Monthly Archives: July 2016

Adult vigilance, safety tips, swimming lessons and our swim app can help reduce drowning

Temperatures are up and vacation season is here, which means thousands of families will be headed to their favorite beach, pool or lake to cool off this summer. Swimming is a great way to beat the heat, but constant, active adult supervision and ensuring that everyone learns to swim is critical for preventing injuries and drownings.

Unfortunately, adults and children lose their lives in the water every summer. Approximately ten people die from unintentional drowning every day, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also the leading cause of injury deaths for children between one and four.

Basic water safety skills, adult vigilance and swimming lessons can prevent these tragedies. Making good choices around the water can be the difference between life and death, and the American Red Cross is keeping vigilant watch to ensure friends, family and neighbors swim safely this summer.

Follow these tips to make sure everyone stays safe around the water.

  1. Do your part, be water smart! Make sure your friends, family, children and neighbors know how to swim well.
  2. Enclose your outdoor pool with a four-sided, four-foot fence with a self-latching gate.
  3. Always wear a life vest when you’re on a boat or in a situation beyond your swimming skill level. Even though water wings and inflatable toys are fun for children, they do not count as effective life vests.
  4. Always go swimming with a buddy in front of an area that lifeguards watch.
  5. During emergency situations, know when to call 911. Know how to do CPR. When someone is in trouble, know how you can help without putting yourself in danger.

Water Competency: More than half of Americans either can’t swim or don’t have basic swimming skills, according to a survey conducted by The American Red Cross. To prevent accidents and injuries while swimming, we recommend learning these basic water competency skills. These exercises are performed sequentially, and include the following:

  1. Jump or step into water that’s over your head.
  2. Return to the surface. Tread water for one minute.
  3. Rotate in a full circle before finding an exit.
  4. Swim 25 yards towards the exit.
  5. Leave the water. If you’re in a pool, be able to exit without using your ladder.

Make sure you can swim well enough to perform each of these skills. If you or a family member cannot, find a Red Cross Learn-to-Swim class in your area to improve.

The Red Cross swim lessons teach people water safety behaviors and skills to help them feel comfortable and safe when around water. To find age-appropriate Learn-to-Swim and water-orientation programs, contact your local aquatic facility and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs. You can also visit

Swim App: Our Swim App helps parents teach children how to swim. It also promotes the importance of water safety education with kid-friendly features like games, quizzes and videos. This app can be downloaded for free in their app store or at

Home Pool Essentials Course: Together, the American Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation developed an online safety course for hot tub and pool owners. Home Pool Essentials teaches people about the risks surrounding pool ownership, preventing pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, maintaining a safer and cleaner pool, appropriate safety equipment and how to respond during an emergency. Visit: for more information.

By: Meghan Garrity

Fireworks and backyard barbeques go hand-in-hand with Fourth of July. Millions look forward to the holiday’s festivities, and the American Red Cross wants to keep everyone is safe during the celebration.

Whether you’re driving to the beach or firing up the grill, follow these steps to enjoy your Fourth of July weekend safely.
Red Cross Fireworks Safety
Everyone looks forward to watching fireworks pop on the Fourth of July. Professional firework displays at a public venue are the best way to enjoy the celebration, but if you’re lighting fireworks at home, here are some tips for doing so safely.

  1. Never give fireworks to children, and follow the instructions carefully on the packaging.
  2. Make sure a water supply is nearby.
  3. Always wear eye protection if you’re the one setting off fireworks.
  4. Set off one firework at a time.
  5. Do not try to relight a “dud” firework.
  6. Do not point or throw fireworks at vehicles, animals, people or anything flammable.

Red Cross Grilling Safety
When you fire up the grill this Fourth of July, safe grilling practices can prevent burns and injuries. Hundreds of people get hurt from coal and charcoal grills each year, but following these grilling procedures will ensure your backyard barbeque goes without a hitch.

  1. Someone should always watch the grill while it’s in use. Never leave it unsupervised.
  2. Do not grill inside a tent, house, camper or enclosed area of any kind.
  3. All pets and young children should keep a safe distance from the grill.
  4. Make sure your grill is a safe distance from your house, deck, trees or anything that could catch fire.
  5. When preparing food, use long-handled tools made for grilling to prevent burns and injuries.

Red Cross Highway Safety
Thousands of people have a favorite getaway spot for celebrating Fourth of July weekend. If you’re driving to the shore, the mountains or somewhere in your favorite city, the American Red Cross offers these five tips to help you drive safely on the highway.

  1. Observe all speed limits and make sure passengers buckle their seatbelts.
  2. Never drink and drive under any circumstances.
  3. Your eyes should be on the road at all times. Never make calls or texts on a cell phone while you’re behind the wheel.
  4. Proceed with caution when driving through construction and work zones.
  5. Make sure the lights and windows on your vehicle are clean. That way, the driver can see the road clearly when it’s dark out.
  6. Make sure your headlights are on when you’re driving at night or through inclement weather.

