Archive

Preparedness

By: Caitlin McLafferty

One of the most essential tools to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus is a mask. Many coronavirus patients show no symptoms of the virus – however, they are still able to infect others. A mask helps reduce the spread of the corona virus across communities and can help protect those we love most. The Red Cross also encourages mask-wearing as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Face Coverings - What to Look for Illustration

In a July 14 press release, Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield stated, “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Dr. Redfield’s statement is supported by previous studies from the SARS outbreak. “Universal Masking to Prevent SARS COVID 2 Transmission-The Time Is Now,” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that, “the more individuals wear cloth face coverings in public places where they may be close together, the more the entire community is protected.”

The evidence for wearing a mask is clear, but for some there is some confusion on what type of mask is recommended.

In the clinical setting, N95 respirators are used for healthcare providers to treat coronavirus patients. Surgical masks are disposable and filter large particles, but are not as tight fitting as N95 masks, which filter 95% of large particles.

In community settings, cloth masks are recommended since they stop the virus from spreading to others through droplets. Therefore, a mask should be worn to cover one’s nose and mouth. When the mask is not covering both the nose and the mouth, the mask cannot serve as a barrier to prevent droplets from spreading. Masks should consist of multiple layers to help filter droplets and particles. According to The University of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Health and Radiation Safety website, masks that have valves are not recommended since the mask does not prevent air from escaping the mask, hence defeating the purpose of wearing a mask.

It is not recommended to touch a mask while it is being worn, and if a mask needs to be touched, hands should be washed before and after adjustment. The Mayo Clinic recommends washing a mask with soap and water or even in the washing machine.



Together through social distancing, frequent hand washing, and cloth masks can drastically reduce community infection rates. The CDC, governor’s offices across the U.S., well-known research universities, and leading hospitals are constantly updating their sites with the latest information. By staying updated on leading information, everyone can do their part to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

By: Marta Rusek

As a former Girl Scout, Peace Corps Volunteer, and current Red Crosser, I can tell you that being prepared is a major asset. You never know when disaster may strike and taking steps to prepare yourself and your loved ones in advance can save you time and stress, especially if you need to evacuate your home in a hurry.


July 16, 2020. Shoreline, Washington. A 10-year-old student participates in a virtual presentation of the Pillowcase Project. Photo by Betsy Robertson/American Red Cross

The Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania also understands how essential disaster preparation is, which is why we’ve adapted our emergency preparedness programming for individuals and families into virtual event offerings. These programs, which are completely FREE, include:

The Pillowcase Project for young people in third to fifth grades
Be Red Cross Ready preparedness presentations, for participants age 18 and up

“All preparedness programs teach the audience about how to be better prepared for a natural disaster/emergency,” Regional Preparedness Manager Heather Bowman told me recently via email. “Audience members will learn that being prepared is not hard, time-consuming, or costly. With a few steps, individuals and families can be better prepared, just in case.”



The presentations are offered on multiple platforms to create as many disaster preparedness experts as possible, including Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx.

The Pillowcase Project, a program inspired by college students in New Orleans who carried their possessions in pillowcases during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, will teach students virtually about disaster preparedness using an interactive “Learn, Practice, Share” format. Students will learn about a locally relevant hazard and then how to prepare themselves practically (like what to pack if you and your family are evacuated) and how to stay calm and resilient in the face of fear. The Pillowcase Project is available in 40- or 60-minute programs. Teachers who want to learn more about the Pillowcase Project and request a training are encouraged to contact Heather Bowman at Heather.bowman@redcross.org.

Be Red Cross Ready was created to teach community members about different kinds of disasters as well as how to prepare for them and respond to them if they happen. This month, in honor of National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania is offering six virtual sessions (including three shortened lunchtime sessions):

• September 8 – 12noon EST (30-minute lunchtime lesson)
• September 9 – 2:00pm EST (1 hour)
• September 16 – 12noon EST (30-minute lunchtime lesson)
• September 17 – 2:00pm EST (1 hour)
• September 22 – 11:00am EST (1 hour)
• September 24 – 12noon EST (30-minute lunchtime lesson)

July 17, 2020. Shoreline, Washington. This 9-year-old student was among the first to participate in online Pillowcase Preparedness course. Photo by Shonda Ballard/American Red Cross

For community members who are accustomed to in-person training and concerned about the new web-based format, Bowman says not to worry. “We still deliver high quality, interactive programs, that are age specific to our audience. Participants familiar with our preparedness programs may notice slight adaptations, but the message is still the same.”

If you’re ready to become a Preparedness Champion (and be a resource to your friends and family when they run into emergencies of any size), RSVP to one of our Be Red Cross Ready events here.

