Red Cross Issues Tips to Keep You Safe This 4th of July

 Throughout the Fourth of July week, many people will be traveling, firing-up the backyard grill or enjoying fireworks, and the American Red Cross offers a series of steps everyone can follow to safely enjoy the holiday.

FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting fireworks off at home:

1. Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
5. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook treats for the backyard barbecue:

1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the 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.

signsHIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways throughout the Fourth of July week. The Red Cross offers five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:

1. Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
2. Do not drink and drive.
3. Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
4. Use caution in work zones.
5. Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn theheadlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.

DOWNLOAD OUR FREE FIRST AID APP  PHSS_FIrstAid_IMGv1-JH

The Red Cross has a free Red Cross First Aid App to put expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips. The app is available for smart phones and tablets and can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July!

Pet Safety from Bandit the Prepared Pug – Eye Emergencies

Bandit the Prepared Pug made his debut back in September, and he is back with additional safety tips for Pet Owners, that he found useful after downloading the new Red Cross Pet First Aid App.

IMG_20140312_183059Eye Emergencies

By Bandit the Prepared Pug:

These sunglasses are not just for looks. As a pug, my eyes are more susceptible to issues than most dogs so I have to protect them more (my mom gets worried when I bring her a stick). She downloaded the Red Cross Pet Safety app to know the signs of trouble: red, cloudy, have a discharge, or holding my eye closed or squinting. I am just hoping my eye never comes out of my socket (she learned to keep it moist using a sterile eye wash).

To learn more about eye emergencies and other pet safety tips, download the app directly from the iTunes, Google Play or Amazon Marketplace app stores.

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American Red Cross New Flood App Can Save Lives

By Jody Weyers, Director of Volunteers and Communications, Northeast Wisconsin

So many people, with all their belongs on the curb. So very sad to see everything these people worked for destroyed.

So many people, with all their belongings on the curb. So very sad to see everything these people worked for destroyed.

September 2013, I saw first-hand the devastation that can happen from flooding and flash floods. I was deployed to Denver, Colorado to assist in Disaster Public Affairs and worked with a professional photographer and his assistant.

We talked directly with the clients impacted and over and over, I heard the same stories of how fast the water came rushing up to their homes and they barely had enough time to escape or had to be rescued. I also saw the devastation all around from roads buckled from the rushing waters, to parks once filled with children playing, that now looked like lakes, to seeing water up to the steps of homes.

I was there when one family was going back into their home for the first time after five days to see if there was anything worth salvaging. You could see the water-line up to the middle of the garage door. We had breathing masks on because of the mold and mildew that set in after the flood waters had receded. The floor was covered with brown silt. These are just some of the images that will remain with me when I think of flooding.

(click HERE to read in more detail about my Colorado deployment)

Did you know that floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States? The American Red Cross developed its new Flood App to help save lives and reduce losses from floods and flash floods.

This free app gives iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a flood. The content is available in English and Spanish based on the user’s language settings on their mobile device.

FloodScreenShot2The app includes location-based, audible NOAA flood and flash flood watches and warnings – even if the app is closed. Other features include:

  • One-touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to send a message letting family and friends know that they are out of harm’s way;
  • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps, even without mobile connectivity;
  • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm to let others know where you are;
  • Locations of open Red Cross shelters;
  • Real-time recovery resources for returning home and cleaning up; and
  • Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks.

The app is the latest in the series of Red Cross emergency preparedness apps that put lifesaving information right in the hands of people whenever and wherever they need it. The expert advice in Red Cross apps, which also include apps for First Aid, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and other services, has been used to help save lives during disasters and medical emergencies. Red Cross apps have been downloaded on nearly 4 million mobile devices.

The Flood App, along with the others, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit redcross.org/takeaclass for course information and to register.

American Red Cross Issues New Pet First Aid App

Pets are an important part of many families, and a new Red Cross Pet First Aid App puts lifesaving information right in the hands of dog and cat owners so they can provide emergency care until veterinary assistance is available.

