American Red Cross Urges People to Stay Safe Cooking this Holiday Season

rco_blog_img_holiday cooking

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.


The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year – one every eight minutes – and most are home fires. Last year, the Eastern Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross responded to more than 1,200 disasters and helped approximately 5,350 people. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the Red Cross encourages families to prevent kitchen fires by taking some basic safety measures.


Tips to avoid cooking fires include:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Keep young children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Move items that can burn away from the stove such as dishtowels, bags and boxes.
  • Clean the stove and the area around it before turning on the heat.
  • Don’t leave food on the stove unattended.
  • Turn pot handles to the back of the stove to avoid spills.


IF A COOKING FIRE OCCURS If a pan catches fire, don’t move it. Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to put out the fire. Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on the pan until it cools. Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water – it will fuel the fire.


If something catches fire in the oven, keep the door closed. Call 9-1-1 so firefighters can make sure the fire didn’t spread to the walls. If a fire occurs in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave if you can. Don’t use it again until a repairman checks it.


If the kitchen catches fire, make sure everyone gets out and call 9-1-1 when outside. Once outside, stay out. Never go back inside a burning building.


RED CROSS APPS People can learn how to help prevent a home fire and what to do if one occurs by downloading the Red Cross Emergency App. They can use the app’s Family Safe feature to help stay in touch with loved ones. Children can earn points and incentives in a fun, gaming environment while learning how to prevent a home fire and other emergencies in the Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App. The First Aid App provides expert advice including what to do for burns, broken bones, and breathing and cardiac emergencies. The apps can be downloaded for free in app stores or at


HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross has been working to reduce that number through its Home Fire Campaign, credited in its first year with saving several lives and protecting thousands of others by installing new smoke alarms in their homes.


The Home Fire Campaign is a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Working with fire departments and community groups across the country, the Red Cross and its partners have installed more than 125,000 smoke alarms in homes across all 50 states.


The Red Cross also is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills at home.


WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire. To find the location of smoke alarm installation events or to become a volunteer, contact the Red Cross at 215-299-4000. People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to wildfires and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.




As the decades since the end of World War II continue to pass, more and more of our proud veterans of that war are lost each year. That’s why it’s important this and every Veterans Day to acknowledge and thank them for all of their accomplishments. We also must encourage them to pass down their incredible stories of bravery and heroism through the generations.

It truly is awe-inspiring to hear these veterans speak about their experiences today. And it’s almost unbelievable how even well into their 90s they continue to give back to their country and the organizations that touched their lives during the war.

This year for his 95th birthday, WWII veteran Alex Kane asked his friends to send donations to the American Red Cross.  He says it’s his way to say thank you for what the American Red Cross and International Red Cross did for him while in Europe.

He recounted one story where he was on his way to a Red Cross building when bombing of the area began. He emerged from cover to find the building in flames. From that day forward he has championed for the Red Cross and stressed its importance to all he talks to.

We at the American Red Cross appreciate his kind support of our services to soldiers and veterans. For more information on our partnership with the military throughout the years, check out the article below.


By: Jennifer Ingram

PHILADELPHIA – When I first heard that the Pope was coming to Philadelphia  and the number of people that were expected to visit the city I immediately began thinking of places I could go to get out of the city. It had nothing to do with the Pope at all, but rather the large crowds. It wasn’t until I attended a meeting with the Communications department at the American Red Cross in Philadelphia that I decided to stay and be a part of it.

During the meeting Anthony, Loa and Lauren talked about needing volunteers during the Pope’s visit and how it would be a great once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After the meeting and doing some serious thinking I wanted to be a part of it. I really do believe that this will be a great experience. I committed myself to stay the entire time they needed volunteers from Thursday afternoon until Monday morning. After I made this commitment I also decided to stay at one of the many staff shelters that the Red Cross has set up throughout the city. After hearing about the many road closures and detours on SEPTA this was the best thing for me to do.

When I arrived on Thursday I had no idea what to expect as far as the staff shelter. This is the first time I would be staying in one. Even though I had no idea what to expect I was still every excited. The shelter I am staying at is across the street from headquarters at an elementary school. When I first arrived they were still in the process of setting up cots and there were quite a few people in there. Each cot had a Red Cross blanket and pillow on it. Some were taking a nap and others where claiming their spots like I was. There are volunteers from the area and out of state staying in the shelter. After blowing up my air mattress I headed back over to headquarters for a meeting in the Communications department. During our meeting I got to meet everyone that would be making up the communications team and finding out what our game plan was for the next couple of days. Most of our volunteers didn’t have to travel too far except for one who came all the way from Oregon.

Once done at headquarters and eating dinner that the Red Cross provided I headed back over to the shelter. The scene was much different than before. Many more people had arrived and you could feel the excitement as well as tiredness in the room. Before you knew it lights were out and all you could see were lights from computers and cell phones. It was a time for quietness and relaxation, something that doesn’t always come easy for me at home because there is always something to do. Overall my first night went very well and better than expected. The night was rather quiet except for the sound of more cots being put up. As others came in they were very quiet and respectful towards those that were sleep.

