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American Red Cross Unveils New, Improved Technology to Help the Public During Disasters

Aug 04, 2010 (02:08 PM EDT)
URL: http://www.techweb.com/show-press-release/X811951/american-red-cross-unveils-new-improved-technology-to-help-the-public-during-disasters.html

New "Find Shelter" tool helps people find a safe place to stay

Redesigned "Safe and Well" connects families after a disaster

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In preparation for the height of what could be a very active hurricane season, the American Red Cross has unveiled new and updated technology to help families stay safe and reconnect during a disaster.

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"Every day, millions of people use the web to connect with friends and family, and the Red Cross is using the same technology to help people prepare for, stay safe and connect with loved ones during an emergency," said Joe Becker, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. "And we're very excited to have both an improved Safe and Well site and a real-time way to find shelter locations this hurricane season."

Safe and Well is a secure and easy-to-use online tool that allows people inside a disaster-affected area to list themselves as "safe and well" and for loved ones to search for these messages. Launched in 2006, the redesigned site now allows people to customize messages for loved ones and update their Facebook and Twitter statuses right from the site. In addition, a new mobile version of the site will make it easy for people to register or search from a smart phone.  

Linking Safe and Well to Facebook and Twitter is an important step for the site and those who use it. In a recent Red Cross online survey, nearly half of all respondents said they would use social media sites to let their loved ones know they are safe in an emergency. Facebook was the most popular choice, named by 86 percent of those who would use social media to reassure their loved ones. Now, the Red Cross makes it easy to register on Safe and Well, and at the same time, participate in social media.

There are several ways to register on or search the Safe and Well site. From a computer, visit www.redcross.org and click on the "List Yourself or Search Registrants" link under "How to Get Help." From a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell and click on the "List Yourself as Safe and Well" or "Search for friends and family" link. From any phone, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and one of our operators can help you register.

The Red Cross "Find Shelter" tool pulls information from the National Shelter System and allows people to view a Google map of open Red Cross shelter locations and search for shelters closest to their location.

To access shelter information, visit www.redcross.org and click on the "Find Shelter" link. Shelters that are currently open will be displayed on the map or in the search results. The National Shelter System is owned and operated by the Red Cross and used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local governments, and other community agencies to track and report shelter information.

Both Safe and Well and the National Shelter System are two important tools the Red Cross uses year round to help the public during emergencies. In an average year, the Red Cross spends $450 million responding to and preparing for more than 70,000 disasters around the nation.

*Online Survey of 1,058 respondents representative of the US population aged 18 and older. Survey conducted by Infogroup | ORC

You can help people affected by disasters like floods, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

SOURCE American Red Cross