(NBC NEWS) -- The Red Cross has launched a new tool to help warn and protect you against an oncoming tornado.

The free smartphone app provides early warnings and will even sound an alarm while your asleep or if your phone is turned off.

"That is so key to let you know that you need to get up, get out of bed and take your family to your safe place inside your house," says Red Cross spokeswoman Laura Howe.

Experts say the app can be crucial when seconds matter.

"When you have a specific tornado bearing down on your specific community that's where apps come into play here to protect life and property," says the National Weather Service's Chris Vaccaro.

It doesn't stop there.

Once the storm has passed the app will provide real-time information on where to get gas, supplies and shelter if needed.

You can find the red cross tornado app in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store or by going to

The app is also available in Spanish.

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