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Monthly Archives: October 2019

By: Marta Rusek

Halloween is just around the corner, and neighborhoods are gearing up for a fun night of trick-or-treating. Are you and your loved ones ready to celebrate and encourage a safer evening for all? Whether you’re giving out candy, accompanying a trick-or-treater, or planning to bring your pooch out on the candy route, here are a few helpful hints for everyone who’s planning to enjoy spook-tacular activities on Halloween night.

For Trick-or-Treaters: Before you or your younger siblings venture out in search of tasty treats, make sure your costumes can be seen when it gets dark outside – that means wearing lighter colors or adding reflective tape to your outfit or bag. Using make-up instead of a mask is also a good idea, since a mask can make it hard to see when you’re walking from door to door or crossing the road. Before the witching hour begins, confirm with your parents where you’ll be trick-or-treating and when it’s time to come home for the night. 

Once you’re out and about, walk on the sidewalks and use a flashlight to illuminate your path. Look both ways when you cross the street, and cross at the corner, not between parked cars where drivers may not be able to see you. Only visit houses with the porch light on, and always take treats from the front door. Never go inside a house to get your Halloween goodies!

For Parents and Chaperones: Younger children need a parent or responsible adult to go with them. Those bags of candy can get heavy, and little ghosts and ghouls will need to hold your hand when crossing the street. For children who are older and eager to trick-or-treat without an adult this year, make sure you know where they’re going and confirm a plan around checking in by phone or in-person along the candy route. A grown-up should check the goodies before eating.  

It’s also important to communicate what to do in case of an emergency. Even if the child in your life is older and able to look out for themselves, being close by and ready to help if they trip on their costume or experience an allergic reaction is a good safety precaution. If you need a course in First Aid and CPR this fall season, check out our website for the next available class

For Neighbors Giving Out Treats: Sweep leaves and anything else that may be slippery from your front porch or steps, and let trick-or-treaters know you’re there and ready to give them candy by making your front door area well-lit. 

For Drivers: Whether you’re dropping off trick-or-treaters, delivering food, or earning extra cash picking up passengers with a rideshare app, be extra careful and cautious as you drive. The excitement of Halloween and gathering copious amounts of candy may cause children to forget to look both ways before they cross the street. 

For Pet Owners: If you have an excitable pet that doesn’t do well with loud noises (like lots of kids screaming “Trick or Treat!!!”), secure your furry family member in a calm room with their favorite toy or a Halloween treat they can enjoy throughout the evening. If you’re planning on bringing your dog with you for the evening’s festivities, keep them on a leash and don’t be afraid to establish boundaries around who can and probably shouldn’t pet them. 

Happy haunting, and may the treats be ever in your favor!

By: Marta Rusek

Now that pumpkin season is in full swing and temps are on the descent, it’s time to break out the puffy vest and serve up some hot apple cider. It’s also the time when you suddenly notice your thermostat, the fireplace, and that space heater you had stored in your coat closet all summer long. So as you snuggle into nesting season, take a few moments to make your household is fire safe. Here’s how: 

Test your smoke alarms and review your home fire escape plan.

While you’re up on the ladder hanging your Halloween skeleton, hit the test button on your smoke alarms and replace batteries as needed. Fully functional smoke alarms are true lifesavers: The National Fire Protection Association reports that three out of every five home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms, or nonfunctioning ones. Moreover, in nearly half of fires where a smoke alarm didn’t work properly, it was due to missing or disconnected batteries. Equally important is having a dialogue with your household members about a fire escape plan. Everyone in the home should be able to escape in under two minutes. Talk about it.

Follow space heater safety guidelines. 

A recent Red Cross survey found that more than half of U.S. adults have used a space heater. These devices are so widely used that they’re involved in two out of every five home-heating fires. To prevent a fire emergency, make sure to allow three feet of open space around your heater. Do not place a space heater on a carpeted area or rug, and keep it away from curtains and bedding.  Place it on a ceramic tile floor if possible, or choose or a surface is hard, fireproof, and level (not slanted or uneven). Never leave a space heater unattended. That means turning it off when you go to sleep.

Be mindful of burning candles and fireplaces. 

If you just can’t give up your candle-lighting habit, you’ll need to be vigilant. A candle can go from a fall mood-setter to a bad dream in no time, so never leave candles unattended and keep them away from kids and pets. And think about flameless candles! If your home has a fireplace, use a protective screen—and heed the same precautions as you would with a space heater. Keep furniture, fabric, and flammable decorations at least three feet away and never leave it unattended. 

Fall is a time to be festive and celebrate longstanding traditions. Make fire safety and prevention part of your fall traditions too. Fore more information about fire safety, redcross.org/get-help and click on “How to Prepare for Emergencies.”

Timing your gift at year-end can be crucial. The gift date—the date used for tax purposes—is the day you transfer control of the asset. And that depends on the asset and your method of giving.

