Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How Can You Be A Force Of Nature?

by Carmen Wright, volunteer contributor
As we have all experienced in the last few weeks, weather patterns in Texas can be unpredictable. Prepare yourself for all the severe weather we see here in North Texas—tornadoes, droughts, flooding, and even snowstorms—by joining the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) campaign to  “Be a Force of Nature” by taking the following steps:


•    Visit www.weather.gov
This site has it all: an interactive map of the U.S. that provides forecast for the entire country or just your little corner of Texas; active alerts so you know what is going on right now; maps showing air quality and rainfall; maps of weather history; radar of current weather systems and other data.

I admit I did not know this site existed, but now that I know I’ve turned into a complete weather nerd. It provides helpful summaries, maps, and graphs of weather trends in the U.S. You can read the report for January 2015 and see how we started the year or go back and see national monthly percent area for drought since 1900!

•    Follow weather on Social Media
Let’s be honest; if you can have time to follow tweets for #foodiebandnames (one of my favorites is Nine Inch Kales), then you have time in your life for helpful tweets from the National Weather Service and NOAA.

•    Get the Red Cross Tornado App
Get real-time tornado alerts and warnings on your phone, take a quiz to see how prepared you are, get access to 63 years of tornado history, and learn what to do before, during and after a tornado.


•    Make a disaster supply kit
At the very least this should include one gallon of water per person per day for three days, flashlight, three-day supply of non-perishable food, whistle, first aid kit, battery powered or hand-cranked radio, a NOAA radio, extra batteries, wrench or pliers, local map, moist toilettes, manual can opener, and cell phone with charger.

Have a Family Emergency Plan
 Being prepared is great, but make sure you have communicated plans to family members on where to go for safety, how you will contact each other, how you will find each other, and what you will do in different situations.  Also consider your bigger family: your community. If your work, school, or place of worship does not have an emergency plan, volunteer to help create one. Finally, don’t forget to include your pets in your plans!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Surviving a Flood

 by Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor

How do you survive a flood? What do you do when the flood warnings that never materialize turn into an actual flood?

If a flood hits your area, stay informed. Listen to your local radio or television to hear what is happening in your area. If you don’t have local radio or television, check the internet or social media sites for the latest information. These sources can tell you how serious the flood is and where to go if you need to seek safety. They can also tell you who to contact if you need help.

Next, get to higher ground. Do not wait. Higher ground will provide you with the protection you need from flood waters. If you wait, you may not be able to reach higher ground because you will be surround by flood waters.

If authorities tell you to evacuate, please obey the evacuation orders. If you are being told to evacuate, you are being told to evacuate for a reason. You may not be able to see the flood where you are located, but the authorities see a wider picture and know what flooding has occurred in surrounding areas and what flooding is heading your way. When you evacuate your home, remember to lock the doors and, if you have time, unplug utilities and appliances.

Remember that water and electricity do not mix, so practice electrical safety. Stay out of flood waters that has electricity in it. How do you know if water has electricity in it? If you see sparks or hear buzzing, cracking or snapping, these are signs that the water has been electrified and that you must not go near it. Also, don’t enter basements or any rooms in which the water covers the electrical outlets because the water could be electrified.

If you have been ordered to evacuate, avoid flood waters. Do not walk through flood waters because even 6 inches of water can knock you off your feet. If you are trapped in moving water, move to the highest point and wait for help.

Also, do not drive through flooded waters or around barricades. Quite often, people get into dangerous situations because it is impossible to see sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires or chemicals that may be in the water. In addition, cars can be swept away in seconds. Twelve inches of water can float a car or SUV, and 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles. So, although flood waters may not appear deep, they can hold a host of dangers.

Although floods don’t appear serious on the surface, they can be quite deadly. Take the time to prepare, and remember what to do if a flood hits where you live.

Download our free Flood App to get up to the minute information on what to do in the event of a flood in your area.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Repost: After the Military, a Call of Duty to His Community

This story was originally published in the Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2015.

