After the recent flooding in our area, it will be beneficial to have a plan.

It was just a few weeks ago that we experienced some serious flooding throughout Shreveport-Bossier and now we are expected to get more severe weather and rain beginning today through Thursday. Of course, our first prayer is for the rain to be gentle, but in the event that it isn't, you need to have a plan and have a plan, according to the chief executive of the Red Cross in Louisiana, Kay W. Wilkins.

“By preparing together for severe weather, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger. The Red Cross has some easy steps that residents can take now to get ready for severe weather.”

The Red Cross says the difference between life and death in a disaster is simply being prepared. Wilkins suggests downloading the Red Cross Emergency app on your phone for free. You'll have access to emergency alerts and life-saving information. You can find the app at redcross.org. In addition, you should take these steps.

Devise an Emergency Plan: Your Emergency Plan should include a designated safe place to go to in case of severe weather. The location should be away from any glass windows, skylights or glass doors. The plan should include a procedure for pets and a stash of emergency supplies for both family members and any animals.

Heed Storm Warnings: This includes watching for tornado signs. Dark and greenish clouds, a wall cloud, debris clouds, hail, funnel clouds, and roaring noises are all signs of a tornado. Your local radio and television news outlets will also update you on storm information.

Watch vs. Warning: There is a difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A watch means a tornado is possible in the area. A warning is issued when it's time for your area to take shelter. This is when you should move to your safe room and protect yourself from flying debris. Should you find yourself outside at this time seek shelter immediately in a sturdy building, shelter or basement.

High winds: High winds can create excessive damage. If you have time secure loose items outdoors like patio furniture, decor, trash cans (I just pull mine into the garage), potted or hanging plants, etc. Anything that can be picked up by the wind should be secured.

Flooding: Your area radio and television news outlets, in addition to NOAA Weather Radio, will be updating you on flood warnings and areas that are seeing flooding. During this time, you should be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. Stay away from floodwaters. If you encounter any water above your ankles, turn around. Just six inches of water can knock you off your feet. This includes when you are driving as your car may be swept away in as little at two feet of water. Keep children away from floodwaters. Do not go out at night unless it's absolutely necessary.

For more information, log onto redcross.org. You can also follow the Louisiana Region of the American Red Cross on Twitter. Our local Red Cross chapter can be found online at redcross.org/Louisiana or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.

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

Area residents can also follow the Louisiana Region of the American Red Cross on Twitter at @LARedCross1, contact your local chapter, visit redcross.org/Louisiana or call 1-800-REDCROSS. The best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.