Travel tips to get you safely to your Thanksgiving celebration

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

thanksgiving-travel-safety

 

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings people together to give thanks and celebrate their blessings. Relatives gather around the table to enjoy their family’s version of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Each year, millions of people drive to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends, making it one of the busiest times for road traffic.

 

If you are headed “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house,” as the childhood song goes, prepare in advance to ensure a safe visit. The American Red Cross offers 10 tips to help you stay safe if you are traveling by car:

  1. Make sure your car is in good condition for a road trip.
  2. Pack an emergency preparedness kit, supplies and a first aid kit in the trunk.
  3. Share travel plans with a family member or friend.
  4. Check the weather before departing and along your route. Plan for travel around any storms that may be coming.
  5. Be well rested and alert.
  6. Buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired.
  7. Follow the rules of the road and use caution in work zones.
  8. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  9. Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  10. If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

‘Tis the season . . . flu season. So if public transportation is part of your travel plans, keep this in mind. From luggage to seats, everything that you touch is likely touched by someone else. Follow these tips to help avoid the spread of germs.

  1. Handle your own belongings.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  3. Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces, such as armrests.
  4. Bring your own pillows and blankets. They can act as a shield against the seat itself.

To find out what supplies you should have on hand in an emergency preparedness kit, the Red Cross offers this checklist and quiz to test your knowledge: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/survival-kit-supplies.html.

You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to help you monitor severe weather and emergency alerts.

Whichever road leads to your Thanksgiving destination, these Red Cross tips and tools can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Safe travels!

Keep Calm, It’s Stress Awareness Day

By Brad Galvan; edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteers

Does even the thought of Stress Awareness Day stress you out? Stress, anxiety, pressure and strain are all synonyms for that uncomfortable burden on one’s mental health. Each of us have experienced stress in varying degrees often caused by workloads, relationships or other factors. Effective, healthy stress management can literally be a Hurricane Matthew 2016lifesaver. That’s the focus of Stress Awareness Day, which is recognized on November 7.

A healthy amount of stress can be viewed as a motivator, a reason to strive for improvement and it can feel good when one can overcome challenges. But when it’s overwhelming, causing illness, hurting relationships and overall well-being, it’s important to evaluate environmental stressors. Stepping back, evaluating the cause of stress and using a mitigation technique can be very effective.

Many people suffer from stresses related to not feeling as if there are enough hours in the day or stress related to not being prepared for the known, and unknown. There’s no need to re-create the wheel; checklists, planning documents and organizers are readily available. Consider reviewing The Be Ready Red Cross checklist. Other folks find comfort in turning the attention away from themselves and focus on others as a strategy to reduce stress. A great way to do that is to donate blood. Finding a nearby drive whereBlood bank Campaign ceremony 2017 you can relax for a few minutes and know that you are helping someone else could be a wonderful way to reduce tension.

If personal evaluation of anxiety and management of stresses do not seem to help, consulting a mental health professional is always the best bet. Mental health is just as important as physical health—it’s critical to care for your own well-being on November 7 and throughout the entire year.

Winter is coming: Tips to protect your home and family this winter

By: Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

As the calendar turns to November, in Northeast Ohio we know this means winter in coming. With snow and bone-chilling cold just around the corner, it is important to plan ahead to ensure that you are winter ready.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross to help you prepare before the cold and winter storms arrive:

North Dakota and Minnesota Floods

Protecting your family:

  • Winterize your vehicle before the winter storm season to decrease your chances of being stranded.
  • Have a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster and oil.
  • Install good winter tires.
  • Service snow removal equipment before the winter storm season to ensure they are in good working condition.emergency prep kit
  • Items to keep in your vehicle all winter include a windshield scraper and a small broom, a small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels, matches in a waterproof container, a bright colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna and an emergency supply kit, which includes warm clothing.

Protecting your home:

  • Protect your pipes from freezing. To learn how to protect your pipes, click here.
  • Make sure your home heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements and are clean and in working order.
  • Install storm windows and cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to add additional protection from the cold winter air.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep a supply of firewood on hand. Be sure the fireplace is properly vented and in good working order.

