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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.
Trick or Treat Route

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.

The words “Thank goodness for the Red Cross”  popped up in a text bubble on my phone early Wednesday morning. Yes, indeed, for so many reasons. What a week it’s been. Our job is to take care of the important stuff: shelter, food, comfort, survival. There has been a lot of work to do.

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 concerning 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 who needed 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 guests at a shelter in Pleasantville, PA. Enjoy these pics of some great costumes and delicious candy!

Although October may be the month of haunted houses and horror movies, there is one “scare” we never want: fire. The combination of Halloween décor and dry autumn weather makes October the perfect time for Fire Safety Month. Here are some tips to keep your home and family safe this season:

  • Keep the Halloween jack-o-lantern tradition alive, but forgo any actual flames. Using candles in jack-o-lanterns is a huge hazard, and easily avoided by using flashlights or battery operated lights.
  • Also, be cautious in your placement of jack-o-lanterns or other luminaries. Having a well lit pathway is nice, but the close proximity of flames to high-traffic areas is not.
  • Corn stalks or hay bales should be placed far from any flames or heat sources, as they are highly flammable. Remember, light bulbs give off heat and should never be draped with fabric, etc.
  • Whether your trick-or-treater wants to be Thor or a kitty cat, be sure the costume is flame-retardant. Rayon, acrylic and cotton/polyester blends are the most flammable fabrics.
  • How are your smoke detectors? Change Your Clocks, Change Your Batteries is right around the corner (November 4), but it never hurts to double check the batteries in your home.
  • It’s getting colder out there. If you’re digging out space heaters or opening up the chimney, be sure to take preventative measures. Sweep your chimney, install a fire guard and keep heaters away from flammable materials.
  • Not only are there precautions for inside your home, but outside, too. Clear your roof and gutters of debris buildup, such as pine needles and leaves, and learn the outdoor burning regulations in your area. Burning leaves and other outdoor debris (illegal or not) can be very risky.