After the Military, a Call of Duty to His Community

A former Navy base commander now serves the Red Cross in Texas

T.D. Smyers says ‘there is a lot of crossover’ between the Navy and the Red Cross.
T.D. Smyers says ‘there is a lot of crossover’ between the Navy and the Red Cross.PHOTO: CINDY REDEMANN

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Life of Service—The Jane Delano Story

by Suzanne Wiley, volunteer contributor
Before the successes of Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, there were hundreds of women who broke the glass ceiling before the concept existed. Though these women were changing the world, at the time, their accomplishments and stories were not as diligently reported as many of America’s greatest men. With the help of Women’s History Month, now in its 35th year, we bring these courageous, smart and determined women’s tales back to life, rewriting history when the text books have left so many of these women’s names out. We weave these women’s stories because they are the fabric foundation of women’s stories today.

One of these notable women is Jane Delano—one of the most famous nurses in history. Jane accomplished a lot throughout her professional career as a nurse, taking on multiple roles at once, however, her most significant achievement started out with a little white lie.
Jane Delano signed up for the Army Nurse Corps, but because she was older than the 45 year old age limit to join, she left her age off the application. And good thing, too, as Jane is credited with saving the failing Army Nurse Corps program. Through her idea of marrying the Army Nurse Corps with the American Red Cross Nursing Service and the American Nurses Association, Jane recruited 8,000 nurses ready to deploy and serve before the United States entered World War I. Her joint program enlisted and trained over 20,000 nurses who served during the war. Because of Jane’s dedication to service, she paved the way for the over 370,000 nurses who have volunteered for the American Red Cross.

Born in 1862 in Montour Falls, New York, Jane started her professional life teaching school before she felt the calling to become a nurse. At 24, she finished nurse training at America’s oldest, continuously operating hospital’s nurse training school, Bellevue in New York City. Bellevue Training School was the first in the United States to adopt and teach Florence Nightingale’s principal teachings. At the time, nursing was still young in establishing standards and being recognized as a profession.

After graduating from Bellevue, she took the position of superintendent of nurses at Sandhills Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida during a yellow fever epidemic. It is at Sandhills where Jane’s legacy begins. At the time, it was only a theory that some scientists believed that yellow fever was spread through mosquitoes. While at Sandhills, Jane hung screens and mosquito nets around the patients’ areas and nurses’ sleeping quarters.

Jane joined the Red Cross in 1898 during the Spanish-American War working as secretary for the enrollment of nurses. Before deciding to join the Red Cross full time in 1912, Jane was
•    Superintendent of nurses at University Hospital in Philadelphia
•    Superintendent at the House of Refuge
•    Superintendent of the Training School at Bellevue Hospital
•    President of the Associated Alumnae
•    President of the Board of Directors of the American Journal of Nursing
•    Chairmanship of the American Red Cross Nursing Service
•    Superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps
•    Worked for the Surgeon General

About her decision, Jane said, “I would rather live on a crust and serve the Red Cross than do anything else in the world.”

After the war, Jane traveled to France to visit her enlisted nurses. She was sick from chronic mastoiditis—an infection of the mastoid bone in the skull originating from a middle ear infection. Jane Delano passed away on April 15, 1919 and was buried in the military cemetery in Savenay, France. Nearly a year later, her body was exhumed and returned to the United States to be buried in the nurses’ plot in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. She was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. 500 people attended her funeral. It is said that Jane’s last words were, “I must get back to work.”

The Red Cross is synonymous with nursing and much of the humanitarian organization’s history is founded on nursing services. Jane’s memory is honored through the Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship.

If you are a nurse and wish to volunteer with the Red Cross, please visit the volunteer nurses’ page.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Day Light Savings = Great Time to Check Smoke Alarms

by Catherine Carlton @ckecarlton, volunteer contributor

Day light savings means we spring forward an hour, we start moving toward more daylight each day and that it’s time to check your smoke alarms.
Day light savings is a great time twice a year to test the batteries in the smoke alarms.
Checking the batteries is an easy task and can save a life.
Here’s why it’s important
·         Home fires kills more than 2,500 people annually
·         Fire departments response to more than 360,000 home fires annually
·         Cooking fires account for 43 percent of the fires
·         Nearly two-thirds of all fire-related deaths are in homes with no functioning smoke alarms
·         Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires by half
·         The U.S. Fire Administration recommends dual sensor alarms
As you walk around your house to adjust the clocks forward this weekend, also walk around your house and test your fire alarms. If you have a neighbor who is elderly or disabled, offer to check theirs, too.
For more information, on how to prepare your family for a home fire, please visit us online

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Repost: Top Ten Red Cross Cold Weather Safety Tips

This post was originally posted on the Red Cross National Blog on January 6, 2015. Stay safe & warm out there today!

