Tag Archives: Red Cross Ready

By: Sophie Kluthe

My Experience 

I recently donated blood for the first time. It was something I’d always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of my travel history. I’ll admit, I was nervous at first because of a childhood fear of needles, but the staff at the donation center made my experience nearly painless. Especially compared to what the person who will receive my blood is going through.  

Feeling great after giving blood at the Blood Donation Center at 700 Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia.
Feeling great after giving blood at the Blood Donation Center at 700 Spring Garden Street in Philadelphia.

When I used to think about who was receiving these blood donations, I imagined car crash victims and other trauma patients. While these people do depend on life-saving blood, there are many others who rely on it as well. While I was rolling that foam ball around in my hand, I wondered if my blood might go to help a child battling leukemia, or a person who regularly needs blood transfusions to fight a chronic disease. Maybe it would it be used to help someone getting an organ transplant. Every two seconds someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion. If a trauma victim ends up in the emergency room, it’s the blood already on the shelves that will save their life.  

National Blood Donor Month 

This January the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month, which has been observed in January since 1970 with the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations during winter. The colder months are typically the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood products to meet patient needs. During the winter months, bad weather often results in cancelled blood drives, and seasonal illnesses like the flu may cause some donors to become temporarily unable to donate. This winter, the need is especially urgent, since there weren’t as many people who donated in the fall compared to years past.

A Sweet Incentive

Throughout the month of January, presenting donors in Southern New Jersey and Southeast Pennsylvania will receive a voucher for a free medium Dunkin’ hot coffee and a classic donut, redeemable at participating Dunkin’ restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia Region, while supplies last. Blood donation appointments can be made by downloading the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or to receive more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. 

Regional Red Cross CEO, Guy Triano, kicks off the January promotion alongside Jessica Weissman, Integrated Marketing Manager for Philadelphia, Dunkin’ Brands

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements. 

Blood donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit and follow the instructions on the site. 

I didn’t really start using Twitter until being deployed with the Red Cross to the Boston Marathon disaster a year ago. I was never a fan. Now, it’s not only part of my day but a large part of my response to disasters.

rco_blog_img_PETEWINE This weekend I was a #DigiVol (Digitally Deployed Volunteer) for the @Redcross (American Red Cross). We were 1,200 miles away from the disaster zone, but still helping to make a difference. It was a short but wild adventure.

As tornadoes and thunderstorms bore down on the Midwest, our job was to take to social media and promote preparedness and safety. Our intention was to engage people to help calm and guide them.

For my shift, I was handed the keys to @RedcrossNETexas (The Official Twitter of NE Texas and SW Arkansas) and sent out on my mission. Watching weather radar, media outlets, and other posts from tornado chasers, I promoted the Red Cross Tornado App and gave tips on how to prepare and respond to the storm. My partners for the day, @Telesara (Sara Smith) and @Mindy_Hart (Mindy Hart) were also from Philadelphia.

I went for quite a spin around the block with the account. Hashtags — symbols placed in front of a word to help Twitter organize different topics — were flying. Some were obvious… #helpme, #scared, #missing, #disaster, and some were not. For example, #NoRotation came to designate clouds not moving in a twisting funnel.

We engaged scared people by telling them it was alright to be scared and guiding them on what to do next. All the while, we watched the destruction start to hit national news. It’s a very scary, hopeless feeling. You just want to do more. At the end of the shift, Sara and I guided a young middle school student on how to find her uncle amidst a destroyed town using #safeandwell, the Red Cross database to help let loved ones know you are okay.

Later, I was listening to a storm chaser on a radio feed talking to the National Weather Service (NWS) in RDCC Terminal (1280x721)Little Rock, AR. He was with a pastor from the Antioch Baptist Church in Conway, AR. They were opening a shelter there to provide immediate cover for victims who had just lost their homes. Another round of bad weather was on the way. The phones were down and they couldn’t get in touch with the Red Cross. They needed our help. The NWS wasn’t able to get in touch with Red Cross yet either.

I told Sara what I’d heard. She said she saw the Red Cross communicator near Conway online. I gave her all the information, and we relayed it to Arkansas from Philly. A few minutes later, a Handheld Amateur Radio Operator (HAM) with our team in Arkansas was on the air advising people in Conway that they’d gotten the message and were sending them Red Cross teams and supplies. We had made a difference to immediate disaster victims from 1,200 miles away.

