September is National Preparedness Month

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer and Disaster Action Team member

One of the most often heard phrases during and after a disaster is “If I had only thought to (insert any of the following suggestions), I wouldn’t be in this mess now.” This is known as the “could of – should of” syndrome. You knew you could have prepared. You knew you should have prepared. But you didn’t.

Well, this September is your chance to get it done. The American Red Cross offers some helpful tips. All you need to do is follow through.

As we consider all the natural disasters that could strike, there are some basics that will apply across the board to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.

  • Don’t wait until the day of a disaster to think about what to pack. Be prepared if you need to evacuate. Make a list of “must have” items right now and keep it somewhere handy.
    1. Have a family plan for a meeting place in case some family members are not home when you have to evacuate. In case someone comes looking for you, leave written instructions in the home as to where you went.first aid kit
    1. Pack enough for 72 hours at least. Pack the following items in an easy-to-carry container: a gallon of water per person, per day; non-perishable food; flashlight and hand-crank or battery-powered radio; extra batteries; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of important papers; extra cash; and any medical or baby supplies family members may need. Plan for your pets as well. Additional suggestions here. Even more suggestions here.
    1. Fill your car with gas. Never let it go below a half tank when threatening weather exists.
    1. Pay attention to officials and evacuate when suggested. Those who linger are the ones who find themselves in trouble.
  • The American Red Cross has multiple apps for iOS and Android with directions to mobile-apps-emergencylocal shelters, emergency first aid instructions and weather-related specifics. Download them to your phone now in case your wireless goes out later.
  • Simulate an emergency some weekend. Make sure your “Go Kit” fits in the car and spend a night away somewhere. Make a list of those things you wish you had included.
  • When you get home, make the changes and you’ll be ready in the event an emergency occurs.
  • Share your experience with other family and friends who don’t live with you.

Congratulations! You’ve just avoided the “could of – should of” syndrome and your family will be ready should an emergency strike.

Having worked in many emergency shelters, I know that those who were prepared are much better able to deal with the inconvenience of leaving their homes. Forgetting your wallet, your glasses or your medications just make the experience twice as stressful.

To learn more about how the Red Cross helps in emergencies, see these local and national articles. After you learn all that Red Cross does, hopefully you’ll want to make a donation.

Stay Safe This Summer

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is the unofficial start of summer when all of us will be enjoying the outdoors and sunshine. The American Red Cross wants everyone to have fun and offers 20 things you can do to be safe all summer long.

“Summer is finally on the way and many of us will travel, grill delicious food and cool off in the pool or at the beach,” said Mike Parks, Chief Executive Officer for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “We want everyone to enjoy the summer and be safe at the same time, so we are offering these 20 safety tips people should follow.”

DRIVING SAFETY

  1. Be well rested and alert, use seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. Clean your headlights and turn them on as dusk approaches or in inclement weather.
  2. Don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver available.
  1. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones. 
  2. Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways.
  3. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.

WATER SAFETY

man wearing blue shorts performing back flip over body of water

Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

  1. Ensure that everyone in the family becomes water competent. That is, learn to swim well, know your limitations and how to recognize and avoid hazards, and understand how to help prevent and respond to emergencies around water.
  2. Adults should actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. Kids should follow the rules.
  3. Fence your pool in with four-sided fencing that is at least four-feet in height and use self-closing, self-latching gates.
  4. Wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level.
  5. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. If in a location with no lifeguards, such as a residential pool, designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on children in and around the water.

BEACH SAFETY

group of people playing on the beach

Photo by Archie Binamira on Pexels.com

  1. If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool. Be sure you have the skills for these environments. 
  2. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.
  3. Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. Know your limitations and make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  4. Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
  5. If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

 GRILLING SAFETY

charcoal grill with sausage

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  2. Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  3. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

apps

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

Let the Annual Weather Games Begin

May the forecast be ever in your favor….

If you like snow and cold, you are REALLY in luck this week. According to our partners at the Weather Channel, Northeast Ohio is in for some outstanding winter weather with snow giving way to freezing temperatures and then back to an icy, wintery mix over the next 10 days.

But we’ll leave the forecasting to the professionals.

Let’s chat about some things that you and your family can do to prepare for the winter weather that is upon us. But first, please remember your friends and neighbors – especially those who may have functional or access needs – and check on them. Help them get prepared as well, if you are able!

m16540227_wintershoveling

2016 Hurricane Season Kicks Off Early

On January 17, 2016 the first hurricane of the season dissipated over the Labrador Sea.

The big question is: Did you even know there was a Hurricane raging over the Atlantic?

On January 14, Hurricane Alex became the first hurricane to form during the month of January since 1938. It originated seven days earlier as an extratropical cyclone near the Bahamas and moved north. It peaked as a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale with winds of 85 mph. After weakening slightly, Alex made landfall on Terceira Island as a tropical storm a week later.

Luckily, this rare January hurricane did little damage.

But it does make you think about getting prepared, because you just never know when an emergency situation will creep up!

One really easy way to cover your bases when it comes to preparedness is to download the Red Cross Emergency App. Not only will the app alert you to any hurricanes in your area (based on your phone’s GPS coordinates), it can help you prepare for winter’s worst (which is definitely more pressing to northeast Ohio!)

Visit www.redcross.org/apps or search for RED CROSS in your device’s app store today.

Everything You Need to Know in New All-in-One Red Cross Emergency App

The new, all-inclusive Emergency App from the American Red Cross provides people with instant access to emergency alerts, life-saving information, and ways to contact family and friends in one free, easy-to-use app for smart phones and tablets.Emergency App

The Emergency App is a single ‘go-to’ source for everything from home fires to hurricanes. It includes content from a group of award-winning Red Cross apps with additional information about what to do in case of 14 different types of emergencies and disasters. Users can customize more than 35 emergency alerts based on their location and where loved ones live.

The app includes a new featured called “Family Safe” that allows the app user to notify loved ones who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster. The recipient can instantly see the alert details as well as specific “what to do now” steps, and then respond with either “I’m safe” or “I’m not safe.” This feature works even if the recipient has not downloaded the Emergency App. In addition to smartphones and tablets, this feature will be available on the new Apple Watch and can be downloaded from the Apple Watch App Store starting April 24.

Other important features include:

  • Emergency first aid information for situations such as heart attacks, heat-related emergencies as well as water safety information;
  • Preloaded content so users can access guidance from Red Cross experts even without mobile connectivity;
  • A single map with open Red Cross shelter locations and weather information;
  • A home fire section with detailed prevention and safety tips as well as Red Cross “After the Fire” information;
  • “Make a Plan” feature to help families plan what to do and where to go if a disaster strikes; and
  • The ability to easily toggle between English and Spanish.

The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Red Cross apps have been downloaded more than 6 million times and nearly 400 million alerts have been sent since the launch of the first app in 2012. While apps can help prepare someone for disasters, it’s important to note that they are not substitutes for training. People can take Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED courses so they’ll know what to do in case help is delayed. They can get information and register at redcross.org/TakeAClass.