Top Ten Red Cross Cold Weather Safety Tips
Posted on January 6, 2015 by Sarah Layton

As temperatures drop this winter, the American Red Cross offers ten steps people can take to stay safe during the cold weather.

  1. Layer up! Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body heat.
  2. Don’t forget your furry friends. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  3. Remember the three feet rule. If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs.
  4. Requires supervision – Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  5. Don’t catch fire! If you are using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  6. Protect your pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
  7. Better safe than sorry. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
  8. The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  9. Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  10. Knowledge is power. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

For more information on how to stay safe during the cold weather, review winter storm safety tips on RedCross.org.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March Forth - Do Something Day

by Carmen Wright, volunteer contributor
March Fourth is Do Something Day, and we encourage you to let that something be volunteering. Why volunteer? Well, aside from helping someone else, volunteering can actually benefit your health and personal development.

In an article for Harvard Health Publications, editor Stephanie Watson outlines some of the benefits of volunteering:

•    Improves mental health because you feel socially connected.
•    Lowers blood pressure, either because it incorporates physical activities or because it reduces stress.
•    Helps you live longer because of improved health.

Maybe you think you're too busy to volunteer. Well, volunteering can also help your personal and professional development. This great TED talk by Tuan Nguyen shares some great examples of incorporating volunteer activities with work. According to Nguyen, volunteering can help you:

•    Learn gratitude.
•    Find passion.
•    Improve your creativity.
•    Become more efficient by learning to maximize resources.
•    Improve your confidence, which helps you gain leadership skills.

But whether you benefit physically, mentally, or professionally, the key to volunteering is to make your motivations genuinely altruistic. By focusing on helping someone else, you create positive energy that affects everyone around you, including yourself.

So march forth, and be good to yourself by being good to others! Learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Young Humanitarians Making a Difference Through Red Cross Clubs

by Amy Yen, Regional Marketing Program Manager, American Red Cross North Texas Region

The Allen High School Red Cross Eagles
raise funds for disaster relief at their games.

Did you know there's a great way for students to support the Red Cross and make a difference in their community?

Red Cross Clubs, like the one at Allen High School, help the Red Cross by preparing their community for disasters, hosting blood drives, supporting military members and participating in service projects. The Allen High School Red Cross Eagles did an awesome job raising funds for disaster relief at their high school games.

Starting a Red Cross Club at your elementary school, middle school, high school or college is easy. We have toolkits and checklists to help you get started, and the Red Cross Volunteer Services team is here to support you. Visit RedCross.org/DFW to learn how to get started.

Thank you to all the young humanitarians who are giving their time through Red Cross Clubs! Your generosity and compassion is inspiring!  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Driving Safe in Winter Weather

It's been a snowy, slushy, icy, gross week in DFW. During bad weather, we always encourage people to avoid unnecessary travel if possible, but if you must drive, please do so carefully! Follow these helpful tips from our friends at the National Weather Service!

If you know you have to head out in hazardous conditions, put an emergency kit in your car, just in case! Here's a reminder of what should go in your emergency car kit.

Stay warm & dream of spring!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Repost: A Winter Emergency Car Kit Review

This post was originally posted on the Red Cross National Blog on February 11, 2015. In light of the anticipated hazardous driving conditions expected due to our current winter storm warning, we thought it'd be a good time to share it.

What's in Your Car? A Winter Emergency Kit Review

Growing up in Georgia, the occasional snow/ice storm was a treat. It meant no school and time to play outside, sit inside and catch up on movies and TV shows or sleep. Fast forward to adult life and living in Washington, D.C., I’ve found snow days aren’t the way they used to be. When I moved here, I realized people in fact still function when snow/ice happens because of an abundance of salt trucks and snowplows.

It wasn’t until I started working at the Red Cross that I realized I need to be prepared. Prepared in my home, my workplace and yes, even in my car. I realized when I commuted on roads in wintery conditions, it was silly (and sort of stupid) to not have a winter weather kit in my car. So now, for the times when I do have to head into work, I’ve taken measures to make sure I have everything I need. Like, who knew you needed cat litter or sand in your car to make sure you can get out of a slick spot? Not this Georgia girl!

