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(KTVI) A new tool could mean the difference between life and death when severe weather strikes, the American Red Cross said.

The Red Cross’ Emergency App not only provides weather alerts, it allows you and your loved ones to check on each other.

In the aftermath of the recent Perryville and Wentzville tornadoes, some residents had difficulty reaching friends, family and neighbors.

The app can help keep people in contact, even when cell phone towers are down. It includes a “Family Safe” feature that lets user send messages. A message of “I’m safe” or “I’m unsafe” can be relayed to recipients. In the event, someone is in harm’s way, loved ones can call or view a location on a map.

“As a mom, myself if I didn’t know my kiddo was ok, I’d be going a little bit crazy,” American Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Kate Struttman said. “So, having the ability to contact your loved ones and say, ‘Hey, are you ok?’ and getting that peace of mind that they are, it allows you to take a deep breath.”

The Red Cross Emergency app also provides pertinent weather and shelter information, and tips on preparing for disasters.

The Emergency app is free. With severe weather season, underway, the Red Cross says the public should take advantage now.

“Right now, download it right now, be prepared,” she said.