Archive

Monthly Archives: June 2012

I must admit that “drinking water” does not have the same appeal or quality taste as say an ice tea, a kiwi- strawberry fruit drink, or a soda but during the summer months, even as the forecast constantly changes from one day to the next, one of the best drinks to have to stay cool and avoid dehydration is water. I know it may seem at first unnecessary to remind someone to drink more water when the heat rises or before they reach the point of becoming thirsty, but the simple truth of the matter is that by the time you are becoming thirsty, you are already in route to becoming dehydrated. Our bodies are made up of water but can’t regenerate a new water supply on its own. According to The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, we need to drink at least 48 ounces of water per day to replace the water we lose naturally.

Dehydration can result in that general feeling of malaise with varying symptoms such as dry mouth, dry eyes, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irritation, trouble with concentration, and cramps. Children are even more at risk, as their physical activity and play increases during the summer. According to a book called Nutrition for Life, “children adapt less efficiently than adults to hot weather and are more vulnerable to heat. They produce more body heat than adults but sweat less and therefore take longer to change their body temperature. In addition, children’s thirst mechanism is not as fully developed as that of adults and they may not express the need to drink and should be encouraged to drink water before, during, and after exercise to prevent dehydration and heat stroke.”

When it comes to staying cool, drinking more water does not create a placebo effect. It actually does help keep our body’s temperature balanced by allowing us to sweat when we are hot, preventing us from overheating. Contrary to what our appearance looks like when we perspire, you know our clothes clinging to our skin, our shirts feeling more like a wet rag than a shirt, sweat is keeping our internal temperature from going up to potentially dangerous levels. On a hot day we desperately need water to sweat. Sweat is our own body’s cooling system. I can’t promise you’ll look and feel your best when you start to sweat but at least you’ll know you’re beating dehydration when you are drinking more water.

– Jabril Redmond, guest blogger, American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania

You hear us all the time talking about the importance of being prepared for an emergency. We pound that message into your head just about every opportunity we get. I realize, it may seem excessive. Maybe, maybe not. But let me tell you, being the person who helps deliver those messages, repetition sure came in handy for me last night.

You see in the midst of a three day heat wave, the power in my house went out. A transformer down the street blew and our entire block was without any power. No lights. No TV. No A/C on the hottest night of the year. But other than it being an inconvenience, there wasn’t much concern. We knew what to do. I had my trusty Red Cross preparedness kit right by the door. I put it there so I knew exactly where I could find it so I wouldn’t be wandering around in the dark looking for the flashlight that was inside.

Image

I also knew where we would go if the power was out for a long time and it got too hot to stay in the house. Having a plan for where to go is critical to every emergency plan.

I was lucky enough to have my smartphone and a laptop with lots of battery power. So I did what any Red Cross communicator does in a situation like that, I tweeted and recorded a video (below). I figured, this was a good chance to put into practice what the Red Cross preaches.

In the end, it wasn’t a major emergency. It was barely even a minor one. Thankfully, by midnight, the power was back on and we never had to leave the house. The whole matter turned out to be a drill of sorts in case there is a major emergency, like the tornado warnings that had my family huddled in a corner in the dark during the height of Hurricane Irene last summer. Or the blizzard two years ago that also knocked out power and we couldn’t go anywhere.

You just never know when the advice the Red Cross gives you about being prepared will be useful. So take a few minutes to review Red Cross preparedness information when you’re safe and sound. And be sure to refresh yourself every few months. That way, if there is an emergency, you’ll be ready.

Howdy!

As the temperature (slowly) rises I’m reminded of my home state of Texas. Now Texans are no strangers to heat advisories, warnings and their ilk. Our summer temperatures usually stay between 90-105 degrees. Heat related hospitalizations and even deaths are a sad yet common occurrence there.

The excessive heat advisory issued this week has been a top news piece recently but all of this hubbub seems a bit over the top. I’ve been assured by many Philadelphians that it does get very hot and humid here but I still have my doubts. This is probably the first summer I’ve been able to wear a light sweater outside!

I play Ultimate regularly so I do spend quite a bit of time outside and it’s definitely a muggy heat but nothing like the scorchers we have in Texas. I’m from the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) region so our climate tends to be bone-dry, like walking into an oven (as opposed to a steam room.) Last year’s summer saw the worst drought in recent years. It got so bad in places that critters would get stuck where the ground had cracked.

So as a survivor of many a Texas summer here are some of my personal tips to help keep you cool and sunburn free this summer.

