Friday, January 28, 2011

Did dad burn toast again, or is the house on fire?

We go to schools, local companies, organizations, clubs, community centers, churches and just about anywhere else you could think of to present to the community about how to be “Red Cross Ready.”  These presentations are largely to inform you about what we do at the Red Cross, what constitutes an emergency, how to develop an emergency plan and kit and to help you start thinking about how you’re going to get information during an emergency and survive.   
But these presentations aren’t just for you, they’re also for us. 
All of the questions and comments that you make during these presentations open our eyes to what the community is thinking, and also how we should be focusing the material we are presenting.  For example, in an elementary school today a student asked if they’re supposed to leave there home every time the smoke alarm goes off… because their mom burns dinner a lot! And that is an interesting question that we hadn’t really thought about before.  We often just assume that our smoke alarms are going off because   someone is burning something, and because of that, we don’t respond and react as we normally would. 
Personally, if a smoke alarm wasn’t turned off within a minute, I would go check for smoke, fire or a really bad cook, but you don’t want your children looking for fire when they should be evacuating! 
So, this is a conversation that parents should be having with their children.   If your household has any exception to the evacuation rule, such as if mom or dad is in the kitchen cooking and the smoke alarm goes off for 20 seconds before they can reset it, then you don’t need to evacuate.  However, if it is 11:00pm, no one is yelling “it’s alright,” and the smoke alarm is going off for more than a minute, then you need to evacuate and go to the outdoor family meeting place.
So be sure to have these conversations with your family.  If no one is on the same page now, it will make an emergency a lot more confusing.  So make a plan, get a kit and stay informed!!
For more information, please visit our emergency preparedness section online and to schedule a presentation for your work, church or other organization please contact Denise Herkey-Jarosch, Regional Coordinator, NYS Citizens Preparedness Program at (716) 878-2231 or to set up a presentation, or visit the Chapter online for preparedness tips.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Welcome Eliza!

Here at the Red Cross, we welcome the opportunity to help students gain valuable experience in the work place, which is why semester after semester we offer internships to our local colleges. 
This semester, we are lucky enough to have Eliza Osmani join our team to help us with the upcoming BASH season!  If you have ever attended BASH, thank you for supporting us. We expect that you had a fantastic time.  However, that event takes a lot of planning, and we are happy to have Eliza to not only help us make that event even more enjoyable, but also give her experience in event planning as well as PR so that she can make the most out of her degree in Communications at UB. 
When Eliza isn’t in BASH mode here at the Red Cross, or studying to finish off her final semester, she enjoys reading, yoga and hanging out with her friends.  She’s very excited to graduate and get into a master’s program, and she’s hoping that having the Red Cross on her resume will give her a competitive edge. 
Eliza’s Red Cross Moment
“I think my Red Cross moment came 1 year ago, the first time I gave blood. I realized the quality and the humanity involved in the American Red Cross. Every time the Red Cross does something, there is a certain kind of standard they set, which is not only tough to beat, but makes you rise to the occasion yourself, whether it’s giving blood or helping with disaster relief.”
If you’d like to get more information about our volunteer opportunities at the Chapter please visit us online or contact Mary Walls at 716.878.2140 or   
To share your Red Cross Moment, please contact Jay Bonafede at 

Help! My dog is... choking?

If Snuffy the puppy were choking or stopped breathing, would you know how to save her? Well, if not, you’re in luck, because we can now help you answer “yes!” 

The American Red Cross is known for providing lifesaving training that helps families stay safe and healthy, and since pets are part of the family, we offer training that will keep them safe and healthy as well! Our three-hour Pet First Aid course provides hand-on training in emergency care procedures for cats and dogs.   This session will teach you step-by-step so that you can learn how to:
·         Identify a normal heart rate
·         Safely approach an ill or injured animal
·         Safely restrain a cat
·         Properly muzzle a dog
·         Administer CPR and much more!

To learn more about our Pet First Aid program, view our flyer, or register for this $25.00 course, please visit the Chapter online or call us at 716.878.2377. 
A portion of the course fee goes towards the Pet Emergency Fund.
Don’t forget to check out our own Shoshone Snyder-Dentice who gives more details about our Pet First Aid program on AM Buffalo’s Pet Talk Tuesday

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Red Cross Moments

The Red Cross has been built on the generosity and support of its neighbors in communities around the world, and because of that, we have been able to touch the lives of many.  Our community involvement has created many memories of the Red Cross for our neighbors, and we want you to know what those are.  These memories will help reinforce our mission in our community, and also help bring us back to why we are here as the Red Cross--To help. 
My Red Cross Moment
“When I was in fourth grade, I walked home from school and found a slew of fire trucks outside of my home.  We had a house fire.  Luckily no one was injured, and my home only had minor damages, but the Red Cross was there to offer their support.  To this day, my family still talks about how thankful they were to know that if they needed a place to turn, the Red Cross would have been there.”
To share your moment, please e-mail your thoughts about what the Red Cross is, a past experience you have had with the Red Cross or what comes to mind when you hear the words “Red Cross,” to

Monday, January 24, 2011

Keep those pipes from becoming POPsicles!

Nothing is more irritating then the sudden realization that you have no water and that nagging possibility that your home may become a miniature version of  Niagara Falls at any minute.  Because of this, we thought it would be a good idea to put out some informative information about this fun phenomenon that plagues us cold climate dwellers, especially since, if you haven’t noticed, the temperature has been dipping into the negatives! 

Why does it matter if your pipes freeze?

Water expands when it freezes.  Because of this, pipes holding water at the time of freezing are put under a tremendous amount of pressure, which will cause them to break, regardless of their strength. 

What pipes should you be worried about?
Those that are exposed to severe cold:
  • Outdoor hose bibs
  • Swimming pool supply lines
  • Water sprinkler lines
  • Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like:
    • Basements
    • Crawl spaces
    • Attics
    • Garages
    • Kitchen cabinet
  • Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation
How might you prevent frozen pipes you ask? 
  • Before it gets cold…
    • Drain the water from your swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions
      • Do NOT put antifreeze in these lines unless directed
    • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors
      • Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs
      • Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain
      • Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break
    • Check around the house for other areas where water supply lines are located and are in unheated areas
      • Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
        • Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated!
        • A hot water supply line can freeze just as a cold water supply line can freeze if the water is not running through the pipe and the water temperature in the pipe is cold.
    • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes
      • "Pipe sleeve"
      • UL-listed:
        • "Heat tape"
        • "Heat cable"
      • Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes
        • Even ¼" of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing!
Get PREVENTATIVE during cold weather!
·         Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
·         Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
o   Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children!
·         If it’s very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes.
o   Did you know… running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing?
§  The temperature of the water running through it is above freezing!
·         Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.
o   By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you might have a higher heating bill, but it won’t cost as much as repairing your pipes if they freeze and burst!
·         If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
Oh no! You didn’t see these tips in time and your pipes froze?

How to thaw frozen pipes!  

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out… suspect a frozen pipe. Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe, which will likely be a pipe running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open.
    • As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area… Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe!
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water
    • Do NOT use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device!
      • A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide
    • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored.
      • If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too

How to protect yourself for the next cold wave?
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing
  • Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled
  • Add insulation added to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.

For more information on disaster safety, check us out online or contact the American Red Cross Chapter Greater Buffalo Chapter at 716-886-7500!

Content derived from:  Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi State University Extension Service, MH2 Technologies Ltd.,, State Farm Insurance Company, and Vancouver, BC, Waterworks Department.