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Some of us may not be familiar with the term ice jam. It’s when ice chunks build up to form a dam. Water then builds up behind the ice blockage and can cause flooding.

The science of ice jams may be interesting but the results for people in Northeast Pennsylvania were devastating. Beginning on Tuesday, ice jams on the Tunkhannock Creek flooded several homes in Nicholson, Wyoming County. The American Red Cross Northeastern Pennsylvania Chapter mobilized more than two dozen volunteers to provide lodging, food and clothing assistance to affected families.

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Flooding from the Tunkhannock Creek

However, the problems continued. Wednesday morning, a significant ice jam formed between Pittston and Wilkes-Barre along the Susquehanna River. This caused a sharp rise in water levels and began flooding streets in West Pittston.

Even before evacuations were ordered, the American Red Cross NEPA started readying more resources, including disaster workers and supplies. Eventually, evacuations were ordered Wednesday evening for dozens of homes in West Pittston, and the Red Cross opened a shelter at the Wyoming Area Secondary Center in Exeter. That shelter housed eight evacuees overnight. Another shelter in nearby Duryea was opened and managed by local officials, and the Red Cross provided the facility with supplies.

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‪The Red Cross shelter at Wyoming Area Secondary Center

By Thursday morning the ice jam had broken free with water levels quickly dropping on the Susquehanna River and its tributaries. All evacuation orders were lifted and the shelters closed after all residents had returned home.

The Red Cross reminds all residents that dangerous ice has been left behind by the flood event and everyone should steer clear of the ice. In addition, the rapidly changing conditions on the river serve as a reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness and being Red Cross Ready.

The Red Cross urges everyone to Get a Kit, Make a Plan and Be Informed. For more information, visit us on the web at http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies. For the latest weather alerts, including river flood warnings, download the Red Cross Emergency app today by visiting http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps.

Imagine yourself giving a dollar to the American Red Cross — not a bill, but 100 pennies. The person accepting the money would count out nine cents and set that aside. On average, the remaining 91 cents of every dollar the American Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. This is only possible through the generosity of donors like you.  Some of the efforts your charitable donation supports when you give to the Red Cross include:

  1. Disaster Relief
  2. Home Fires
  3. Training and Certification
  4. Help to Military Families
  5. Health Care and Blood Drives
  6. International Efforts

In a year marked by historic hurricanes, wildfires and other crises, the American Red Cross was there for a record number of people across the country whose lives were upended by major events.  Your donation powered the Red Cross Eastern PA to respond to over 1,000 disasters last year, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to over 5,000 people.  We installed nearly 11,000 smoke alarms in our region and provided The Pillowcase Project to over 9,700 students teaching them how to be prepared in the face of emergencies.  With over 155,000 blood donations and over 3,100 services to military members, veterans and their families, our programs and services bring help and hope to those in need every single day.

Every year the Red Cross in Eastern PA conducts a number of signature events throughout region that would not be possible without the generous support of our community and sponsors. We welcome you to come out in support of these events as money raised goes back into the many services we provide to the local community.

Mark your calendars for the upcoming events from March 4th– June 30th:
March 4, 2018: Pocono Telethon
March 24, 2018: Red Ball
April 20, 2018: Lehigh Valley Cabaret & Cuisine: Back to the 80’s
May 8, 2018: Red Cross Cup Golf Tournament
May 16, 2018: Clara Barton Awards Reception
May 19, 2018: Celebration of Life SAF Walk and Lunch
May 20, 2018: Run for the Red Pocono Marathon

Upcoming Heroes Events:
Visit this blog post for more information on all of our Heroes events.
March 15, 2018: Northeastern PA Heroes Event
May 10, 2018: Berks County Heroes Breakfast
May 31, 2018: Bucks County Heroes Breakfast
June 1, 2018: Schuylkill County Heroes Breakfast
June 20, 2018: Chester County Heroes Breakfast

Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. Whether helping one displaced family or thousands, providing care and comfort to an ill or injured service member or veteran, or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, it’s through the efforts of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.