For those that say, “Nah, I don’t need that! I’ve got a snow scraper and four-wheel drive!” I’ve got news for you — think again! Make sure you at the very least have these things in the back of your car to keep you safe during winter months:

  1. Cell phone car charger
  2. Flashlight with extra batteries
  3. Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  4. Fleece hat, gloves, scarf
  5. Sand or cat litter
  6. Ice scraper and snow brush
  7. First aid kit
  8. Hand-crank weather radio


Once you have your car kit assembled, there are some extra handy tips to help take winter preparedness to the next level. Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council member Jim Judge has two additional tips in a new article:

  • Keep emergency car kit in your back seat, so you can access it if your trunk freezes closed.
  • Put batteries in backward to conserve battery power (and then, of course, remember to switch them back when you need to use it).

For a complete list of other ideas for your car kit, check out this handy emergency kit list.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Loving the Fur Babies on Love Your Pet Day

by Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor

Ladybird prefers crosswords.  
In honor of Love your Pet Day, Friday, February 20, we'd like to share with everyone our new partnership with an organization that enables us to give the fur babies in our lives love after a disaster too.

Let's face it. In spite of the fact that they're messy, noisy and sometimes mischievous (see photo evidence), pet owners wouldn't trade their 4-legged friends for anything. But when disasters strike, such as home fires, it's pets that are often left without help. What are people supposed to do when their pets need food? This is where Don’t Forget to Feed Me steps in.

On a daily basis, Don’t Forget to Feed Me is an organization that helps pet owners who cannot provide for their animals to receive food and supplies. But recently, their mission expanded when we teamed up together.

In January, Don’t Forget to Feed Me delivered 500 “Pet Comfort Kits” to the American Red Cross. The kits will be placed in disaster relief trucks. These kits contain a retractable food dish, pet food, leash, squeaky toy, and treats. When Red Cross workers respond to a home fire and the family also includes pets, volunteers will provide a Pet Comfort Kit to the owner. On average, Red Cross teams in DFW help five families every day.

For more than a century, American Red Cross workers have taken care of disaster victims by providing safe shelter, new clothing and groceries. Now, we can do even more. And our response volunteers already report what a big difference the kits make for pet owners, no longer worried about where fido or fluffy's next meal will come from either. On this Love Your Pet Day, we salute pet owners everywhere, and our newest partner, Don't Forget to Feed Me.

Show your Pet Day love by posting a photo of the creature in your life, and if you'd like, you can use hashtag #LoveYourPetDay.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mardi Gras Survival Guide

by Lisa Morgan, Communications Associate, American Red Cross North Texas Region

Mardi Gras is here and we thought we'd offer a guide of sorts to help all Carnival participants near and far enjoy the festivities.

Just like in life, one should always start with a plan. So plan ahead. Plan which parades you're going to attend and a safe route to and from the parade, remember to consume beverages in moderation, as bathrooms are a little scarce along the parade routes. Keep some hand sanitizer or the cleaning wipes with you so you can keep your hands nice and clean. You definitely don’t want to catch a cold or flu after having a good time.

Mardi Gras is the season of excess and one person's excess can be another's crazy, so embrace the craziness. There are but a few times in life when we can let go and embrace abandon and this is surely one of them.  If the craziness is just too much and there is a need for psychological first aid, the Red Cross has that covered.

Go with the flow, move with the crowd and not against it. Always use caution when crossing streets and don't come out suddenly from between cars.

Dress up, besides Halloween how many times a year can you truly justify being in costume. Just be cognizant of the weather and the fact that you will be in costume for hours.

Find the perfect spot to watch the parades. It’s best if your hands are free and not occupied so when you yell “throw me something, Mister,” you can safely and confidently catch the beads or trinkets.

Remember to hydrate a cool morning can lead to a balmy afternoon. Just incorporate a few of the summer safety tips: sunscreen, lip balm, a hat and drinking water.

Download the first aid app because, well, with a host of people, anything can happen and it is better to be prepared than not!!

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll!

