Stay prepared for hurricanes with the Red Cross Hurricane app!

We are getting into the prime of hurricane season and although New England doesn’t experience many hurricanes, it is important to be aware of what you can do to prepare for one.  The Hurricane app developed by the Red Cross is user friendly and perfect for knowing what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.  Download the app and familiarize yourself with all it has to offer before a hurricane is on its way.  

The app opens to the Prepare screen which is further categorized to Right before, During, After, Plan ahead, and Make a plan.  Each category has details on what you should be aware of.  For instance – Right before teaches you the difference between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning, Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations, among other useful tips to note.  There is also a checklist to ensure you are ready in the instance that a hurricane is approaching.  The other categories work very similarly with tips throughout the entire timeline of a hurricane.

Do you want to ensure you know what to do in case of a hurricane?  There are several test options to test your knowledge from the Prepare link.  It’s a quick way to test your knowledge before it is too late.  

There are also options to set your phone up to pull in information for your specific location.  By doing this, be in the know all the time.  You will receive updates from the app if there is a watch or a warning in your area.  You can pick several locations, so if you travel a lot for work, you can receive information for all the locations you select.  Also be aware of the current hurricanes around the nation by clicking the link to Tracker and Weather Map.  

If a hurricane is approaching, it will be handy to know where the Red Cross shelters are located.  This is easily found by clicking on the link at the top labeled Shelters.  The shelters are pinpointed on the map with the name of the location.

You can find all this information and so much more by downloading the app.  Just search Red Cross Hurricane on your smartphone, download, and you’re done!  It’s that easy!  

It’s That Time Again!

Another summer has come and gone, and now it’s time to start preparing to go back to school. I know that when I pack up all my belongings and head back to campus, there are two things that are particularly important for me to bring: my laptop and my phone. I am constantly using these devices when I am away at school. My cell phone allows me to stay in contact with my family and friends, and my laptop is an extremely helpful tool both in and outside the classroom. In order to prepare you for this bittersweet time of year, I am going to share some useful Red Cross “Back to School” tips for securing your devices and protecting your personal information.

I will admit that when I am busy and running around campus, I tend to misplace my iPhone at least once a day. (In my defense, it’s never for more than ten minutes and 99% of the time it’s under the couch) However, in order to ensure that my phone is protected, I have taken a few steps to increase my device’s security. First, I have password protected my personal device. It’s really important that I don’t share my password with anyone, even my good friends, because then they have access to my personal information and my social networks accounts like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The second thing I do to keep my phone safe is to try to pay attention and never leave my device unattended. Misplacing my phone in my apartment is one thing, but if left alone in a public place, it can disappear in the blink of an eye. In the event that I do lose my phone, I know to report it to my local police department and use applications like Apple’s Find My iPhone, which helps to locate lost or stolen devices. The last thing I do to keep my phone (and other devices) safe is to remember that the internet is forever. In other words, every person should avoid saving/sending unflattering or personal pictures on his or her device. Once they are on the internet, they are there indefinitely!

Your laptops, smart phones, and tablets all hold valuable information and are hard to replace, so make sure to take these easy steps to help keep your device(s) as safe as possible. And remember, in the event of a misplaced device, the couch cushions are the first place to look.

The Next Generation of Red Crossers

From the second I arrived at Six Flags New England on Wednesday, August 20th, I could immediately tell that it was going to be a good day for the Red Cross. Prospective youth volunteers and club members began streaming in to the empty park, initially interacting only with close friends but quickly becoming much more comfortable with one each other as the incredibly helpful Six Flags staff shepherded us from the entrance to the Grove where the Youth Programs Day Event would take place. While I could tell that the general consensus among the attendees was that 8:30 in the morning was EARLY (A point I am sure most of us can agree on), I could not have been more impressed with the cheery mood evident as youth volunteers signed in and took seats alongside each other while sharing a light breakfast.

After a majority of the 80 youth were seated and settled, Sarah Corrigan, Board Chair of the Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter said a few opening words before conducting a basic ice breaker that involved everyone splitting away from those they arrived with in order to interact with someone brand new. I have been a part of many ice breaking events, and I have rarely seen a group so willing to mingle! This cheery mood continued to pervade the entire day from the lecture sections where the new volunteers learned the history of the Red Cross and about its mission and values to the ending educational walk through of Volunteer Connection. Perhaps the most impressive section of the day, however, was an exercise where the youth broke off into several small groups in order to plan potential fund raising ideas. Not only did every group come up with an incredibly clever fund raising idea, but they also managed to plan most of the logistics! My personal favorite was a group that came up with a color run (a cross country run where participants are generally pelted with water balloons full of paint), which would raise a lot of potential revenue for the Red Cross. In the end, while the event spanned a long 5 hours, every student remained actively engaged throughout and walked away with an enthusiastic call to “spread the red” as they move forward during the upcoming school year.