Now, a day later, the Digital Volunteers of @RedCrossPhilly are still watching over the people of the Midwest. We stand ready, waiting to respond, to help them recover, using the best communications methods at our disposal.

In person, at the scene of the disaster, or in the virtual world of cyberspace, our mission remains the same: Help alleviate the suffering of victims of disaster.

Posted by Volunteer @PWine_1_1 (Peter Wine)


Today (January 16, 2014)  is a very exciting day for the American Red Cross. It launched its Pet First Aid App for iPhone and Android. It is particularly exciting for the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania because the content and information in the app was provided by Dr. Debbie Mandell, an emergency room veterinarian at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania here in Philadelphia. Dr. Mandell also serves as a pet advisor to the American Red Cross.

In order to launch the app, the Red Cross held what’s called a Satellite Media Tour at a studio in Philadelphia, featuring Dr. Mandell, a Red Cross national spokesperson, two pet first-aid CPR manikins, and Mana, the best behaved dog ever known to attend a media event. Basically, TV and radio stations across the country did interviews with them, one after the other.

emergency pet app info

I got to work on this project because of my position with the Red Cross here in Philadelphia. We did site surveys at Penn Vet’s ER, but we couldn’t logistically work out a way to showcase pet emergency care; the unpredictability of a pet emergency room could make for great TV or awful TV. We couldn’t take the chance on the latter.

laura and dr. mandell

Dr. Debbie Mandell (L) of Penn Vet and Laura Howe of the American Red Cross, and Mana the dog, during media interviews about Red Cross Pet First-Aid app.

So for about six hours this morning, Dr. Mandell, the spokesperson, and Mana sat in a studio saying the same things over and over about the Pet First-Aid app. They explained for what seemed like a thousand times, the app’s many features, did pet CRP demonstrations, and showed what items should be in every family’s pet first-aid kit.

One thing in particular stands out to me from the series of interviews this morning. Dr. Mandell really did a geat job emphasizing the dangers in your home that you may not be aware of. She mentioned certain plants and flowers are toxic to cats and dogs. I had no idea. The Red Cross Pet First-Aid app identifies those plants for you and what to do if your pet eats or licks any of those plants.

My two dogs died a few years ago, so I don’t have any pets, but I can still use the app. It is useful for me to help potential Red Cross clients with pets, who need a place to go after a fire or flood, find nearby pet friendly hotels. Often, concern about what to do with their pets prevents people from evacuating. This app helps alleviate those concerns. Jen Leary, who runs the local pet disaster rescue organization Red Paw, downloaded the app and says the pet friendly hotel and vet locator portion of the Red Cross app is a “game changer” for her volunteers in the field.

But if you have a pet, you definitely need to consider downloading it. The 99 cents seems like a small price to pay for an app that has so many great, potentially lifesaving features. Plus the 99 cents goes to support all Red Cross services, including disaster relief. To do that go to or search Red Cross on iTunes or Google Play. And help ensure you’re prepared to care for you pets like any other member of your family.

Cat CPRlean-know-what's-normal-dog

prepared banner copy

Already feeling shaky about the New Year’s resolutions you made in the wee hours of January 1st to friends and family who will never hold you to them? Not keeping those dates with the treadmill? The Red Cross has a list of easy resolutions to keep. We promise that following through on the list below will make you a healthier, happier, safer and more effective member of your community.

We challenge you to resolve to be Red Cross Ready. There are several ways to be Red Cross Ready, and these are some of the top ten. Even though the year has already started it’s never too late.

  1.    Make an Emergency Kit

This is important and can make an enormous difference for your household. Get other family members involved and use the list on the Red Cross website to guide the process.

2.      Download Red Cross Apps

The Red Cross’s new Hurricane App is incredibly useful and comforting. I loved having all that important information on my phone when Sandy hit Philadelphia in November. The download takes 30 seconds and we have several apps with a wealth of information. Check us out!

3.      Become a Red Cross Volunteer

There is nothing more rewarding that helping others in need. Enough said.

4.      Learn CPR

It usually takes a single day to get your certification. Not really much time when you think about what you are learning to do. Imagine having the ability to save a life in a medical emergency. Is that a worthwhile skill? You bet.

5.      Make sure there are working smoke detectors in the house

Our area has lost four people since January 1st to home fires where no working smoke detectors were found. Interviews with neighbors in the wake of these fires revealed that those who died were valued elderly members of their communities who had been living in their houses for decades. The solution is to care more for one another. Check your own smoke detectors. Help your neighbors check theirs.

