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.

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!

Disaster Services: Unsung Heroes

Disaster Services Vehicle On Site

Disaster Services Vehicle On Site

As a communications volunteer with the Red Cross, I have heard and written about several disaster responses and even had the oppurtunity to speak with several Disaster Service volunteers over the past month. While all these stories range in terms of size of the disaster and number of people affected, there is always one underlying fact that remains: the heroic commitment and service of our Disaster Service volunteers. These volunteers are men and women of our communitties who have dedicated time and effort to undergo training, so that when a call comes in for any type of emergency, they are willing and able to respond bringing material and emotional comfort to this undergoing truly horrific circumstances. It is one thing to read and write about how volunteers in Lawrence responded to 3 fires in one night, or how Cape Cod volunteers opened up and ran shelters to support large amounts of tourists stranded on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard during Hurricane Arthur, and another experience to actually speak to these dedicated, yet humble, citizens.

I have only had the chance to physically speak to these amazing people twice in my time with the Red Cross, as when they are not either physically responding to a disaster, or running the gears of the behind the scenes to ensure continued Disaster Service support, they are also committed members of their respective communities. My first experience speaking with a Disaster Service volunteer happened at a volunteer management training sesssion. We split into small groups and were asked to go around and share an experience; this volunteer chose to share a story about one of his responses. While the details of the story were interesting, it was clear from the way he spoke that this volunteer truly cared about helping those displaced during a disaster, and he even went above and beyond to help talk down a person who was undergoing a panic attack due to the trauma that often accompanies such unfortunate tragedies. From this man’s story it became clear that not only does he have to be a skilled tactitian in planning out who will need what aid in the form of basic living supplies, food, and emergency money, but also has to be a shoulder to cry on and provide strength and surety in order to help their fellow man. The effort this takes is truly herculian, yet all disaster volunteers are more than willing.

My second oppurtunity to speak with a Disaster Services volunteer occured when I was attempting to write up her story for our website and social media. She and I ended up speaking on the phone concerning the details of her response, and yet I learned so much more than the simple facts of this particular disaster. I learned the depths to which our volunteers are willing to go in order to ensure comfort and support to those whom we serve. After an unfortunate event left almost a score of people homeless, this volunteer spent hours calling hotels going so far as to call hotels from miles away in order to try and find housing for all the people affected. When even reaching out to hotels almost 50 miles away didn’t work, instead of admitting defeat, this volunteer helped work with each of the people in order to find friends and family that could finally host them. It was clear from this volunteers tone of voice that this level of effort is no less than those who suffer from disasters deserve.

What amazes me most about these two, and all other disaster volunteers like them, is that they are volunteers. They do not recieve monetary compensation for their efforts, nor do they often recieve widespread praise. Yet every hour of every day there are disaster volunteers prepared to drop their lives in order to come to the aid of their fellow citizens. Trying to help get the stories of these heroes’ efforts out to the public has truly been a privilage, and when I have the time and the training I hope to be able to provide this type of support to my community as well.

 

 

 

Celebrate your Independence Safely this July 4th

It’s that time of year again, grilles are prepped with new propane tanks, stores sell out of charcoal, ice, and cook out food, people clean there pools and set up various firework viewing plans. Every Independence Day seems remarkably similar to the last in style, yet each new year brings countless new memories spent with family and loved ones. This year the Red Cross advizes communities on how to keep those memories positive and avoid potential disasters by spreading safety tips for all of peoples favorite 4th of July activities.

For those who wish to celebrate their independence at the beach:

1.If someone plans to swim in the ocean, they should always check weather conditions before going in the water.
2.Swim only at a lifeguard protected beach, within the designated swimming area and listen to all lifeguard instructions.
3.Always swim with a buddy and always swim sober.
4.Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
5.Everyone should enter the water feet first if they can’t see the bottom or don’t know how deep the water is.
6.Be aware of the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. When free, turn and swim toward shore. If unable to swim to the shore, call out for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
7.Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.
8.Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them.
9.Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight.
10.Wear beach shoes. The sand is hot and can burn someone’s feet and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.

To the celebrators who prefer to spend their time poolside:

1.Learn to swim and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
2.Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
3.Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
4.Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.
5.Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.
6.Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
7.For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
8.Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers including four-sided fencing.
9.Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
10.Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water. If a child is missing, check the water first.

For those who are traveling to their favorite Independence Day destinations:

HIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. The Red Cross offers these 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 the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.

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 up 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.

Aside from these tips, the Red Cross also now has several apps for all occasions, visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/mobile-apps for more information.

Have a blast this Independence Day, and stay safe!

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