Friday, August 5, 2011

The Hurricane!

Photo courtesy of

Did you know: The term hurricane is derived from Huracan, a god of evil recognized by an ancient tribe from Central America.

Hurricanes form over tropical waters in areas of high humidity, light winds, warm seas surface temperatures (typically 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more), and here in the United States they normally effect the South and East coasts.   

They generally bring heavy rain, dense clouds, strong winds, and heavy thunderstorms that can range from 50-300 miles long!

There are two types of warnings that will be put out before a Hurricane, and those are a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning.  

A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are a threat within the next 48 hours.  You should review your hurricane plan (if you don't have one, click here!), keep informed, and be ready to act if a warning is issued.

A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the next 36 hours.  You should complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.   
  • These preparations include:
    • Closing windows, doors, and boarding up the windows and doors with plywood
    • Turning off all propane tanks and small appliances
    • Filling your car's gas tank
    • Turning your fridge and freezers to the coldest settings and keeping them as sealed as possible
      • If the power goes out your food will last longer
    • Bring in all outdoor items that could blow away
    • Make sure your emergency kit is up to date with not expired items inside (click here if you need more information on building an emergency kit)
    • For more information about how to prepare for a hurricane, click here
Here in the United States, we've had several hurricanes hit, including Ike, Wilma, Rita, and of course, Katrina which was one of the most devastating hurricanes to hit since 1928. For more information about these storms or to learn about other hurricanes that have impacted the United States, click here.    

To learn more about how many hurricanes generally make landfall in the United States a year as well as to see the anatomy of a hurricane, click here for more information from the Red Cross!

To get more information about hurricane hazards, forecast, how to prepare, and act, click here to get more information from the National Hurricane Center.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Weekly Worldwide Wrap-Up

Wondering what has been happening around the world with the Red Cross and Red Crescents? Well, thanks to Robin Parker, an amazing Red Cross/Blog Master from the Oregon Trail Chapter, you can find out! 
Below, she's compiled a non-comprehensive sampling of the larger and/or more intriguing aspects of the work we do internationally

Photo courtesy of
BANGLADESH: Thousands displaced by flooding are receiving assistance from the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

CAMEROON: More than 300 volunteers are on the ground combating the cholera outbreak with hygiene and sanitation awareness.

SOMALIA: The ICRC is currently distributing food to 162,000 people in areas affected by drought and armed violence in southern and central Somalia.

SYRIA: The American Red Cross is contributing $50,000 to the relief efforts in Syria as part of its international response to the civil unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. The support will be dedicated to procuring food and relief supplies in Syria for people impacted by the violence.

HAITI: In preparation for tropical storm Emily, the IFRC - in support of the Haitian Red Cross- is activating its emergency plans in Haiti. Red Cross emergency response teams are on standby throughout the country and emergency supplies are pre-positioned.


Don't let your vacation take a bite out of you!

At the American Red Cross, we promote preparedness in all situations! Now, although we don’t have sharks here in WNY, people do travel! And since Discovery Channel is celebrating Shark Week, we thought this would be a great time to highlight some of their tips on how to prevent a shark attack!

Photo courtesy of
20 Ways To Avoid A Shark Attack, courtesy of the
Discovery Channel

20. Steer clear of dolphins and seabirds. They may not only attract sharks, but also often seek the same prey.

19. Skip swimming after heavy rains, which may move some freshwater fish, including sharks, into areas they would not otherwise frequent.

18. Sharks sometimes get stuck in lagoons and small bays during low tide, so be careful when swimming in such areas at these times.

17. Avoid diving from boats but, if you must, refrain from doing so at night and be sure to carefully scan the surrounding water beforehand.

16. Some sharks are very small and resemble tropical fish. Avoid touching fish around you, as you could find your hand in a tiny, yet well-toothed, mouth.

15. Pay attention to fish swimming patterns. If fish start to school or dart away, chances are a shark or other potential predator is nearby.

14. Fishing boats and anglers from shore can attract sharks looking for an easy seafood meal, so refrain from swimming near them.

13. The splash of a dog paddling is like a dinner bell for sharks.Do not take your pet with you in waters where there is even a remote chance of encountering a shark.

12. Splashing and other erratic movements signal distress and can alert sharks to your presence. Try to keep strokes and kicks smooth and even.

11. Got an uneven tan? Avoid swimming in open water because skin color contrasts seem to attract sharks, resembling color variations found on fish.

10. Brightly colored swimwear, colorful surfboards and shiny jewelry mimic natural fish bling, so save your flashy gear for terrestrial pursuits.

9. Mouths of rivers, channels, deep drops and areas between sandbars tend to attract sharks. Skip swimming in these places, as well as far from shore.

