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According to AAA, this upcoming five-day weekend (Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26) is going to be the busiest Thanksgiving holiday for travel since 2005. The organization projects that more than 50 million people will journey 50 miles or more from their homes, a 1.6 million increase from last year.

Experts are calling for “record-level travel delays,” starting as early as Tuesday night.

“Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.” Says Bob Pishue of INRIX, a global transportation analytics company

For those flying, cheaper airfare will be countered with hefty prices for car rentals. And gas prices are up nearly 37 cents from the first half of November 2016.

Tips to deal:

The best advice is to plan ahead, expect delays. Avoid distractions. Check the air pressure on your tires. And you should always have at least half your gas tank filled up with gasoline.

It’s also important to be well-rested when you hit the road. Don’t push yourself too hard, when it comes to travel times. With a little patience and resolve, you’ll get there in time.

And when you do get there…

It’s also important to remember some fire safety tips for the kitchen, as the turkey roasts in the oven. For starters, stay alert. Organize all cooking utensils in an orderly fashion, and be aware of what you’re doing. Keep an eye on the stove. If you have to — remind yourself that the oven is on. Tell yourself twice.

Also, pets and kids must be kept away from whatever it is you’re cooking.

Anything that could possibly catch fire, like grease, towels, paper bags, should all be safely removed from the closeness of a burning flame. It’s best to work in a clean and safe environment.

Check your smoke alarms. And check the sometimes bad cooking habits of your nieces, nephews, and neighbors.

Being alert and aware of your surroundings is the first rule of safety. Whether you’re on the road, at the airport, or sitting at the table with family, remember it’ll be the little things that keep you safe during this holiday.

For more safety tips on winter weather travel and public transportation and the flu, try this Red Cross travel tips article. Also available for download is the Red Cross Emergency App, which includes weather updates; and the First Aid App includes medical guidance and a hospital locator. Both apps can be found in app stores or at redcross.org/aps.

Additional sources:

AAA NewsRoom, “Nearly 51 Million Americans To Travel This Thanksgiving, Highest Volume In A Dozen Years”

USA Today, “Thanksgiving travel AAA: U.S. weekend to be busiest since 2005, report forecasts”

American Red Cross, “Red Cross Issues Safe Cooking Tips as Thanksgiving Approaches”

Written By: Bryan Myers

Volunteer Spotlight

By: Elizabeth McLaren

Agnes Han, a senior at Downingtown East High School, knows a thing or two about initiative. With aspirations to become a physician, Han wondered what she could do about the lack of high school clubs available to her that focused on health and wellness.

So she created her own, founding Downingtown East’s Red Cross Club during her junior year to explore her passions and “to get myself and others more involved in helping others medically.”Agnes Han 1

Her vision produced results. “We started with about five people, but over the course of year, it grew to around 25 people,” Han says. “Officers do most of the work. Our teacher advisor, Mrs. Resnek, helps us when we need it and lets us know when we can hold meetings. Other than that, the students pretty much run the show.”

Han currently serves as club president, and is part of a five-member team of officers including fellow students Jordan Guistwhite as vice president, Megan Osterstag as treasurer, Ian Goodstein as secretary and Kate Dippolito as head of fundraising.

The next order of club business for Han was volunteer training for Red Cross Blood Services with the Tri-County Chapter. She became a Blood Donor Ambassador. “A lot of it was fairly straightforward and things I could learn on the job. I met once or twice with Blood Services to review safety protocols and such,” she says.

Han started doing registration at blood drives after she completed training. “The first thing donors see is us – registration – and it’s my job to get them all signed in and ready to go with a smile on their face,” she adds.

Her first blood drive was also her most memorable. “It was the WMMR blood drive that Preston and Steve hosted. I remember feeling at ease and not at all awkward because all of the other volunteers were so friendly. The one volunteer who I got a chance to talk to a little bit, loved mascots and chased around the man in the Blood Drop costume, wanting to take a picture. She was hilarious,” Han recalls.

With college applications on her agenda these days, Han recognizes that both the Red Cross Club and her volunteer role have helped prepare her for the future. “The Red Cross has shown me the joy in helping others through medicine and I’m glad I joined because I was able to learn a lot about the process of giving blood and the mechanics behind the different types of blood,” she says.

The idea of the club continuing after she graduates is something Han loves. For now, Han said that she and the Red Cross Club members are busy setting up a fundraiser for hurricane relief. They are also hoping to host a blood drive in the spring.

Han has a bit of Red Cross volunteer inspiration of her own, too. She adds, “Get involved early and become an active volunteer! Help out with whatever you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”

A recipe for Thanksgiving cooking safety

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You’ve been thinking about turkey for weeks. But did you know that Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires and home fire injuries involving cooking equipment?

“People think that it can’t happen to them,” says Nina Johnson, Disaster Program Specialist at the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley. “But unfortunately it can.”