Home fires kill seven people everyday. Fire Prevention Week begins October 7, and the American Red Cross reminds everyone to take two simple steps – practice fire drills at home and test smoke alarms monthly – to stay safe from the nation’s most frequent and deadliest disaster.

On average, seven people die every day from home fires, which take more lives each year than all other natural disasters combined in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association. But working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half.

That’s why the Red Cross is working with community partners to install free smoke alarms, help families create home fire escape plans, and provide public fire prevention and safety resources through its Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide effort to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries. Since the campaign began in October 2014, it’s reached more than 1.6 million people and is credited with saving 472 lives nationwide.

Sound the Alarm North Carolina 2018

CTSY Adam Jennings/American Red Cross

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

Experts say that today’s home fires burn faster than ever, leaving people with only as little as two minutes to escape a burning residence. But many mistakenly believe they have more time, according to a Red Cross survey last year. During Fire Prevention Week, the Red Cross urges everyone to take these lifesaving steps:

  • Develop a fire escape plan with everyone in your household and practice it at least twice a year. Need help with your plan? Use these free Home Fire Campaign resources.
  • Install smoke alarms in your home, on every level and outside each sleeping area. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year if required.
  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what they should do if they hear one.
  • Make sure all household members know two ways to escape from every room.
  • Establish a family meeting spot outside.

Written by Grave Nava

The Red Cross has an app for that! In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, access to information and the ability to connect to loved ones is critically important.  We are reviewing American Red Cross apps that would be most useful in an emergency like Hurricane Florence. Considering there are so many, it’s tough to narrow it down. But in a case like Florence, these apps offer you the tools and preparedness info you need.

Emergency App

This all-inclusive app lets you monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts, to help keep you and your loved ones safe. This latest app from the Red Cross provides information about what to do in case of floods, thunderstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires and more. The emergency alerts are available for the user’s location and to monitor where friends and family live. A single map provides open Red Cross shelter locations and weather information.

Emergency users can easily toggle between English and Spanish. Information is included on emergency first aid for situations such as heat-related emergencies and water safety for lakes and beaches. The app also covers what to do in emergencies that affect a large area, such as mudslides and snow storms.

“I’m safe” is another unique feature of the emergency app that allows people to see if loved ones are okay. You can notify friends and family of your condition and location through text message, email, Facebook and Twitter.

Pet First Aid

Our pets are part of our families and getting help for them is crucial in the event of an emergency. However, a veterinary is not always accessible when needed. This app fills the gap until the pet can be taken to the vet.

The main features include:

  • Convenient toggle between cat and dog content.
  • First aid steps for over 25 common pet situations.
  • Step-by-step instructions that include text, illustrations, videos, plus interactive quizzes for easy learning.
  • Storage for veterinary contact info for easy access.
  • A list of common toxic substances.
  • Help to locate the nearest emergency vet hospital or pet-friendly hotels.

A must for every pet lover!

First Aid

This is one of the most recognized American Red Cross apps and puts free and simple lifesaving information at your fingertips.

This app gives instant access to information on how to handle the most common first aid situations, taking critical first aid information normally stored on bookshelves and in pamphlets and places it at the fingertips of millions of individuals – in order to help save lives.

Videos and interactive quizzes are also part of the app. Users who take quizzes can earn badges they can share with friends through social media to show off their lifesaving knowledge.

First Aid App features include:

  • Simple step-by-step instructions for everyday first aid scenarios
  • Prioritized steps to take during an emergency, with a 9-1-1 call button
  • Sharable badges to be unlocked through interactive quizzes
  • Videos and animations to make learning first aid fun and easy
  • Safety and preparedness tips for a range of severe weather
  • Preloaded content that gives instant access to all safety information at any time.

The content is available in English and in Spanish. Downloading the app is not a substitute for first aid training but instead can be used in conjunction with training.

Hero Care

Can you imagine being away from your loved ones serving in the Armed Forces without being able to get hold of them? The American Red Cross has the solution: Hero Care. This is a free app designed to keep current members and veterans of the Armed Forces in touch with their family members. It allows emergency and non-emergency communication to reach either side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. The current version allows for only one service member, but additional members can be added over the phone 24/7/365 by calling the Hero Care Center at 877-272-7337. In addition to being a great tool to stay in touch with loved ones, it also provides useful information such as behavioral health assistance, local organizations serving veterans and active duty service men and women, and other valuable resources. The app is available in English and Spanish.

Download any of the FREE Red Cross Mobile Apps today, in the Apple App Store or in Google Play.

 

September is National Preparedness Month, the perfect time to get your household ready for an emergency. The American Red Cross Eastern PA urges everyone to make sure they are prepared for a disaster and not wait until an emergency occurs and it’s too late.