The 99 cent Pet First Aid app gives iPhone and Android smart phone users instant access to expert information so they learn how to maintain their pet’s health and what to do during emergencies. Pet owners learn how to recognize health problems and when to contact their veterinarian. The Pet First Aid App provides step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies. Additional topics include burns, car accidents, falls and what to do for cold- and heat-related emergencies.

Other features in the app allow pet owners to:

•Create a pet profile including tag identification number, photos, list of medications and instructions.

•Use the list of early warning signs to learn when to call their veterinarian.

•Use “click-to-call” to contact their veterinarian.

•Find emergency pet care facilities or alternate veterinarians with the “animal hospital locator.”

•Locate pet-friendly hotels.

•Test their knowledge with interactive quizzes and earn badges that they can share on their social networks along with their favorite picture of their pet.

History shows that people have not evacuated during disasters because they did not want to leave their pets behind. The Red Cross app contains resources to help owners include pets in their emergency action plans. Pet owners may also take a Red Cross Pet First Aid course so they can practice the skills and receive feedback. People can go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register. The Red Cross has made great strides in making emergency information available whenever and wherever people need it. The Pet First Aid App and other Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapp.

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Ways to Prepare in Propane Shortage that has affected Wisconsin & Upper Michigan

propaneGovernor Scott Walker declared a State of Emergency on Saturday, January 25th in response to the propane shortage impacting Wisconsin, and in advance of the dangerously cold temperatures expected to move across the state in the upcoming week.

All state agencies have been directed to be on alert and assist as needed.

“The health and safety of our citizens is our number one priority and this declaration gives us the necessary resources to protect the residents of Wisconsin,” said Gov. Walker. “I will do everything I can within my power to help our friends and loved ones relying on propane to heat their homes or businesses during this challenging situation.”

The propane supply shortage in the upper Midwest has caused delivery delays and reduced delivery amounts for propane customers in Wisconsin, as well as all Midwestern states.

Experts say the propane shortage has been caused by unusually cold winter temperatures, the temporary closure of a major pipeline that supplies propane to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, and a wet fall season which increased propane demand for grain drying.

About 250,000 Wisconsin residents use propane to heat their homes or businesses. Residents are being urged to check on friends, neighbors and loved ones during extreme cold weather to make sure everyone has a warm place to stay.

“The American Red Cross is working with the County Emergency Managers and Public Health Departments in the counties heavily impacted by the propane shortage,” said Doreen Martinez, Regional Disaster Program Officer.  “We are preparing our organization to assist with supporting the community and assuring no one is left out in the cold or living in a dangerous situation. We are coordinating our activities with county officials”.

Here are some additional tips you can follow to conserve your propane use:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Turn the furnace lower at night or when there is no one home
  • Use cold water when washing clothes
  • Wear wool
  • Dress in layers, wear thicker clothes
  • Wear socks or slippers
  • Leave the oven open after you bake
  • Open curtains and blinds during the day to let the sun in
  • Close curtains and blinds at night to keep out the cold
  • Use a humidifier. Humid air feels warmer
  • Shut bathroom fans off as quickly as possible to prevent heat loss
  • Run ceiling fans in reverse to push warm air back down to the ground
  • Use rugs on bare floors
  • Block drafts with weather stripping, rolled up towels or homemade draftstoppers
  • Keep your fireplace flue closed when you don’t have a fire to prevent unnecessary heat loss
  • Make sure heat vents, registers and radiators are free of obstructions. If they’re covered with furniture, the warm air won’t reach you – even though you’ve paid for it

Red Cross Promotes Fire Safety with MLK Day Service Project

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With home fires as the biggest disaster threat facing families in Northeast Wisconsin and the Michigan Border communities, the American Red Cross, multiple fire department, State Farm agents, Girl Scouts, and several other groups will be going door-to-door in local neighborhoods on Saturday, January 18th and Monday, January 20th to discuss fire safety with residents and to distribute fire safety information.

This collaborative fire safety outreach is being done in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service  @MLKDay  in which community partners are making our communities safer.  Red Cross teams are meeting at central locations  for the orientation, receive route maps (targeting neighborhoods with the highest numbers of fires) The event will wrap-up around noon. Additional volunteers may contact Lisa.Stanchfield@redcross.org or 920-922-3450 to participate.

