Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolve to Volunteer!

What I believe to be my only
"selfie" of 2013. Taken while
enjoying the Bills bye week.
So earlier on this New Year's Eve, a reporter friend of mine Tweeted, half jokingly (I think), "Here's an idea; for every selfie you took in 2013, volunteer that many hours in 2014." Personally, I'm not a big fan of the whole "selfie" thing, but for some people, that would leave them volunteering pretty much 24/7 in 2014!

The good news is that we have plenty of volunteer opportunities here at the American Red Cross, and some of them can take as little time as it takes post a "selfie". We always talk about the volunteers who deploy across the country in times of major disasters, or our Disaster Action Team volunteers who respond to the scene of a fire in the middle of night. But even if you don't have the time or desire to join them, you can still help the Red Cross in ways you may not have even thought of! Whether it's welcoming our clients at the front desk, initiating emergency communications with a member of our military, or even telling the Red Cross story on social media, volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization, and we have an opportunity for everyone.

So even if you didn't know what the word "selfie" meant before reading this blog, resolving to volunteer is a great way to give back to the community in 2014. And on behalf of everyone at the American Red Cross, we want to thank all of our volunteers, staff and supporters for everything you've done in 2013, and we look forward to an even better 2014!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Giving Something That Means Something

Pi Lamba Phi members Matt Weisbaeck
and Connor Reale
It's been a while since we've put up a new post. Truth is we've been busy throughout the Region. Take this week in Buffalo, Rochester and the Southern Tier, for example. But this is the holiday season, when we encourage everyone to Give Something that Means Something, so as a gift to you we wanted to share the story of some college students learning to do just that.

Pi Lambda Phi member Lee Harmon
The University at Buffalo Chapter of Pi Lambda Phi saw the devastation caused by the recent typhoon in the Philippines and wanted to help. So earlier this month, they asked for donations and sold coffee and baked goods to raise money to support the relief efforts. But of course, this is a fraternity, so they had to do something a little different. They hosted a "Pie a Pi Lam" event, in which they allowed people to hit them in the face with whipped cream pies for donations. All told, Pi Lambda Phi exceeded their $500 fundraising goal, donating a total of $640 to support the Red Cross relief efforts in the Philippines.

UB Pi lambda Phi Chapter President
John Namnum
This, of course, is just example of the generosity shown by people here in the Western New York/Finger Lakes regions following Typhoon Haiyan and throughout the year. Because you Give Something That Means Something, we can support our neighbors in need down the street, across the country and around the world. Thank you!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks for Safe Winter Travels!

In case you couldn't tell by the frigid temperatures and the snow some of us saw this weekend, winter is here. Just to make sure that point is hammered home, all of Western  New York is under a Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday evening through Wednesday evening. While six inches of snow may not be enough to scare us hearty Western New Yorkers, history tells us we'd do well to make sure we're prepared.

Warming station for stranded drivers at the Cheektowaga
Senior Center on 12/1/10
This is one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, with over 43 million Americans expected to hit the roads. During Thanksgiving week 13 years ago, I was working at Channel 7 when this happened. Looking outside the downtown Buffalo studios, the streets looked like a war zone, with abandoned cars spread across the highways, blocking travel even for those trying to brave the massive snowstorm. Thousands were stranded. I spent the night with dozens of stranded travelers in the lobby of the hotel across the street, since every room had long been filled by other stranded travelers. I was only a month into my Red Cross career when a lake effect snowstorm forced the closure of parts of the Thruway near Cheektowaga on December 1, 2010, giving me my first shelter experience as we set up a warming station for the thousands of stranded motorists. (It wasn't over the holidays, but I was also a senior in the Marion Jr-Sr High School when an ice storm knocked out power to thousands and kept us out of school for a week in 1991. Not to date myself or anything...)

