Friday, April 8, 2011

April isn’t just about getting pets prepared… it’s also about Earthquake Preparedness!!

With the recent devastating earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, we’re reminded just how catastrophic the sudden shaking of the Earth can be.  This is why the American Red Cross has compiled some helpful hints to keep you prepared in case you’re ever faced with an earthquake while home here in WNY or visiting friends in California or traveling through Europe. 
Most Americans think California and the West Coast are the most susceptible areas in the United States for an earthquake. However, the majority of states and territories in every region of the country, including WNY, are at moderate to very high risk for an earthquake to occur.

Photo courtesty of Associated Press/Sandro Perozzi

In Japan, the strong earthquake led to a tsunami which swept miles inland from coastal areas, destroying everything in its path. Can a tsunami occur in the U.S.? The answer is yes, these mighty waves have already affected the U.S. Hawaii, Alaska and the West Coast are most prone to tsunamis, according to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program, while the giant waves are not as much of a threat on the Gulf Coast and East Coast.
Here are some important steps that you can take to prepare for an earthquake:
·         Know the fire evacuation and earthquake plans for any building you occupy regularly.
·         Pick safe places in each room of your home, place of employment or school, under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall.

·         Practice drop, cover and hold on. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
·         Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
·         Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
·         Bolt and brace water heaters, gas appliances, bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.

·         Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
·         Brace overhead light fixtures.
·         Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
Here are some important steps that you can take during an earthquake:
If you are inside when the shaking starts:
·         Drop, cover and hold on. Move as little as possible.
·         If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.
·         Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.

·         Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. Use stairs to exit the building rather than an elevator. 
·         Be aware that fire alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.
If you are outside when the shaking starts:
·         Find a clear spot away from buildings, power lines, trees and streetlights and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
·         If you are in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible. Stay inside with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
·         If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.
·         If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris. Landslides are often triggered by earthquakes.

Photo courtesy of The Telegraph

Steps you can take after an earthquake include:
·         Prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami. Each time you feel an aftershock, drop, cover and hold on.
·         Put on long pants, a long-­sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects.
·         Look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
·         Listen to a portable, battery-­operated or hand-­crank radio for updated emergency information and instructions.
·         Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
·         Clean up spilled medications, bleach, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately.

·         Open closet and cabinet doors carefully as contents may have shifted.
If you were away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.

Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning. They can occur during the day or at night, in any season of the year. For more information on what you can do to remain safe during an earthquake or any other disaster, visit us online.  If you’d like someone here at the American Red Cross to give a program to your school, church, gym or community center on how to be prepared, contact us at 716.886.7500.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Is your pet prepared?

Photo provided by
Every month is special… so what makes April special? Aside from it being this blogger's birthday month…. It’s also Pet First Aid Awareness Month!!  As a way to celebrate this very special month, we here at the American Red Cross like to offer tips to the millions of pet owners out there as a way to keep their animals safe and healthy, especially with that supposed warm weather approaching!!  
By developing Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid guides with DVDs, the American Red Cross is helping pet owners around the world care for their pets.  From basic responsibilities like spaying/neutering and giving medications, to performing CPR and preparing for disasters, our guides provide the information pet owners need to keep their pets healthy and safe.
Did you know, that 39% of households in the United States own at least one dog and 33% own at least one cat?
 “Warmer weather can bring certain dangers for pets… Know what is normal for your pet – gum color, heart and pulse rate, body temperature, breathing rate - so you can recognize when something is wrong.” -- Dr. Deborah Mandell, Pet Safety Advisor for the Red Cross.
Did you know that one of the most common problems pets face in warm weather is heat stroke?
Signs of heat stroke include:
·         Your pet may be panting heavily and unable to calm down, even when lying down
·         Your pet’s gum color may be brick red
·         Your pet’s pulse rate may be fast
·         You pet may not be able to get up
What to do you if you suspect your pet has heat stroke?
·         Take the pet’s temperature rectally.
o   If the temperature is above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, cool the animal down.
§  The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose
§  Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees
§  Bring the pet to the veterinarian immediately as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage
Did you know that the inside of a car can quickly reach 120 degrees in the warm weather months?
At this time of year, windows and doors in the home are more likely to be open. Pet owners should know that animals may try to get outside which increases the risk of trauma from jumping or falling from windows or being hit by vehicles.
Some plants and flowers can be hazardous. For instance, many lilies are very poisonous to cats. Visit the ASPCA Poison Control web site to find out which plants and flowers are poisonous to animals. If someone thinks their animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, they should contact their veterinarian.
Photo provide from the Mid Coast Chapter

