Red Cross urges Northwest La. to prepare for severe weather

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While American Red Cross volunteers support our neighbors in Northeast Louisiana recovering from severe weather, the Red Cross in Northwest Louisiana urges residents to take steps now to stay safer as severe weather again threatens.Red-Cross101

“By preparing together for severe weather, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger,” said Michelle Davison, executive director of the Red Cross in North Louisiana. “We can help you and your family create a disaster preparedness plan now, before our community is threatened by high winds, hail, lightning and heavy rain.”

Red Cross volunteers from Northwest Louisiana today have joined others in and near Monroe after severe weather Wednesday night affected families in at least four parishes. The Red Cross is distributing supplies such as tarps, water and snacks, assessing damages, determining needs and providing services.

Trained volunteers from across the region stand ready to help if severe weather affects residents here. If you would like to become a trained Red Cross volunteer, go to redcross.org/Shreveport, whether you’re ready to help this weekend or perhaps later during hurricane season. Red Cross volunteers serve in dozens of roles, including preparedness efforts such as community education, disaster response (direct client services, support roles, disaster assessment, logistics), recovery efforts, public affairs, fundraising and office management. Volunteers serve for larger disasters like floods and hurricanes and also daily disasters like home fires that may affect one family at a time.

As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for severe weather by:

Downloading the free Emergency App.: The new Emergency App gives people instant access to weather alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends in one free, easy-to-use app for mobile devices. This all-inclusive app provides expert advice on what to do in case of disasters such as severe weather and tornadoes, as well as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, home fires, wildfires and more. For example, it includes a high-pitched siren and warning alert that signals when a tornado warning has been issued, as well as an all-clear alert that lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled. The free Emergency App is available in app stores for smartphones and tablets by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Making a Home Disaster Plan: Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a storm. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail. Protect your animals by ensuring that any outside buildings that house them are protected in the same way as your home. Remove animals from vulnerable dog houses and similar small structures.

Creating an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a first aid kit and a seven-day supply of essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents like your insurance policies, cell phone chargers, family and emergency contact information, maps of the area and other emergency items for the whole family.

Heeding Storm Warnings:  A severe storm WATCH means severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area.  People in a watch area should keep informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. A severe storm WARNING means severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar.  Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Seek shelter immediately. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.

Preparing for High Winds: If you have time, secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind.

For more information on what to do before, during and after severe weather, please visit redcross.org/prepare/disaster/thunderstorm.

“We urge you to share these Red Cross severe weather preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time,” Davison said.

You also can follow the American Red Cross in Northwest Louisiana on Facebook at @RedCrossNorthwestLouisiana, contact the Northwest Louisiana chapter at (318) 865-9545, visit redcross.org/shreveport or call 1-800-REDCROSS.