Friday, December 31, 2010

Make being Red Cross Ready your New Year's resolution!

We here at the Chapter love being prepared for anything that may be thrown our way, which is why we all make the resolution to be a little more Red Cross Ready every New Years! 
What does being Red Cross Ready mean you ask?
Everyone that is Red Cross Ready has evacuation plans for their households, kits that can be grabbed in a hurry if they need to evacuate or take shelter in their home, and are informed about what is going on in terms of impending natural and manmade disasters. 
Being Red Cross Ready is all about being proactive, so that when there is an emergency, you’ve already planned and are prepared to survive the emergency.  So be sure to visit our website for tips on how to be Red Cross Ready, and also to schedule a Red Cross Ready presentation for your company or organization so that you can help your co-workers get prepared for the New Year!
Helpful reminder: We know that New Year’s Eve is a big day for celebrating! Be sure to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and also to keep the candle lighting to a minimum to ensure that you don’t bring in the New Year with a disaster.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Make a New Year’s resolution to support your Chapter!

When you turn on your favorite news station and see a fellow community member’s home being ravaged by a fire, you may say “what a shame” and think how that could never happen to you and your family.  However, it does happen to families every day here in Buffalo, and when it does, we’re there to help.  We wouldn’t be able to do this without you.  
Your donations of time and money allow us to do what we do best in the community, help.  Whether it’s through Emergency Services, Disaster Preparedness, Services to Seniors, Services to the Armed Forces or HIV/AIDS Services, we are here in Buffalo to help. 
So thank you for all of the support you have given to us this past year and we hope that we can count on your continued support in the New Year so that we can continue to help all of our neighbors. 
To make a donation please visit us online or call us at 716.878.2374.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Have you thought about becoming a SAF volunteer as part of your New Year’s resolution?

Some people don’t realize that the American Red Cross is still closely connected to its roots in terms of working alongside the military.  Through our Services to the Armed Forces (SAF) program, we help connect families here in the States with their family member in the service, stateside or across the world.  This is a great opportunity to get involved and give back to Service Members and their families, and great way to incorporate benevolence into your New Year’s resolution! 
SAF volunteers work directly with family members during major events, such as a birth or the death or illness of a close relative,  to verify their emergency, and then follow the correct avenues in order to get their message delivered to their family member in the service.  Depending on the type of emergency, where the service member is located, and if it is during a time of war or peace, the Service Member may be granted leave to come home or an opportunity to call home.
If you would like to become involved in this great service, you will need to complete the Services to Armed Forces- Emergency Communication Message Training through the Chapter.  This course is a basic introductory class that gives an overview of how to receive and process a case in the Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services program, and also has an online course component that provides more hands on training. 
To schedule training, please call us at 716.878.2387 or visit us online.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Make becoming CPR certified your New Year's resolution!

If your significant other or another family member were to choke on something or stop breathing, would you know what to do? Make it your New Year’s resolution to learn!

We all normally eat at least 3 times a day, which means all of us run the risk of ourselves choking or being in the room with someone that is choking more than 20 times a week!  This is why we here at the Chapter think that everyone should be prepared for these types of situations by becoming certified in CPR/AED! So breathe a little easier this 2011 and make getting certified in CPR/AED a part of your New Year’s resolution!

Already certified? Individuals need to be recertified yearly to make sure that they are up-to-date on all of the new techniques and qualifications, so, if you can’t remember if it’s 30 to 2, 50 to 3 or you don’t even know what that means… it’s time to come back in for a refresher course!

To register for a CPR/AED course through the Chapter, visit us online or call us at 716.878.2387

Monday, December 27, 2010

Have you thought about becoming a DAT volunteer for your New Year’s resolution?