Volunteers serve a hot meal to drivers, some of whom had
been stranded over 24 hours when a snowstorm closed
portions of the Thruway in December 2010
It's almost as if winter storms are part of the Thanksgiving tradition in this region. And even if you can handle the snowy driving, other drivers or road closures can still leave you stuck. Try to wait until things are clear to hit the roads--I'm sure your family will keep the turkey warm for you. But if you must drive in wintry conditions, here's some safety tips to help you arrive safely:
  • Pack emergency supplies like blankets, water and snacks, flashlight and first aid kit.
  • Vehicles should be in good working order before heading out. Fill the fuel tank, check air pressure in tires and top-off windshield fluid.
  • Buckle up and obey all traffic signs.
  • Avoid distractions while driving like using mobile phones to talk or text.
  • Designate a driver who won’t be drinking whenever alcohol is served.
If your using planes and trains instead of automobiles this Thanksgiving, we've got some safety tips for you as well. And of course, this is just the beginning of the winter season, so make sure you're prepared to make it through the snow at home and on the roads!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

American Red Cross Contributes an Initial $6 Million to Support Typhoon Response Efforts in Philippines

WNY/Finger Lakes Regions initiate family tracing services

BUFFALO, NY, November 14, 2013 - The American Red Cross has announced an initial contribution of $6 million in support of the global Red Cross response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. These funds will be used to distribute relief items, repair and rebuild shelters, provide healthcare and ensure access to clean water and sanitation systems.

Red Cross volunteers deliver emergency water and food to the 
city hospital in Bogo
“We are grateful for the American public’s generosity and compassion following what has been called one of the strongest storms in world history,” said David Meltzer, chief international officer for the American Red Cross. “The American Red Cross is in a unique position to help provide support by airlifting relief supplies from its warehouses around the world, providing trained disaster responders specializing in damage assessment and telecommunications, and by channeling its financial support to the Philippine Red Cross and its more than 500,000 staff and volunteers and our other global partners in the Red Cross network – all of which go to providing relief from this devastating storm.”

In addition to financial assistance, the American Red Cross is lending people, expertise and equipment to this effort with four specialists already on the ground in the Philippines. These include two people who specialize in telecommunication and who are travelling with satellite equipment, and two others who specialize in disaster assessment.

Here in the United States, the American Red Cross is helping to reconnect families separated by the typhoon and has activated its family tracing services. To date, one Restoring Family Links case has been initiated in the Western New York/Finger Lakes Region. If people are looking for a missing family member in the Philippines, please remember that many phone lines are down. If people are unable to reach loved ones, contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to initiate a family tracing case.

The Philippine Red Cross has extensive experience in search and rescue and large-scale relief and recovery programs. The Philippine Red Cross is the largest humanitarian organization in the country, with 1,000 staff members and an estimated 500,000 active volunteers engaged in this disaster response. Their volunteer relief teams continue to provide assistance in the hardest hit communities, including assisting in search and rescue efforts. 

The Philippine Red Cross has begun distributions of emergency supplies and has provided meals to people affected by the storm. On Sunday, 6,000 packs of relief supplies were sent to Leyete and other affected communities. However, supply delivery in the worst affected city of Tacloban has been significantly constrained by destroyed infrastructure, blocked roads, and downed communication lines.

Specialized emergency response teams from Red Cross societies across the globe are moving into the Philippines to assist the Philippine Red Cross. These include teams with expertise in logistics, disaster assessment, shelter, health, water and sanitation.

“A global Red Cross relief effort is well underway and we are working closely with our international partners to help get aid where it is needed,” said Meltzer.

Despite the tragic aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, thousands of survivors are grateful for their lives. The Philippine Red Cross worked closely with local disaster authorities to support preemptive evacuations, helping move more than 125,000 families to safer shelter prior to the storm making landfall. The Philippine Red Cross also disseminated early warning messages and safety tips in areas along the path of the typhoon.

The American Red Cross expects to make additional contributions to support the humanitarian response in the coming weeks. Donations received from American Red Cross and other Red Cross partners will aid the Philippines relief and recovery efforts through the Philippine Red Cross and possibly other organizations as experts on the ground determine the best way forward.

HOW TO HELP Those who want to help can go to www.redcross.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS to donate to typhoon relief. People can also mail in a donation to their local Red Cross chapter. Gifts to the American Red Cross will support our disaster relief efforts to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. On those rare occasions when donations exceed American Red Cross expenses for a specific crisis, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other crises.

