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Monthly Archives: March 2018

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“I request that during that month (March) our people rededicate themselves to the splendid aims and activities of the Red Cross.”–President Franklin D. Roosevelt, first Presidential Proclamation of March as Red Cross Month, 1943

Each year the president of the United States proclaims March “Red Cross Month.” The Red Cross uses this opportunity to thank our supporters, increase public awareness and consideration of Red Cross’ mission and drive contributions.

The City of Philadelphia kicked off the month by flying Red Cross flags around City Hall. They were a beautiful site to see.

City Hall Flag.jpg

While four back to back nor’easters were an unplanned surprise for March is Red Cross Month, the staff and volunteer of Red Cross Eastern PA were prepared.   We opened and supported more than half a dozen shelters and warming centers for more than 700 people affected by winter weather.

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Even with the bad weather and shelter openings, our volunteers continued to respond to the Red Cross’ most common emergency, home fires. Red Cross of Eastern PA volunteers responded to more than 100 emergencies and home fires during the month of March, assisting more than 450 people. We worked with the Philadelphia Fire Department to install smoke alarms and talk fire safety at three different neighborhoods where fatal fires occurred.

install

Daylight Saving Time began and people lost an hour of sleep by turning the clocks forward. The Red Cross encouraged people to “Turn and Test” – Turn the clocks and test your smoke alarm.

T+T

The Harlem Globetrotters named the Red Cross their “official charity” and we had the opportunity to raise funds and engage our volunteers at nearly 300 performances across the country. Our volunteers “passed the bucket” to collect donations from those attending games in Reading, Allentown, Philadelphia, and Wilkes-Barre.

HGT

The Lehigh Valley-Bucks chapter gave a sneak peak of the upcoming 2018 Cabaret and Cuisine: Back to the 80s. Doc Brown even showed up to encourage people to attend the event held Friday April 20th at Olympus Headquarters in Center Valley.

Previe

The Northeast chapter honored 19 local heroes at the NEPA Heroes celebration. The evening celebrated the prior year’s local heroes for using their First Aid, CPR, AED training and/or other actions to save lives or make Northeastern PA a better place to live and work.

Heroes NEPA

The Southeastern chapter hosted Philadelphia’s premier party and best black-tie charity gala, Red Ball. The evening was a big success with more than eleven hundred guests enjoying live entertainment, delicious delight from more than two dozen restaurants, a silent auction and much more at Lincoln Financial Field.

Red Ball

Red Cross Month wrapped up with Giving Day on March 28th. The Red Cross geared up for the big day, asking people to #help1family. Thousands responded and more than two million dollars was raised to help 28,000 families with urgent relief like food, shelter, and other essentials.

giving day

It certainly was a busy month and that’s how we know we are fulfilling the mission of the Red Cross.

snow driving

As a major winter storm barrels through the region, road conditions are expected to deteriorate quickly. Slushy snow and ice could make for slick, dangerous roads. High snow rates along with gusty winds could lower driving visibility significantly.  Of course, the Red Cross recommends staying off the roads during hazardous winter weather. However, if travel is necessary, the American Red Cross recommends making safety a priority. Having an automobile preparedness kit in your vehicle at all times will not only come in handy but will also keep you safe in case you experience trouble on the roads.

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cell Phone Car Charger
  • Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  • Fleece Hat, Gloves, Scarf
  • Flares
  • Folding Shovel
  • Sand or Cat Litter
  • Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Small battery-operated radio
  • Emergency contact card with names and phone numbers
  • Extra prescription medications
  • Bottled Water
  • High protein snacks
  • Maps
  • Whistle
  • An automobile first-aid zip kit.This kit contains an assortment of bandages, gauze, antiseptic, insect relief pads, sunscreen and sanitizer. Cost is $10.00.
  • Personal Safety Emergency Pack. This kit contains emergency blanket, drinking water, emergency poncho, light stick, whistle, mini first-aid kit and mask. Cost is $11.00

Both kits are affordably priced and can be easily kept in a vehicle’s glove box.

If driving is unavoidable, safety should be your number one priority. Make sure your vehicle has plenty of gas and pay attention to the weather forecast for your travel route and destination. Buckle up, be alert and drive slowly with caution. In the event that your vehicle becomes disabled, keep the car running, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear and leave the window open a crack until help arrives.