Pet owners can follow these important steps to help keep their pet healthy:
·         Give pets plenty of exercise
·         Make sure pets have plenty of fresh, cool water
·         Make sure pets get regular yearly checkups with their veterinarian, and are up to date on vaccines, especially rabies
·         Get pets spayed or neutered
·         Keep dogs on leashes outside – another animal may be too much temptation
·         Know how to perform CPR and provide basic first aid until veterinary care is available
·         Don’t forget to include pets in emergency plans as well:
·         Plan to take pets along if ordered to evacuate.
·         Most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Know which friends, relatives, hotels, boarding facilities accept pets in an emergency.
·         Assemble a portable kit with emergency supplies for pets:
·         Leashes, harnesses and/or carriers
·         Food, drinking water, bowls, manual can opener
·         Medications and copies of medical records
·         Current photos of the pets
April is the perfect time to learn how to protect your family's pets from hazards so that you and your pets can have a great spring and summer!!
To purchase your very own Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid Guides with DVD, visit our store online.
For more information about our Pet First Aid courses, you can visit us online or call us here at the Chapter, 716.878.2387.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

College Club Conference

This past weekend, we helped host a College Club Conference for students across Division 10 in Albany, NY.  The idea of this conference was spearheaded by our Chapters very own Mary Walls, and the concept was to connect College Club members from across New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont.   
Students got to hear from:
Mfon Bassey--Exploring Humanitarian Law Coordinator, American Red Cross of Northeastern New York

Sarah Bunch--Associate, Youth and Young Adult Programs Humanitarian Services Operations
Jerry DeFrancisco-- President, Humanitarian Services at American Red Cross,
Heather Filipowicz, CFRE-- Senior Director, Advancement, Greater Buffalo Chapter
Christophe Lobry-Boulanger-- International Services Program Manager at American Red Cross  International Delegate, Senior Faculty Advisor IHL Dissemination at Red Cross Greater New York Chapter
Suzanne M. Piotrowski--MS HRD, RODP McArdle Ramerman & Company

Winnie Romeril-- American Red Cross, International Services Volunteer
Cheryl Searcy-- Director, Humanitarian Services Operations
Renee Smith-- Chief Operating Officer Cayuga County Chapter
Kimberly Tavarez-- Financial Development Associate, North Eastern NY Chapter

Debbie Woglom--Educator, Exploring Humanitarian Law Instructor, International Humanitarian Law Nursing professor, Elmira College
The presenters talked about everything from the American Red Cross’ mission and history to what it’s like working as an international volunteer to how to increase participation and sustainability within your club.  And it got the students excited and anxious to start making connections with the presenters as well as with one another. 
“We encouraged them to develop strong communication with one another so that if they ever need help running an event or are having trouble increasing participation in their club they have a support system to turn to.”- Mary Walls, Volunteer Coordinator, Greater Buffalo Chapter.  
There are American Red Cross college clubs across the world, and as this conference continues to grow and develop, the Red Cross hopes that a network of college club students emerges so that they can become their own self sustained group.  When problems arise, college clubs can call someone from a club across the country or from a different county so that they can get help with an event or get advice on an issue they are having.
With this being the first College Club Conference, the Red Cross is excited to see the level of response and involvement from the students, and with their help the conference will continue to grow and develop into something that can be used as a model across the country. 
If you would like to learn more about the college club conference or how to start up a college club, please contact Mary Walls 716.878.2140 or at

Monday, April 4, 2011

Here We Go Again!

It's an old joke--If you don't like the weather in Western New York, wait five minutes and it'll change!  Sunday afternoon, I was enjoying a lovely spring-like day outside playing baseball with my son, niece, and nephews.  Then, after watching the Sabres game (I know we're supposed to be neutral, but Let's Go Buffalo!), I went with my wife and son to the grocery store in the early evening.  As we pulled into the parking lot, it was much cooler than it had been earlier in the day, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Then, not an hour later, we left the store to find, you guessed it, snow!  And not a little bit, either.  Thankfully, it was too warm to stick to the roads, but it was coming down hard!  Now today, most of our area is under a Flood Watch from 1pm this afternoon through tomorrow morning, with over an inch of rain and that melting snow making flooding conditions possible over the next 24 hours or so.

As anyone who's lived in Western New York knows, we really do need to be prepared for anything that's blown our way, and conditions can change at a moment's notice. It's always a good idea to have an emergency kit prepared BEFORE severe weather strikes.  With potential flooding on the way, your kit should include:
·         At least a 3-day supply of food and water
·         Flashlight
·         Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
·         Extra batteries
·         First aid kit and a 7-day supply of medications
·         Baby and pet supplies
·         Personal hygiene items and extra clothing
·         Emergency blanket and rain gear
·         Copies of personal documents, including birth certificates and insurance polices
·         Cell phone with chargers, and family and emergency contact information
It's also important to make sure your insurance covers flood damage.  Flooding has caused nearly $24 billion damage nationwide over the last ten years, but losses due to flooding are not covered under typical insurance policies.  Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program--you can get more information at

For more tips on how to be Red Cross Ready for flooding or any possible disaster, be sure to visit our website,, or contact Denise Herkey-Jarosch, Regional Coordinator, NYS Citizens Preparedness Program, at (716) 878-2231 to set up a presentation.