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.

Across U.S., Red Cross Responds to Nearly 60% More Home Fires in First Days of 2018 Than in 2017

As part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, Red Cross Eastern PA will install free smoke alarms over the upcoming Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service weekend and on Monday.

  • SEPA: Saturday, January 13th in Philadelphia from 9a – 2 p.
    • Boys Latin Charter MS – 344 N. Felton Street (near 63rd & Callowhill) and St. Matthews AME Church, 215 N. 57th Street (57th & Race)
  • Tri-County: Saturday, January 13th in Ashland, Schuylkill County from 9:30a – 3p.
    • American Hose Company 639 Walnut Street, Ashland, PA 17921
  • NEPA: Monday, January 15th in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County from 9a – 2p
    • Hollenback Fire Station 1020 North Washington Street Wilkes Barre, PA 18705
  • NEPA: Monday, January 15th in Carbondale, Lackawanna County from 9a – 2p.
    • Carbondale Fire Bureau 8 6th Avenue Carbondale, PA 18407
  • SEPA: Monday, January 15th in Norristown, Montgomery County from 9a – 2p.
    • Montgomery Hose Company is 201 W Freedley St, Norristown, PA 19401.
  • Tri-County: Monday, January 15th in Reading, Berks County from 9:30a – 3p.
    • Tri-County Chapter 701 Centre Avenue, Reading, PA  19601

Highmark

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVES 332 LIVES The Red Cross responds to as many as 64,000 disasters every year and most of these are home fires. Sadly, seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire.

To combat these statistics, the Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign in 2014, focusing on installing free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and teaching people about fire safety. Since the start of the campaign, the Red Cross and partners have installed more than 1 million smoke alarms and helped to save 332 lives.

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to fulfill its crucial mission. If someone would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift.

Red Cross volunteers across the country have already responded to 3,150 home fires in the first nine days of the year, compared to 2,003 fires in 2017. Some of this may be attributed to the recent string of dangerously cold days, as colder temperatures are often linked to a rise in home fires. Heating, holiday decorations, winter storms and candles all contribute to an increased risk of fire during the winter months, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Fire Administration.

After a home fire, a Red Cross volunteer is often among the first on the scene – offering emotional support, helping those affected to find a place to stay and assisting with recovery. As of January 9, the Red Cross has already opened 4,400 cases to help a total of 12,500 people get back on their feet after home fires in 2018.

 

-Monica Cryan

The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now to help address a winter blood donation shortage that could affect patient care.

Jan 2018 Urgent Need Blood Appeal_Hospitals

Here’s how you can help:

  1. #GiveNow: Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is an urgent need for their help. New and current donors of all blood types are needed to help ensure the Red Cross can meet the needs of patients every day and is prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood.
  3. Bring a friend to donate with you.

You can help ensure that blood products are there for trauma victims, premature babies, patients going through cancer treatment and others who rely on the generosity of volunteer donors. Please make an appointment to give blood or platelets now and help save lives.

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Very cold temperatures and dangerously low wind chills continue to affect Eastern Pennsylvania.

“The relentless cold can be dangerous for a number of reasons,” said Dave Skutnik, Director of Communications for the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region. “Make sure you and your family are aware of the risks cold weather poses and understand how to safely stay warm.”

  • Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
  • Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
  • Watch for symptoms of frostbite including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin.
  • Bring the pets indoors. If that’s not possible, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Avoid frozen pipes – run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes. Open cabinet doors to allow warmer air from the room to get to pipes near sinks, etc.
  • Do not use a stove or oven to heat the home.
  • If you use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
  • If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • If the power goes out, always run a generator outside, never inside the home including in the basement or garage. Generators produce deadly carbon monoxide and must be placed in well ventilated areas.

Written by : Monica Cryan

Written by: David Haas

In 2017, the American Red Cross worked harder than ever in its mission “to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers.’

This year Red Crossers delivered more food, relief supplies and shelter stays than the last four years combined. Eastern Pennsylvania volunteers supported many of these efforts, including volunteer deployments for back-to-back-to-back-to-back hurricanes — Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate – the deadliest week of wildfires in California history, and the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas. Learn more about the value of your contribution to 2017 disaster work in this video.

As 2017 comes to a close, Eastern PA Red Cross leaders are preparing a response plan for the devastating and quick-moving wildfires in Southern California, ready to assist local Red Crossers who are opening shelters, and providing food, comfort, and a safe place for thousands of residents displaced from their homes.

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The 2017 National Red Cross statistics are staggering.  More than 56,000 disaster workers — 92 percent volunteers — provided help to people affected by 242 significant disasters in 45 states and three territories. This year, the need for emergency shelter soared, with the Red Cross providing twice as many overnight stays than it did during the past four years combined. The Red Cross:

  • Opened 1,100 emergency shelters to provide 658,000 overnight stays
  • Served 13.6 million meals and snacks
  • Distributed 7 million relief items
  • Provided 267,000 health and mental health contacts
  • Supported 624,000 households with recovery assistance

Altogether, Red Cross emergency response vehicles traveled 2.5 million miles to deliver food, relief supplies and support to communities affected by disasters. That’s the same as driving around Earth 103 times.

