By: Nadine Banks

You’re home watching TV when an emergency alert blares on the screen: Local authorities are recommending evacuation due to an impending emergency. What’s your next move?

Some may meet this scenario with panic. You however, know exactly what to do: You grab your supplies and execute your well-rehearsed disaster plan.  

September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, and the American Red Cross is uniquely qualified to prepare you for the unexpected, whether it’s a home fire, flash flood, or something else. By definition, an emergency is unforeseen—nobody thinks the worst will happen to them. That’s the kind of thinking that can lead to panic. You can take three easy, but critical, action steps to get your household ready for emergencies:

1.Build a kit – Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you if you have to evacuate. Include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery powered radio, first aid kit and medications.

2. Make a plan – Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case you are separated and choose two places to meet—one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home.

3. Be informed. o Know what kinds of emergency situations may occur where you live, where you work, and where you go to school. Get trained in First Aid and CPR/AED skills so you’ll know what to do in an emergency if help is delayed. Don’t forget your pets, plan for them too. To learn more about how to get your family prepared, visit, or download one of our free apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store.

Everyone in your household should participate in emergency planning and help build the kit; also, inform family and friends outside the home of your plans. And don’t forget your pets! Keep a list of pet-friendly places to stay and have their food and supplies ready to go.

The Red Cross offers a wealth of information and resources to help you prepare for disaster; just visit In addition to info on CPR and AED training, you can access free apps such as Emergency (which offers over 35 customizable weather and emergency alerts), Monster Guard (which teaches kids ages 7 to 11 about staying safe in an emergency), and First Aid (which has step-by-step instructions on dealing with common first aid emergencies).

Disasters may also affect blood drives and blood supplies, which can be critical in the hours and days after an event, so visit, download the Blood Donor app, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule a blood donation.  

The school bells will be ringing soon as summer vacation ends and the nation’s students head back to class. The American Red Cross offers these steps to help make the trip back to the classroom a safe one.

StayWell PHSS stock photography. Lay Responder Training Market Segment: Grade School Teacher.


  1. If your student rides a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive.
  2. Students should board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed them to get on. They should only board their bus, never an alternate one.
  3. All students should stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  4. Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  5. Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  6. If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
  7. If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls and avoid eating or drinking while driving.
  8. Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right in the same direction as the traffic is going.
  9. When children are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards.
  10. Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.


Drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.

Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.


  • Keeping all students safe is the primary concern for everyone, but there are special steps for parents of younger kids and those going to school for the first time:
  • Make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1.
  • Teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.


Know what the emergency plan is at your child’s school in case a disaster or an unforeseen event occurs. Develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know who to contact and where to go if something happens while children are at school and parents are at work. Details are available at

The Red Cross First Aid App provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies whether it be before, during or after school. Download the app for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course ( so you can help save a life.

By: Lynn Cohen, Senior Volunteer Engagement Specialist

As we head into the school year, we will not only rely on our working-age volunteers, but also on the student volunteers who make up the 17 active Red Cross Clubs in the Eastern Pennsylvania Region. And this year, they’re better trained than ever.  

Earlier this month, the Lehigh Valley Bucks Chapter in Allentown hosted the first-ever Red Cross Club Officer Training, which included a whole day of activities for 23 student attendees, two coordinators and two advisers from 10 high schools and colleges. A Red Cross Club is a group that provides students with opportunities to make a difference by addressing their community’s greatest needs and developing leadership skills. Red Cross Clubs empower their members with knowledge and life-saving skills to help their school and community respond to emergencies. 

Several staff assisted and presented at the training, including Guy Triano, the Eastern Pennsylvania CEO, who wanted to make sure he shared with our youth how important they are to our mission. The objective of the training was to provide attendees with the tools they will need to move forward with starting a new club or enhancing their current club.  We wanted them to be aware of the tools and resources available to support and navigate their clubs through a successful academic year.  