All of us here at the Chapter take our New Year’s resolutions pretty seriously, and we only have 5 more days to choose what we’re going to dedicate ourselves to in 2011! Whether it has to do with losing weight, not drinking coffee, working out 3 times a week, reading a book a month, having more family meals together, or volunteering more often, we all try to take advantage of the New Year to better ourselves, and we challenge you to do the same!
The Chapter offers many opportunities for individuals to get involved and better themselves, and their community.  For example, you could become a DAT volunteer.
To become a DAT volunteer, you must be 18 years or older, have  a good understanding of spoken/written English, a working personal phone, a valid driver’s license, and be able to pass a background check.  If none of these things are a concern for you, then becoming a DAT volunteer may be the perfect resolution for you!
DAT volunteers are required to take a 3 hour entry level orientation that covers the Chapter, organization and DAT.  After taking the course you will understand the roles and responsibilities of a DAT volunteer, when and how to respond to local emergencies, policies and procedures, as well as how to sign-up for on-call DAT hours. 
DAT volunteers are generally called to respond to local house fires, and are responsible for a preliminary assessment of damage as well as an assessment of the needs of each individuals that was directly affected by the fire.  After this assessment, the volunteer will determine how much assistance, if any, each individual needs in order to ensure that they are in a safe, healthy environment, where they will be provided with additional assistance to find their way back on their feet. 
If you’re interested in becoming a DAT volunteer as part of your New Year’s resolution, or just because you want to give back and better your community, please call us to schedule your training at 716.878.2387 or visit us online.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Travel advisory

If you’re among the thousands traveling this holiday, we hope that you’re taking steps to be prepared!  Here are some essentials that you should make sure you pack up in your cars this holiday season when traveling, whether to see the in-laws in Portland or the elves up at the North Pole! 
-AAA membership
-Activities for all travelers
-Adults and teens-books, magazines, IPod/MP3 player, DVD player
-Kids-books, IPod, paper and crayons (for coloring, making Cootie Catchers, Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe or the license plate game) and travel versions of games, like my personal favorites, Rush Hour and Bananagrams!
-A full tank of gas (One less thing to worry about if you get stuck in traffic)
-Battery operated radio
-Blankets for all travelers
-Car cell phone chargers
-Car scrapers/brush and shovel
-Coats, scarves, gloves and boots for all travelers
-Empty coffee cans or bottles (with lids!) for makeshift facilities
-Extra clothing for all travelers
-Extra food/snacks for all travelers
-Extra plastic bags
-Extra water for all travelers
-Map and directions
-Something brightly colored and reflective that can be used to call attention to your car if needed
While some of these items may seem a bit excessive to pack, if you find yourself stuck out on the road during a blizzard, accident related traffic jam or a closed road, you will be happy to have taken the extra time to be prepared! As some unlucky individuals recently discovered when stuck on the Thruway for 48 hours here in Buffalo, taking the time to pack up some comforts and essentials can go a long way in maintaining you and your family’s sanity in a rough situation!
You can click here for more winter preparedness tips, visit our store to purchase an emergency kit or check out FEMA's winter driving tips
If you think that your school, company or other organization would benefit from a Be Red Cross Ready presentation that addresses issues such as winter preparedness, please contact Denise Herkey-Jarosch, Regional Coordinator, NYS Citizens Preparedness Program at (716) 878-2231 to set up a presentation

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Check us out!

Have you noticed how beautiful the mansion is looking this holiday season? Thanks to the fabulous work and generosity of the local florists at Bloom, and help from the Chapter's staff, the Chapter is looking festive and just as Mrs. Clement, the wife of the prominent banker that once resided in this mansion, would have wanted.  If you haven’t had a chance to visit us here at 786 Delaware Avenue, you should sign up for a class through our website, drive by in the evening to see it with all the holiday lights on or call to schedule a tour to get a firsthand look at a truly historic Buffalo home.
Fun fact! One holiday season, the Chapter tried to put a Christmas tree in one of the mansion’s front windows that had colored lights on it, something that Mrs. Clement strictly forbid.  For three nights in a row, the tree was found knocked over, regardless of what was placed around the tree to hold it up.  On the fourth night, white lights were put on the tree, and it never fell again!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy winter!

