Monday, July 6, 2015

Crowd Surfing -- I Mean Safety

By Shannon Randol, intern contributor, American Red Cross

Finding yourself in large groups of people in one specific area means a lot of individuals bumping elbows, sharing sweat and blindly navigating through tons of event goers.  The DFW region hosts an array of outdoor events during the summer months, and it’s crucial to be prepared for the crowds. 

You must be aware of your surroundings. Don’t carry important items (I.D. or credit cards) in your pockets, and always keep your purse zipped shut. Don’t forget to hide any valuables you aren't carrying in a locked car before leaving the parking lot.

 After arriving with your family or friends to the event grounds, make sure to pick out a visible landmark to designate as a meet-up spot if anyone in your group gets lost. Recognize the exits of the facility in case of an emergency. While, technology is at the tip of our fingers, a dead cell phone battery is likely. Most young children don’t carry cellphones, so tt never hurts to have a back-up plan for your family if and when technology fails.

It’s hot outside, and you should expect it to be hot; it’s Texas. Stay hydrated by drinking liters of good ol’ H2O. There is nothing better for your body than cool water on a hot, summer day.  And, don't forget to dress appropriately and apply plenty of sunblock.

If you want to be extra prepared, bring a can of bug spray. All of the rain this year has super-sized the mosquitoes, and you don’t want to be their next meal!

If traveling with small children, take a photo of them individually on your smart phone. This way if they get lost, you have the most recent photo. In a moment of panic, you might forget what he/she was wearing. This eliminates that possibility.

Without scaring your child, explain “stranger danger”.  It also doesn’t hurt to practice what to do in case of separation with your child at home before you leave. 

The old saying is true, it's better to be safe than sorry, and having an un-used plan is better than scrambling to think of one in the moment. Think ahead, and don't forget to have fun!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Stay Safe and Sound This Fourth Of July

By Shannon Randol, intern contributor, American Red Cross

What could possibly go wrong with explosives and a match?

This Saturday is the fourth of July, and most people plan to sit outside, barbecue something, relax with friends and enjoy a loud, colorful and explosive firework show as the night's finale.

Firework Safety

In Texas, you are allowed to purchase and ignite fireworks on your own property. The best way to safely enjoy the holiday is to attend a public firework show put on by licensed professionals, but if you decide to put on your show at home, we've got you covered.

Here are some safety tips for those of you setting off fireworks at home:

1. Never allow children to play to fireworks. 
2. Keep flames away from loose clothing and face.
3. Don’t make your own fireworks.
4. Always use fireworks outside. 
5. Keep a bucket of water or a water hose nearby just in case. 
6. Light firecrackers one at a time.
7. Never aim fireworks at other people or yourself.
8. Soak firework remnants in water before discarding in trash.
9. Only buy fireworks from licensed stores, tents and stands. Don’t purchase fireworks from persons on the street or at a home, usually these are transactions of illegal fireworks. Legal fireworks have bright colored packaging and a distinct warning label on the wrapping. Illegal fireworks aren’t packaged and are usually wrapped in brown paper.
10. Ignite fireworks away from the home, brush, leaves and other flammable materials.

According to the National Fire Protection Association approximately 50,000 fires a year are caused by improper use of fireworks.

Highway Safety:

Thousands of families will be on the road traveling over the weekend, so it’s essential to keep these tips in mind while road-tripping:

1. No texting while driving. This includes emails, Facebook and Twitter!
2. Always wear your seat belt.
3. Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
4. Use caution in work zones.
5. Follow the speed limit! 

We want you to enjoy the weekend with your families, and your safety is of great importance to those of us at the Red Cross. Stay safe this holiday weekend, and enjoy the bang! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bring The Heat

By Shannon Randol, intern contributor, American Red Cross

This is my favorite time of the year! I sun-kiss the skin of each person who spends time outside and burn those into a crisp who don’t wear any sunscreen.  I tend to be more dangerous than any other weather event throughout the year and regrettably affect the elderly and young children the most, often resulting in death.
I can make you feel sticky within minutes in Austin, Texas, or make you feel like a chocolate chip cookie being baked in an oven in Dallas. I especially like to cause embarrassing pit stains in pools underneath your arms... Sorry, not sorry.

If it weren’t for me, many of you probably wouldn’t consider cold showers or installing a pool, but without me you wouldn’t be able to enjoy those summer barbecues near the beaches and lakes.  I am harsher in the southern hemisphere because the tea is sweeter, and c’mon, the south is better!

Have you guessed what I might be yet?