Here’s Nina’s recipe for Thanksgiving cooking safety:

Ingredients:

  • Smoke alarms
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Close-fitting clothing

Directions:

  1. Test your smoke alarms: Smoke alarms generally fail because the batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead. Press the test button on each smoke alarm in your home. Functioning alarms should produce a loud siren. Smoke alarms that produce weak or nonexistent sirens need new batteries.
  2. Check your fire extinguisher: The National Fire Protection Agency recommends inspecting portable fire extinguishers monthly and getting professional maintenance once a year. Refer to the label or user manual of your extinguisher for the manufacturer’s maintenance suggestions.
  3. Clean your oven and cooktop: Dirty cooking surfaces can lead to a fire. Be sure to open windows and turn on the exhaust fan when using an oven’s self-cleaning feature. And don’t forget to remove any ash once the oven is cool. If you are cleaning your oven by hand, make sure to wipe down the oven and cooktop after using cleaning supplies.
  4. Wear close-fitting clothing: Keep your scarves, ties, and other loose-fitted clothing in the bedroom until you have finished cooking. Nina recommends wearing a close-fitted short-sleeve shirt in the kitchen.
  5. Stay in the house while the oven is on: It takes time to cook a juicy bird. Make sure that there is at least one adult in the house while the oven is on.
  6. Stay in the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop: Unattended cooking accounted for 48% of injuries in a study by the National Fire Protection Agency. Be sure to stay in the kitchen when cooking on a range or cooktop.
  7. Keep children away from the oven: Make sure to keep kids away from the oven and hot cooking surfaces. Serve appetizers or snacks in another room to keep children out of the kitchen.
  8. Stay calm if a fire starts: Don’t try to throw a burning pan in the sink or run through the house to throw it outside. Cover the pan with a metal lid. If the fire continues, get everyone out of the house and call 911.

Find more cooking tips for Thanksgiving Chefs

pleaseantville-halloween-5Looking back on the events two years ago when Superstorm Sandy was covering the almost the entire eastern Atlantic Ocean, I remember feeling astonished that the storm would actually turn toward the coast and make landfall in New Jersey. Hurricanes come north, of course, but not often and not with such threatening power. Were we ready? I suspected we weren’t, because how could we be? We tend to be “ready” for events we have already experienced. Sandy was unprecedented. Still, it was incredibly comforting to be a volunteer for the Red Cross. These were the folks who knew how to prepare and they were on the job.

I wrote, soon after the storm, about a friend who had texted me “Thank goodness for the Red Cross.”  Yes, indeed, for so many reasons. Here’s the rest of my 2012 blog post:

“What a week it’s been. Our job is to take care of the important stuff: shelter, food, comfort, survival. Currently, the Red Cross is sheltering close to 9,000 people in 171 Red Cross shelters across 13 states. Wow. . . Locally, close to 200 people (196) and 19 pets stayed the night in local SEPA Red Cross shelters in Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia Counties.

When I was in our offices last Thursday, I peeked in on a meeting of disaster preparedness personnel on the potential for a large hurricane to incapacitate the East Coast early the following week. At that point, the encounter between Sandy and the coast of New Jersey was still purely hypothetical and only one model was suggesting the storm would not turn safely out to sea. Even so, our staff was taking the situation seriously and beginning to make the preparations necessary to provide support and shelter should the worst case scenario occur. Thank goodness they did.

Needless to say, we’ve been moderately busy since then. At the height of the storm, we were ready with 14 shelters set up in five counties. We hosted a phone bank to answer storm related questions at a local television station. Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos, a Hurricane App and several media appearances by our CEO, Judge Renée Hughes, shared vital information with the citizens of Southeastern, Pennsylvania. We helped people prepare and they did. We encouraged them to “shelter in place” by staying home, staying off the streets and letting our public officials do their jobs. People listened and we made it through this.

For those forced to evacuate, we provided warmth with blankets, food, shelter and the companionship of volunteers and others in the same situation. We take comfort seriously and believe it helps everyone weather the storm. And with comfort in mind, we are proud to say that Halloween celebrations went ahead for several of our younger shelter residents at a shelter in Pleasantville, NJ. “

I remember feeling so moved by these Halloween festivities. It’s so important to help children feel a sense of normalcy when their entire world has been disrupted. I was proud to be a Red Cross volunteer on that day, and I still am.

Submitted in part by Carnelita Slaughter, Red Cross Volunteer

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Whether you are playing chaperone or getting together with friends, like me, you have probably been planning our Halloween festivities for weeks. Now it’s crunch time! Your frightful crew is gathering and your decorations are sending chills up the neighbors’ spines (you’ve done well). But you may be forgetting something…….. the greatest hazards of Halloween aren’t the spirits trying to communicate through your Ouija board or the creatures you’ll encounter throughout the night. No! There are other dangers that come with wandering around in the dark in busy neighborhood with uneven street lighting and small children. Good thing you have the Red Cross to guide you. We can’t promise you won’t suffer a tummy ache or sore feet but stick with us and you’ll celebrate many Spooktacular evenings to come!