  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

If you become stuck in the snow or icy conditions:

  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
  • If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window slightly open – away from the blowing wind – to let in air.

NWS Snow

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for parts of Eastern PA through Thursday morning as a major coastal storm is forecast to produce significant impacts: heavy/wet snow, gusty winds, power outages, ice and hazardous travel.

WINTER SAFETY TIPS

The Red Cross has steps people should follow to stay safe during severe winter weather:

  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you have to drive in winter weather, follow these tips:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

PREVENT HOME FIRES

With the cold temperatures there is often a rise in the number of home fires. Follow these tips to help prevent a fire in your home:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs – at least three feet away from sources of heat.
  • Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen.

Written by Diane Coffey

Last fall, a number of volunteers from the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region supported an emergency call center located in Philadelphia. That call center took many calls from areas of the south affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, as well as Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. This is volunteer Diane Coffey’s story:

Being the calm voice connecting with someone in the midst of a disaster feels like a hand taking hold with reassurance, ‘we got you – we’ll take care of you.’

During one devastating week of the historic 2017 hurricane season, September 16 to September 21, a total of 184,139 hurricane related phone calls flooded the National American Red Cross emergency call number.  To help handle the volume overflow, the Red Cross set up Regional Volunteer Call Centers to assist Texas residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and direct Florida and Puerto Rico residents to resources as Hurricane Irma and Maria hit. Regional Volunteer Call Centers answered 52,371 of the calls during this crisis week.

These are more than just numbers with a ‘wow factor’, they represent the services remote volunteers from all over the country helped deliver to clients during real time disaster recovery operations. Hurricane survivors were connected to volunteers who would listen and provide information: shelter and food pantry locations, transportation, or partner organizations offering crisis cleanup and home repairs.

As a Philadelphia Disaster Call Center volunteer, I never left my home. I used my personal cell phone to answer calls and used my home computer to access multiple Red Cross resource applications. At the end of my professional work day, I signed into the Red Cross Call Center System for a four-hour shift.

One hurricane phone conversation will forever remind me why I volunteer with the American Red Cross. A Hurricane Irma survivor calling from Florida was running out of food.  As we talked, I learned the woman was visually impaired and did not have a computer.  Even if she had access, there was likely no power in her house.

From a Red Cross hurricane resource listing, (updated and distributed to all volunteers in real time as new information became available), I identified three nearby emergency food pantries which she might be able to reach. But our call took place on Friday night and two of the pantries would not be open until Monday.  I was able to find the phone number for the third food bank, Second Harvest, and suggested that she call them.

Despite the client’s visual impairment, she was able to slowly write down the information in hopes that her assistant could pick up the food. As we talked, she admitted that her roof was leaking rain water.  She needed a tarp. Again, based on her location I offered a Crisis Cleanup Hotline phone number for assistance.

The length of this call undoubtedly exceeded the average time for a disaster related issue. In this case, I felt time could stand still until the client got the information she needed.

 

Written by Megan Speight

The World-Famous Harlem Globetrotters returned to Pennsylvania to showcase their skills for an audience of all ages. As the official charity partner of the Harlem Globetrotters, American Red Cross volunteers enjoyed watching the game and participating in the “pass-the-bucket,” a fundraising effort for the Red Cross.

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The Globies played the Washington Generals in the game I attended, and after four enjoyable quarters, the Globetrotters proved to be the victors. This was my first Harlem Globetrotters game and I was amazed and entertained just as much as the group of 5-8 year-old girl dancers seated behind me.

As a relatively new volunteer to the Red Cross, my main priority was to assist with the “pass-the-bucket” portion of the program at the start of the third quarter. Because my section was easily accessible from the court, I doubled as an on-court promoter for the fundraiser. My job wasn’t complicated, but I had a few butterflies since I would be in front of close to 7,000 people including my dad and brother who were in the crowd. Luckily, my nerves were quickly put to rest thanks to the incredible team of Red Cross staff and volunteers who were there with me. Everyone was kind and willing to help answer questions.

The game started around 5:30pm after both teams came out onto the court. The Globetrotters gave multiple shout-outs to the World Champion Eagles, which the crowd adored since it was the one-month anniversary of the historic Super Bowl win.

As a “retired” basketball player, the game kept me entertained and in awe from start to finish. The tricks were incredible, the agility of the players was inspiring and the crowd participation was both comical and engaging.

