Red Cross Cape Cod Tornado Response

by Susan Gilbert, American Red Cross

After a series of tornadoes on July 23 left areas of Cape Cod in disarray, and nearly 53,000 people without power, the Red Cross was there to help. Approximately 63 people, including a small number from Metro, were dispatched to provide shelter and nutrition.

“The team did a great job ensuring that the clients’ needs were met despite the very unusual circumstances ̶ three tornadoes in one day, and during the summer when tourists significantly increase the population,” said Disaster Program Manager Larry French.

Lee Gjersten and Brian Michaud served as shelter supervisors, who activated the Harvard Pilgrim shelter team for the first time.
“The shelter was thankfully not busy, despite the many thousands of residents without power.


“The shelter was thankfully not busy, despite the many thousands of residents without power.

It thus provided us an opportunity to activate and work with Harvard Pilgrim employees who had been recently trained in sheltering. I was impressed with all the Harvard Pilgrim workers; they were enthusiastic and eager to do whatever needed to be done, and were interested in learning as much as possible about how Red Cross shelters operate,” said Gjersten.


“This shelter was a good example of how the Red Cross partners with others in the community during a disaster. Not just the Harvard Pilgrim team, but also the school staff, local emergency response personnel, law enforcement, and everyone else involved in the sheltering operation. I suspect a lot of people outside the Red Cross don’t realize just how much coordination is necessary to make an emergency shelter work well,” Gjersten added.

Brian Michaud also supervised the Harvard Pilgrim team, providing meals and hydration to the many workers cleaning up the trees and other damage caused by the storm. “We served hundreds of meals and provided water as needed,” said Michaud.


Tornadoes are very rare on Cape Cod. This twister was just the fourth on record to strike the area since 1850, and the first time Cape Cod had more than one tornado in a year.
The tornado’s maximum wind speed was 110 mph, which equates to a strong EF1 tornado, and can cause extremely dangerous and destructive wind gusts. Damage was reported in Brewster, Chatham, Harwich, Hyannis Port, Mashpee, Sandwich and Yarmouth, and the town of Harwich, which sustained the most damage, was declared a state of emergency.



Local Partnership Highlights Disaster Preparation

Disasters affect nearly one million people each year, yet 85% of Americans are unprepared for one. To help residents get ready, the American Red Cross and Allstate agencies in Massachusetts gave away 1,500 disaster preparedness kits in July from Plymouth to North Adams.

Allstate Foundation

“The Allstate disaster kits helped build more resilient communities, helping citizens be ready in case of an emergency,” said Holly Grant, Red Cross chief executive officer for the Massachusetts Region.

A $20,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation will help raise awareness for disaster preparedness in the state, as well as assist those affected locally by disasters.

With Record Heat Forecasted, Red Cross Tips to Stay Safe

With record heat and humidity forecasted for much of the Bay State, the American Red Cross wants residents to be prepared for the risks associated with high temperatures and outdoor activity.

As with any type of emergency, preparedness is key to preventing injury and sickness. Below are some tips for dealing with extreme heat:

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  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined.
  • Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for power outages.
  • Check the contents of your emergency disaster kit in case a power outage occurs.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.


What to Do During a Heat Wave

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.


How to Treat Heat-Related Illnesses

During heat waves people are susceptible to three heat-related conditions. Here’s how to recognize and respond to them.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

  • Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and gently massage the area.
  • Give an electrolyte-containing fluid, such as a commercial sports drink, fruit juice or milk. Water may also be given. Do not give the person salt tablets.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. Heat exhaustion often affects athletes, firefighters, construction workers and factory workers. It also affects those wearing heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment.

  • Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
  • Move the person to a cooler environment with circulating air. Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid such as a commercial sports drink or fruit juice to restore fluids and electrolytes. Milk or water may also be given. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.
  • If the person’s condition does not improve or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning.

  • Signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.
  • Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
  • Rapidly cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible OR douse or spray the person with cold water.
  • Sponge the person with ice water-doused towels over the entire body, frequently rotating the cold, wet towels.
  • Cover the person with bags of ice.
  • If you are not able to measure and monitor the person’s temperature, apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person’s condition improves.


mobile-app-emergency.png.imgBe sure to download the free Red Cross Emergency App and encourage others to do the same. This app features expert advice on how to prepare and respond to 14 different types of emergencies and disasters. It allows you to customize more than 35 emergency alerts and includes a map with local Red Cross shelters. Text GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or search “Red Cross Emergency” in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

HeatWave_SPNHeatWave english

MA Region Recognizes Outstanding Volunteer Service with Annual Awards


The American Red Cross honored 17 volunteers from across Massachusetts for their service to local communities and the mission of alleviating human suffering.

Also honored was Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare disaster volunteers for their commitment to make their local community more resilient to disasters.

At the region’s annual meeting in Medford, MA, as well as at a volunteer appreciation event in Worcester, MA, members of the senior leadership staff and the region’s board of directors recognized outstanding achievement by our region’s volunteers.