After looking out the window for the past few weeks, it seems like we’ve already had our share of snow… but winter only officially begins today Buffalo!  With yourself, your friends and relatives all doing a lot of traveling and visiting, it’s important to be prepared for a lot of situations.  What if a big snow storm hit and you lost power in your home for 3 days with all of your relatives stuck because of travel ban? Would there be enough non-perishable food and water for all of you? 
Being short on food generally isn’t a huge concern around the holidays.  However, many of my holiday favorites require refrigeration… and although eating 20 servings of my mom’s amazing ├ęclair cake might get me through the first day (and would definitely make it a very enjoyable one!) it wouldn’t be safe to eat that when it isn’t refrigerated for 2-3 days.    That’s why it’s important to sort through your cupboards now!
See how much canned food and other non-perishable items like granola bars, nuts and water you have.  Looking now will allow you to just add the extra items you need to your holiday grocery shopping, let you easily check one more thing of that long holiday check list and allow you to rest a little easier knowing that although that winter warning may be blinking across the bottom of the television screen... you and your guests are ready!
Other things to be sure to have on hand:
  • Activities that don’t require electricity… that means no Wii or holiday movies!
    • Cards- Go Fish, Hearts, I Doubt It, Old Maid, Slapjack, Solitaire, Spoons and my favorite… Euchre!
      •  Don’t know how to play any of those? Click on the links above to get instructions and learn how… BEFORE the electricity goes out!
    • Board games- Apples to Apples, Jenga, Monopoly, Scrabble and Twister… just to name a few of our favorites here at the Chapter!
  • Batteries
  • Blankets
  • Flashlights (NO candles… the prevalence of fires always goes up during power outages due to the increased use)
  • Generator (If you have one make sure that it is outdoors)
  • Hand can opener
  • Know Buffalo’s emergency evacuation routes, as they are the most likely to be cleared
    • Broadway, Clinton Street, Delaware Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, Exchange Street, Genesee Street, Main Street, Niagara Street, Seneca Street, South Park Avenue and William Street
  • Shovels and salt
So Buffalo, take the hint from Mother Nature! Get prepared with us here at the Chapter because March 20th (the first day of spring) is a long way away!  For more winter preparedness tips and advice on what to stock up on, visit the Chapter online!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why I Volunteer: The Sheltons

Imagine moving to a new city just days before it is struck by one of the biggest natural disasters in our nation’s history.  Travis and Laurie Shelton had been in New Orleans just three weeks when Hurricane Katrina shut the city down in 2005. 

“We went to a baseball game that Friday,” Laurie said.  “Everyone was joking about the next named storm.” 

“The next morning, I went to go get breakfast at McDonalds,” Travis said.  “They were boarding it up, and the Wal-Mart was already closed.  That’s when we decided we better get out of town.”  The newly-married couple packed an overnight bag and drove to Mobile, Alabama, planning to return for work on Monday.  By the time they arrived, the hotels were already full, and gas was sold out.  After finding a similar situation in Montgomery, they decided to continue driving to Georgia to stay with Travis’s family, where they watched the devastation unfold on the news.

“We saw the McDonald’s I was in two days earlier under water, and we just started crying,” Travis said.  When they could finally get back into their house weeks later, the Sheltons found their ceiling collapsed and all of their belongings, even their clothes, moldy and water-logged.  Making things even worse, the Shelton’s had been in their home less than 30 days, so their flood insurance did not cover the damage.

The American Red Cross in Macon, Georgia provided Travis and Laurie with clothing and other basic assistance, while back in New Orleans, the American Red Cross partnered with Tide to offer laundry service, which helped the newlyweds get back on their feet.  “New Orleans was one big volunteer effort,” Laurie said. 

The Sheltons spent four months living with co-workers from Geico in the upper floors of a hotel whose ground floor was gutted out after Katrina.  Work eventually brought the couple to Western New York, and the Shelton’s began volunteering with the Greater Buffalo Chapter’s Disaster Action Team in March of 2010. 

“We’ve always wanted to give something back,” Laurie said.  “We understand what it’s like to lose everything.  Our experience is something clients can identify with.”
“We’ve gone from empathy to sympathy,” Travis added.  “We’ve been in their shoes.”