Don’t forget your furry friends:

  • Do not leave your companion animals out in the cold, bring them indoors. Ensure you have supplies for cleaning up after your companion animal—large plastic bags, paper towels and extra cat litter.
  • Create a place where your other animals can be comfortable in severe winter weather. Horses and livestock should have a shelter where they can be protected from wind, snow, ice and rain. Grazing animals should have access to a protected supply of food and non-frozen water.
  • Be aware of potential for flooding when snow and ice melt and be sure that your animals have access to high ground that is not impeded by fencing or other barriers.
  • Ensure that any outbuildings that house or shelter animals can withstand wind and heavy snow and ice.

Use the American Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know 10846-005.jpgyou are safe if severe weather occurs. Find this and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

To learn more about what you should do before, during and after a winter storm to keep you and your family safe, visit redcross.org for additional winter storm safety tips.

10 tips to stay safe this Halloween while trick-or-treating

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By: Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

Halloween, one of the country’s most popular holidays, is just days away. Soon neighborhoods across Northeast Ohio will be filled with witches, ghosts, pirates and superheroes.

As you prepare to take to the streets for some trick-or-treating fun, the American Red Cross offers some tips to help keep you and your family safe:

  1. Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen.
    • Use face makeup instead of masks. Masks can make it hard for a child to see clearly.
    • Give kids a flashlight to light their way.
    • Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
    • Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to help motorists see your trick-or-treater at night.
  1. Use flame-resistant costumes.
  2. Plan the trick-or-treat route in advance. Make sure adults know where their children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door.
  3. It’s not only vampires and monsters people have to look out for on Halloween. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
  4. Walk, don’t run.
  5. Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door—NEVER go inside.
  6. Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street.
    • 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.
    • Don’t cross between parked cars.
    • Use extra caution if driving. Young trick-or-treaters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing.
  1. Make sure a grown-up checks the sweet goodies before eating.
    • Make sure to remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards.
    • Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.

And finally, for those expecting trick-or-treaters at their homes looking for candy, follow these safety steps:

  1. Light the area well so young visitors can see.
  2. Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.

Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert advice in case your ghost, zombie or werewolf has a mishap. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

By being prepared and keeping these tips in mind, you and your little ghouls and goblins can have a safe, fun and candy-filled Halloween!

American Red Cross launches first aid for opioid overdoses course

New online training helps people respond to opioid overdoses and save lives

The American Red Cross has launched First Aid for Opioid Overdoses – an online course to teach people how to respond to a known or suspected opioid overdose.

The 45 minute course contains content on how to identify the signs and symptoms of a suspected opioid overdose and the appropriate care to provide based on the responsiveness of the person. Information on how to use several different naloxone products – including a nasal atomizer, Narcan Nasal Spray, and EVZIO – to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose is also included.

People can register and access the course at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/opioidoverdose. Because an opioid overdose can lead to cardiac arrest, people are also encouraged to take a Red Cross CPR/AED course.

“An opioid overdose is a life-threatening emergency,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “When you suspect an opioid overdose, it’s important to start providing care immediately.”

Recently, the Red Cross had the opportunity to share its commitment and efforts to help address this public health crisis at a White House opioids event. Learn more about the event, and the involvement of the Red Cross here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/year-historic-action-combat-opioid-crisis/

The Red Cross has also prepared guidance on opioid use and overdose response for those working in the organization’s shelters during disasters. Recently, these efforts empowered a Red Cross volunteer to help save the life of a person in a shelter during Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence 2018

In addition to the new First Aid for Opioid Overdoses online course, this is the first year Red Cross disaster shelters are arming staff and volunteers with information and supplies to help ensure that everyone stays safe in the case of an opioid overdose. During Hurricane Florence, Julian Delgado with Health Services explains to volunteers how to administer these supplies for residents who may need them in shelters. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross.

“Residents staying at Red Cross shelters often reflect the demographics of the general population,” said Parks, who worked in shelters in North Carolina during the Hurricane Florence disaster relief operation.  “Volunteer shelter workers who are trained to provide treatment when an overdose is suspected will no doubt save more lives in the future.”

