SPOKANE, Wash. -

More than 300 homes were destroyed this month by the Carlton Complex fire. It's a staggering number, when you think of the individual lives turned upside down. It's hard to imagine how each of us would react if flames were bearing down on our homes. So, the Red Cross has a way to prepare now before we're in crisis.

One of the challenges in the Carlton Complex fire was communication. As soon as that fire rolled through, cell towers and phone lines were destroyed, making it nearly impossible for people to communicate with their loved ones. One of the features of the Red Cross wildfire app is a social media component, which allows you to type one message you can send via Facebook, Twitter, text message and email, to let your family and friends know you're safe.

The app also has a quick list of tools, including a flashlight, strobe light and an alarm that you can use if you're forced from your home. You can also find a list of shelters near you and create an emergency plan, including where you'd meet your family if you're separated in a disaster. You can also find a map of wildfires in your area, complete with updates on containment levels and weather.

It's a tool none of us think we'll need. But, this month's fires remind us it can happen - without warning - and, it's worth the time now to be prepared. You can find the app in the app store, just search Red Cross Wildfire, or follow the link here.