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An IFTTT recipe that might just save your life

You can use IFTTT for tons of fun automations, but this practical recipe will trigger your Philips Hue LEDs to turn red when the National Weather Service issues an alert in your area.

Now playing: Watch this: How to craft color-coded weather alerts using IFTTT

IFTTT has all sorts of useful applications, but many of the recipes I've seen focus on fun or efficiency rather than something more serious like personal safety. While I like that IFTTT can automatically send my tweets to other social media sites, this clever service can do a lot more.

For instance, you can use it to create weather-related recipes that focus on hurricanes, tornadoes, or other potentially dangerous acts of nature. IFTTT has a dedicated weather channel, but its catch-all channel for RSS feeds works even better if you want to get severe weather notifications. As it turns out, the National Weather Service offers county, state, and nation-wide severe weather alerts via RSS.

Setting up the IFTTT recipe. Screenshot by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Since there weren't any major weather events happening in Louisville, Ky., today, I did a quick search to find that there were several flash flood warnings in New York state. I found the RSS link for Niagara, N.Y., on the National Weather Service alert page, selected "feed" and "new feed item" in IFTTT and added the feed URL. Then, I programmed my Philips Hue LEDs to change to red when an alert is posted to the Niagara weather feed.

Nest's newly released developer program can connect the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector to Lifx LEDs, working in much the same way as this IFTTT recipe. If the Protect senses smoke, it will cause the Lifx bulbs in your house to turn red and blink. While you can't program Philips Hue bulbs to change color and blink in IFTTT, you can select one or the other and use that as your severe weather alert. Both IFTTT and Nest's third-party partnerships offer applications that could help keep you safe in the event of an emergency.