In a new partnership, Facebook is making it possible for users to donate directly to the American Red Cross either through a notification in News Feed, or directly on the Red Cross Facebook page. This is the first time that the American Red Cross has engaged in such a large-scale fundraising program with a social platform. For the Red Cross that means that with the click of a button on Facebook, we can connect people who want to help with those who are so desperately in need in the Philippines. This Facebook effort for the Philippines in the United States will continue through November 15.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Western New York/Finger Lakes Red Cross Assisting 26 People Following Weekend Disasters

Volunteers providing shelter, food, clothing and support after six incidents

BUFFALO, NY, November 4, 2013 – American Red Cross volunteers are assisting with the immediate emergency needs of 26 people following six separate fires or other disasters in the Western New York/Finger Lakes Regions over the weekend. Red Cross assistance typically includes vouchers for temporary housing, food and clothing as well as mental health support. The families will then meet with caseworkers at their local Red Cross headquarters to develop a long-term recovery plan. Several of these incidents took place at multi-unit buildings, so it is possible additional residents will come forward seeking assistance.

Fire scene on Steuben St. in Corning.
Photo courtesy Corning Leader
On Saturday, volunteers from the Disaster Action Team (DAT) were called to Gasport Road in Lockport, where they assisted two adults affected by a house fire. Also Saturday, volunteers assisted three people displaced after a car drove through their Williams Street home in Elmira. Sunday, DAT members assisted seven people after an apartment fire on Steuben Street in Corning. Also Sunday, volunteers responded to a fire at the Russo Building on Park Place in Fredonia, assisting 11 people who had been displaced, while a separate team of volunteers assisted two people following a fire on Webster Road in Brocton. Early Monday morning, DAT members responded to the scene of a fire on North Division in Buffalo to provide assistance to one person that had been displaced.

The American Red Cross spends an average of just over $1,000 when responding to a single house fire affecting a family of four.  To support people affected by house fires and other disasters, please consider making a donation to the Disaster Relief Fund at www.redcross.org, by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation (charges will appear on your cell phone bill).

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

American Red Cross Relief Efforts Continue One Year After Sandy

WNY/Finger Lakes volunteers filled over 160 positions in response

A Red Cross volunteer assesses the damage in the Sea Gate
neighborhood near Coney Island
BUFFALO, NY, October 29, 2013 – The American Red Cross has released a one-year Superstorm Sandy report detailing its response and recovery work to help residents affected by this historic storm, which made landfall on October 29, 2012.

Initially, local Disaster Services staff and volunteers began mobilizing days earlier to prepare for a storm that was initially predicted to bring severe weather to the Western New York and Finger Lakes Regions. Once it became clear that this area had largely been spared, attention turned to helping the millions of people devastated by Sandy along the East Coast. Volunteers from the Western New York and Finger Lakes Regions helped fill over 160 positions in the relief efforts, with most local volunteers working in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.

The One-Year Superstorm Sandy Report details the extraordinary measures taken by the Red Cross to respond to Sandy, from volunteer deployment and relief efforts to temporary and permanent housing assistance to key partnerships with government and non-government entities, as well as the strong outpouring of support from donors.

Red Cross clean up kits are distributed to residents in
Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood
The Red Cross met Sandy’s significant damage with its largest U.S. response in five years. More than 17,000 trained workers from all over the country – 90 percent of them volunteers, powered the massive emergency relief effort. This response included:
  •         Serving more than 17.5 million meals and snacks in a huge feeding operation.
  •        Handing out more than 7 million relief items such as cold weather items and clean-up supplies.
  •        Providing nearly 113,000 health services and emotional support contacts for people who have been living in very tough conditions.
  •        Providing 74,000 overall shelter stays for Sandy.

“Donations to the Red Cross have helped countless families start over in a new place to live, clean out the mold from their water-logged homes, or get much-needed financial and emotional support to rebuild their homes and lives,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the Red Cross. “The needs are still great, and there is more work to do. We are committed to continue working with the communities that were impacted by this devastating storm to provide services and support.”

RECOVERY EFFORTS ONGOING Even as its emergency relief work was occurring, the Red Cross began to help people in the long recovery process that continues today. Trained Red Cross workers are meeting with those in need, providing case management and financial assistance to help with security and utility deposits, home repairs and rent as well as linking them to available social service programs.