 

 

Add earthquake preparedness to your to-do list, even if you live in Ohio

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer

Shake out

Held annually on the third Thursday of October, the ShakeOut International Day of Action is set for Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 10:18 a.m. During the self‐led drill, participants practice earthquake preparedness by learning to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”. Endorsed by emergency officials and first responders, the safe response to an earthquake is to:

  • DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if it’s nearby. If you have mobility issues, either lock the wheels of your wheelchair or stay seated, and bend over.
  • COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand. If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter. If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall, away from windows.
  • HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If you are under a table or desk for shelter, hold onto it with one hand and be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts.

Watch the video

Earthquakes in Ohio – really?  YES – REALLY

“People may say ‘Why do we need to practice earthquake drills in Ohio?’ We practice because Ohio does experience earthquakes,” said Sima Merick, executive director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency . “Ohio has had four low-scale earthquakes so far this year. It is also good to know earthquake safety in the event you’ve traveled to another state or country where quakes can occur with higher magnitude and frequency.”

In January 1986, a 5.0-magnitude earthquake took place in Lake County, impacting most of northeastern Ohio. This was the first Ohio quake that caused injuries and to occur near a U.S. nuclear power plant. The 1986 quake ranks as the third largest in the state.

Ohio is on the periphery of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an area in Missouri and adjacent states that was the site of the largest earthquake sequence to occur in U.S. history. Four great quakes were part of a series at New Madrid in 1811 and 1812. These events were felt throughout the eastern part of the country and were strong enough to topple chimneys in Cincinnati. In March of 1937, western Ohio experienced a 5.4-magnitude quake that knocked down or damaged every chimney in Anna (Shelby County). So much damage was caused to the local school that it had to be torn down.

For more information, or to register yourself, your company or your organization, visit the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut website for Ohio.  Two million Ohioans have already registered.

Also, check out the Red Cross Earthquake App where you can monitor relatives out of town and get the latest alerts.  Available for Android and iOS phones. In the app’s toolkit, you can notify relatives that you are safe, and locate open Red Cross shelters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency Preparedness for your Pets

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member & Communications Volunteer Partner

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans years ago, it was reported that more than 10,000 people refused evacuation because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind. Some of those people, and their pets, became casualties. When reporters asked survivors who didn’t evacuate why they would risk their lives for their pets, they said things like, “They are part of my family.” Or, “My pet is my kid; would you leave your kid behind?”

It’s a situation many animal lovers understand. And a situation many community leaders have considered to save lives of both pets and people.

The truth is, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pet either. As we recognize World Animal Day (October 4), we recommend that as you make your emergency plans for your family in the event of a home fire, weather emergency or any disaster that might require you to leave your home, it is important that you include arrangements for your pet in those plans.

arc-volunteer-pat-kerns-and-lila-a-residents-dog

Red Cross volunteer Pat Kern with Lila in a shelter in North Carolina. Photo by Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

While the American Red Cross has historically not allowed pets in shelters, mainly for health and sanitation reasons, they work with local and regional animal agencies that operate shelters that would keep pets and their people if not together then nearby. In our area, the Red Cross works with an organization called CARE.

“If we had a shelter opened, we would rely upon them to set up a pet shelter adjacent to the evacuation shelter,” said Debbie Chitester, disaster program manager for the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter “They have the equipment, supplies and volunteers to do that.”

Debbie also encourages people to have a plan for their pets.

California Wildfires 2018

Jordan, age 8, was able to be with his pets at a shelter in California last summer.
Photo by Virginia Becker/American Red Cross

“Think ahead to family or friends who may be able to take care of your pet,” she explained. “Talk with a vet or a boarding facility ahead of time to see if they have a plan and would be able to accept your pet,” she suggests. If a pet owner does not have any other place to take their pets, she said the Red Cross would activate the CARE team to set up a shelter for them. You can call your local Red Cross office to ask what shelters  are available for your pet if needed.

As you put your emergency plan and supply kit together for your family,make sure you have a separate one for your pet. Your pet emergency kit should include:

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food. Use plastic/waterproof bins to keep dry food dry and free of mold or bugs.
  • Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavioral problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

Knowing you have a plan for your family, including your beloved pet(s), will give you peace of mind should a situation ever arise where you need  to evacuate your home. Click HERE for more information about preparing pets (and people) for emergencies.