How the Gift Date is Determined:

  • Checks — The USPS mailing date, as postmarked, is the date of the gift, when making a gift from a checking, savings or money market account.
  • Credit cards — The day the charge is posted by the credit card company is considered the gift date.
  • Pledges — Pledges are deductible in the years they are fulfilled and not the year the initial pledge is made.
  • Securities — If securities are electronically transferred to the American Red Cross, the gift date is typically the day the securities enter our account. If security certificates are mailed, the mailing date, as postmarked, is the gift date. It is important to send, by registered or certified mail, the unsigned certificates in a separate envelope from the signed stock power and letter indicating the purpose of your gift.
  • Real estate—The day you deliver the signed deed to us is the date of the gift. If your state law requires recording of the deed to fulfill the title, though, then the date of recording is the gift date.
  • Tangible personal property—The gift date is the day you deliver the property with a signed document transferring ownership, if necessary.

IRA Qualified Charitable Distributions

The IRA Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) has been a popular option for friends of the American Red Cross, who are 70½ or older, to transfer up to $100,000 directly from an IRA to the Red Cross, without having to declare the funds as taxable income.  QCDs must be deducted from the qualified retirement account before December 31 to count during that tax year.  Speak with your CPA or other advisor to determine if a QCD is the right choice for you.

As you decide how best to fulfill your year-end gift to the American Red Cross, please take into consideration the time needed by brokerage firms and fund administrators to process your requests.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Colleen Becht-Foltz at 215-299-4082 or via email at colleen.bechtfoltz@redcross.org. Thank you for supporting the American Red Cross.

This information is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.

By: Cait Waxler 

You may not be thinking about swimming now that winter is approaching, but the American Red Cross is. On a hot summer day in Philadelphia, a public pool is one of the few places you’d want to be to cool off; but not everyone has the skills they need to master the water. Adding to that challenge, municipal pools across the area struggled with an increase in the number of lifeguards they were required to have on duty, which lead to shortages. So a few industry movers and shakers put their heads together to start a dialogue about it.  

Some of the panelists chat leading up to the start of the Aquatics Symposium in September

In September, in an effort to build collaborative awareness about drowning rates and the current lifeguard shortage, experts met at the Red Cross Chapter in Philadelphia. This event was co-chaired by Cait Waxler, Aquatics Executive with the American Red Cross for Philadelphia and New Jersey, and Dr. Angela Beale-Tawfeeq, Red Cross Scientific Advisory Member, Board Member of Diversity in Aquatics and Department Chair at Rowan University.  

Cait Waxler of the American Red Cross addresses the room at the September Aquatics Symposium

A panelist of experts in aquatics and community development included: Dr. Angela Beale-Tawfeeq; Amy Pitman, educator and head swim team coach at Girls High; Bianca del Rio Director of the Netter Center’s University-Assisted Community Schools at the University of Pennsylvania and former PDR swimmer; Brannon Johnson head coach and owner of BLJ Community Rowing; Megan Ferraro, Executive Director of the ZAC Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to water safety and drowning prevention education, awareness and prevention; Noah White, kinesiology adjunct professor for aquatics at Temple University; and Robert E. Miller, attorney by day and water safety advocate/lifeguard by night.  

The panelist engaged with around 20 community members with ties to the aquatics field, including lifeguards, swim instructors, administrator, plus representatives coming from Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, local charter schools, and local non-profits such as TeamUp Philly.  It didn’t take long for the conversation to flow. Dialogue revolved around everything from developing youth safety skills in and around the water, potential job opportunities/leadership skills, International Water Safety Day on May 15th, partnerships, water awareness (how water isn’t even needed to start the conversation), Diversity in Aquatics (how they are as an organization and how to get involved) and more! 

With drowning being the leading cause of death for children in the United States and African-American children ages 5 to 19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of white children in the same age range, conversation around this complex topic have just begun. The group plans to meet again in a few months (in conjunction with an aquatics job fair) to continue the conversation and have more partners involved. For more information on the event or to get involved, contact Cait Waxler at cait.waxler@redcross.org or 215-260-7657. 

With highs in the 90s this week it might not feel like fall, but make no mistake; the 2019-2020 flu season is here and it’s time to get your influenza vaccine now.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), millions of people in this country get sick with flu every year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and, unfortunately, tens of thousands die. The best way to help avoid getting influenza is to get vaccinated every year.

While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and most times peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. It takes about two weeks after receiving your vaccine for the antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body so it’s important to get your vaccine now.

The CDC recommends that everyone be vaccinated by the end of October. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who need 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible after vaccine becomes available to allow the second dose (which must be administered at least 4 weeks later) to be received by the end of October.

AT HIGH RISK FOR FLU:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 2 years old – although all children younger than 5 years old are considered at high risk for serious flu complications, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years old, with the highest hospitalization and death rates among infants younger than 6 months old.
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

The CDC also reports people with the following health and age factors are also at an increased risk of getting serious complications from the flu:

  • Asthma
  • Neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions
  • Blood disorders
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • People who are obese with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher
  • People younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.
  • People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications

Flu vaccine is available now in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments.Your vaccine will help protect you throughout the 2019-2020 flu season.

DO I HAVE THE FLU? The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose and vomiting and/or diarrhea (which is more common in children). If you think you have the flu, call your health care provider. Seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).
  • Confusion or sudden dizziness.
  • Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
  • Not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting (children).
  • Fever with a rash (children).
  • No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal (children).

YOU CAN HELP STOP THE FLU FROM SPREADING

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.

More information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected from the flu is available on this website and in the free Red Cross First Aid App. See all the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.