Participating cities include and pre-arranged groups include, in addition to Red Cross responders are: Freedom, Green Bay, Hortonville, Montello, New London, Watertown, Waupun & West Bend. Additional locations with special notes include: 

  • Fond du Lac – Fire Department & Girls Scouts
  • Kaukauna – State Farm agent & Fire Department
  • Mayville – 1:00 – 3:00p.m. with the fire department & State Farm
  • Ripon – 9:00a.m. Beckie Pinnow’s Girl Scout Troop tours the Fire Station & canvass
  • Green Bay – Partnering with Green Bay fire and other local businesses distribution on January 20th
  • Waupaca – Partnering with Fresh State program distribution on January 20th

In the past year, our local Red Cross Chapter has provided food, shelter, comfort and hope at 182 separate disasters with the vast majority being residential fires. Although each disaster situation is different, we provided financial assistance to 795 individuals with additional support for emergency basic needs such as food, shelter, hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, infant supplies and clothing along with health and emotional support as they begin the recovery process. A few larger disasters of note include the downtown Ripon Fire, several tornadoes & Hilltop Apartment fire in Allouez and 51 people were displaced in the Howard fire. Sadly, fires have been fatal as well.

“Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires by half,” stated Steve Hansen, the local Chapter Executive, “To honor the legacy of service of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we are working together to educate the community by providing vital information on fire safety and the importance of maintaining working smoke alarms.”

Red Cross staff & volunteers, along with partners from multiple fire departments, Girl Scouts and State Farm agents, to name a few community partners, are going door-to-door to talk with residents about fire safety and hand-out fire safety door hangers in English and Spanish with information on smoke alarms, creating an escape plan and cooking and heating safely at home.

When a home fire or other disaster occurs, the Red Cross provides food, shelter, comfort and hope to meet the immediate needs of those affected. People can support those in the local community affected by home fires by making a donation to the local Red Cross by going to redcross.org/donate or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Those wishing to learn more about home fire safety should visit redcross.org.

Pets and Disaster

Thank you to all the staff at Countrycare Animal Complex for our support. and delivery of these much needed kits.

Thank you to all the staff at Countrycare Animal Complex for our support. and delivery of these much needed kits.

Pets enrich our lives in more ways than we can count. They are members of the family. In turn, they depend on us for their safety and well-being.

When Red Cross responders are at residential fires or other disaster our priority is to take care of people. When you have an emergency plan for your pets, (link to arc info) we are truly ensuring their well-being, security and safety too. Having identified the resources and having adequate equipment will help your family care for pets and provide peace of mind during a very stressful situation. Just think of the comfort and compassion your pet will feel when you are prepared!

It’s also through partnerships like ours with the Countrycare Animal Complex, in Green Bay, who has provided emergency pet support. They learned how our responders work with clients and often times they do not have a plan for their pets. Therefore, they supplied us with 100 dog and cat kits to be used in disaster situations. We were surprised when they were all distributed so quickly that they provided another 100 kits. The box kits carry supplies and it can also be used as a carrier for small animals.

  • The dog kit contains: food, bowl, toy, blanket and a leash.
  • The cat kit contains: food, bowl, toy, blanket, litter and  litter box.

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Nancy Mirhashemi, a Red Cross responder, has presented these kits to disaster clients. “They families are always so appreciative. We’re very fortunate to have the Countrycare Animal Complex as our partner so together we can provide comfort and support to the pets and people impacted by a disaster.”

Countrycare is raising funds for the next 100 emergency kits. Please contact them for details on how you can help at (920) 863-3220 and www.countrycareac.com

Red Cross Responds, Offers Safety Steps As Bitter Temperatures Cover Much of U.S.

cold-thermometerThe American Red Cross is helping people impacted by the frigid cold air covering two-thirds of the country, and offers steps people can take to stay safe during this dangerous weather.

Red Cross workers are opening shelters and warming centers for people affected by the extreme cold, and working with local emergency officials to respond if needed as the cold weather moves to the east. Officials report as many as 117 million people are living under dangerous wind chill warnings, advisories and watches.