  1. One thing that commuters tend to forget is that your left arm is exposed to the sun for however many minutes (or hours) you’re stuck in traffic. Cover up! My mom keeps a long sleeve button down in the car and throws that over her left arm when she drives for long periods of time.
  1. Umbrellas are great for rain but they also provide portable shade! Yes you may get funny looks but it beats melting in the sun!
  1. Personal water misting fan. Carry everywhere. (The link is not an endorsement to buy that specific product. Just an example!)
  1. Sunglasses and lip balm with UV protection are essential. It’s definitely possible to get sunburn on your eyes and lips. I’ve done it. It hurts. Learn from my mistakes.
  1. Speaking of sun protection, you can never say enough about sunscreen. Apply a thick coating and wait for your skin to absorb it before heading out the door. Some limbs that get commonly forgotten: the ears, the back of the neck and the tops of your feet (if you like to wear flip flops but don’t like the flip flop tan line!) Ladies, there are a lot of makeup options that have sunscreen too so no excuses! And reapply often.
  1. Cowboy hats are not just a bold fashion statement but a very practical way to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your neck!
  1. Keep your clothes in the fridge. Sounds weird but it feels really nice to slip into cold pajamas after a long hot day!
  1. Most people tend to eat cool things in the summer like salads and ice cream but eating spicy food actually helps cool you down. You sweat more when eating spicy food which helps to cool your body. Add a fan and you’re in business!
  1. If you do a lot of outdoor activities plan ahead and throw water bottles in the freezer. Take them out when you’re ready to head out and you should have ice cold melted water when you need it!
  1. If after all of these tips you still manage to get sunburned do not take a hot shower! Use lukewarm water (or cold water if you can stand it) pat your skin dry and use burn relief gel. The aloe variety is my favorite. It’s especially nice when you get some cool air on the burn.

Hope y’all find these tips useful! Have a safe and happy summer!

Heat accounts for the most weather related deaths in the United States. Although we have been lucky enough to have cool summer temperatures this season, these next few days are calling for temperatures of close to 100 degrees. And if you’re like me, you love seeing that big yellow sun on the weekly forecast, but its important you don’t let the sun get the best of you. I had an experience myself with minor heat exhaustion.

A few weeks ago, on a particularly hot Friday, I did the normal college student summer routine, which doesn’t include much but working out and relaxing outdoors. I started my new summer job later that evening and didn’t take into consideration the long hours spent in the sun mixed with working on my feet could end in heat exhaustion. As a result I became dizzy, weak, and even sick for the next couple of days. Now I know there are many things I could have done to prevent this.

In the heat, the first and most important step is to stay cool. Although this may seem obvious, it is crucial to prevent heat cramps, exhaustion and even stroke. Wear lightweight clothing and stay indoors with an air conditioner when possible. Plan strenuous outdoor activities like lawn care or exercising for the coolest parts of the day.

The next tip is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeinated fluids if possible. Be sure to eat small meals and snack more often to keep your energy levels up. If you have access, go to the pool or beach for the day to cool off. If you do choose to spend long hours outside, use proper sun protection for your skin and reapply as you sweat or go in the water. This is important even if you don’t burn easily. Ultra violent rays are dangerous to all skin types.

Also, check in frequently on small children and pets, as they are more susceptible to heat stroke. Be sure they have the proper amount of shade and fluids and never leave your pet in the car on a hot day even if it is just for a few minutes.

For more on how you can be prepared and what you should do during a heat wave look at our checklist and be Red Cross ready.

When faced with a medical problem, we often find ourselves unsure about the proper steps to take or wishing we had been more prepared by keeping a first aid kit nearby.  Trying to tackle a medical problem while waiting for professional help to arrive or to seek out professional help can be chaotic and demanding.  American Red Cross, with the recent launch of a first aid app for Android and iPhone, has taken strides to ensure that we are well informed and equipped in these situations.  The app includes disaster preparedness information, and provides sequential instructions on how to handle common first aid situations, such as allergies, asthma attacks, broken bones and choking.  It also includes videos and interactive quizzes.

I can easily recall a particular instance involving one of my relatives when the first aid app would have come in handy.  My cousin, Marla, who is a newlywed, was trying to impress her husband by cooking him a nice, home cooked meal, chicken cordon bleu.  She was very anxious for the meal to turn out perfectly, but she had minimal cooking experience living on her own before marriage.  She jokes to this day that the only meals she knew how to prepare were cereal and microwavable pizza.  As she was preparing the chicken cordon bleu, she absentmindedly grabbed the baking pan without wearing an oven mitt and burned all of her fingertips on her right hand.

She immediately went into panic mode.  She was in severe pain and her fingers were beginning to blister.  She had just moved into her new home and did not have a first aid kit.  She frantically called my mother and inquired what she should do because she had never been in a situation similar to this.  She also called her mother and sisters for advice.  Each family member had their own version of a proper remedy for the burns, but did not want to steer her in the wrong direction.