“This is the time of year when hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other large disasters can happen,” said Guy Triano, CEO of Red Cross Eastern PA region “You should take steps now to be ready if an emergency occurs. It’s critical that all members of your household know what to do.”

BE READY TO EVACUATE Whether the emergency is a home fire or something bigger like a hurricane, the situation may force you to leave your home. There are ten steps you can take now to be prepared if the emergency makes it unsafe to remain at home:

  1. Follow the instructions of officials and evacuate if told to do so.
  2. Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  3. Remember you may have to get out on foot depending on the type of disaster. If you don’t have a car, or can’t use your vehicle, plan on how you will leave the area.
  4. If you have a car, keep the gas tank full if an evacuation order is possible. Don’t let the tank go below half full in case gas stations are unable to pump gas.
  5. Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. This could be a motel, the home of a friend or relative a safe distance away, or an evacuation shelter. Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to find shelter information and weather and emergency alerts for more than 35 different situations.
  6. If you have time, let someone out of the region know you are evacuating and where you are going. Leave a note saying when you left and where you plan to go.
  7. Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection.
  8. Be alert for road hazards such as downed trees, flooding, etc. Do not drive onto a flooded road.
  9. Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Grab your emergency kit and drive your planned evacuation route. Include an alternate route in a different direction in case one is impassible. Make sure you have locations and maps saved on devices such as cell phones and GPS units and on paper.
  10. Don’t forget your pets. If it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for them either. Prepare a phone list of pet-friendly motels and animal shelters located along your evacuation route. Keep in mind only service animals are usually allowed in shelters

NPM

THREE EASY STEPS Getting prepared is easier than it sounds. There are three basic steps:

  • GET A KIT. 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. See full details here.
  • MAKE A PLAN. Have all members of your household help devise your emergency plan. Consider what emergencies could happen where you live; what to do if you are separated and how will you let loved ones know you are safe. Find full details and easy-to-use plan templates here.
  • BE INFORMED. Learn what disasters are common to your area. Find out how local authorities will let you know an emergency is happening. Make sure at least one household member is trained in first aid and CPR in case help is delayed during a disaster. You can also download the Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps to have instant access on how to handle common first aid emergencies. Learn how to get fully informed about emergencies here.

Written by Marquee Brown

Many people do not know the proper procedures for managing a crisis, which can result in injuries or death. The Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania sponsors Camp Save-A-Life each summer to teach kids ages 10 to 14 the proper way to handle disasters. The camp runs for seven weeks with a new group of campers every week. Participants become certified in CPR and First Aid while having fun and making new friends.

DSC_0759

The children were shy upon arrival the first day. That was short lived once the counselors started group games to get the campers comfortable. By lunchtime, the kids were formed into groups and conversing as though they’ve known each other for years. The camp counselors were engaged and passionate as well. Many have been leading the camp for years. When asked why they kept returning, every answer was the same- for the children, they enjoy watching them develop skills and get involved in activities. Each counselor had a story about the emotional impact of seeing kids take on new responsibilities.

The camp creates a fun and competitive environment by dividing the kids into groups of six, with relevant names like lightning, hurricane, fire, tornado, flood and earthquake. They even have a student of the week who receives a disaster preparedness backpack full of emergency tools on the last day of the program.

IMG_1502On the first day, the children were introduced to firemen of the Philadelphia Fire Department and taught how to use the hose on a fire truck. They are reminded to have an escape plan in case of fire at home.

Over the course of the week, the children were taught different kinds of disaster preparedness. Lesson modules included Military 101, Conflict Resolution, CPR, Disaster Preparedness, and First Aid. According to a study by the US Department of Homeland Security, sixty percent of Americans have not practiced what to do in the event of a disaster. The American Heart Association found that less than twenty percent of Americans are equipped to perform CPR in emergency situations. One can only imagine the number of injuries and lives that could be saved if everyone was properly informed. Camp Save-a-Life spreads this knowledge to youth who can take the lead in informing their friends and families.

For the camper, their parents and the camp counselors, being a part of the Save-a-Life program is an experience that is both fun and practical.

Written by Sam Antenucci

Imagine yourself in a disaster without power or internet. Finding out vital information would be next to impossible.  However, amateur radio – ‘Ham’ as its more commonly called—is a popular hobby that doubles as a way to send disaster messages without the need for internet. During a disaster when internet and power can go down, Ham radio acts as a lifeline in times of need.