 

  1. Look for flame resistant costumes.

Homer's burning Halloween

2. Try to stick with make-up instead of masks to make sure trick-or-treaters can see clearly as they walk the neighborhood.

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3. Plan your Trick-or-Treat route in advance.
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A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.

4. Make it easy to be seen in the dark.
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Make sure trick-or-treaters have flashlights. Put reflective tape on dark colored costumes, or try to stick with light colored costumes.

5. Only visit homes that have the porch light on.

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Accept treats at the door but never go inside.

 

6. Only walk on sidewalks.
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If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. And don’t cross between parked cars

7. Be cautious around pets and other animals.
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8. Use glow sticks or LEDs inside jack-o-lanterns instead of candles.

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For more tips and information click here, and be sure to download our Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps.

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-submitted by Sarah Peterson, communications volunteer

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was responsible for setting up the first fire company in Philadelphia? On a visit to see his family Boston, he observed that Bostonians were much better equipped to fight fires and save lives than the people of Philadelphia. According to the website, ushistory.org, after consulting with civic leaders in Philadelphia, he gathered 30 young men together to form the Union Fire Company on December 7, 1736. These men had special equipment provided by the community, and they began meeting regularly to practice their techniques and discuss successful firefighting procedures.

In order to raise public awareness, Franklin began writing about fire safety in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. In one article, written in 1735, he cautions his fellow citizens against moving hot coals from room to room on an open shovel, in case one ember is lost under the stairs and results in a middle-of-the-night,“when your Stairs being in Flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being oven-roasted.”

rco_blog_img_BenFranklinFire safety awareness has improved since the 1700s. No doubt Franklin would have been thrilled by the efficacy of smoke detectors, but we still struggle to make sure fire safety measures are protecting everyone.  On October 3rd, 2014, the White House released a proclamation by President Obama to mark Fire Prevention Week and to remind all Americans of the danger of fire. He urged all of us to practice evacuations plans from our homes, schools and places of business. He urged Americans who live near woodlands to practice caution and clear flammable vegetation from around buildings. He reminded all of us that, “During Fire Prevention Week, we recognize our duty to be vigilant and take action to avert fires, and we remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives so others might live.”

That’s why the Pennsylvania State House also took some time this week to recognize National Fire Prevention Week. According to State Senator Rob Teplitz, the week commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and was first designated in 1920. It is still unclear how the devastating fire in Chicago got started, but it burned for two days, destroyed 3.3 square miles of the city’s central business district, killed up to 300 people and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. In 1920, officials decided that such a massive disaster deserved the be remembered in a way that could help everyone learn more about fire safety and prevention and President Woodrow Wilson released the first National Fire Prevention Week Proclamation.

Appropriately, this year’s theme is “Smoke alarms save lives: Test yours every month.” As Franklin surely knew when warning about embers in an open shovel, home fire deaths are preventable but require residents to take care. We no longer worry about lost embers, but we must test our smoke alarms regularly and change the batteries twice a year.

As Franklin writes in 1735, “In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure” we must all be vigilant against the dangers of fire. We remember terrible disasters like the Chicago fire by taking the time to remind ourselves of this basic truth. Check your batteries, everyone! Take the time to practice an escape route from your home. And don’t carry those embers in an open shovel.

rco_blog_img_PREPARESeptember is National Preparedness Month, and it’s important to remember that emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time. Most of us have plans in place at home for emergencies like illness or natural disasters, but is your workplace prepared for these events? There’s a good chance that your employer has emergency procedures like building evacuation in place and has an easily-accessible first aid kit and automated external defibrillator (AED). However, your co-workers may not be aware of how to respond to emergencies or use equipment like an AED. The American Red Cross can help your workplace prepare for emergencies through services like safety assessment, training, and certification programs.

You can always find emergency preparedness information at Redcross.org, but the following programs can help your workplace better respond to emergencies.

American Red Cross Ready Rating Program 

The American Red Cross Ready Rating™, a first-of-its-kind membership program designed to help businesses and organizations become better prepared for emergencies. Membership is free, and the program is self-paced. After joining, members complete a 123-point self-assessment to find areas of improvement for emergency preparedness.

Workers learn tips and best practices for emergencies. Most importantly, members make a commitment to improve their readiness score each year in a continuing process.m10643684_241x164-learning-aed

Employee Training

The American Red Cross provides flexible training options for workplaces that meet OSHA, corporate, and other regulatory standards. From on-site employee CPR and First Aid training, to access to community classes, employers can work with employees to find the best training options based on their needs.

Instructor Training

If your workplace has a designated emergency response or health and safety team leader, they can benefit from receiving training from the American Red Cross. After completing Red Cross training, your workplace instructor can lead their own training sessions on emergency response topics like First Aid/CPR and other areas that are relevant to your field.

download workplace safetyFor more information on all Workplace Safety Training and Preparedness Programs available through the American Red Cross, see the online catalog here.