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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.

 

Summer is one of the most popular times of year for people in the United States to take a trip that involves international travel. If you are planning a trip which involves driving across a border, sailing to a coastline, or flying halfway around the world, the American Red Cross has some steps you can take to stay safe.

CTSY: NASA

  1. Download the first aid app. The American Red Cross first aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Whether you’re in the United States or abroad, arming yourself with basic first aid skills can save a life. Be sure to download the app while you’re still in the United States, otherwise you’ll download the local Red Cross or Red Crescent’s mobile app (which will be in the local language).
  2. Make a plan. Just like at home, it’s important to establish a time and place to meet family members in case you get separated.
  3. Know what natural disasters are possible. There’s no reason to panic, but it’s important to research whether your destination faces emergencies you’ve never experienced. While you’ll need to gauge the local context, the Red Cross offers basic tips about what to do during natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes.
  4. Register your trip with the State Department. Enter your travel details with the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program online, which allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency while you are abroad. You can also get information about safety conditions in the country you are planning to visit.
  5. Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in case of emergency while traveling.
  6. Check out the State Department’s ‘What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisisand have an evacuation plan that doesn’t rely on the U.S. government.
  7. Keep your destination country’s emergency numbers handy. You know to use 911 in the United States, but how will you reach the fire department, police, or an ambulance abroad? Find your destination country on this reference sheet from the State Department—and write down the emergency numbers before you take off.
  8. Know the six-month passport rule. Some countries deny travelers entry if their passport expires in less than six months. Renew your passport about nine months before the expiration date.
  9. Let your credit card company know what countries you will be visiting and when. This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most.
  10. Pack your International Certificate of Vaccination. Also referred to as the “yellow card,” it lists your immunizations, allergies, and blood type. The “yellow card” is available from your physician or local health department.
  11. Bring medications, bug repellent. If you’re traveling somewhere with mosquito-borne illnesses—such as malaria, dengue, or Zika—be sure to spray repellent and/or cover your arms and legs with lightweight clothing at critical times of the day. Don’t forget your medications and it’s a good idea to bring other stuff like OTC pain reliever and something for an upset stomach.
  12. Check for emergency exits and evacuation routes. The American Red Cross has helped many communities around the world install signs that indicate evacuation routes in case flooding or another natural disaster occurs. Be sure to identify evacuation routes at your destination and, as always, pay attention to the location of emergency exits.