This Martin Luther King Day of Service was no exception.  Throughout the day bearing the cold, volunteers gathered from across the region to participate in smoke alarm installation events for MLK Day of Service.  For some it was their first event. For others, one of many.  When asked the question to one volunteer, why did you come out today, they answered, “I wanted to do my part in making the community a better and safer place.”

As part of the MLK Day of Service, the Red Cross Eastern PA region held six smoke alarm installation events across our 17 county region.  This is part of the Home Fire Campaign to make our communities safer and better prepared by installing free smoke alarms and educating the community on fire safety.

MLK SEPA SAT

Philadelphia: Saturday, January 13, 2018

MLK Schuylkill

 Ashland, Schuylkill County: Saturday, January 13, 2018

MLK TRI5

 Reading, Berks County: Monday, January 15, 2018

MLK NEPA1

Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County: Monday January 15, 2018

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 Norristown, Montgomery County: Monday, January 15, 2018

MLK NEPA3

Carbondale, Lackawanna County: Monday January 15, 2018

Red Cross volunteers, along with local fire departments and our community partners, went door-to-door to speak with residents and educate them on potential home fire hazards and risks. Fire safety information was provided in English and Spanish and residents received free smoke alarms installed in their homes.

Overall, we installed more than 500 smoke alarms! 

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire and on average 36 people suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day. To combat these tragic statistics, the Red Cross launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent. Since its inception in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has 303 documented lives saved nationwide.

Stay tuned as we Sound the Alarm this spring.  We will have more smoke alarm events throughout the region and will need your help in installing more alarms and educating the community.

To become a Red Cross volunteer visit, www.redcross.org/volunteer.

Every day, ordinary people make extraordinary contributions by putting their needs aside to help others in our community. The American Red Cross is honored to salute these unsung heroes in our Annual Heroes Celebration.

Your hero might be a lifeguard who saved a drowning child, an ordinary citizen who performed CPR when a stranger collapsed at a shopping mall, or someone who saved a neighbor’s beloved pets from a fire.

Counties host their own Celebration in which they honor the prior year’s local heroes for using their First Aid, CPR, AED training and/or other actions to save lives or make the county a better place to live and work.

This spring we have several events throughout the region.  Click on your local Heroes event for more information, to nominate a hero, sponsor the event, or to purchase tickets.

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March 15, 2018
Northeastern PA Heroes Event
Mohegan Sun Pocono
5-8 p.m.

May 10, 2018
Berks County Heroes Breakfast
Crowne Plaza Reading Hotel
7:30 a.m. -9 a.m.

May 31, 2018
Bucks County Heroes Breakfast
Parx Casino
7:30 a.m. -9 a.m.

June 1, 2018
Schuylkill County Heroes Breakfast
Schuylkill Country Club
7:30 a.m. -9 a.m.

June 20, 2018
Chester County Heroes Breakfast
Desmond Hotel Malvern
7:30 a.m. -9 a.m.

Although we are enjoying an unusual warm fall, winter is indeed coming. Days will be noticeably shorter and the weather will get colder. As we naturally associate these facts together, it just makes sense that we prepare for them simultaneously. Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, November 5, which means that we should turn our clocks back an hour. It is also the perfect time to test the batteries in our smoke alarms.

Yes, smoke alarms! You know? Those round, white things on your home ceiling. If you have just moved into your first home, or you are perpetually distracted – like me – you might not even notice them. Well, I have news for you: those small devices SAVE LIVES, and they do need a change of batteries from time to time.

How do I know this? Funny that you ask. Let’s go back four years. My husband, my 7-month-old and I just moved to the US from overseas. We were thrilled with our new house, the area and our jobs. Everything was super exciting… and exhausting! Add a baby to an international move, sprinkle in a 12-hour time difference and you get a zombie-looking, extremely tired family. You get the idea.

After another chaotic day of unpacking, I was in bed, peacefully sleeping when… Beep! Beep! Beep! An annoying, perfectly timed beep sounded from somewhere in our house. My husband and I got up, almost sleepwalking, bumping into boxes and unfamiliar doors while looking for the source of the sound.

