The American Red Cross this week launched a free mobile tool for people to track earthquakes in real time.
People also can use the application to report that they're safe after a quake or to check on their loved ones, said Chuck Morrison, executive director for the Red Cross' Snohomish County chapter.
Morrison saw a prototype before the application launched Tuesday, and it was "amazingly cool," he said.
Similar applications for hurricanes and basic first aid instructions have hit more than 1 million downloads across the country, he said. The earthquake app was designed with the West Coast in mind.
Snohomish County is part of a larger region that's considered one of the most likely spots in the world for the next major earthquake, Morrison said.
That understanding also is written into the county's disasters and hazards mitigation plan and into local emergency response plans for major incidents.
People who download the app can decide how much information they want, Morrison said.
They can get "pinged" for every major earthquake in the world or narrow their settings to their community. Available information includes the quake's epicenter, magnitude and intensity.
The app also includes instructions for how to stay safe before, during and after an earthquake, and provides updated lists of available resources, like Red Cross shelters.
People can sync the app with their other social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, to let their family and friends know they've survived, Morrison said. It also can cross-reference with the Red Cross' own database of survivors.
That angle for the app was developed as people across the world have turned to social media to stay connected after disasters, Morrison said.
"Social media is like the third leading way that people can contact each other after disasters," he said. "'We said, 'Let's make it easy for them.'"
The earthquake application is available for both iPhone and Android platforms, including smart phones and tablets, and in English and Spanish.
For more information, visit your mobile application store or www.snohomishcounty.redcross.org.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org
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