On day two of my volunteering with the Red Cross I had the opportunity to explore the city with Lauren and two other volunteers. During our exploration we visited a First Aid station near Ben Franklin High School and the staff shelters set up in three buildings on Community College of Philadelphia Campus. Before reaching our destination we had quite an adventure. Navigating the streets of Philadelphia became very difficult, especially if you don’t know the city. Good thing for us our driver, who has been transporting people all day long, knew exactly what streets could be used and which ones to avoid. There was also a great presence of Philadelphia Police and the National Guard. It wasn’t until we got further in Center City that we saw the large crowds of people taking in the sights of downtown Philadelphia. There was a very long line of people waiting to get an up close and personal look at the Liberty Bell. Before the Pope arrives visitor are using their time to enjoy the city and visit the historic sites.

Our first stop was the Medical Station near Ben Franklin High School. This is one of nine that are set up throughout the city. During our visit there wasn’t much going on at the time. We were able to go inside the medical tent and talk with some volunteers that will be working the station. Inside the big blue tent they had several stations set up with cots, blankets, and medical equipment.

Outside relaxing in the shade was Kathy, a Spiritual Care Responder volunteering with the American Red Cross through Lutheran Disaster Response. This weekend she will be a behavioral health responder and her duties include providing information, communicate between individuals in the medical station and their families, help orient those in distress, talk with those who are overwhelmed to find out what is bothering them and get them back on their way. If further care is needed beyond the tent the responders are to alert the proper people and keep accurate documents of who visits the tent.

When asked why she chose to volunteer for the Papal visit her response was this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She said if she can see him up close that would be nice, but just being here volunteering, seeing him on the big screen TV and hearing the mass is good enough for her. She also mentioned how the community and different organizations are coming together as one and looking out for each.

Like Kathy, who didn’t have to travel too far, this historical event has brought people from all over to Philadelphia to volunteer. It has also brought people from all over the world to be part of the World Meeting of Families and to celebrate the Pope in the U.S.


By: Anthony Tornetta

I just had to share an experience I had last week, while assisting with the flood recovery efforts in South Carolina.

I have served for seven years in this organization and today for the first time I was speechless.

I was sitting and talking with a family at the shelter, who had lost everything this past weekend because of flooding. They have a 6 year old daughter and 3 boys.

After playing games with the kids for a while, the daughter disappeared for a few minutes.

When she came back this is what she gave me…along with a giant hug and said thank you Red Cross.

rco_blog_img_handmade sign SCFlood

This was a real reminder of why we do what we do and why I encourage everyone to support the mission and work of the American Red Cross.

SC Flood kid with picture      SC Flood Hugging Kid

SC Flood High Five

When I learned that Pope Francis would be visiting the United States, specifically my home city of Philadelphia, I booked my airline ticket from Portland, Ore. to Philadelphia, Penna.  It must have been divine timing, as I return annually about this time of year to visit family and friends.

For the past year and a half, I have enjoyed volunteering for a variety of charitable organizations’ special events. Knowing that the American Red Cross supports humanitarian needs, I contacted my colleague at the Red Cross in Philadelphia to see what needs the communications team might have.  With 20 years of staff and volunteer experience with Red Cross Disaster Relief, this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime assignment.  What an exciting and challenging opportunity to serve my Red Cross in its efforts to make sure the people of Philadelphia would remain safe and well through the Pope’s visit to the City.

As one of nearly a thousand people, including Red Cross volunteers and staff, I and the team of about a dozen set out to capture, in words and images, the Red Cross at work. Along with our partner organizations, we set up first aid stations and reunification centers throughout the city. Our primary role at this event was to help reunite families and friends who were separated and could not get in touch with or find each other at the event.

What an honor and a privilege to serve my home city in this historic — and personally humbling — event.

Pope_Volunteer_1   rco_blog_img_Kem Possible_resized for blog

Kim Elizabeth Manning

Salem, Ore.

By: Maria Lobron

PHILADELPHIA – In anticipation of the Pope’s visit to Philly this weekend, the American Red Cross is very busy. Staff and volunteers are setting up first aid tents and reunification stations for families and friends that may get separated in the large crowds expected throughout Philadelphia this weekend.

Red Cross volunteers will be a huge part of keeping everyone safe. Volunteer and Chaplin Thomas Kadel commented that he has had a great experience staying in the city and helping out so far. Overall, this is an exciting time for everyone in Philly, but it can be a lot for someone that has never been here.

And for some, being in such a crowded area can also be an overwhelming experience.  Here are some tips for coping with the crowds during the Papal visit:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking since many of the streets in Philadelphia are blocked off. Wear sneakers or worn in but durable shoes.
  • Be respectful of everyone else’s space. There will be a lot of people in a confined area. Make sure not to push or squash anyone. Also, be aware of your surroundings.  If you feel overwhelmed, go to a more open space with less people. If you are feeling ill, find one of the many first aid/medical tents set up throughout the city. Medical tents can provide snacks and water.
  • Bring only clear bags or small purses. There will be security checkpoints throughout the city. Officials have asked that you only have clear bags or small purses to speed the security screening process along.
  • Keep this phone number handy: 1-855-259-2114. If you or a loved one get separated, call the toll free number or go to a Red Cross station and ask a Red Cross official for help.  We’ll help you get reconnected.
  • Drink plenty of water. It is important that you stay hydrated, especially when there are large crowds and you are outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Bring your own food. You don’t know the next time you are going to be able to find something to eat. Bring food that is light and easy to carry like granola bars, fruit, or candy bars to keep your body nourished.

And don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the overall experience. For many it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There will be people from all over the world here to celebrate the Pope’s first visit to the United States. Let’s give them all a warm Philly welcome!


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