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“There was someone every step of the way with a red vest on letting us know everything was going to be okay,” said Houston-resident Tabitha Barnes, who received Red Cross services after Hurricane Harvey flooded her home.

As volunteers in this region know, the most common disaster is not a hurricane or flood, but rather a home fire. There were nearly 50,000 home fires in the US this year which required Red Cross assistance, and caseworkers helped 76,000 affected families to recover.  Eastern PA volunteers respond quickly to local fires, including multiple teams that responded to the November 17th fire at the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community in West Chester where 140 people were evacuated. Dozens of people wrapped in blankets and sitting in wheelchairs were seen in news reports and being served by the Red Cross at a shelter nearby. The Red Cross House in Philadelphia is another unique resource available to help families and individuals get back on their feet after a house fire with temporary stays.

Eastern PA volunteers also support the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, working to help prevent home fires and save lives. Since the Campaign launched in 2014, 303 lives have been saved, more than 1 million smoke alarms have been installed, and 940,000 youth have been taught about the importance of fire safety. Hear from Rosie Saunders how having a working smoke alarm saved her daughter’s life: https://vimeo.com/229324955.

And if you have not done so yet, consider donating blood at year-end when donations decline because of the holidays. Also consider a year-end financial donation. An average of 91 cents of every donated dollar goes to providing food, shelter, relief supplies, emotional support and other assistance, as well as supporting the vehicles, warehouses, technology and people that make help possible.

Written by: Samantha Antenucci

Months after the hurricanes wreaked havoc in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, local residents still face hurdles on the path to recovery. While most of us cannot imagine the devastation, local Red Cross volunteers who have traveled to the affected areas have had a first-hand look at the recovery efforts.

When the hurricanes first struck, Red Cross volunteer Heidi Dampman was originally intending to leave for a vacation. When she first heard about Hurricane Harvey, she postponed her plans and took of an extra week of unpaid time off from work to go down to Texas to help. She recalled, “Even if I was going to get fired for taking off, I still would have done it. If I would have lost my job, that would have been alright, because for the first time in my life, I knew I was doing something right.”

Hurricane Harvey 2017

September 1, 2017. Woodsboro, Texas An Emergency Response Vehicle delivers hot meals in the town of Woodsboro, Texas where there is still now power a week after the storm made landfall. Photo by Chuck Haupt for the American Red Cross

Dampman’s positive attitude was contagious during her time in Texas where she drove a Red Cross emergency response vehicle into damaged neighborhoods to provide families with hot meals and drinks. As she was setting up for her shift, she had an idea to lift the spirits of the community members. She turned up the music in the truck for the neighborhood to hear, and as soon as she did, young children to the elderly, came out of their homes and started dancing in the streets! Dampman was giving them more than just a hot meal, she gave them hope.

Even though there were some heartwarming stories, Dampman remembers the hardships of her deployment as well. She recalls an image of a family standing outside of their home with all their belongings sprawled out on the front lawn. With an estimated five feet worth of flood damage, their home was destroyed.  When she offered the family food and water, they started crying. Dampman said, “It was difficult. You really got attached to the people there.”

Unfortunately, home destruction is not uncommon. John and Jane Hoopingarner, both Red Cross volunteers, worked in spiritual care for victims of Harvey as well. The Hoopingarners were deployed for two and a half weeks to Beaumont and Port Arthur and volunteered to listen, encourage, and work to restore some sense of normalcy to the hurricane victims. When the Hoopingarners arrived, they witnessed “the miles of damage with homes that were flooded to the roof and so many people lost absolutely everything.”

 

They described how some people were able to return to work and began to start over, but so many people were left homeless and moving from shelter to shelter. While there, the couple lived in and worked in the shelter with other victims, consoling them as much as they could. Mr. Hoopingarner recalled how many were in an emotional and physical downward spiral and how they managed to escape the disaster on helicopters and boats.

Mrs. Hoopingarner shared some of the stories of the people she encountered at the shelter. She shared how a family consisting of a single mother, and her two children, a 12-year-old daughter with disabilities and her 16-year-old son, came to the shelter after the hurricane. The family was in turmoil and Mrs. Hoopingarner consoled the family every day, sometimes twice a day, until her deployment ended. Once she left Texas, Mrs. Hoopingarner described how the mother found a job and started working while the people at the shelter would look after her daughter while she was at work!

When asked what people can do to help the victims of the hurricanes, they emphasized, “Though the recovery is still raw, we ask people not to forget what happened to Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico once the news stops reporting on it.”

Though the damage is done and the news has simmered down, the recovery is still new, raw, and will take years to bounce back.

 

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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