Sunday night 280 people stayed in 19 shelters in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts because of the weather. The Red Cross has helped people in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts since the current winter onslaught began last week.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The bitterly cold weather has already caused the cancellation of nearly 125 Red Cross blood drives in 17 states, resulting in almost 4,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Despite the weather, hospital patients across the country will still need blood. Please consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets when it is safe to do so in your area.

You can make an appointment to give blood online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.

COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS As this latest outbreak of cold air moves across the country, people could experience wind chills as cold as 60 degrees below zero in some areas. To stay safe during this dangerous weather, follow these steps:

  • Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
  • Someone should seek medical attention immediately if they have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
  • Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
  •  Don’t forget family pets – bring them indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Avoid frozen pipes – run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
  • Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing pipes.
  • Download the Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores.

HOME FIRE RISK INCREASES DURING COLD Red Cross workers are also responding to numerous home fires across the country. During extremely cold weather, the risk for a fire in someone’s home can increase. To avoid fire danger, you should remember the following:

  • Never use a stove or oven to heat the home.
  • If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  • Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment someone wants to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

What’s Included in Your Vehicle Winter Preparedness Kit?

m8540166_167x82-winter-storm-3The first day of winter is tomorrow but we are definitely getting hit with lots of snow already. Do you have all of the emergency essentials in your car? Having a vehicle emergency kit available is a great way to prepare for any road or winter emergencies. Also, most kits come in convenient sizes to fit in the glove box. Safety should always be the first priority. It’s recommended to avoid the roads, if necessarily. If you have to drive, be cautious; make sure to buckle up and have a full tank of gas also.

The American Red Cross has a list of essentials that should be included in your Vehicle Winter Preparedness Kit:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cell Phone Car Charger
  • Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  • Fleece Hat, Gloves, Scarf
  • Flares
  • Folding Shovel
  • Sand or Cat Litter
  • Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Small battery-operated radio
  • Emergency contact card with names and phone numbers
  • Extra prescription medications
  • Bottled Water
  • High protein snacks
  • Maps
  • Whistle

There are two already-made kits available for purchase on redcross.orgItemImage_580_7193

  • Automobile first-aid zip kit. For $10.00, the kit includes an assortment of bandages, gauze, antiseptic, insect relief pads, sunscreen and sanitizer.
  • Personal Safety Emergency Pack. For $11.00, the kit includes emergency blanket, drinking water, emergency poncho, light stick, whistle, mini first-aid kit and mask.

Know the Difference

  • Winter Storm Outlook: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.
  • Winter Storm Watch: Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
  • Winter Storm Warning: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin with 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

Here is a checklist of precautions you can take during this wintery weather! Also for more information on disasters and emergency preparedness, visit redcross.org.

Red Cross Issues Safety Tips to Prevent Holiday Home Fires

The American Red Cross urges residents to take extra precautions with cooking and decorating around the holidays as they are leading causes of home fires.

Fire department on scene of the Ripon Downtown fire displacing 26 people. (photo courtesy WBAY facebook page)

Fire department on scene of the December 11, 2013 Ripon Downtown fire displacing 26 people. (photo courtesy WBAY facebook page)

Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving are the top three days for cooking fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. In the winter, additional fires are caused as people are entertaining, running space heaters, building fires and stringing holiday lights.  “We’re urging everyone to take extra safety measures to ensure their homes and loved ones are safe,” said Steve Hansen, Chief Operating Officer. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster on average every eight minutes, and the vast majority of them are home fires.

“Within our 28-county region, we have responded to more than 30 fires just since Thanksgiving!” he concluded.

The Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can follow to prevent home fires around the holidays:

Holiday Entertaining

  • Test your smoke alarms.
  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” in the cooking area and make children stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stove, oven or any appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to receive training on the proper use of extinguishers.

Holiday Decorating

  • Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some strings of lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep decorations away from windows and doors.

People can test their knowledge on how to prevent home fires by taking the Fire Safety Quiz, and can learn more about fire prevention by visiting redcross.org.

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