Some like it HOT, 3 Ways to Stay Safe in this Week’s Heat

summer-heatSome like it HOT.

But with this week’s toasty Northeast Ohio temperatures, it’s important that you keep three key things in mind to beat the heat: stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed. And don’t forget about your friends and neighbors, check on those most at-risk at least twice a day.

Stay Cool

  1. Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
  2. Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.

Stay Hydrated

Your body may sweat more in these temps, which means you will be losing fluids.

  1. Drink more water than usual.
  2. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
  3. Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.

Stay Informed

Download the free Red Cross First Aid app to learn more about how to treat heat related illnesses – like heat cramps or heat stroke.

For more information on at-risk populations, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/

 

Back to School Safety Tips

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Partner

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Summer vacation for students around the country is drawing to a close as the nation’s schools prepare to open their doors for the new school year. Some students have already returned to the classroom.  Here are some safety steps from the American Red Cross to make the new school year a safe one.

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.

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

  • If children ride 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.
  • Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed you to get on.
  • Only board your bus, never an alternate one.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

GETTING TO SCHOOL BY CAR, BIKE, ON FOOT

  • 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.
  • 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 should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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, SLOW DOWN!

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. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.

PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES AND TAKE A FIRST AID CLASS

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 redcross.org/prepare. 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 redcross.org/apps. Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

Back-to-School Sports Safety Tips

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Partner

August is called the “dog days of summer” for a reason. It’s the hottest month of the year for most parts of the country and this year, especially, much of the nation is suffering wave after wave of brutal heat.Icon Disaster

So when I see high school football players on practice fields, I immediately flash back to the dreaded “two-a-days.” Back in my day (yes, I’m a baby-boomer) our very football-oriented high school coaches worked the players hard in the heat twice a day during the hottest months of the summer. I’d hear about— and even witness—guys in my class pass out, get sick and suffer from what was probably heat stroke or exhaustion, as they worked out in their pads day after day in the heat. I think it was a badge of honor somehow if you made it through. However, I thought it looked barbaric. Back then, we didn’t talk about things like the importance of hydration, or the concern over head injuries and long-term damage from concussions and warming up and cooling down as we practice.

Thankfully, we know a lot more now about sports safety. But whether you are male or female, or play one of the many fall and winter sports indoors or out, back-to-school time is a good time to think about sports safety.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers some great tips to keep kids safe on the field, the court or wherever they participate in sports and recreation activities. Here are some of these tips and a few others:

Use the right equipment: Make sure kids use the right gear for the right sport and use it for both practice and the game. It is important they use protective gear like helmets, wrist guards, knee or elbow pads.

Make sure the gear fits and is in good shape: Check the equipment to assure it is in

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

good condition, fits appropriately and is worn correctly all the time—for example, avoid missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding.

Warm up, cool down: Before starting (or ending) any form of activity, it is important to warm up the muscles by stretching, walking and easing into the practice. At the end, the reverse is also important, so slow down and cool down. Diving right into a strenuous activity without a warm-up can cause pulled muscles, strains and potential injuries. 

Get an action plan in place: Be sure your child’s sports program or school has an action plan that includes information on how to teach athletes ways to lower their chances of getting a concussion and other injuries. Get more concussion safety tips.

Be mindful of temperature: On extremely hot or humid days, allow time for the athlete to gradually adjust to the environments to prevent heat-related injuries or illness. Parents and coaches should pay attention to each player’s activity level, give breaks and make sure they are well hydrated and appropriately dressed. The same is true in extremely cold climates. Parents and coaches need to watch for signs of heat stroke or exhaustion and frostbite and hypothermia .

Be a good role model: No one wants to be that crazy sports parent (we all know the type) screaming at the coaches and the kids from the stands. Most coaches in youth sports are volunteers and should be supported and appreciated not verbally abused. You can help promote sportsmanship from the sidelines and the stands by being respectful not only to the coaches, but to your child, their teammates, coaches, opposing teams and the officials. As a good sports parent, you can help promote sportsmanship from the sidelines and in the stands.

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Icon used on American Red Cross Apps

Prepare for an emergency: As a parent, coach or fan, it is always helpful to know basic first aid and CPR. The American Red Cross offers First Aid/CPR/AED classes and has an excellent First Aid App for your phone. Having this knowledge could be a lifesaver in just about any situation including and beyond sports. Find out more about classes and download one of the many free mobile apps here.

