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photo 2Posted 2/28/14 3pm

Officially, winter does not end until March 19th and the winter season is really hanging on this year.
The Philadelphia region is gearing up for yet another major winter storm, complete with snow and possible ice accumulations.

The American Red Cross
Southeastern Pennsylvania stands ready to respond to whatever comes our way. Supplies and staff are ready in case shelters are needed. Red Cross workers will be in contact with emergency management officials throughout the region leading up to, during and after the storm. The Regional Disaster Coordination Center at Red Cross headquarters in Philadelphia will continue to answer calls 24-hours a day and dispatch volunteers to respond to the everyday disasters the Red Cross handles even when there isn’t a winter storm.

For now, the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania urges residents in the area to prepare now for the weather ahead. Be sure to have enough water and food on hand in case you cannot leave your home for an extended time. Here are some links to more tips on how to prepare and respond during the storm:

Winter Safety Tips including what items to have in your home and vehicle before a storm hits.

Tips on protecting your pets during a winter storm, please don’t forget your pets.

Tips to prevent or thaw frozen pipes in your home.

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Take time to download and learn more about the Red Cross mobile Apps. The first aid app, in particular could come in handy during and after a snowstorm. Any of the disaster apps like the hurricane app will provide you with shelter information, if needed.

As always, look for up to date information about responses, shelters and even tips by following our official twitter feed:  @redcrossphilly

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Careers should be chosen by interests instead of salaries.  Although income is a determining factor when deciding on what career to go into, ultimately, I feel that most important factor when deciding on which career to follow is if you truly enjoy the work.  For me, the only way I can see myself enjoying my career is if it gives me the opportunity to directly help others and the American Red Cross has allowed me to do this during my time with them as an AmeriCorps National Preparedness and Response Corps member.

As an AmeriCorps NPRC member, our main responsibility is to go on disaster responses throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and provide assistance to families that are affected.  For Southeastern Pennsylvania, most of the disasters we respond to are fires and we usually approach the disaster right after it occurs.  When I encounter clients, they’re usually distraught and scared for what their future holds, but after speaking with them and providing them assistance, I quickly see their emotions change from relief and joy.  It’s this change in emotion that motivates me to get up every morning and commute over an hour to come into work.  Working with those affected by disasters is a rewarding experience and makes my time with American Red Cross truly meaningful.

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It got a little colder this week in Southeastern, Pennsylvania. I could tell because I got requests for scarves, hats and gloves, which, it turned out, had all been “donated” to the school Lost and Found sometime last spring. Apparently, nothing spoils the mood of a sleepy teenager more than the absence of his favorite winter hat on a cold morning walk to the bus stop. I suspect my son will survive, but protection from the cold is important to keep in mind this time of year.

For many of us, especially the very young and the very old, overexposure to cold can cause injury or serious illness such as frostbite or hypothermia. Also, as temperatures drop, people may try using alternative heat sources, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or fires. The Red Cross offers these tips to stay safe in the cold weather:

Out in the cold:

Dressing in several layers of lightweight clothing keeps someone warmer than a single heavy coat.

Mittens provide more warmth to the hands than gloves. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers the ears.

Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain one’s footing in ice and snow.

At home:

Never operate a generator inside the home, basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment needed directly to the outlets on the generator.

Prevent frozen pipes – when the weather is very cold outside let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes.

Bring family pets indoors or provide adequate shelter and water.

Avoid using a stove or oven to heat your home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended.

If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when leaving the room or going to sleep.

On the road:

Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk. FEMA has great advice about this!

Keep the car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.

If someone does get stuck, stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety. Start the heater every hour for ten minutes and turn on the lights to help rescuers find you. Also, crack a window away from the wind to let in air.

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More information is available on our national Red Cross website. Please follow this link to learn more.

— Submitted by Sarah Peterson, Communications Volunteer