My cousin ended up not treating her burns until she arrived at the hospital, out of fear that she would do something to worsen her condition.  Once at the hospital, a nurse immediately applied ice to her fingertips followed by an ointment, and then wrapped her fingers in bandages.  In this particular instance, the first aid app could have saved my cousin a lot of stress.  Although the app is not a substitute for proper medical training, it could have provided my cousin with proper instructions given by doctors and nurses to ease her pain before going to the hospital.

My cousin is addicted to her iPhone.  Consequently, this no cost app would have been ideal for her to access and utilize.  She would not have had to seek out a variety of theories from family members and weigh the pros and cons of each because she would have already known, thanks to the first aid app, what the best actions were to take in her situation.  Therefore, whether it is a minor medical emergency such as my newlywed cousin’s disastrous cooking experience or a more severe medical emergency, the app is a reliable source to turn to when faced with such unforeseen events.

Submitted by: Lana Pizzo

Tuesday, the American Red Cross of Southeastern PA hosted its 30th annual Citizen of the Year breakfast. This year, we were thrilled to give the award to our friend and partner of many years Wawa CEO, Howard Stoeckel.

The Citizen of the Year Award honors an individual who has shown commitment and compassion to the entire community without regard to race, religion, gender, or status in times of need. Howard Stoeckel is the perfect recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award because of his commitment to his community and the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

While the Red Cross is dependent on the generosity of individual donors, our corporate partners are also essential to the success of our mission. Their sponsorship of fundraising events such as The Red Ball, the Red Cross Walk and Run, and our annual Red Cross Cup golf outing provides us with important resources for our work and maintains our profile in the community.

Mr. Stoeckel and Wawa helped the Red Cross meet its goals in another essential area: blood donation. Over the last eight years Wawa has hosted 584 American Red Cross Blood Drives, collecting more than 21,000 units of blood and helping to save approximately 65,000 lives across our region. Wawa’s efforts over the last year helped generate more than 4,700 units of blood being donated to the American Red Cross. Those 4,700 units of blood gave a second chance to more than 14,200 hospital patients across our region. Mr. Stoeckel supports his employees’ extraordinary gift to their community. He says, “Wawa’s long-standing partnership with the American Red Cross is one of the most meaningful ways we contribute to our communities.  We are so proud of our associates’ efforts to host blood drives throughout the year, to volunteer their time and to donate blood.”

Howard Stoeckel and the Wawa Corporation represent the epitome of corporate partnership and responsibility. Wawa employees and associates give back to their communities in a very elemental way. Mr. Stoeckel reminds them that one pint of blood can assist as many as three people. He writes, ” I am truly proud to say that at Wawa, our world is large one, filled with endless possibilities due to the caring nature of our associates and our customers.” His personal commitment to social responsibility influences others to act accordingly and give their time, energy and life’s blood to their community. His dedication and that of his employees yields spectacular results

Today we recognize Howard Stoeckel for all he does for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Please join me in thanking him and congratulating him as the 2012 American Red Cross Citizen of the Year.

Coatesville Fire Damage

A small stove fire turned raging inferno had Red Cross volunteers rushing to the scene of a four-alarm blaze in Coatesville yesterday. The Chester County Disaster Action Team received a call in the late afternoon on Wednesday June 6th. A fire in one row home on the 600 block of Coats street had spread to eight more and several families had been forced to flee with only the clothes on their backs.

Volunteers were witness to a dramatic scene. Firefighters from all over Chester County converged on the scene to fight intense flames that infiltrated the attic spaces of several homes and was helped by the apparent lack of firewalls. What was initially a three alarm fire required a forth alarm to call in more manpower as fire fighters became exhausted fighting the blaze.

The fire displaced eight families, 18 people in all. Among them were 13 adults and five children. Red Cross disaster volunteers acted quickly to find a public space that was suitable for gathering the victims together and meeting their immediate needs. We opened a comfort center in the Coatesville Community Center. Here, volunteers provided the displaced with water and food. Once they were ready, our volunteers helped them fill out paperwork to get them the financial assistance they need to buy emergency food, clothing, and shelter.

Chapter Communicator Dave Schrader relays information to the media after getting an update on the response from volunteer Denise Graf.

Chester County Red Cross volunteers were on hand to coordinate our efforts. Their attention was focused on the needs of the victims. According to news reports, one family was planning for a summer vacation. They had made purchases for the trip and were looking forward to their imminent departure. Our volunteers will help them to regroup and develop a new plan – one that manages their loss and still looks forward to a joyful family vacation.

Volunteers help two of the 18 people displaced by large fire in Coatesville


There is no more rewarding work than helping others. Red Cross volunteers know this. They are profoundly grateful for the opportunity to provide for the basic needs of those who have lost everything. The presence of the Red Cross at the scene comforted the displaced, the firefighters, the city of Coatesville and all those who were exposed to this horrible fire through media outlets. Our work is essential. Thank you to those who support and help us.