Western New York and Finger Lakes Regional CEO Nancy Blaschak served as Interim Director of the Long Term Recovery Project in New York City and Long Island at the beginning of 2013. The Red Cross has worked together with government and community partners at every step to provide assistance to those that need it most. In addition, the Red Cross has given $60 million in grants to a number of nonprofits working in New Jersey and New York to help people with home repairs, mold remediation, food, financial assistance and financial counseling, and to support the work of community roundtables to help address unmet needs.

THANK YOU The work of the Red Cross is possible because of the compassion and generosity of the American public, and the Red Cross already has spent or made commitments to spend $280 million, more than 90 percent of the $308 million donated for Sandy. The Red Cross expects to use the biggest share of the remaining money to help people with a range of housing-related expenses, support community resiliency programs and give more grants to community non-profit partners to help Sandy survivors.

“We are grateful for the generosity of donors across the nation who continually make it possible for the Red Cross to respond to once-in-a-generation disasters like Sandy, as well as the 70,000 disasters we confront each year,” McGovern said.

The report and other information on the Red Cross Sandy relief and recovery efforts can be found at www.redcross.org/sandy-response.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Additional WNY/Finger Lakes Volunteers Deploying to Colorado

Tara Hughes providing Mental Health services following Navy Yard tragedy

Tara Hughes of Amherst, NY sharing Red Cross coping tips
following the Boston Marathon bombing in April. Tara is
now part of the Disaster Mental Health team responding to
the Navy Yard shooting.
The American Red Cross joins the nation and the Washington, D.C. community in expressing our sympathy and concern for those affected by the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Tara Hughes of Amherst, NY deployed on Tuesday to assist in the Disaster Mental Health response. Hughes recently led the Disaster Mental Health efforts following the Boston Marathon bombing and Sandy Hook school shooting.

In Colorado, the American Red Cross is supporting rescue operations by providing food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to thousands of people forced from their homes by devastating flash flooding.

Two additional volunteers from the Western New York and Finger Lakes Regions will be deploying to support the Red Cross relief efforts. Sarah Perkins of Pittsford is deploying on Wednesday to do Disaster Assessment, and Dominic DiGirolamo of Belmont will be providing Disaster Mental Health support when he deploys on Thursday. Six volunteers from the 17 county Region will be among the over 400 trained disaster workers staffing shelters and evacuation centers in Colorado. A full list of area deployments is below.

The Red Cross continues to work closely with local emergency management officials in Colorado to ensure people get the help they need. As many as 500 people stayed in 14 shelters across Colorado on Monday night. Working with community partners, the Red Cross has served more than 10,000 meals and snacks and provided more than 1,700 health and mental health services for those affected. In the days to come, the Red Cross will be supporting Disaster Assistance Centers by offering relief supplies and other recovery support, and as flooded areas begin to reopen, the Red Cross will be there to assess the damage, distribute cleanup supplies and support a recovery effort that will take weeks and months.

HOW TO HELP People across the flooded areas need help now. The Red Cross has launched a massive relief effort to help people in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas and needs the continued support of the public to help those affected. People can make a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.


Dominic DiGirolamo, Belmont
Disaster Mental Health
Lucille Frisciano, Webster
Health Services
Tara Hughes, Amherst
Disaster Mental Health (Navy Yard)
Sarah Perkins, Pittsford
Disaster Assessment
Bippin Shaw, Rochester
Health Services
Beth Shook, Cuba
Staff Services
Ferris Tood, Canandaigua
Disaster Mental Health

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections on 9/11

The WNY Families of Sept 11 annual flag tribute
I arrived at our Clement Mansion headquarters on Delaware Avenue at 5:30 this morning to see that live trucks from all four local television stations were already here. I was meeting Cynthia Blest from the Western New York Families of September 11 to talk with the media about the beautiful tribute the families place in the lawn ever year, with a flag representing each of the nearly 3,000 lives lost on this date in 2001. It's impossible to see this moving display and not pause to reflect, and this year I started thinking about what 9/11 means to me now that I am a Red Crosser.

Honoring those with WNY connections lost on 9/11
Since all air travel was shut down following the attacks, it was volunteers from Western New York that hopped in their cars and were among the first to arrive at Ground Zero to begin the massive relief efforts. Really, those efforts continue 12 years later as Tara and Sr. Martha, volunteers from our Disaster Mental Health team still meet with the support group for Cynthia and other Western New York families who lost loved ones on 9/11, and we're proud to partner with these amazing people for this incredible tribute every year.