Monday, February 16, 2015

President Obama: Honorary Chairman

by Catherine Carlton, volunteer contributor
It started with a tweet.
And has expanded to honorary chair of the American Red Cross.
President Barack Obama sent his first-ever tweet at the American Red Cross and now serves as the organizations honorary chair.
In this capacity, President Obama’s duties include appointing the chairman of the Board of Governors and designating members of his Administration to serve on the Red Cross Cabinet Council. As honorary chair, the President’s signature is on the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit National Lifesaving Award, the organization’s highest award for people who have used the skills they learned in Red Cross courses to help save or sustain a life.
President Obama’s involvement was enhanced during the earthquake in Haiti. He hit “send” on a Red Cross tweet about his visit to the Disaster Operations Center in Washington, D.C. It was his first activity in Twittersphere.
The relationship between the American Red Cross and the federal government is unique. The Red Cross is an independent entity that is organized and exists as a nonprofit, tax-exempt, charitable institution pursuant to a charter granted to us by the United States Congress. Unlike other congressionally chartered organizations, the Red Cross maintains a special relationship with the federal government.
We have the legal status of “a federal instrumentality,” due to our charter requirements to carry out responsibilities delegated to us by the federal government. Among these responsibilities are:

  • to fulfill the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, to which the United States is a signatory, assigned
  • to national societies for the protection of victims of conflict,
  • to provide family communications and other forms of support to the U.S. military, and
  • to maintain a system of domestic and international disaster relief, including mandated responsibilities under the National Response Framework coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
This President's Day, we thank President Obama for his support on Twitter, during disasters and ensuring our organization has the right people leading it.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Turn Up the Heat this Valentine’s Day- Without Getting Burned

Written by Natalie Horn, volunteer contributor
If you watched the T.V. show “Friends,” then you may remember “The One with the Candy Hearts,” in which Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe start a boyfriend bonfire in their apartment on Valentine’s Day. The result of their bitter cleansing ritual is a call to the New York Fire Department, where they are lectured on fire safety by three handsome, albeit not amused, firemen.

Some Valentine’s Day disasters, like a bad date, are unavoidable; however, some can be avoided with the proper preventative measures. Take time to stop and smell the roses this holiday, but follow these quick safety tips to ensure that your night doesn’t end up in flames.
Mood Lighting
Candles can create a romantic ambiance in any room but if you plan to use them, make sure they stay within eyesight. Never leave candles unattended, and place them on heat-resistant surfaces away from walls and any flammable materials. Make sure they are properly and fully extinguished when you are done using them!
Hair Tools
Getting all dolled-up for a hot date? Before you leave, turn off and unplug your curling iron or any electrical hair appliances you use. 
Burning Love
If you plan on curling up by the fire, use a fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, keep the area around the fireplace clear from any decorations and flammable materials.  Take a lesson from the girls on “Friends” and never burn garbage, newspapers, charcoal, or plastic in a fireplace (or trashcan).  For outdoor fires, keep your pit at least 10 feet away from any structures. Always keep an extinguisher nearby any flame in case things get out of control.
Who’s Watching the Kids?
If you’ve hired a babysitter for the night, be sure they are CPR certified and comfortable responding in emergency situations.  The American Red Cross offers courses in babysitter’s training designed for 11-15-year-olds and First Aid/CRP/AED classes for everyone. 
Whatever your plans are this Valentine’s Day, remember these important safety tips.  Nothing ruins a romantic evening quite like having to call 9-1-1. For more information on health and safety tips, or to enroll in a First Aid course, visit www.redcross.org/dfw

**This story originally posted on 2/14/13**

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love a Heart – Learn CPR

by Catherine Carlton, volunteer contributor (@ckecarlton)

I signed my mom, my nanny, my husband and myself up for CPR training last month due to a requirement for my son’s care.

What I didn’t know is how quickly one of us would need it.

My nanny received a call not two week’s later that a friend was in trouble. She used her training by:
  1. Calling 911 and 
  2. Giving CPR until help arrived.
She was so relieved and called to thank me for the training.

Like everyone, we hope we never need to use the emergency training we receive.

But gosh are we so glad we have it if we need it.

February is heart month – so it’s a perfect time to remind you to sign up for CPR training.

You never know when you will need it and who you can help.

Signing up is easy.
•    Visit RedCross.org and click on training & certification
•    Enter your location.
•    Select CPR.
•    And find a class near you.
or check out RedCross.org/NorthTexasClasses for local class schedules.