Keep Your Pet Safe in the Event of a Home Fire

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Red Cross Volunteer and Board Member

Recent natural disasters like last year’s hurricanes, ongoing wildfires and even the volcano eruptions in Hawaii have brought pet rescue national attention. In a search and rescue situation, human safety always comes first, and pets are often left behind. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking pictures in the news of pets stranded in a life-threatening situation, making many of us realize that if we have pets, we need to make a plan to keep our pets, as well as our people-safe.

Far more common than a natural disaster, is a home fire. In fact, home fires are the most common disasters the Red Cross responds to, and the most preventable. I remember when I was in grade school, we had “Fire Safety Week” and the Fire Marshal from a local fire department came in and talked to all of us about an escape plan for our homes. We were reminded to go home and talk to our parents and perform at-home fire drills, similar to the ones we did in school, and to find a meeting spot in the yard to make sure everyone got out. I don’t recall dogs, cats or any kind of pets being in the escape planning, but they should be!

Sunday July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and the Red Cross has several suggestions to keep your family and pets safe in the event of a home fire. Most importantly, is prevention.

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Every year, pets are the cause of many preventable home fires. Curious pets can easily knock over lit candles, investigate what’s cooking on the stove, or even get into trouble if they get too close to a fire in the fireplace. Here are a few tips to keep pets safe around the house:

  • Ensure your pet is never left unattended around an open flame
  • Remove or protect stove knobs so they can’t accidentally jump up and turn on the stove
  • Invest in flame-less candles. Cats are known for batting at and knocking down lit candles
  • Secure especially active and young pets either in a crate or behind a gate in an easily accessible area

In the event of a fire, help firefighters find your pets easily.

  • Keep pets near an entrance while you are away from home
  • Invest in pet alert window clings to let firefighters know you have pets and how many
  • Keep collars on your pet so they can be leashed to escort out (cats and dog hide in fear and are sometimes difficult to capture)

Get more information  on how to keep your pet safe and learn more about pet first aid and sign up for a pet online first aid course here.

12 Safety Tips for Savvy International Travel

Summertime is vacation time. It is one of the most popular times for people in the United States to embark on international trips. If you are traveling to another country this summer, the Red Cross offers some tips to help make you a savvy traveler.

Whether you are driving across a border, setting sail for a tropical coastline, or jetting overseas, taking these 12 steps will help you stay safe. (If you’re traveling by car, don’t forget to pack an emergency kit in the vehicle.)

A little advance preparation goes a long way. So add this checklist to your itinerary:Icon App

  1. Download the first aid app. The Red Cross first aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Whether you’re home or abroad, arming yourself with basic first aid skills can save a life. Be sure to download the app while you’re still in the United States, otherwise you’ll download the local Red Cross or Red Crescent’s mobile app (which will be in the local language).
  2. Make a plan. Just like at home, it’s important to establish a time and place to meet family members in case you get separated.
  3. Know what natural disasters are possible. It’s important to research whether your destination faces emergencies you’ve never experienced. The Red Cross offers basic tips about what to do during natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes.
  4. Register your trip with the State Department. Enter your travel details with the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program online, which allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency while you are abroad. You can also get information about safety conditions in the country you are planning to visit.
  5. Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in case of emergency while traveling.
  6. Check out the State Department’s ‘What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisisand have an evacuation plan that doesn’t rely on the U.S. government.
  7. Keep your destination country’s emergency numbers handy. You know to use 911 in the United States, but how will you reach the fire department, police, or an ambulance abroad? Find your destination country on this reference sheet from the State Department—and write down the emergency numbers before you take off.
  8. Know the six-month passport rule. Some countries deny travelers entry if their passport expires in less than six months. Renew your passport about nine months before the expiration date.
  9. Let your credit card company know what countries you will be visiting and when. This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most.
  10. Pack your International Certificate of Vaccination. Also referred to as the “yellow card,” it lists your immunizations, allergies, and blood type. The “yellow card” is available from your physician or local health department.
  11. Bring medications, bug repellent. If you’re traveling somewhere with mosquito-borne illnesses—such as malaria, dengue, or Zika—be sure to spray repellent and/or cover your arms and legs with lightweight clothing at critical times of the day. Don’t forget your medications and it’s a good idea to bring other stuff like OTC pain reliever and something for an upset stomach.
  12. Check for emergency exits and evacuation routes. The Red Cross has helped many communities around the world install signs that indicate evacuation routes in case flooding or another natural disaster occurs. Be sure to identify evacuation routes at your destination and pay attention to the location of emergency exits.