Holly Grant, the CEO of the Massachusetts region, recognized each of the 17 volunteers and Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare with the help of Board Chair John Stadtler.

The honorees are:

Susan Gilbert – Communications Volunteer of the Year

Susan Gilbert edits the monthly Communications newsletter, editing and writing information regarding all departments – Biomedical Services, Development, Service to the Armed Forces and International Services, Disaster Cycle Services, Communications and Marketing, Training Services, as well as regional news. Her articles include such topics as deployments, our Annual Heroes’ breakfasts, the food pantry, and our mentoring program.  

Susan has volunteered with the Red Cross for four years. In addition to her current roles, she has participated in the Home Fire campaign, Sound the Alarm campaign, and written numerous volunteer bios.  

Lexi Ashraf – Youth Programs Volunteer of the Year

Lexi is an outstanding volunteer and a role model for all. She is a rising senior at Wellesley High School where she is the president of her school’s Red Cross Club. Lexi became interested in the Red Cross when she volunteered at the Red Cross Food Pantry in Boston and has expanded her club so that others can have the same experience. Lexi continually involves herself in the Red Cross mission and participated in this year’s Sound the Alarm. Her goal is to continue the club’s growth and lead others to make impacts in their local communities. 


Peter Schubert – Herbert Cook Award

Peter began as a volunteer in early 2017, and now is involved heavily in our Disaster Action Team, taking a few shifts a week. Hes also on the Regional Mass Care Leadership TeamBioMedical transportation volunteer and part of our Community Disaster Education Team. Because of his love for the Red Cross, and for our volunteers, he also joined our On-Boarding Team, supporting new volunteers during the first months of their time with the American Red Cross. His cheerful attitude and willingness to always support our mission is ever present and a valuable member of our Massachusetts team. 

The Herbert Cook Award recognizes volunteers who demonstrate dedication, skills and excellence in a leadership role through Disaster Services. 

Charlie Vose – The Jerry Tice Award

Charlie Vose has spent his life educating and caring for others with a humanitarian spirit that continues to shine after nearly 40 years of Red Cross service. Charlie was a middle school teach for 34 years, focusing on science and mathematics. He brought his passion for teaching to the Red Cross as well, teaching first aid and CPR to the community. A long-time disaster responder in the Northeast, Charlie served as emergency service director, as well as being a member of the board of directors in the Northeast. He was instrumental in training local school staff in CPR and first aid, knowing its importance when teaching children. 

The Jerry Tice Award recognizes volunteers for education, skills, excellence and service to others through Disaster Services in addition to another area of service.

Regina MacKenzie – Mass Bay Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year

Regina MacKenzie has made a significant impact in the Mass Bay Chapter since her start in 2017. She serves in various capacities in the Boston Metro area, as a Metro 2 DAT responder, a health service team member, deployment coach and as a Boston Marathon medical tent volunteer. Regina has also worked locally with the Home Fire Campaign, installing alarms in Quincy.  

She is known across the Metro area for her willingness to support all functions within disaster services, and her compassion toward clients to ensure their success is incredible.  

Renee Charpentier – Dorothy ‘Dottie’ D’Ambrosio Award

Renee Charpentier began volunteering with the Red Cross in November of 2017, but in that short time she has become an important part of the Metro Disaster Action Teams. Responding to local disasters from Quincy to East Boston, Renee’s leadership role has increased to include working closely with the Disaster Program Manager to ensure adequate Red Cross response to local disasters.  

Renee Charpentier is this year’s recipient of the Dorothy ‘Dottie D’Ambrosio Award, given to a volunteer who has shown a compassion for assisting and caring for families following a disaster and demonstrates a passion for mentoring new volunteers. 

Steven Latasa-Nicks   - Cape, Islands and Southeast Massachusetts Chapter Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year

Steven Latasa-Nicks joined the American Red Cross as a CPR instructor to assist in his local community of Provincetown. While conducting his train-the-trainer session at the Hyannis Chapter office, he realized there were other opportunities within the organization. Steven started out as a DAT trainee and worked with Eddy Blanchard to speed through the program. He is now the captain for the Lower Cape and supervises a team of twenty volunteers. Through his efforts and positive spirit, the Red Cross has strengthened its relationships with local fire departments, police and emergency management agencies.  

Steven has been a force, helping to recruit new volunteers to respond to local disasters and emergencies. 

Stephanie Walsh – Chief Executive Officer’s Award

Stephanie Walsh is being honored with the Chief Executive Officer’s Award. Stephanie started as a Disaster Action Team volunteer with the Red Cross. One of her first responses was to the Boston Marathon bombings. Throughout the year following the bombings, she went on to become a DAT captain and assisted a national team in virtually assessing areas impacted by disasters. She also helped create reports for the Region. Through her continued work at the Region, she was nominated to fill the role as Course Medical Coordinator for the Red Cross work with the annual Boston Marathon. 