A little later, I represented the Red Cross at Hoover Elementary School's "Read with a Hero" day. I am absolutely not a hero, but I was humbled to stand alongside the real heroes--members of our military with multiple overseas deployments, police and first responders, doctors and nurses. The fact that we are asked to be a part of this event shows how important the work of the Red Cross is and how heroic the efforts of our volunteers really are.
Hoover Elementary School's "Read with a Hero" day gets
underway with an assembly filled with the singing of patriotic songs
and a history lesson for the students

Something else struck me at that assembly. The principal, Mrs. Paskowitz, pointed out that on September 11, 2001, not one of the students in that auditorium had even been born yet. It's so important that as we reflect, we also talk to our kids about what happened and the heroes who risked their lives to help. That's why I was proud to be able to surprise my son Jackson and tell his second grade class a little about the Red Cross heroes who helped 12 years ago and how we're helping our neighbors in need today.


Monday, September 2, 2013

American Red Cross Responds to Flooding in Mecklenburg

American Red Cross volunteers are assessing the needs of the evacuation of eight homes due to flash flooding. Families evacuated have been taken to the Mecklenburg Volunteer Fire Company, County RD 6, Mecklenburg, NY.  Water and clean up kits will be available for individuals affected by flooding this afternoon.  If you have been affected in flooded areas and need assistance in a non-emergency situation, please call the American Red Cross at 607-734-3711 and a volunteer responder will assist you. 
"Right now, we're focused on making sure everyone has a safe place to stay," said Judy Coleman, Disaster Services Coordinator," but we'll also be there to help people get back on their feet after the flood waters recede.”
Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.
The American Red Cross urges you to prepare.  You will be better prepared to withstand a flood if you have the following items available – packed and ready to go in case you need to evacuate your home
  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First Aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Rain gear
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Camera for photos of damage
Responding Appropriately During a Flood
  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS)
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
  • Because standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover flooding, it is important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more flood safety tips and information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at www.FloodSmart.gov.
Recover After Flood ,Recovery Tips:
  • Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
  • Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Contact your local or state public health department to see if your water supply might be contaminated. You may need to boil or treat it before use. Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula!
Let Your Family Know You Are Safe
If your community has experienced a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well web site to let your family and friends know about your welfare. You may also call 1-866-GET-INFO to register yourself and your family.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action!

All of us who work here at 786 Delaware Avenue know how lucky we are to have the Clement Mansion as our Buffalo office. Today, Hollywood took notice of how special this place is and gave this beautiful building the star treatment.
Cameras were not allowed on the closed set,
but I did grab this picture out our office window.

The crew from Centre Street Film descended upon the Clement Mansion this afternoon to shoot scenes for the upcoming film, "The American Side". The movie is set in the Queen City, and has been shooting at various locations around Western New York for the past few weeks. Location scout Dan Milner told me most of the filming has been done in about a two-mile radius of our headquarters, and that producers loved our building and wanted to include it in the film.

As anyone following this story knows, the biggest name attached to the project is Ferris Bueller himself, Matthew Broderick. He never set foot in the Mansion, but there were dozens of crew members working with producer Jonathan Shoemaker and director Jenna Ricker, painstakingly setting up every shot. Even as a former TV news producer (or perhaps BECAUSE I'm a former TV person used to one-two person shoots), I was stunned by the number of people and amount of time involved in getting short video clips to use in the film. The yard was like a real movie set, complete with a catering truck (I was invited to eat, but politely declined). Everyone involved with this project could not have been nicer or easier to work with, and I'm told the Mansion looked amazing on camera.
I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!

The set was closed, so I don't have any plot details and don't know how the Clement Mansion fits into the story. But Milner tells me co-writer and star Greg Stuhr is a Western New Yorker, and that the movie is "a love story for Buffalo." Milner himself couldn't say enough about the city, our architecture and of course, the people of Buffalo. We are very proud and honored to be a small part of this project, and can't wait to see the "The American Side"! And if you can't wait until the movie comes out to see this beautiful building, join us Sept 21-22 for our
Clement Mansion Centennial Celebration!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Play safer this sports season with Red Cross training

Back to school also means back to practice for thousands of student athletes and coaches. The American Red Cross has training and resources available for people to learn how to treat a variety of emergencies and injuries that may occur throughout the sports season.