Kristine Macatantan is the president of the Northeast High School Red Cross Club and said, “This training opened my eyes for a new hope that Red Cross at Northeast will flourish into a long legacy of success in volunteering that I am glad to be a part of. My team and I have learned more ways to engage our club members, gain new ones, and make the school more of a community!”  

Later in the day the group practiced a Ready Relay (imagine the Amazing Race), to help clubs learn how to use this activity as a fundraiser, while teaching attendees about the Red Cross.  At the end of the Relay, clubs were asked to perform an 8-line Rap about the Red Cross.  Last but not least, Bryan Solis and Cody Tran, Chair and Vice Chair of the National Youth Council, respectively, skyped in from California to share their Red Cross stories and shared club resources for the clubs and youth in general. 

“At the training, I learned many things about the Red Cross that I didn’t know before, such as all the different ways one can contribute to helping the Red Cross. I also got a sense of how to lead my group, and organize matters accordingly,” said Ayah Ibrahim, president of the newly formed Pleasant Valley High School Red Cross Club. 

Interested in starting a Red Cross Club? Check out more information at this link: 

By: Kathy Huston and Sophie Kluthe

Today marks the last day of work for a man who has dedicated more than a quarter century to the American Red Cross, often moving around at great personal sacrifice to carry out the organization’s mission. The American Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania would like to offer a collective ‘thank you’ to Gregory L. Smith, for taking us on as the final leg of your Red Cross career! 

Smith’s Red Cross journey actually began as a volunteer, which is telling of his devotion to service and community. It was during that time in the early 1990s that Smith got hooked and joined the team as a paid employee. Smith has held a number of titles during his years of service, including Disaster Cycle Service supervisor, manager and director in Northern California, Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia, and at the national headquarters, where he also served as the VP of Volunteers, Youth and Nursing Programs. 

Smith has seen his fair share of major disasters over the decades, too. From deployments to major disaster relief operations across the country, including the North Ridge earthquake, hurricanes Fran, Ike, Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, Matthew and Florence, and tornados in Moore, Oklahoma and Joplin, Missouri, to being on the scene for the relief efforts that followed the 9/11 attacks in New York City.   

Ending up as the Regional Disaster Program Officer for the Eastern Pennsylvania Region, Smith served as the lead employee for preparedness, readiness, response and recovery for all 17 counties. He’s ending his tenure as a well-respected leader, as is evidenced by what those closest to him have to say.  

“The impact Gregory had on the EPA Disaster Cycle Services team goes far beyond his leadership in pulling together a fractured team in FY18 and setting us on the path that resulted in our amazing success in terms of numeric goals in FY19. His willingness to share his experience, to mentor each and every member of the team, to provide development opportunities whenever possible, and his daily reminders to live the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross will be his true legacy in Eastern Pennsylvania. We are all the richer for having known and learned from him and we will miss him. On a personal note, it was an honor and a privilege to serve as his Number One,” said Senior Disaster Program Manager, and Smith’s right-hand man, Mike Kiley-Zufelt. 

When asked on how he was reflecting on his years served, Smith summed it up like this, “I really just want to express my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to serve and support the Red Cross humanitarian mission for these past 27 years.” 

Hopefully after he moves across the country and has some down time he’ll go back to his roots. Because you know, 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce is made up of volunteers! 

Gregory, the entire Eastern PA team is wishing you the best of luck in retirement!  

Red Crossers celebrate Smith’s tenure at a surprise retirement party at the Allentown Chapter.

By: Sam Antenucci

In 2018, I moved to Philadelphia by myself for college. I’m from a small town in New Mexico, so the transition was a culture shock, to say the least. But then I made my first blood donation and decided to get involved with the Red Cross. I was nervous, partly due to my needle phobia, but the Red Cross volunteers walked me through that donation and I had a very rewarding experience. That’s when I decided to volunteer with the Red Cross and see what more I could do to help others.  

Being in college did not leave me with the most flexible schedule. I often had to juggle my time studying for classes and labs. But after I received the call from the Red Cross about my volunteering profile, the staff worked with me and my schedule. They took me on as a writer and blogger for their social media pages, and I was incredibly excited! My studies are in the STEM curriculum, so I didn’t have as many chances to write as I would have liked. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to continue with one of my favorite hobbies.  