For more information about volunteering through our Chapter, please contact Mary Walls at 716.878.2140.  To make a donation so that we can continue to help other families like the Sheltons, please visit our website and Holiday Giving Catalog or text GIFT to 90999 to make a $25 donation. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

What we're up to!

It’s Christmas week here at the Chapter! Since we spend all year doing good work for our community, we take advantage of the Christmas season to have a little fun.  Our past week has been full of Secret Santa, homemade goodies and theme days, including today which is… Ugly Sweater day!

Although it’s not a competition, there have been a few individuals that have gone above and beyond this week, whether in extravagant Secret Santa scavenger hunts, bringing in homemade goodies or making their own ugly Christmas sweaters!  Even throughout our Christmas week, we have helped several families, which we are happy to do. We know that the Christmas season is all about giving, and we know that you as a community do as well.
Without your generous donations, we would not be able to do our good work throughout Buffalo 24/7, rain or shine, holiday or not, so we thank you for giving us the power to give help, because that is what we do best!
To make a donation to the American Red Cross this holiday season and help us continue to do our good work in the community, please visit us online, donate through our Holiday Giving Catalog or text GIFT to 90999 to make a $25 donation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Food for thought... chew it up!

Do you know what the number one food children younger than 10-years of age choke on?
Hot dogs!
Hot dogs account for more that 17% of choking occurrences in children.  Several of us here at the Chapter have witnessed the look of fear and panic that fills a young child’s eyes when they realize they can’t breathe, and it is safe to say that is one of the scariest things to see. What’s worse is when no one knows what to do.  If your child or loved one were to choke today, would you know what to do in order to save their life?  Take the steps now to be prepared!
The Chapter offers child CPR/AED courses and we encourage all parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers and babysitters to get certified, so if they’re ever put in that situation, they will know how to react and save a life!
For more information or to sign up for a course, visit us online or call us at 716.878.2387.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winterize your home!

With all of this wintery weather and temperatures dipping well below freezing, it’s time to start winterizing your homes here in Buffalo!
Here are some tips to follow:
Insulate your home- Be sure to install your storm windows or to keep windows covered indoors with plastic insulation (it will help keep the cold air out and the warm air in!)
Heating supplies- Be sure to have your chimneys cleaned and inspected and your heaters serviced and inspected for optimum performance and safety.
Pets- Be sure to move your pets indoors and make sure that they have access to non-frozen drinking water.
Running water- If you know your pipes have a tendency to freeze, let water trickle to prevent freezing and bursting.
Emergency supply kit- Be sure to have 3 days of non-perishable food for you and your family on hand (remember a can opener!), 3 gallons of bottled water for each person in your household, a first aid kit and extra medications, a battery operated radio, warm clothing and sanitation items.  For more tips on building a kit or to buy a kit, visit us online!
Alarms- Make sure that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms have batteries and are located in the central locations in your home.
For more tips and information about how to deal with the winter weather here in Buffalo, visit our Chapter online.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What does "Help from the Red Cross" Really Mean?

You hear it all the time on the news after a fire or other disaster--"The Red Cross is assisting the family."  That sounds good, but what does it really mean?  Well, here's what it meant for one family forced out of the house they were renting by last week's lake effect snow machine!

Our Disaster Action Team volunteers responded to the scene on Lemans Road in Depew last Thursday, after the weight of multiple feet of snow caused the roof to collapse on the home.  The Red Cross provided the family with money for food, new clothes, and a hotel stay through Monday. 

On Monday, the family came into our Chapter to ask for more help.  The Red Cross provided them with additional clothing and other supplies for their infant child, and extended their hotel stay through Thursday.  Our staff also discussed a long-term recovery plan with the family, and will help in any way we can as they try to put their lives back in order.  The Red Cross has even offered to assist the family with the security deposit and first month's rent once they find an apartment!  Our Disaster Action Team is looking forward to meeting with the family today to get an update on their progress and offer them further assistance.

The American Red Cross, Greater Buffalo Chapter helps hundreds of families like this one who suddenly find themselves homeless after a fire, flooding, or yes, even a massive lake-effect snow storm every year.  But we need your help to be able to provide these services to our neighbors.  This holiday season, please consider giving the gift that saves the day!  Text GIFT to 90999 to send a $25 donation to the American Red Cross.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Send a holiday card to hereos!