“School and neighborhood coaches, athletes and spectators should know how to help prevent and respond to common sports injuries such as strains and sprains, fractures, cuts and concussions,” said Nancy M. Blaschak, Regional CEO.

Safe Kids Worldwide reports that a child is hurt playing sports every 25 seconds and that more than 1 million emergency room visits are made due to sports injuries each year. Sports injuries account for about 20 percent of all injury-related emergency room visits for young people, according to their study.

The Red Cross has developed a number of resources for everyone involved in sports and recreational activities:
·         First Aid, Health and Safety for Coaches is an online program for teens and adults who coach at any age level. Developed with the National Federation of State High School Associations, this course covers first aid skills including breathing emergencies and injuries to muscles, bones and joints. Coaches are encouraged to take a CPR/AED course as well.
·         Family First Aid and CPR is an online course for those not required to have OSHA-compliant certification. Participants learn how to treat cardiac, breathing and first aid emergencies until help arrives. Pediatric modules are also available.
·         American Red Cross First Aid App is a free app for smart phones and tablets. It gives users instant access to information on how to handle the most common first aid situations, and includes videos and interactive quizzes. The app puts lifesaving information right in people’s hands wherever and whenever they need it.

Information on courses and additional resources are available at redcross.org. A variety of Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross, or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.

Beat the Heat

“Heat can be especially hazardous to anyone exercising or playing outdoors this time of year. People should avoid scheduling workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day,” added Blaschak.  “Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Preparedness to help keep a promise

As soon as I first heard the rumbles of thunder overnight, I knew my wife and I would soon have company. Sure enough, just before one of the loudest thunder claps during what turned out to be an impressive storm, our six year old walked into the room, saying, "I really don't like the thunder." In the interest of getting any sleep, we let him crawl into bed with us, and like any good parent I told him that daddy wouldn't let anything hurt him.

Of course, as I thought about it today, I realized that's not really a promise that I can keep. For all the things we parents do to keep our children safe, we can't control the weather and the damage it could cause. But we can certainly prepare for it. We should all have an emergency kit ready to go should we need to leave immediately and a plan for where we would go, and have flashlights ready should the power be knocked out.

The best way to be prepared is to know what's coming so you can get to a safe place before the storm hits. Wednesday afternoon, my Red Cross Tornado app alerted me to a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in Erie, Genesee and Wyoming Counties. That was extremely useful information since my cubicle has no windows and it was sunny when I arrived to work!

So no, we may not be able to guarantee we can keep our children safe. But we can help them stay out of harm's way and be prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Busy weekend for our amazing volunteers!

Volunteers set up refreshments in shelter
at North Tonawanda HS
Volunteers from the American Red Cross, Serving Erie & Niagara Counties provided immediate emergency assistance for 19 people following four separate fires in less than 24 hours this weekend.

Members of the Disaster Action Team (DAT) were called to two storm-related fires in the early morning hours on Saturday, assisting a family of five after a tree fell on their Austin Street home in Buffalo and started a small fire, and assisting an elderly man after his Lackawanna trailer home was destroyed by fire. Before 3pm Saturday, DAT volunteers had responded to two calls in Niagara Falls, assisting three adults and a child after a fire on LaSalle Avenue in and seven adults and two children after a separate blaze on 5th Street. Red Cross assistance typically includes vouchers for temporary housing, food and clothing as well as emotional support. Clients will then meet with caseworkers to begin working on a long-term recovery plan.

Thankfully, we did not need to unload the cots from this
trailer, but they were ready at North Tonawanda HS
just in case
Meanwhile, volunteers opened a shelter at approximately 10:30am Saturday at North Tonawanda High School at the request of Emergency Management officials for residents flooded and left without power following Friday night’s storms. No clients sought assistance at the shelter before it was closed Saturday afternoon, but the Red Cross remained in contact with Emergency Management officials from across the region to assess needs throughout the weekend.

All Red Cross is assistance is free, and we rely on the generosity of the American public to provide these vital services to the community. Anyone wishing to help people affected by fires, flooding or other disasters is asked to consider donating to the Disaster Relief Fund by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, visiting www.redcross.org, or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to charge a $10 donation to their cell phone bill.