As i walked around the park afterwards, it was incredibly gratifying to see all the new Red Cross volunteers in their Red Cross Youth Programs Day shirts dispersed amongst the crowd knowing that all these highly motivated individuals will be working hard to further the Red Cross mission.

A Guide for a Fun and Safe Friendcation

Posted on Behalf of Emily DeChambeau,

 

In early spring I began planning a trip to Martha’s Vineyard with a few of my nearest and dearest. We usually take a weekend or so each summer to spend some time on the isle but this summer we decided to up our game and hang for a full week. We’ll take any reason to head to MV but this trip was deemed very necessary on account of a few pals cross country moves looming ahead (they have since then moved and I’m still traumatized).  In honor of Red Cross vacation month I’m going to break down how you can plan and be prepared for your very own friendcation.

 

We were planning for optimal sun time regardless of whether it be while lounging on the beach or running amuck through the streets of downtown Oak Bluffs so a good sunscreen was a must. I suggest packing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Make sure to apply and reapply over your entire body especially during prime time sun hours between 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Apparently, people get sunburns on their feet these days which I have never experienced/never want to experience so when I say all over your body I mean all over. A good pair of sunglasses is also key. One of our first stops after we stumbled off the ferry was to the sun-glass shack. Grab something with UV protection and that will force people to do a double take because you look so beauteous. While you’re soaking up the sun don’t forget to keep hydrated. Supplement that mudslide with a water or two. For those who decide to not heed my advice (and undoubtedly encounter some kind of crisis as a consequence) make sure to at least have downloaded the Red Cross first aid app on your smartphone before jet setting from reality.

Expect the Unexpected: Download our Tornado App!

When you hear the word “tornado”, Revere, Massachusetts is probably not the first place that comes to mind. However, on July 28, a tornado unexpectedly touched down in Revere, leaving a significant amount of property destruction in its wake. Any natural disaster, especially a tornado, often arrives without much warning and with little time to prepare. In this technological age, people are constantly using mobile devices to stay connected to those around them. Our society is becoming increasingly reliant on smart phones and tablets, especially as a lifeline for emergency information. In fact, a recent Red Cross survey shows that apps are now tied with social media as the fourth most popular way to get information during emergencies – behind TV, radio and online news sites. In response to this statistic, the Red Cross has created an extremely useful tornado app. This app gives people local and real-time NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) tornado watch and warning alerts- whether it’s in the area where they live or places where friends and family live. In addition, Tornado app users are provided with immediate access to information on what to do before, during, and after tornados with preparedness information developed by trusted Red Cross experts.

Once you have downloaded the app, it is important to familiarize yourself with it. One of the most important parts of this app is the alert feature. In the event of a tornado, a high-pitched, siren and “tornado warning!” message will sound when a NOAA tornado warning is issued in the area – even if the app is closed. In addition, an “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or been cancelled. These alerts are particularly useful because many tornados happen in the overnight hours. If the owner of the device is asleep, away from the radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work, the app’s audible alerts can help to save lives. In addition to providing users with alerts, there are also features like checklists to help families create an emergency plan, a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and an audible alarm, locations of open Red Cross shelters, and an “I’m safe” button that allows users to signal to family and friends that they are out of harm’s way.

Nearly one-fifth of Americans say they’ve received some kind of emergency information from an app they’ve downloaded, making the Red Cross app development effort even more important. The Tornado App is just one of many disaster-specific apps that can be useful during a natural disaster. During Superstorm Sandy, more than 400,000 people downloaded our Hurricane App. Right before and during Sandy, users spent the most time reading the preparedness information, tracking the storm, and reading and then sharing NOAA alerts through social media. The ability to share this information on social networks or by text or email can provide a peace of mind for frequent travelers or those with family in other parts of the country. Immediately after Sandy, people used the app to locate Red Cross Shelters and to let loved ones know that they were safe.