Reverend Jan Mahle has been a Campus Minister at D’Youville College since November, 1999.  During her time at the college the Campus Ministry has made a concerted effort to connect D’Youville faculty, staff and students to a variety of volunteer opportunities, and this fall semester we were delighted to have them partner with us for the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign.

“What I liked most about this volunteer project,” said Reverend Mahle, “was that it gave everyone involved an opportunity to express their gratitude to soldiers, their families or veterans in their own words.”


The D’Youville Campus Ministry Federal work study students, first year student classes, the Campus Community Club and staff participated in this college-wide campaign, creating over 160 cards that will eventually be sent to service members, veterans and their families.   

“At first, students were hesitant because they didn’t know what to write” said Reverend Mahle “However, once they were given a couple of suggestions, their expressions of gratitude and sentiment were a joy to read... This campaign gives people the chance to be creative, very personal, and express words of gratitude such as one staff member with a brother in the military did when she wrote, “Dear Military Hero, May you find peace in your heart knowing that people unknown to you wish you a safe mission and return home.””

It’s not too late for the Buffalo community to participate in this campaign. So gather your families, friends, employees and coworkers together to make a card to show your appreciation for a service member, veteran or their family.  Be sure to get your cards out by December 10th!  To learn more, please visit us at the Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter warm-up!

If you are like many other Buffalonians, you may not have realized that parts of the area were hit by a massive lake effect snow storm that shut down portions of the New York State Thruway for nearly 48 hours this past week!  While some individuals were still seeing green out their windows, others were trying to keep up with the feet of snow that were quickly beginning to accumulate.  If you were lucky, you at least made it home.   
Hundreds of people were stranded on the Thruway for hours before emergency personnel could reach them.  More than 80 people accepted transportation to the American Red Cross’s warming center at the Cheektowaga Senior Center on Broadway. While we couldn’t help these individuals free their stranded vehicles, we were able to provide them with a warm meal and some basic comforts while they waited for safe transportation to their area homes.  We also provided hotel rooms for 13 individuals who were not from this area so that they had a safe to be until their cars were excavated from the snow pile that had once been the Thruway.
With the first official day of winter not until December 21 and Buffalo already being hit by a major snow storm, we here at the Chapter hope that everyone takes the hint and starts preparing!  If you were one of those 80 individuals stranded in their cars for over 18 hours, would you have had blankets, food, water and activities to sustain you? If not, the time to start making a preparedness kit for your car is now, since even more snow is predicted for the Buffalo area this week.  
You can click here for tips on making your own kit or visit our store to purchase one of our premade kits. 
If you think that your school, company or other organization would benefit from a Be Red Cross Ready presentation that addresses issues such as winter preparedness, please contact Denise Herkey-Jarosch, Regional Coordinator, NYS Citizens Preparedness Program at (716) 878-2231 to set up a presentation.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blow it out!

There is only one time of the year that we here at the Chapter think candles are a swell idea… that’s right, your birthday!  Candles are one of the leading causes of house fires across the world, so the more we can do to keep from lighting them, the better. 

Did you know that when communities lose power, the percentage of house fires always increases over the next 48 hours? Why, you might ask? Because of the increased use of candles! To help prevent this, be sure to stock your emergency kit with batteries and flashlights (Be sure to store the batteries separate!) so that the next time you’re without power, you can light up a room without lighting up your entire house!

For more information on fire safety visit us!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Brrrrrr! Is it just us here at the Chapter, or has it gotten cold out? With the recent snowy weather we are in winter preparedness mode here.  Are you prepared for a sudden snow storm and the possibility of being stranded in your car for up to 3 days before help arrives? We are! Our blankets, food, water, radio, extra gloves, hats and scarves are packed up and there for us if we’re faced with that type of emergency.  And we hope that you’re starting to prepare too because once you’re stuck in a snow pile, wishing you had packed a blanket won’t get you one!
Not sure what to pack? Check out our website for some kit making tips, or visit our store to order one. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Don't get burned Buffalo!