Safe travels!

 

Keeping Pets Safe in the Heat

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Leader

petfirst-appToday is the first official day of summer, although we’ve already had a number of days with temperatures into the 90’s.  Heat and humidity can be uncomfortable for us, but it is far more uncomfortable, even dangerous for our pets. Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe in hot weather.

Never, ever leave your pets in the car. It seems obvious, but we still see so many people who want to bring their dogs along for the ride. Many justify this by saying their dogs love car rides, and love to be with them. But running in to the store for “just 5-minutes” put your dog in jeopardy.

First, of all, what if you get distracted? What if there is a long line at the check-out? 5 minutes turns into 10 while the temperature in your car soars. On an 75-degree day, temps can reach over a 100 within 30 minutes, even with the car window cracked.   

If you see a pet in a hot car, take action. Take down the make, model and license of the car and go into the place of business to report it. Call the non-emergency number for the police to report the situation. And you can get involved by asking store managers at local restaurants, malls, and businesses to put up signs asking customers to not leave their pets in their cars.

The Humane Society has things you can do if you see a dog in a hot car.

Some dogs are more prone to have difficulty in hot weather than others. Dogs with short snouts, heavy fur, that are overweight, or breathing issues are are higher risk of heat stroke. If you notice heavy panting, fast pulse or any of these symptoms, take immediate action to cool down your pet. Dogs with white colored early are more susceptible to skin cancers, so keep your dog out of direct sunlight in the summer for long periods.

Hot asphalt is dangerous to pads. A dog’s feet pads are tender, and burn easily. The rule is, if it is too hot for your bare feet, do not walk your dog on it as it is too hot for their feet too. Walk your dog on the grass. Dogs sweat through their feet so their paws are an important temperature gauge and their pads must be protected.

Provide shade and water  Keep plenty of fresh cool water available for your dog inside and out. Carry a water bottle with you on walks and keep a portable collapsible pet bowl with you to keep your dog from dehydrating. If your pets spend lots of time outside provide a spot with plenty of shade. Tarps or tree shade are better than a dog house, as they provide air flow. Dog houses often make the heat worse. In excessive heat, many dogs love a small baby pool filled with water to cool off.  Add ice to water bowls.

Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid App for more information on how to include Pets in emergency preparedness plans, in case of a natural disaster or other emergency situations. The app also features instructions for first aid emergencies. Find the app in your app store or you can text GETPET to 90999 for a link to download or go here redcross.org/apps. You can also take the Red Cross First Aid online course. Access the course here  redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at your own pace.

  

 

Top Ten Tips for Fireworks Safety

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

Every Fourth of July there are invariably some headlines about those who lost fingers or limbs due to accidents involving firecrackers or fireworks.  It needn’t be that way if safety is as much a consideration as celebrating.

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Fireworks photo credit: Paul Wadowick/American Red Cross volunteer

In order to celebrate responsibly, consider these ten tips:

  1. Leave it to the professionals – go watch a city display instead of trying it at home. [Okay, there are 10 more since many of you just won’t take this advice.]
  2. Never give fireworks to small children or let them attempt to light them.
  3. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  4. Never place a firecracker in a container – flying shrapnel can result.
  5. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  6. Keep a supply of water and first aid kit close by as a precaution.
  7. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  8. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  9. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place – locked away from children and pets.
  10. Alcohol and fireworks are a recipe for disaster. Save the drinking for after the fireworks.
  11. Consider your pets – they really aren’t going to enjoy all the noise – some will be terrified – so find them a safe interior room or space in the basement where they won’t hear as much noise.

Regarding tip #10, if you’ve successfully enjoyed your own fireworks, consider yourself lucky.  Someone else certainly won’t be so lucky, and they may need blood in the emergency room.

Consider donating during the week of the Fourth.  Blood drives see a big decrease during the holiday week, but the need never decreases.  If you’ve been blessed enough to not need it, be the donor that someone else needs.

Check your Red Cross Blood Donor app or go to RedCrossBlood.org to locate a donation time and site convenient for you. You’ll receive a special edition Red Cross T-shirt as a special thank you (while supplies last.)

For more tips on safely enjoying your holiday weekend, see this article at RedCross.org.