Written by Sam Antenucci

Imagine yourself in a disaster without power or internet. Finding out vital information would be next to impossible.  However, amateur radio – ‘Ham’ as its more commonly called—is a popular hobby that doubles as a way to send disaster messages without the need for internet. During a disaster when internet and power can go down, Ham radio acts as a lifeline in times of need.

Seeing the potential of Ham Radios in disaster scenarios, John Weaver, a Red Cross Disaster and Mental Health volunteer, has been advocating and pushing for more awareness of Ham radios and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) field day. Weaver says that “Field day is a chance to reach out to the community, practice for emergencies, enjoy informal contests, and most of all have fun!”

john Weaver

John (left) , Al (center) and Sean (right) from the Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Buck Chapter visited the 2018 Field Day sites. Using the Ham radio, they simulated emergency communication to an ARC volunteer in Texas.

With more than 40,000 attendees including Red Cross volunteers, the ARRL field day is easily the largest gathering of radio amateurs in the United States. During the ARRL field day, enthusiasts set up transmission stations throughout the Nation to showcase the service opportunities that the radios hold.

Ham radios work on a variety of frequencies for communications and can be set up anywhere in the world. Both Ham and non-Ham users can tune into their own receivers or radio scanners to listen to the broadcasts. Ham users utilize many frequency bands across the radio spectrum that have been given to them by the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) for amateur use.

Ham radios have often been utilized in the past by those wishing to aid in disaster services. For example, Amateur Radio Services helped New York City agencies keep in contact with one another during the 9/11 tragedy. Ham radio has also aided in rescues during Hurricane Katrina and helped in the disastrous flooding in Colorado in 2013.

radio

Volunteers participate in Ham Radio training at the 2018 Red Cross Disaster Institute

If Ham radios are something you might want to get involved with, you need to acquire an Amateur Radio license from the FCC and your own equipment. The Red Cross offers Ham training and encourages you to participate in the 2019 ARRL field day on June 22nd and 23rd . Save the date and we’ll see you there!

As the year nears the peak of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the American Red Cross and its partners are ready. We are gearing up for the height of the dangerous season, while hoping it will not be as active as last year.

Hurricane Maria 2017

Barceloneta, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Red Cross volunteers distribute water, food and other basic necessities to families affected by Hurricane Maria. Photo by Sergio Rojas for The American Red Cross

2017 was marked by historic hurricanes, wildfires and other crises, the American Red Cross was there for a record number of people whose lives were upended by major events.  Last fall was unprecedented in terms of the scope and scale of our mission delivery.  We provided food, water, reconnected families, and mobilized thousands of relief supplies, including comfort kits, blankets and cleanup kits to help rebuild lives.  Everything we do depends on the needs of the people that we serve and we could not be there without the generous support of our partners.  Thank you for bringing hope to those in need.

  • Toll Brothers
  • SKF USA
  • Duane Morris
  • PJM Interconnection
  • Vanguard
  • Tanner Industries
  • Ametek Foundation
  • Bentley Systems
  • Dietz & Watson

Just as the Fourth of July holiday approaches and people head outdoors for summer fun, temperatures are forecast to soar.  The National Weather Service expects a heat wave to build this weekend for Eastern Pennsylvania, and it is likely to last into next week. In the northern part of the nation, a heat wave is defined as three days in a row with high temperatures at or above 90 degrees.

“This puts many people at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” said Guy Triano, CEO for the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region. “In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods.”

The Red Cross urges everyone to stay safe in the intense heat and humidity by following these top six safety tips:

  1. Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.

Look before you Lock

2. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

3. Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

Pet

4. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

5. If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (libraries, theaters, malls, etc.).

6. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

The Fourth of July holiday is here and many of us will enjoy the outdoors, watch fireworks or host a family picnic. The American Red Cross wants everyone to enjoy their holiday and offers safety steps they can follow.

The Independence Day Holiday is a great time for summer fun and the Red Cross wants to make sure everyone stays safe during their celebration. It’s also a time when the number of people giving blood drops, but the need for blood donations continues. We are also asking that everyone consider giving blood over the holiday.

Firework Safety

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks. If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  1. Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  5. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

PICNIC SAFETY

  1. Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs.
  2. Wash your hands before preparing the food.
  3. If you are going to cook on a grill, always supervise the grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  4. Never grill indoors. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  5. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.

 

Written by Bryan Meyers

The American Red Cross offers 24/7 emergency communications, counseling, and financial assistance through its Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) network. Eligible members include the U.S. Armed Forces, their families and military veterans. Mind-body workshops, information and referral services in the local community and global service delivery options are available for home and overseas installations.

Soliders

Nearly 100,000 families have received aid through the SAF program this year, including more than 36,000 emergency communications to military members and their families. The program can help families to cope with military deployments with courses, pre-deployment preparedness tools, reconnection workshops and post-deployment support resources. A Hero Care App is also available for free to access vital resources for military members, veterans and family members.

The emergency services that are also available through the SAF network include the American Red Cross Hero Care Center, which is accessible 24/7. You can submit a request online or call toll free to speak to a Red Cross Emergency Communications Specialist at 1-877-272-7337. Service member information will be required in addition to information about the emergency.

In addition to military hospital and clinic programs that are designed to offer comfort and boost morale, veteran’s services are available for veterans and their family members. The American Red Cross will assist veterans and their families with local, state and national resources including emergency needs for clothing, shelter, counseling referrals and claims for veterans’ benefits.

Through its local chapters and the SAF network, the American Red Cross is there for active-duty military service members and their families 365 days a year. Red Cross volunteers also serve in Veterans Administration (VA) and military hospitals around the country and the rest of the world to ensure that vital assistance is given to the men and women who need it.

Written by David Haas

Danelle Stoppel is a local Red Cross volunteer who has been deployed to support national disasters twenty-two times, including the Boston Marathon bombing and recent Puerto Rican hurricane relief efforts.  With so much experience, she has many stories to tell – often funny – but always in an emotional voice expressing gratitude for being allowed to help others.

Danelle

Danelle, second from the left, takes part in the Integrated Care and Condolence Team in Puerto Rico.

Danelle talked recently to a group of trainees at the Red Cross Deployment lab held at Red Cross headquarters.  She described participating in a tornado disaster response in Norman OK when a hurricane hit.  She says that people she met there and in other locations “are more resilient than I will ever be.”  While responding to fires and mudslides in California last year, she witnessed family members digging out other family members and realized that “disasters don’t discriminate – you never know when it will strike you or me.”

Danelle 2

Danelle says that she “doesn’t know anything better than to give back through the Red Cross” and that “there are always people (on deployments) who adore giving back, and that is the essence of the Red Cross.”  Volunteering with the Red Cross has made her “grateful for what I have much more than before, and a better person as well.”

She encourages volunteers to respond locally in order to qualify for national deployments. Once deployed, she encourages volunteers to understand that safety comes first, and learning to work effectively with local residents and providers comes second.