The American Red Cross is urging south Louisiana residents to prepare for severe weather, especially with severe thunderstorm and tornado alerts issued for Friday and Saturday.

“Preparation is the best protection,” said Bobbi Zaunbrecher, executive director in Acadiana and Southwest Louisiana. “By taking a few simple steps ahead of time, you can help ensure that all of your household members know what to and where to go when severe weather occurs.”

The free Red Cross Emergency App makes this easier by providing instant access to weather and emergency alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends in case an event occurs. The app covers 14 types of disasters including tornado, flood and severe thunderstorm and lets users customize more than 35 emergency alerts for themselves and where loved ones live. The app contains preloaded content so users can access guidance from Red Cross experts even without mobile connectivity, and allows users to easily toggle between Spanish and English.

“Family Safe” is a unique feature that allows the app user to notify loved ones who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster and find out if they are safe. The recipient can instantly see the alert details as well as specific “what to do now” steps, and then respond with either “I’m safe” or “I’m not safe.” This feature works even if the recipient has not downloaded the Emergency App.

The app is available in app stores by searching for the Red Cross Emergency or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Whenever severe weather warnings are issued people should move to a small windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.

If the power goes out, people should:

  • Use flashlights instead of candles;
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible; and
  • Make sure generators are placed outside the home and away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

Additional safety tips on what to do before, during and after a variety of disasters and emergencies are located at redcross.org/prepare. People can also take Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED courses so they’ll know what to do in case help is delayed. They can get information and register at redcross.org/TakeAClass.