Trees try to discourage me, but vehicles can’t hide from me. The Red Cross spends a lot of effort trying to protect residents from my reach, however not everyone listens. I’m a nasty pain in the summer, but I can’t help it, I am the summer heat.

During my peak periods, I can make the temperature stay in the 90’s for consecutive days on end. It’s imperative to your health to stay weather aware as I like to change my mood daily. I'm feeling extra cheery this morning and will you give some tips on how we can stay friends and not enemies over the next few months.  

If you plan on spending the day outside, make sure you have plenty of water on hand. Water is cheap y’all and essential to your fight against me. You should also wear plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin because I like to punish the ones who don’t. It’s not cute to look like a walking lobster, am I right?

Dress in light colored clothing that is loose fitting and lightweight. I am attracted to dark clothing, I like it when it's tall, dark and handsome. I turn up the heat to make sure you know my presence, so stick to light and airy materials.  

Slow down on strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day. I’m not as angry after 7 p.m. and still too tired between 4-7 a.m. to burn you. If you have to be outside because your job requires you to see me, wear a hat and stay hydrated. You need to replenish what you lose in sweat!
Common Heat Sickness Symptoms:
·         Feeling nauseous
·         Flushed and/or pale skin
·         Dizziness
·         Heavy sweating
·         Severe headaches

If I’ve caused you to have any of these symptoms (sorry in advance!) go to a cooler area in the shade or in an air-conditioned building. Administer cool cloths directly on to your skin and drink cool water slowly, approximately one glass every 15 minutes. Loosen any restricting clothing and try to relax. If symptoms continue to worsen call 9-1-1 immediately!
Nothing makes me sadder than when individuals leave children or pets unattended in vehicles, even if it’s for a few minutes. Don’t do it, please! The inside of a vehicle heats up quickly and rapidly becomes a death trap for anyone left inside.

Heat Related Terms You Should Know:
·         Heat Cramps are muscle tremors and pains that can affect the calves, abdomen, back and arms. It’s an early sign your body is having trouble with the hot temperatures. They are painful spasms that need to be treated if cramps continue well after an hour.
·         Heat Exhaustion is when the blood travels to your skin cells and not through your vital organs. This can cause your brain to go into mild shock if left untreated. This occurs in victims who frequently work outside for their job or exercise outdoors. Profuse sweating results in fluid loss, so always carry extra water to replenish!
·         Heat Stroke occurs when the body’s natural temperature control system fails and sweating won’t help cool the body down. This is life threatening and must be treated immediately! Please call 9-1-1 for immediate attention!
Common Symptoms of Heat Stroke:
·         Hot, red and dry skin
·         Loss of conciseness
·         A rapid or weakened pulse
·         Shallow breathing
I have given you all that you need to know, so don’t ignore it! I might not be this nice again. Summer is for enjoying fun and friends, don’t let me ruin it! I just get too excited sometimes when I see you all enjoying my rays!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Learn To Swim And Where

By Shannon Randol, intern contributor, American Red Cross

Did you know Texas is ranked number one in the country for pool drownings? Tarrant County is ranked number two in the state. And the statistics haven’t changed for the past few years according to the Fort Worth Drowning Coalition.

The leading cause of death for children under the age of 4 is drowning, and it’s the second leading accidental death for children 14-years-old and younger according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  

For every child that drowns, another five receive medical attention for water-related injuries. 

Swim lessons can be expensive especially if you have more than one child, but we have a solution for you. The Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition offers swim lessons at a number of locations for only $5!

Safe Swim Schedule: 
  • June 16-19, June 23-26 2015 at Westside YMCA 6:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.  
  • July 28-31, Aug 4-7 2015 at Southwest YMCA 6:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.  
  • Aug 25-28, Sept 1-4 2015 at Marine Park Pool 6:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. 
  • $5 for 8 swim lessons 
You can register for classes here. Take advantage quick as slots will fill up!  
The YMCA’s in both Dallas and Fort Worth also offer special scholarships to those who qualify for swim and fun summer programs.  Here are the links for both applications: 

The Red Cross team has also put together a number of resources and tips to help keep your family safe over the summer. Here are the some quick tips to stay safe: 