Seeing the potential of Ham Radios in disaster scenarios, John Weaver, a Red Cross Disaster and Mental Health volunteer, has been advocating and pushing for more awareness of Ham radios and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) field day. Weaver says that “Field day is a chance to reach out to the community, practice for emergencies, enjoy informal contests, and most of all have fun!”

john Weaver

John (left) , Al (center) and Sean (right) from the Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Buck Chapter visited the 2018 Field Day sites. Using the Ham radio, they simulated emergency communication to an ARC volunteer in Texas.

With more than 40,000 attendees including Red Cross volunteers, the ARRL field day is easily the largest gathering of radio amateurs in the United States. During the ARRL field day, enthusiasts set up transmission stations throughout the Nation to showcase the service opportunities that the radios hold.

Ham radios work on a variety of frequencies for communications and can be set up anywhere in the world. Both Ham and non-Ham users can tune into their own receivers or radio scanners to listen to the broadcasts. Ham users utilize many frequency bands across the radio spectrum that have been given to them by the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) for amateur use.

Ham radios have often been utilized in the past by those wishing to aid in disaster services. For example, Amateur Radio Services helped New York City agencies keep in contact with one another during the 9/11 tragedy. Ham radio has also aided in rescues during Hurricane Katrina and helped in the disastrous flooding in Colorado in 2013.

radio

Volunteers participate in Ham Radio training at the 2018 Red Cross Disaster Institute

If Ham radios are something you might want to get involved with, you need to acquire an Amateur Radio license from the FCC and your own equipment. The Red Cross offers Ham training and encourages you to participate in the 2019 ARRL field day on June 22nd and 23rd . Save the date and we’ll see you there!

Written by Marquee Brown

Many people do not know the proper procedures for managing a crisis, which can result in injuries or death. The Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania sponsors Camp Save-A-Life each summer to teach kids ages 10 to 14 the proper way to handle disasters. The camp runs for seven weeks with a new group of campers every week. Participants become certified in CPR and First Aid while having fun and making new friends.

DSC_0759

The children were shy upon arrival the first day. That was short lived once the counselors started group games to get the campers comfortable. By lunchtime, the kids were formed into groups and conversing as though they’ve known each other for years. The camp counselors were engaged and passionate as well. Many have been leading the camp for years. When asked why they kept returning, every answer was the same- for the children, they enjoy watching them develop skills and get involved in activities. Each counselor had a story about the emotional impact of seeing kids take on new responsibilities.

The camp creates a fun and competitive environment by dividing the kids into groups of six, with relevant names like lightning, hurricane, fire, tornado, flood and earthquake. They even have a student of the week who receives a disaster preparedness backpack full of emergency tools on the last day of the program.

IMG_1502On the first day, the children were introduced to firemen of the Philadelphia Fire Department and taught how to use the hose on a fire truck. They are reminded to have an escape plan in case of fire at home.

Over the course of the week, the children were taught different kinds of disaster preparedness. Lesson modules included Military 101, Conflict Resolution, CPR, Disaster Preparedness, and First Aid. According to a study by the US Department of Homeland Security, sixty percent of Americans have not practiced what to do in the event of a disaster. The American Heart Association found that less than twenty percent of Americans are equipped to perform CPR in emergency situations. One can only imagine the number of injuries and lives that could be saved if everyone was properly informed. Camp Save-a-Life spreads this knowledge to youth who can take the lead in informing their friends and families.

For the camper, their parents and the camp counselors, being a part of the Save-a-Life program is an experience that is both fun and practical.

Just as the Fourth of July holiday approaches and people head outdoors for summer fun, temperatures are forecast to soar.  The National Weather Service expects a heat wave to build this weekend for Eastern Pennsylvania, and it is likely to last into next week. In the northern part of the nation, a heat wave is defined as three days in a row with high temperatures at or above 90 degrees.

“This puts many people at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” said Guy Triano, CEO for the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region. “In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods.”

The Red Cross urges everyone to stay safe in the intense heat and humidity by following these top six safety tips:

  1. Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.

Look before you Lock

2. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

3. Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

Pet

4. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

5. If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (libraries, theaters, malls, etc.).

6. If your HVAC is broken or non-functional, and you live in an apartment, ask your super to contact HVAC repair services – most building superintendents are quick to help in such emergencies.

7. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

Summer is one of the most popular times of year for people in the United States to take a trip that involves international travel. If you are planning a trip which involves driving across a border, sailing to a coastline, or flying halfway around the world, the American Red Cross has some steps you can take to stay safe.

CTSY: NASA

  1. Download the first aid app. The American Red Cross first aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Whether you’re in the United States 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. There’s no reason to panic, but it’s important to research whether your destination faces emergencies you’ve never experienced. While you’ll need to gauge the local context, 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 American 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, as always, pay attention to the location of emergency exits.