8. Avoid swimming in dirty, murky water. It can impair your field of vision and that of sharks, too, increasing the chances of an encounter.

7. If you have a bleeding cut, an exposed wound or are a menstruating woman, do not swim in open water. Blood and human waste attract sharks.

6. Sharks are creatures of habit. Do not swim in areas where a shark attack has recently occurred, since the same shark, or others, may still frequent the spot.

5. Try to swim on sunny, clear days. Foggy mornings and dusk may cause a shark to confuse you with prey.

4. Don't swim in waters known to be frequented by sharks. Consult with lifeguards and other authorities for more specific regional information.

3. Swim in a group or at least be sure to have a partner with you. Stay alert as to what is going on in the surrounding water environment.

2. Avoid looking like a seal. Reclining on a surfboard and wearing a wetsuit and fins can give you a seal's silhouette from a shark's perspective below.

1. Think like a shark. If you see lots of fish or seals, chances are that sharks could be around and could confuse you with dinner.

For more information about how to prevent a shark attack, visit discovery channel online!
For more information about getting prepared for emergencies that we have here in WNY, visit us online!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Take a break and smell the chocolate!

The summer months are upon us, which means we’re traveling, spending time with the family, and being busy busy busy!! 

Need a reason to slow down? How about a box filled with 6 pieces of chocolate covered fruit?! 

Thanks to Edible Arrangements, when you come in to donate blood at the American Red Cross in August, you will receive a coupon for just that! 

Plus, you’ll be getting something tasty to snack on and drink after you donate and feel great knowing that your donation could help save up to 3 individual's lives.  

So, be sure to stop in to your local Red Cross blood drives or call 1-800-RED-CROSS or click to schedule an appointment for this month!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Be the best babysitter you can be!

Photo courtesy of

Nothing feels better than being left on your own to watch y our younger siblings when you’re a teen.  Not only do you technically have reign over the household, but it also means that your parents trust you enough to give you that type of power!  But are you really ready?

When it comes to kids, you have to expect the unexpected.  Even if you plan everything to the T, something is very likely to go array.  Because of this, we recommend that all young teens take a babysitting course like the one we offer at the American Red Cross.

Our courses are designed to help individuals age 11 to 15:
  •          Care for children and infants
  •          Be a good leader and role model
  •          Make good decisions and solve problems
  •         Keep the children you baby-sit and yourself safe
  •          Handle emergencies such as injuries, illnesses and household accidents
  •          Write resumes and interview for jobs

Looking for some basic tips that every babysitter should know?
While babysitting, never:
  •         Open the door to anyone before checking to see who it is
  •         Open the door to strangers, including delivery people
  •          Let anyone inside who is using alcohol or drugs, even if you know them
  •          Tell a stranger on the phone that you are the babysitter
  •         Stay anywhere you feel unsafe, smell smoke, or hear a fire or smoke alarm
  •          Go outside to check on something strange, such as an unusual noise

Want to learn more about our babysitting courses?

Visit the national Red Cross website to learn more, or watch our segment on Winging It! below!

Looking to sign up for a babysitting course? 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Disaster Preparedness in Nepal

Photo courtesy of Rob Few/ IFRC

The American Red Cross is there for people down the street, across the country, and around the world, and that’s evident in central Nepal where 30 years ago a series of violent earthquakes struck the village of Kalikahalde.   

Since 2009, the American Red Cross has been working with the Nepal Red Cross and the National Society for Earthquake Technology to establish a disaster preparedness program in 220 schools in Nepal.  More than 16,000 people have benefited. 

“I don’t feel fear of earthquakes while sleeping at night because I have kept heavy things on the floor, identified safe places at home, prepared how to go out safely in a safe place after earthquake, packed some ready-made food and safe water and learnt how to communicate,” said Janardhan K.C. of Changu Narayan in the Bhaktapur district. 

The disaster preparedness programs educate students, teachers and parents about designing and implementing disaster preparedness and response plans which details each school’s vulnerabilities, such as identifying existing cracks in walls or close proximity to a riverbank, and ways that the risks can be reduced.

“We have now learnt how a school building should be constructed and we are applying building codes in the newly constructed block for disaster safety, leaving enough space for rescue and evacuation,” said Purendra Prasad Dhakal, headmaster of Ganesh Secondary School in Nuwakot, one of the participating schools in the program.

In addition to this education, trainings in first aid, basic disaster management, and light search and rescue techniques are also being taught, as well as disaster drills and simulations to ensure that students, teachers and community members feel prepared for future disasters. 

To learn more about the efforts to prepare Nepal, click here to visit the National Red Cross Chapter.
To learn more about disaster preparedness, click here to visit your local Red Cross Chapter.