Hurricane season has arrived and the American Red Cross has preparedness steps that families and individuals can do today, before the next storm approaches.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an above-normal 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. It is important to remember that it only takes one hurricane to devastate a community. In addition, caution cannot be limited to coastal states. Hurricanes can be just as destructive for inland communities.

Related: Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hurricanes?

5 Hurricane Preparedness Tips to Tackle Today

1. Download the Red Cross Emergency App.

This new app provides expert advice on what to do before, during, and after hurricanes and other disasters. It also gives instant access to 35 customizable weather alerts, safety tips and preparedness information for 14 different emergencies; all in one free and easy to use app. Red Cross apps can be found in your app store by searching for American Red Cross.

2. Learn the difference between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning.

As hurricane season approaches, it is also important to know the difference between the threat levels.

  • A Hurricane Watch is when conditions are a threat within 48 hours. It’s then time to review and update your hurricane plan. Get ready to act if a warning is issued, and stay informed.
  • A Hurricane Warning is when conditions are expected within 36 hours. It’s then time to complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.

Related: Disaster Preparedness? There's an App for That

3. Create an evacuation plan for your family.

Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event. Find out about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs and make plans for your pets to be cared for. Obey evacuation orders. Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

4. Build an emergency kit.

The Red Cross advises that you should include a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.

Related: Mass Evacuations: How To Flee a Disaster Area

5. Pay attention to the weather forecast and stay informed.

Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio (available on the Red Cross Store) for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.