Director’s Greeting: Issue #37

Greetings!

I don’t play video games.  Just never got into it.  Until very recently, I thought WoW was a typo.  I also don’t engage in Facebook fun, like Bejeweled Blitz, which sounds like the electronic version of the BeDazzler, a product I do not own.  I routinely and swiftly declined invitations to play such games…until last night.  I couldn’t sleep and was online trying to bore my brain into submission when a FB friend posted how hard SongPop is and how she never wins.

Well, I have often said that I wish I could take all of the song lyrics living in my head and replace them with actual, useful information.  I am a repository of lyrics and melodies, even horn lines and guitar licks.  It just sticks.  And now, I have a use for it.  I rock at SongPop!  I even beat a night owl friend of mine who has perfect pitch!  This guy and his magic ears can tell you what note your doorbell plays, but I need less than a second to guess Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”  Turn around, Bright Eyes, indeed!

So, when I got an email this morning from DRI International’s Director of Education Kelley Okolita, I was still riding the SongPop wave (with Baba O’Reilly on repeat in my head), even though I’d stopped playing at midnight. Kelley was writing to tell me about a new app from the American Red Cross that was just released today.  It’s a wildfire app.  And, those of you who know bad songs will know right where that took me.  The delightfully alliterative Michael Martin Murphey’s truly terrible song about a horse named “Wildfire.” Released in 1975 (I was seven), this over-wrought ballad tells the story of a ghost horse and its rider, and one or the other (it’s hard to tell which) gets lost and dies in a blizzard that happened on the same night as a “killing frost.”

Well, that’s pretty much meteorologically impossible.  I grew up on a farm with a real horse and I know that a “killing frost,” while it may sound scary, is a threat to your garden vegetables, does not coincide with a blizzard, and can’t actually kill a person…or a horse.  Whew! You can cross that off your list of threats to assess!  But real wildfires are serious business and require planning, not horsing around.

The Red Cross app (which joins a line-up of other stellar apps for first aid and earthquakes) “puts lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in or who visit wildfire-prone areas,” according to the official announcement. The Wildfire App includes:

*         The “Blaze Tracker” trio of features-which can be customized for alerts specific to locations where users live, travel, or have loved ones:  “Blaze Warnings” which let users see areas where NOAA has issued warnings that conditions are favorable for potential wildfires; “Blaze Alerts” inform users when a wildfire has begun within 100 miles of any locations monitored;  “Blaze Path” from Inciweb.org which provides users with a current view of an existing wildfire’s perimeter, how it has spread and the fire’s current location when available;

*         Comprehensive reporting of all wildfire activity for every geographic area in the United States;

*         Options to view the app in English or Spanish based on user language settings;

*         One touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out of harm’s way (which is Kelley’s favorite feature);

*         Locations of open Red Cross shelters;

*         Simple steps and checklists people can use to create a family emergency plan;

*         Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;

*         Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm; and

*         Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

To download the app, visit the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross. I highly recommend it. Play SongPop at your own risk.

Buffy Rojas

DRI International

Director of Communications

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