As we saw with the tornado in Revere, natural disasters can occur in places we wouldn’t expect. With the touch of a screen, you will be downloading an app that can potentially save your life. It is user-friendly and full of great information, so what are you waiting for? Download it to your device now!

The app is free and available in English and Spanish. It’s designed for iPhone, iPad and Android smart phones and tablets. All of our 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/mobileapps.

While apps can help you prepare for disasters, it’s important to remember that they are not a substitute for training. To learn more about Red Cross First Aid and CPR courses or to register, go to redcross.org/takeaclass.

Red Cross First Aid App is Here to Help!

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Have you ever been in a situation where you or someone close to you received a minor injury and not known what to do? Personally I remember hiking with my friends in Vermont when one fell down and got a nasty scrape on his knee. Like smart, rational people, we had a first aid kit, but did not know what to do! Luckily, the Red Cross has recognized this growing need for basic first aid information and have created an easy to use, and free, mobile app for iPhone and Android users that offers expert, Red Cross, sanctioned advice for everyday disasters.

Once users download the app they have instant access to step-by-step instructions on how to handle the most common first aid situations, videos and animations that make important skills easy to learn, safety and preparedness tips for everyday situations, and quizzes that users can take to earn badges and share on social media! The app itself is very easy to navigate with clearly defined subsections at the bottom including preparation, emergencies, and even a helpful hospital locator!

As my experience with my friends in Vermont reminded me, accidents happen and you are not always with someone who is first aid trained and an unfortunate byproduct of accidents can be panic when you feel unprepared to handle the situation. The first aid app holds a few answers designed to make these mishaps more manageable and help you be prepared when life happens. In a world where technology continuously makes life easier, let the Red Cross help you with this and many more of its safety and weather apps.

Of course, no app could ever replace the full training offered by the Red Cross, to learn more about Red Cross first aid and other safety classes visit redcross.org/takeaclass today!

More Than Just Blood-Experiences at a Blood Drive

On July 9th I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Six Flags Super Blood Drive at the Big E along with a fellow Youth Programs Intern, Sarah Braverman. Together, we decided to share our experiences from the drive.

Sarah Bessette: I had attended and seen a few blood drives before, but this one was very impressive. From the moment you step into the Better Living Center, a Red Cross Volunteer greets you with a smile, guides you through the process, and sends you to the next station. From the colored wrist bands, to the Looney Toon characters for each donation booth, the organization and flow of the event is incredible. The donors feel comfortable and welcomed.

Going to an event like that, you can’t help but want to give in some way. Whether it’s through actually giving blood, or sitting at the registration desk, each part of the event helps to change and save lives. It was motivating to see the people lining up to donate blood. As a volunteer you get to interact with so many of these people. Some have been giving for years, and others it’s their first time. Some are outgoing, and some hardly speak at all. One was in shock that people actually volunteer their time to help with the drive. Another had volunteered with the Red Cross before. Every donor is different, yet all unified under the same gratification that they helped to save a life. Knowing that is what makes my volunteer experience the most satisfying.

Sarah Braverman: The Big E hosted a Six Flags Super Blood Drive on July 9th, and what an experience it was! The Better Living Center was filled with Red Cross Volunteers and blood donors of all ages and all ready to donate, starting early in the morning to late at night. What I thought was most impressive was how the system was organized. A donor would walk in and be greeted by a Red Cross Volunteer and informed on our regulations and policies for donating blood. The donors were given a colored wrist band that matched a sign at each donation station with a Looney Toon character. Donors had the option to donate whole blood or just red blood cells. After a background check and their donation, each donor went to one of about eight refreshment station, relaxed and socialized with the many other donors.

I volunteered at the “Sylvester the Cat” station greeting people and recording who came in to donate. I had never seen so many donors all in one place at one time. While I was volunteering, I got to meet other volunteers and donors of various backgrounds. Everyone had a story to tell: what brought them to working for the Red Cross, what brought them there that day to donate, how long they have been volunteering or donating, the stories were never ending. What left the longest impact on me was to see all these people, no matter how hard life had been to them, taking the time out of their lives to give to someone they may never meet. Someone with stories they may never hear. Being surrounded by these good Samaritans revived my feelings of enthusiasm and optimism in the charity work I do. Every little thing you do that’s for the benefit of someone else is time well spent.

As you can see, there is so much more to a blood drive than just blood. Its about the donors you meet, the volunteer stories you hear, and the experiences made that create the difference.

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