Towards the end of the second quarter, I made my way from me section to the Red Cross table in the lobby to meet the volunteers assigned to be on-court promoters during the Red Cross announcement. As we waited for our cue, we could watch the halftime show, which featured local dance teams. Once it was our cue to head on the court, we showcased the buckets to remind the crowd what to look for as the announcer spoke on the importance of the Red Cross and the impact it has on the region. As I walked off the court, two small children rushed towards me to drop their dollars in my bucket. After that came the surge of other children and adults alike waiting to do the same. The majority of the audience was eager to give what they could from $5 and $10 to coins. All of the donations will help the American Red Cross and the communities it serves to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters big and small.

After ensuring that I had collected from all who wanted to give, I turned my bucket in and headed back to my seat to finish the game. My favorite part was when one of the Washington Generals players “fixed” the scoreboard in favor of them ending with an over 100-point lead. It felt good to “boo” them with the rest of the crowd and laugh when they finally lost at the end. Another favorite was the Globetrotters showcasing their female players. The two current women on the team are the 14th and 15th women to wear the Harlem Globetrotters jersey. What made the moment special was that one of the women, Swish (Bria) Young, hails from Philadelphia. The event was so much fun and a great experience supporting a great organization.

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Driving in a winter storm presents its own unique challenges. The Red Cross has steps people can follow to get their vehicle ready for winter as well as what they should do if they are caught in a winter storm.

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DRIVING IN WINTER: While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips.

• Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.

• Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

• If you must drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.

• Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.

• Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.

• Don’t pass snow plows.

• Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

If you become stuck in the snow or icy conditions:

• Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.

• Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.

• Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.

• If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.

• Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.

• Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.

• Keep one window slightly open — away from the blowing wind — to let in air.

WEATHER ALERTS AND FIRST AID TIPS: People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to winter storm tips and weather alerts for their area and where loved-ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 7

The second Nor’easter in less than a week struck Eastern Pennsylvania today, delivering another round of heavy, wet snow. The weight of that snow has led to additional power outages across the region. The Red Cross is working with local officials to determine if additional shelters will be required due to this new round of power outages.

Last night about 100 people spent the night in Red Cross and partner shelters that remain open in the Poconos. The shelters are providing warm meals, a safe place to sleep and emotional support for those with immediate, disaster-caused needs. Hot showers and charging stations are also available. Current Red Cross shelters are located at:

Monroe County: Stroudsburg High School, 1100 W. Main St., Stroudsburg, PA

Pike County: Dingman Township V.F.D., 680 Log Tavern Rd., Milford, PA

Anyone coming to a Red Cross shelter should bring essential items for each member of the family:

  • Prescriptions and emergency medications
  • Foods that meet unusual dietary requirements
  • Extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies and other comfort items
  • Supplies needed for children and infants, such as diapers, formula and toys
  • Special items for family members who are elderly or disabled
  • Chargers for any electronic devices you bring with you
  • Books, games and other ways to entertain your family and yourself
  • Food, crate, and other supplies to care for your pet

In addition, the Red Cross is also supporting several partner-run shelters and daytime warming centers throughout all of Eastern Pennsylvania. For warming center locations near you, contact your municipality or county emergency management agency.

Power outages are expected to last for at least a few more days in some places. The Red Cross has some important safety tips to keep you and your family safe as you wait for the lights to come back on.

DRIVING IN WINTER WEATHER
While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you have to drive in snow, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm and what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:

  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

POWER OUTAGE

  • Use flash lights in the dark, not candles. Candles can start fires.
  • If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how touse generators safely. Never use a generator indoors or in a garage. It must be kept outside in a well-ventilated area.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.

SPACE HEATERS

  • If using a space heater powered by a generator, place the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home.
  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before leaving home.

 

DOZENS OF BLOOD DRIVES CANCELED

Inclement weather and power outages in March have caused blood drive cancelations that have resulted in thousands of units of blood and platelets to go uncollected throughout the Eastern U.S. including more than 1,000 units in our region.  Every day in Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the Red Cross needs to collect close to 800 units of blood and platelets—regardless of the weather—in order to meet the needs of patients. Donors of all blood types are encouraged to give as soon as they are able to help ensure hospitals have an adequate supply of blood and platelets. To find a donation site near you, visit redcrossblood.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or download the free Blood Donor App.