wrap.

The free App of the Week is QuickRead, a speed reading trainer. The free Song of the Week is Try, by Colbie Caillat.

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