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Safety Tips

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 Sam Antenucci

The  2018 Hurricane Season, June through November, has arrived. Last season we, as a country, saw how hurricanes impacted Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Red Cross volunteers dispatched to four southern states to aid in the recovery by mobilizing resources and help residents impacted by the storms. For Hurricane Irma victims, the Red Cross provided over 550,000 overnight shelter stays, 1.5 million meals and snacks, and provide 52,600 health and mental health services! Similarly, with Hurricane Harvey, the Red Cross provided immediate financial assistance to more than 575,000 households, 4.5 million meals in Texas and Louisiana, provided 435,000 overnight shelters, and offered 127,000 mental health services to those affected.

Hurricane Harvey 2017

A Red Cross worker assesses Harvey damage and standing water levels in Texas

However, even with all the great strides made in recovery, the devastation in these areas is still in effect going into the new hurricane season. For this reason, the American Red Cross wants to emphasize the importance of keeping you and your family safe this hurricane season.

NOAA’s forecasters predict a 70-percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes.

infrared goes-16 harvey

Image: Infrared GOES-16 as Harvey hits Texas coast. CTSY: NOAA

While the predictions are concerning, there are tips you and your loved ones can do to prepare for the season. Right before hurricane and tropical storm announcements, it is recommended that you stay up-to-date with your local news and officials, National Weather Service and Red Cross with changing conditions. It is also advised that families create evacuation plans with well-marked destinations and local emergency shelters listed. In addition, a fully stocked emergency kit can aid in keeping your family safe and prepared before the storm hits.

During a hurricane, stay indoors! By avoiding any beaches, riverbanks, or contact with flood waters, you can help protect you and your family from any contaminated water and prevent being knocked over by fast-flowing waters. If caught on flooded roads, the Red Cross advises getting out of the car as quick as possible and move to higher grounds.

After the storm has passed, make sure you and your loved ones register on Safe and Well, a website designed to help communicate with family during disasters if cellular communication is not an option. Just like before, keep listening to local news stations and/or weather radios for updates on the storm and instructions for returning home.

With the new hurricane season quickly approaching, you and your family can be prepared! For more safety tips and resources, visit the Red Cross’s hurricane safety page and download the free Emergency app.

 

Summer is finally here and many of us will travel, grill delicious food and cool off in the pool or at the beach. The Red Cross wants everyone to enjoy the summer and be safe at the same time, so we are offering these 20 safety tips people should follow.

DRIVING SAFETY

  1. Be well rested and alert, use seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. Clean your headlights and turn them on as dusk approaches or in inclement weather.
  2. Don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver available.
  3. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  4. Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways.
  5. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.

WATER SAFETY

  1. Ensure that everyone in the family becomes water competent. That is, learn to swim well, know your limitations and how to recognize and avoid hazards, and understand how to help prevent and respond to emergencies around water.
  2. Adults should actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. Kids should follow the rules.
  3. Fence your pool in with four-sided fencing that is at least four-feet in height and use self-closing, self-latching gates.
  4. Wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level.
  5. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair – everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. If in a location with no lifeguards, such as a residential pool, designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on children in and around the water.

BEACH SAFETY

  1. If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool. Be sure you have the skills for these environments.
  2. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.
  3. Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. Know your limitations and make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  4. Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
  5. If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

GRILLING SAFETY

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  2. Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  3. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

 

Written by Randy Hulshizer

It’s almost that time of year again! For many, the upcoming warm, humid summer months are a time to head to the beach for a cool dip in the ocean, kick back with a glass of lemonade or iced tea in a shady backyard, or simply find a cool, air-conditioned place to relax. Instinctively, people tend to choose activities that alleviate discomfort from the heat, but sometimes the heat and humidity are so bad that the weather service and local governments issue warnings to  ensure people understand that heat is not only uncomfortable—it can be dangerous.

Despite the frequent and clear warnings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 681 people die in the U.S. each year due to heat-related factors. The majority of heat-related deaths occur in individuals over the age of 65 and most are preventable.

Hurricane Matthew 2016

Photo by Daniel Cima

The reason for the high number of elderly deaths due to heat are three-fold. First, as the human body ages, it becomes less adaptable to sudden changes in temperature or other environmental factors, such as humidity and air pollution. Second, many people over the age of 65 have chronic medical conditions or take multiple prescription medications, both of which could affect the body’s ability to adapt to environmental changes. And third, many people over the age of 65 simply ignore the warnings.

According to a 2007 survey of more than 900 individuals over the age of 65, only about half heed excessive heat warnings. Some individuals stated that, although they knew that “elderly” people were at higher risk of heat-related conditions and death, they did not consider themselves “elderly,” and therefore the warnings did not apply. In addition, most reported that they had access to air-conditioning, but about a third of them said they didn’t turn it on because it cost too much.