Winter is upon us.  Temperatures are dropping and furnaces are kicking, on which means it's "fire season” here in Buffalo.  
If your household were to have a fire tonight would you be prepared? Statistics tell us that only 26% of you out there are.  Do you have a family meeting spot? Does everyone in your family know two ways out of every room in your house? When was the last time you checked your fire detectors? Do you have whistles near every bed so that you and your family can alert firefighters if you get trapped inside? Do you have an emergency kit in your car with changes of clothes and shoes in case you need to hurry out in just your pajamas? These are the types of things we need to think about before hand in order to be prepared.

Developing a plan can be as easy as sitting down with your family and mapping out your home and neighborhood to establish meeting places and the best evacuation routes depending on where the fire may be inside.  Being proactive could be the difference between survival and a tragedy, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re immune to a house fire. Nearly 400 families in the City of Buffalo lose their homes to fires every year.  Make sure that you’re Red Cross Ready so that if you do have a serious house fire, your home is the only thing you lose.  For tips on making a plan for you and your family, visit us online at the American Red Cross.   

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Giving

Are you looking for a way to give back to the community this year? Then the American Red Cross's Holiday Giving Catalog may be the right choice for you!

Our Giving Catalog allows you to purchase items for the Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross so that you can do your part to help in our community and national relief efforts.  Whether it be a full day of shelter support, military support kits for our troops over seas or vaccinations for children around the world, you can feel good knowing that 91% of your donations go directly to our relief efforts.  So, when you see us at the scene of a disaster, you can know that your generosity has helped make that possible. 

Please visit our Online Giving Catalog and give the gift that saves the day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Watch out Buffalo... here comes winter!

The fond memories I have of spending my winters here in Buffalo generally end with having a bright red nose, wind-nipped fingers, snow-filled shoes and a huge smile from an afternoon filled with sledding, ice skating and gallivanting through the park while dodging snow balls.  But in a city where temperatures drop and the wind always seems to find you through even your heaviest coat, scarf, gloves and hat, it’s important to know your limit when outdoors.  Frostbite and hypothermia are common in our climate, and we all need to be prepared when we encounter them:
FROSTBITE is the freezing of a specific body part.  It usually affects extremities like your fingers, toes, nose and earlobes.  If you or someone you know thinks they have frostbite, here are some symptoms you should check for, and what to do if you spot them:      

  • Symptoms
    • Lack of feeling in the affected area
    • Skin that appears waxy and is cold to the touch
    • Discoloration of the skin (flushed, white, gray, yellow or blue)
  • What NOT to do
    • Do not rub the affected area
  • What to do
    • Get to a warm place
    • Place affected area in warm water until skin begins to redden and warm
    • Seek professional care as soon as possible    
HYPOTHERMIA is the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body's warming system.  It can be life threatening so be sure to call 9-1-1! 
  • Symptoms
    • Shivering
    • Numbness
    • A glassy stare
    • Weakness
    • Loss of consciousness
  • What to do
    • Call 9-1-1
    • Get to a warm place
    • Monitor breathing and circulation
      • Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed
    • Remove any wet clothing
    • Warm the person slowly with blankets and dry clothing
    • Wait for the EMT to arrive
Winter can be a harsh season in Buffalo, but if we all make sure we are Red Cross Ready we can enjoy the fun activities winter’s snow and cold weather offer! 
For more information concerning frostbite and hypothermia, click here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Mail for Heroes

It’s that time of year again.  Family, friends and loved ones are coming together to celebrate the holidays, drink eggnog, eat pumpkin pie, tell stories and fight over the seat closest to the mashed potatoes.  But let’s not forget those service members, veterans and their families who are sacrificing their holiday traditions to ensure that we can continue to celebrate ours.  To send your appreciation and holiday cheer, you, your family and friends can join the American Red Cross’s Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign. 

To get involved in this year’s campaign, create a card and mail it by December 10th to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD

Cards will be
sorted and delivered to a service member, veteran or their family so that they can see how much we appreciate their sacrifices, especially during this holiday season.