We checked everything, every single appliance, toy, clock and electronic device that you can think of. We unplugged, turned off and restarted each of them. But the beeping sound was relentless. We gave up, we were just too tired to keep looking, so we did the only thing left to do, we got out airplane earplugs, climbed back to bed, and slept despite the noise.  Lucky me, my baby is a heavy sleeper and she didn’t even flinch during our nighttime adventure. Bless her heart!

The next morning, when we took out the earplugs, the beeping not only continued but it got even worse! What was happening? Was our house damaged? Were we losing our minds? Not knowing what else to do, we walked across the street and we asked our neighbor if he could come over to take a look. To my surprise, as soon as he walked in the door, he grabbed a stool and reach out to the smoke alarm. “It needs new batteries”. He went into his house and came back with batteries to replace them for us.  He was amazed and horrified at the same time that we were able to ignore the beeping and keep sleeping.

As mortified as I was, I learned my lesson. I did my research and got in the habit of checking the smokes alarms during Daylight Saving Time weekend. So take a piece of advice from me, if you want to avoid something much worse than public embarrassment, don’t sleep on it! Check your smoke alarms, protect your family.

-Written by Mar Torres

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Listen up ghouls and goblins – it’s easy to get swept into the spooky spectacle of Halloween. The clever costumes, the thrill of collecting tasty treats and attending parties can sometimes make us forget about safety basics. Here are a few refreshers to keep the festivities fun.

  • Map out your neighborhood route ahead of time with trick-or-treaters.
  • Stick to sidewalks whenever possible.
  • Bring a flashlight to guide your way and be seen.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street and watch for drivers.
  • Visit houses with porch lights on and skip houses that are dark.
  • Accept treats from strangers outside only, and don’t accept an invite to enter an unknown house.
  • Face paint allows for better visibility than masks, especially in the dark.
  • Keep capes, gowns, tails, wigs, hats and sleeves away from open flames.
  • Use glow sticks or battery-operated candles in jack-o-lanterns and luminaries.

Funny Jack O Lantern

-Written by Elizabeth McLaren

For millennia, philosophers have debated the question: “what is a person?” Are insects people? How about fish or birds? Robots or computers? Some people say yes, others say no. But one thing’s for sure: if you’re a pet person, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your pet is a person. After all she or he has a distinct personality, right? And only a person can have a personality. Case closed.

Maybe my argument isn’t very philosophical, but it works for me, and probably for most pet owners. Pets sure seem to experience emotions and feelings very much like we do. And just like us, they tend to spend more time outside during the summer months. So as pet owners, it’s our responsibility to make sure they stay healthy, happy, and cool all summer long!

Here are some tips to heat your pets beat the heat:

  • Make sure your pets have plenty of fresh, cool water throughout the day. This is probably the single-most important thing you can to help your pet avoid dehydration and heat-exhaustion.
  • Provide plenty of shade for your pets. For example, if you have a sunny yard, make sure there are some trees your pet can rest beneath.
  • NEVER leave your pet in your car unattended. Even with the windows “cracked,” temperatures in your car can quickly rise to dangerous levels and put your pet in danger of heat exhaustion or stroke.
  • Be prepared in case your pet succumbs to heat stroke. Consult “How To Treat Heat Strokes In Pets” published on the American Red Cross website for information.

No Pets in Cars

In addition to beating the heat, be sure your pets are wearing collars and ID tags so they can be easily identified and returned to you if they get lost. Also be sure they are protected against heart-worm, fleas, and ticks by giving your pets medication recommended by your veterinarian.

To be even more prepared to assist your pet in the event of a summer health or safety emergency, consider downloading the Red Cross Pet First Aid App for your smartphone or tablet. It is available free from the Apple iTunes App Store, Google Play, and Amazon.

So, if you ever wonder if your pet is a person, just look at that little face. Of course, your pet is a person! And just like other people, pets don’t always make the right decisions about how to stay healthy and safe during the hot summer months. But as your pet’s best friend, you can help.

-Written by Randy Hulshizer