6.      Talk with family and make an emergency plan

Talk about escaping your home during a fire. Designate a meeting place on the outside. Talk about what to do if you are asked to evacuate during a hurricane or flood. Having a plan relieves anxiety and will serve you well when confronted with a real disaster scenario.

7.      Know your region and what types of natural disaster may occur

This is a simple as knowing what to prepare for. For instance, if you know you are in a flood zone, you can prepare for evacuation.

8.      Inform others of being Red Cross Ready

Again, care for your neighbors. Encourage your neighbors to visit the Red Cross website. The more people prepared for a potential disaster, the stronger the community as a whole.

9.      Attend a Red Cross training class

We can help you learn to be a fantastic lifeguard, an excellent babysitter, an outstanding caregiver, a skilled nurse’s aid and a strong swimmer among other useful skills. Check it out!

10.  Give Blood

This involves lying down in a relaxed state for around 45 minutes. Anyone feeling capable of that?

— Posted by Jennifer Ingram and Sarah Peterson

I must admit that “drinking water” does not have the same appeal or quality taste as say an ice tea, a kiwi- strawberry fruit drink, or a soda but during the summer months, even as the forecast constantly changes from one day to the next, one of the best drinks to have to stay cool and avoid dehydration is water. I know it may seem at first unnecessary to remind someone to drink more water when the heat rises or before they reach the point of becoming thirsty, but the simple truth of the matter is that by the time you are becoming thirsty, you are already in route to becoming dehydrated. Our bodies are made up of water but can’t regenerate a new water supply on its own. According to The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, we need to drink at least 48 ounces of water per day to replace the water we lose naturally.

Dehydration can result in that general feeling of malaise with varying symptoms such as dry mouth, dry eyes, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irritation, trouble with concentration, and cramps. Children are even more at risk, as their physical activity and play increases during the summer. According to a book called Nutrition for Life, “children adapt less efficiently than adults to hot weather and are more vulnerable to heat. They produce more body heat than adults but sweat less and therefore take longer to change their body temperature. In addition, children’s thirst mechanism is not as fully developed as that of adults and they may not express the need to drink and should be encouraged to drink water before, during, and after exercise to prevent dehydration and heat stroke.”

When it comes to staying cool, drinking more water does not create a placebo effect. It actually does help keep our body’s temperature balanced by allowing us to sweat when we are hot, preventing us from overheating. Contrary to what our appearance looks like when we perspire, you know our clothes clinging to our skin, our shirts feeling more like a wet rag than a shirt, sweat is keeping our internal temperature from going up to potentially dangerous levels. On a hot day we desperately need water to sweat. Sweat is our own body’s cooling system. I can’t promise you’ll look and feel your best when you start to sweat but at least you’ll know you’re beating dehydration when you are drinking more water.

– Jabril Redmond, guest blogger, American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania

You hear us all the time talking about the importance of being prepared for an emergency. We pound that message into your head just about every opportunity we get. I realize, it may seem excessive. Maybe, maybe not. But let me tell you, being the person who helps deliver those messages, repetition sure came in handy for me last night.

You see in the midst of a three day heat wave, the power in my house went out. A transformer down the street blew and our entire block was without any power. No lights. No TV. No A/C on the hottest night of the year. But other than it being an inconvenience, there wasn’t much concern. We knew what to do. I had my trusty Red Cross preparedness kit right by the door. I put it there so I knew exactly where I could find it so I wouldn’t be wandering around in the dark looking for the flashlight that was inside.


I also knew where we would go if the power was out for a long time and it got too hot to stay in the house. Having a plan for where to go is critical to every emergency plan.

I was lucky enough to have my smartphone and a laptop with lots of battery power. So I did what any Red Cross communicator does in a situation like that, I tweeted and recorded a video (below). I figured, this was a good chance to put into practice what the Red Cross preaches.

In the end, it wasn’t a major emergency. It was barely even a minor one. Thankfully, by midnight, the power was back on and we never had to leave the house. The whole matter turned out to be a drill of sorts in case there is a major emergency, like the tornado warnings that had my family huddled in a corner in the dark during the height of Hurricane Irene last summer. Or the blizzard two years ago that also knocked out power and we couldn’t go anywhere.

You just never know when the advice the Red Cross gives you about being prepared will be useful. So take a few minutes to review Red Cross preparedness information when you’re safe and sound. And be sure to refresh yourself every few months. That way, if there is an emergency, you’ll be ready.