One thing you always hear the National Weather Service talking about any time severe weather is predicted is to have a few different ways to receive warnings about severe weather, especially severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. That's why I think you need to download this free app on your phone before we get hit with severe weather here in Missouri, especially severe weather at night.

Having an alert system on your phone to wake you up, or alert you to a severe storm isn't a bad idea. The National Weather Service isn't the first place I heard that line of thinking.

When I worked in Lubbock, Texas, our meteorologist believed in having an app that would alert you to severe weather warnings. It was also important living in Lubbock because, at the time, they didn't have tornado sirens. Not that you should rely on a network of sirens outside, at night, in a storm anyway. But more on that a little later.

Anyway, I downloaded and paid for the app he recommended, which I used until it seemed the developers moved on and it wasn't being updated anymore. I didn't think about it again until last night. I get Nixle alerts from Pettis County, and I'm signed up for Rave alerts from Johnson County Emergency Management. So I'm covered, right?

Not so much. Don't get me wrong all of their alerts came through. I happened to be up when the warnings hit, so no big deal.  I caught the Emergency Alerts on the TV and turned to one of the TV stations to get my information. Yet, what if I was sleeping?

I generally mute my phone at night. Sure thunder and lightning might wake me up. Perhaps the tornado sirens too. But, I sleep hard, so there's no guarantee a text alert would wake me up, and while it's not that hard for me to hear the siren in my home, there's a good chance that it won't either.

The American Red Cross Emergency App,  the racket it creates for a tornado warning,  will wake most anyone up. That's exactly what I wanted to put on my phone.

I found the app to be easy to use, it allows the user to customize 40 different weather alerts with different types of verbal and visual notifications. It also has a feature that lets critical alerts ignore your phone's mute and do not disturb functions. In my case, I set it up so that tornado warnings are considered critical alerts and the phone will alert me if we have a tornado warning overnight. You can also set it up to alert you to any local weather alerts while traveling, which can be handy.

The app is free from The American Red Cross and you can get it from the Apple App Store or Google Play by searching "Red Cross Emergency" or you can text "GETEMERGENCY" to 90999. For more information about the Red Cross Emergency App click here.

Sign up for Nixle or Rave alerts, and download the American Red Cross Emergency App. It just might save your life.

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.

Gallery Credit: KATELYN LEBOFF

KEEP READING: What to do after a tornado strikes

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