Volunteering (far right) during one of the Sound the Alarm events in Philadelphia this past spring.

Working with the Red Cross has opened more doors for me than I could have imagined. I was not only able to continue writing but also given the opportunity to go out into the Philly community and make a difference in people’s lives. I’ve installed fire alarms around the city for Sound the Alarm events, interviewed amazing volunteers to share their stories about deploying for hurricane disaster relief, and got to help as a call relief agent for Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria. The Red Cross has welcomed me to participate in its many different Philadelphia projects. As I continue to volunteer, I urge anyone who has some free time, no matter how much or little, to get involved with the Red Cross as well. 

Are you interested to see why volunteer opportunities await you at the American Red Cross? If so, check out 

By: Sophie Kluthe

There are still a few weeks left, but already Camp Save-a-Life has already been a great addition to the normal hustle and bustle of the Red Cross House in West Philadelphia. From fire hose demonstrations to first aid classes to learning about nutrition, the first few weeks of campers have graduated with not only fun memories, but some serious safety skills too.

Camp Save-a-Life is a free, seven- week camp at the Red Cross House in Philadelphia for kids aged 10-14. It runs from late June through mid-August. 

In true Red Cross form, the campers’ schedule includes water safety instruction at the local YMCA pool, Disaster Preparedness Jeopardy and CPR training as well.

Thanks to tech guru Stephanie Humphrey, who gave her ‘Til Death Do You Tweet’ presentation, the kids thought long and hard about how to shape their own brand, and how a few bad strokes of their phone’s keyboard could interfere with future scholarships and more. Valuable lessons for a generation whose lives are intertwined with social media more than ever before.

“Everything you do on the internet is searchable and recoverable,” she told the first week of campers. “It never truly goes away.”

Fridays are both exciting and bittersweet. Before receiving their certificates of completion, campers break into groups and perform skits about what they learned all week with their counselors beaming on the sidelines. After a handshake from Regional CEO Guy Triano, the kids pack up, and Camp Save-a-Life prepares for a new batch of smart, young, campers who are eager to absorb all the week has in store for them!

During the Fourth of July week, fewer blood drives are held across the country and many blood donors are away enjoying vacations. This creates a difficult situation for the blood supply, and the American Red Cross is facing an emergency need for blood and platelet donors after a significant shortfall in blood donations during the Independence Day holiday week and ongoing challenges finding new blood donors.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available – and less than a two-day supply of type O blood. Blood donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. More donations are needed now to replenish the blood supply.

Eligible individuals are urged to give now to help avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients this summer.

Who needs blood

Blood from generous volunteer donors helps families like the Jolliffes. In February 2018, Meghan Jolliffe suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. During childbirth her heart stopped beating for 14 minutes, resulting in the need for an emergency cesarean section. Her organs began to shut down, and her blood would not clot. Meghan received nearly 100 units of blood within a seven-hour period during her procedures. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and stabilize Meghan’s condition. Over the next several days, Meghan underwent five surgeries, dialysis and more to repair the damage to her body.

Meanwhile, after her son Sullivan was delivered, he went without oxygen for seven minutes. Doctors performed a process called therapeutic hypothermia, or whole-body cooling, to preserve his neurological function, and he also received several units of blood. In all, Meghan and Sullivan received 109 units of blood.

“My family and I are forever grateful for the generosity of Red Cross volunteer blood donors,” said Meghan. “Donating blood is so important. You or a loved one may never need these lifesaving products, but I can assure you that someone, somewhere will.”

Don’t wait – help now:

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).  
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a #BloodEmergency and ask them to give now.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Blood transfusion is the fourth most common inpatient hospital procedure in the U.S., and these blood products can only come from volunteer donors. Yet, only 3 out of 100 people in the U.S. give blood. It’s crucial that the Red Cross has a sufficient blood supply on hand to meet the needs of patients every day and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood products

Please make an appointment to give now