The Red Cross encourages everyone, especially the elderly, to pay attention to the warnings and take appropriate action: stay in air-conditioning if possible; drink plenty of water; stay out of the sun; wear lose-fitting, light-colored clothing; don’t engage in strenuous activity; and get plenty of rest. If you know someone over the age of 65, check on them occasionally to be sure they are weathering the heat safely.

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.

m74040106_winter_travel_main

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.

Written by Sam Antenucci

I was anticipating a rowdy crowd, after all the Eagles just won their very first Super Bowl. My group of friends and I ventured into the massive crowds around the Art Museum and were immediately overwhelmed with the sheer volume of Eagles fans. People of all ages gathered around, cheering to see their sports heroes paraded around after their victorious win against the Patriots.

parade crowd

Before we descended into the sea of green jerseys, we set a meeting point at a local café on Fairmount Avenue. The Red Cross suggested that groups traveling to the parade designate a meeting point in case anyone got lost in the shuffle. The Red Cross also ran a reunification center at 30th Street Station, assisting families separated by the frenzy of the parade.

With our phones at our side, we linked arms and made our way down as far as we could to see the parade. I was pleasantly surprised by the courtesy and energy of the crowd. Even through their excitement, a please and thank you went a long way. As my friends and I descended into the masses, we had several groups of people help find a good spot for us to see the parade by clearing paths to the procession.

We got as far as we could, when we decided to stay near a mother and her three children. When I asked them how they felt about the crowds, they told me that everyone was very courteous and looked out for each other. The mother told me how she didn’t any trouble getting her young kids to a nice spot to see the parade. Another woman and her friends stood ahead of us and began to explain that even though Eagles fans have a reputation for being a rough fan base, everyone was here to celebrate an amazing victory with their favorite team. That sense of community filled all of Philadelphia and it was apparent in the lively energy of the crowd. Whether you were a stranger or not, the sense of family, community, and security was felt by all that day.

trash truck

We found ourselves thoroughly enjoying the parade. We made sure to stand guard and watch after the woman’s children, making sure they wouldn’t get pushed around within the crowds and had a decent view of the show. Once the Eagles arrived on the busses, cheering and waving to the crowd, the fans reciprocated their excitement with cheers. Cell phones flew into the air to take videos and pictures. To be a part of this historical event was an honor that nearly all Philadelphians had the chance to experience as one united community!

While the parade was certainly new and exciting, it is always important to exercise caution when venturing out in crowds. In case you get separated from your group, make sure to let a local police officer know and establish ahead of time a meeting point everyone can go too. Take only the necessities like your cellphone, a small sum of money, water, snacks, and your I.D. card. Most importantly, as a community event, look out for one another, especially the elderly and the children. We are one giant community celebrating the marvelous victory of the Eagles. Philly reintroduced the meaning of our wonderful city’s name; the city of brotherly love.

The city of Philadelphia is flying high after the Eagles Super Bowl win. To celebrate the World Champions, the city will host a five-mile-long parade expected to draw more than two million people.

The parade will start at 11:00 a.m. Thursday near Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia. A celebration at Eakin’s Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will start around 1 p.m. The entire event will end around 3 p.m.

broadst

If you are going to the parade, the American Red Cross wants you to enjoy the festivities and stay safe!

What to wear:

Thursday will be cold and breezy, so make sure you bundle up with layers, hats, gloves, and scarves. Temperatures will climb into the low 30s, but the wind will make it feel like it’s in the 20s through the afternoon. There will be a lot of walking to and from the parade so make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.

What to bring:

Pack enough water, juice and snacks to sustain your group for much of the day. Do not leave bags unattended. Eat regularly. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, accelerates the symptoms of hypothermia. Alcohol is a depressant and hastens the effects of cold on the body. Alcohol also slows circulation and can make you less aware of the effects of cold. Both caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration.

How to get there:

All visitors are encouraged to take public transit when coming into Philadelphia. If, however, driving is necessary, the City encourages drivers to park in off-street lots and garages along the Parkway, Broad Street, or near the stadium complex. Be sure to have a full tank of gas. There will be significant travel delays on both roadways and public transportation immediately before, during, and after the Eagles Parade. Be patient!

Where to “go”:

The city has placed 850 port-o-potties along the parade route. It’s also a good idea to bring toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

How to keep in touch:

Do not depend on cell phones to keep in contact with family and friends. With the large number of people expected to attend the parade, cell phone service will be limited. Texting usually works better than calling. Set up a meeting spot in case anyone from your group is separated. Ensure children have contact information for their parents or guardians on their person. Children should find a police officer if they become lost or separated.

Stay informed:

To receive important Eagles info from the City, like parade, transit, and public safety details, sign up for free ReadyPhila alerts. Text “ReadyEagles” to 888-777. Also, download the Red Cross First Aid app for tips on how to treat minor injuries. Two medical tents will also be located along the Parkway.

What to do:

Have lots of fun and stay safe! E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!