Water Safety 

  • Never leave children unattended near water 
  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards 
  • Never assume someone else is watching your children 
  • Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and learn-to-swim courses 
  • Stay off of cell phones, give your attention 100 percent to supervising your children 
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and first aid kit 
  • Enroll in Red Cross first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies  
Boating Safety from 
In 2011, 70 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those who drowned, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.  
  • Have children wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats. Make sure life jackets sit snugly. Have the child make a “touchdown” signal by raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose. 
  • Don’t drink alcohol while operating a boat. A huge number of boating accidents each year involve alcohol consumption. 
  • Infants and young kids are at a higher risk for hypothermia, so if you bring a baby on a boat take extra steps to keep them warm.  
Swimming is great exercise and the perfect way to tire out the kiddies during the summer. Take the necessary precautions to insure the safety of your children this summer and each summer to come.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Aloha From Hawaii

By Shannon Randol, intern contributor, American Red Cross

Volunteer and Hawaiian politician Ryan Yamane throws
up a 'hang-ten' from Texas.
It’s safe to say Texas is officially out of the drought. The Red Cross has had 2,293 disaster responders including volunteers and staff working to keep Texas afloat the past few months, and only around half of these responders are from Texas.

The other half came from everywhere from Maine to Washington to help, but an island 3,700 miles away also deployed six of their own to aid Red Cross efforts in Texas. 

Ryan Yamane is a Hawaiian native living in Oahu. On a blue sky day, he serves as an elected official for the House of Representatives for the state of Hawaii, and he's done so for the past 11 years. Ryan has also worked with the Red Cross for the last 15 years.

This is Ryan's first disaster deployment out of Hawaii. Previously, his primary function was to respond to home fires and local disasters as part of the Disaster Action Team (DAT). He worked in hurricane shelter operations from his home chapter in Honolulu, as well. He trained with FEMA to become a public information officer. As a licensed social worker, his role for the next seven days in Dallas is as a Disaster Mental Health worker.

"I pleaded to get out of Hawaii to help the people of Texas. I like working with the people," said Ryan.

Disaster Mental Health workers go to affected areas to check on residents' well-being and make sure people are prepared for future emergencies. They also see how families are functioning as a whole and whether they need any food, water or supplies.  

As soon as he arrived in Texas, Ryan hopped on a Red Cross emergency vehicle with a group of volunteers and went to communities in danger of flooding in North Texas if more rainfall occurred. He spent the day finding homes at risk and speaking to families about how they were dealing with the flooding and if they had enough resources.

“Families were taking the flood threat seriously,” said Ryan. “They were surprised how quickly the water was rising.”

Ryan explained that it’s normal for people to be fearful or emotional when dealing with the floods. He said his job is to make sure they are prepared and aware of the options they have for assistance. Disasters are stressful, and it's important to be aware of how everyone involved is handling the circumstances.   

Ryan said lawmakers in Hawaii are looking to find new flood mitigation due to the flooding occurring throughout the entire state of Texas.

The Red Cross is thankful for all the support it has received with this continuous disaster, and we thank all the volunteers who have donated their time throughout the last few months. 

If you would like to donate to the spring storm victims please go to the websitecall 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Friday, June 26, 2015

After Months of Non-Stop Disaster Response, American Red Cross Seeks New Volunteers to Help Storm Victims

Rash of Weather Events Deplete Local Resources

Mother Nature was harsh this past spring. She left more than 2,000 Texas families without homes, caused the Red Cross to open 60 shelters, hand out more than 340,000 meals and snacks along with 171,000 clean-up items like shovels, tarps, rakes, mops, buckets and work gloves. Her relentless nature was responded to by a force of nature made up of 2,200 trained Red Cross relief workers from around the country, with nearly half being Texans. 

Now, the Red Cross is offering virtual training courses in an attempt to recruit new volunteers to deliver their mission critical services. 

“Because the sun is shining doesn’t mean this disaster has passed,” said T.D. Smyers, chief executive officer, American Red Cross North Texas Region. “It’s quite the opposite actually. Our teams will be managing the statewide Red Cross call center, conducting disaster assessments and providing casework services most likely up through August, which is why we’re appealing for new volunteers to come join us.”

Virtual training courses are being offered this weekend in the following areas:

June 27
Orientation to Texas Disaster

Caseworker: Just in Time

Disaster Assessment: Just in Time

Sheltering: Just in Time
June 29
Orientation to Texas Disaster

Sheltering: Just in Time

Disaster Assessment: Just in Time

Casework: Just in Time

To register as a new Red Cross volunteer, go to and click on ARC Flood Relief. From there, you'll receive instructions on how to register for the virtual training. All Red Cross disaster training courses are FREE, compliments of Red Cross donors who make the mission possible. 
“My team here in North Texas has literally been working around the clock since mid-April and they’ve done an honorable job for Texans,” said Smyers. “We need some more just like them to carry us through the second half of this disaster.”