Red Cross Apps
The American Red Cross apps for iOS and Android provide emergency prevention and preparedness tips for home fires, injuries and more. Each can be downloaded for free in the app stores or at

The Red Cross Emergency App offers tips on home fire prevention and steps outlining what to do if one occurs. A Family Safe feature is also included with the app, and can help you stay in touch with loved ones during disasters both big and small.

Our Monster Guard: Prepare For Emergencies App is a great tool for educating children about home fire prevention and other emergencies. With the app’s fun, gaming environment, children learn how to avoid emergencies by earning points and incentives.

The American Red Cross First Aid App offers expert advice to treat broken bones, burns, cardiac and breathing emergencies.

What You Can Do
Visit to find out how you can prevent, prepare and protect yourself from home fire. To become a volunteer or find the location of a smoke alarm installation event, contact the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region.

You can also visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS to make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can also text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Your donation to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare, respond to, and help people respond to emergencies big and small across the country. The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters annually, including wildfires, home fires and more. To find out how past donations have helped American Red Cross Disaster Relief, visit

Team work. Forward thinking.  Understanding personalities.  These were all phrases that regional disaster staff used when describing what they learned from the disaster course they participated in over the past two days, called Leadership Development Training.  This course was designed to teach participants to approach a disaster by developing progressive strategies throughout a relief operation, while not only anticipating what the next move is, but then how to act, while making decisions as a team.

disaster staff

The interesting aspect of this training is how it is presented.  It’s often compared to Monopoly, consisting of a large game board and play pieces that represent resources, both human and material.  Given a realistic scenario the group was tasked to make decisions on allocating these resources based on what they perceive may happen during a disaster relief operation, often times making judgement calls without all the information.  The event they were given spanned over eight days with various situations.  The group had to work together to make sure the clients and communities that were affected from the disaster, were appropriately helped through response and into recovery, while at the same time following a budget.

Disaster staff 2

The disaster department is comprised of unique staff.  They range from a few months in their role to over 25 years of experience.  They bring different educational backgrounds, career paths, perspectives and ideas from all over the region from Philadelphia to Scranton and beyond.  Each would describe themselves differently in how they learn, how they communicate, or how they interact with others.  However, despite the diversity, over the two days one thing was evident- they were a team.   They worked seamlessly together, talking through decisions and possible outcomes while role playing in activities that were outside their comfort.  In the end, successfully played, all were winners.

More often than not, the job of any disaster staff is strenuous and consuming.  But every day they work together towards the same mission.  Through their teamwork, they will be successful.  They can tackle the impossible when they work together. Judge Renee Hughes, the Regional CEO of the Eastern PA Region, often quotes the great athlete, Muhammad Ali, “…Impossible is not a fact.  It’s an opinion.  Impossible is not a declaration.  It’s a dare.  Impossible is potential.  Impossible is temporary.  Impossible is nothing.”  As a team, they can get through anything.  They are continuing to learn, train and better prepare for when the time comes.  They are the Eastern Pennsylvania Region, Disaster Staff.


Situated close to the center of the Eastern Pennsylvania Region is Schuylkill County, a large footprint of once coal mining towns that still permeate the landscape.  Some would call it a very unassuming area, but residents there are proud to call themselves “Skooks.”

Over the years, Schuylkill County has suffered many house fires, from single family homes to large row homes, ignited and brought to the ground.  Sadly, fatalities from fires have also occurred throughout this footprint.

As part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, we have been diligently scheduling smoke alarm installation events in conjunction with preparedness fire safety education throughout the region.  This campaign has been the forefront in our fight to reduce these fire deaths and injuries not only in our region, but across the country.

The Red Cross held two smoke alarm installation events previously in Schuylkill County, one in Shenandoah and the other in Pottsville.  Typical partnerships include local emergency management, along with the local fire departments and other local organizations that want to participate in the initiative. Prior event partnerships have included United Way during the United Way Day of Caring.

On Monday, June 28th another event was conducted in Pottsville.  This impromptu event was set into motion after another fire fatality occurred in Pottsville the previous week.  The home where the fire occurred did not have smoke alarms which highlights the importance of this program even more.

During this event, Red Cross partnered with Mountain Home Restoration.  51 smoke alarms were successfully installed throughout the day.  More of the community has been educated on the importance of fire escape plans and fire safety information.

Executive Director of the Tri-County Chapter of the American Red Cross Adrian Grieve stated, “Mountain Home Restoration really sees the importance of this program and stepped up to provide financial support.  Some of their staff assisted with installs and provided lunch for all who attended.  They have also committed to support the next install event in October.”

As a region, we look forward to continuing the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, working through old-fashioned neighbor-to-neighbor outreach.  Through this method and with our community partners, we will save lives, reduce injuries, and cut down on needless losses.

Smoke alarm (002)

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer and helping with the program, visit: and find your local chapter.