She graciously accepted this role and has just completed her sixth marathon leading the Course Medical Team. She continues to work full time at MEDITECH, now as a Manager of Corporate Technologies, and is the proud mom of two children.  

David Reed – Northeast Massachusetts Chapter Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year

David Reed joined the Disaster Action Team of the Northeast in September 2017.   His warm and caring personality makes him a perfect caseworker on scene, always meeting client needs with a friendly smile and an encouraging words. He was extremely helpful during the gas explosion in the Merrimack Valley where he worked at the various evacuation centers in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, as well as the Multi-Agency Resource Center. A fluent Spanish speaker, Dave was instrumental during the Sound the Alarm events in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. Dave called and coordinated appointment with Spanish speaking clients to ensure the event was a success.   

Jo Fitzgerald – Volunteer Services Volunteer of the Year

Jo Fitzgerald joined the Red Cross in March of 2017 as a Blood Donor Ambassador and went on to join the Recovery Casework Team and the Regional Volunteer Screening. Jo continues to enjoy her work in all three roles. In the past two years, she has given more than 1,350 hours of her time. She is a valuable and reliable team member, helping onboard and place new volunteers into positions they will enjoy and where their skills are best used. Most notable, Jo was assigned to the Merrimack Valley gas explosion response for 10 days, giving 100 hours of her time. She worked tirelessly to call the increase of new applicants, and place them into meaningful roles. Her efficiency, professionalism, and can-do spirit contribute directly to the success of screening and placement of volunteers in Massachusetts. 


Dorothy Cichonski – Western Massachusetts Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year

Dorothy Cichonski joined the American Red Cross of Western Massachusetts Chapter in 2013.  She quickly became an integral part of the Disaster team, where she stood out as a leader.  Dorothy is a DAT Supervisor, Duty Officer, Pillow Case Project presenter, Home Fire Campaign educator and she coordinates all the community preparedness events in the Western Territory.  She is a wonderful mentor to the trainees assigned to her and can be counted on to run the Disaster office when staff is called away, and is highly respected by her peers for her knowledge of the Western Territory. 

Robert Adamski – Training Services Volunteer of the Year

Robert Adamski is a Volunteer Instructor in Eastern Massachusetts.  He teaches community level and professional level Basic Life Support, First Aid and CPR classes in the American Red Cross Blood Donation facility in Dedham, MA.  He has been a nationally registered paramedic and firefighter for over 20 years.   

 He started volunteering with the Red Cross in Pennsylvania in 1988, and became an instructor in 1993.  Rob has said ‘an instructor can make a real difference in peoples’ lives, can save lives and exponentially increase the acquisition of lifesaving skills across his community.’  He fervently believes in giving something back to your community and helping others. 

Joel Janovsky – Service to the Armed Forces team as the Volunteer of the Year

Joel Janovsky is retired from a 30-year career in information technology in which he held positions in software engineering and project management for a variety of Massachusetts employers, including Biogen, Harvard University, Fidelity Investments, and Iron Mountain. He attended the University of Massachusetts/Amherst where he received an undergraduate degree in computer systems engineering, and he has a graduate degree in computer science from Boston University. Joel served in the Marine Corps during the 1970s in a military police/corrections unit at Camp Pendleton and as a Marine embassy guard in Vienna, Austria.  Joel and his wife Amy are long-time residents of Andover Massachusetts.  

Robert Campbell – Service to the Armed Forces team as the Volunteer of the Year

Robert Campbell is retired from a 30-year career in defense contracting, where he was responsible for contracts valued at about $500 billion at 18 major contract management offices.  He attended the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where he received an undergraduate degree in business management, and he has a graduate degree from the U.S. Naval War College with a in National Security and Strategic Studies.  Bob is a veteran of the U.S. military and currently is working with the American Red Cross to provide service to our military via the military entrance processing stations.  

Leonard Harris – Central Massachusetts Disaster Services Volunteer of the Year

An accomplished Emergency Medical Technician, Leonard Harris joined the Central Massachusetts Disaster Action Team in 2013.  He has been an invaluable member of the team, reliably willing and able to mobilize in support of an incident – whether scheduled to do so or not.  His service to the community includes extensive work with the Home Fire Campaign, and most recently with the teams efforts to strengthen partnerships with all 62 emergency management departments in Central Massachusetts.   

Jim Niedzolkowski – BioMedical Services Volunteer of the Year

Jim Niedzolkowski has been a positive fixture in Blood Services since 2010. He began working blood drives and quickly took on training new donor ambassadors. New ambassadors described Jim as a person who generated positive energy and enthusiasm for new volunteers. 

Jim went on to join the Donor Recruitment Team, putting up signs for upcoming blood drives around the region. He would also go on to join the Transportation Program, delivering new donations to the Dedham facility for processing. He also helps coordinate vehicle scheduled maintenance for the fleet of transportation vehicles here in Massachusetts. 

With all his volunteerism, Jim’s proudest accomplishment is the 107 times he has donated platelets. 

His nearly 1,000 hours of volunteer service since 2010 shows his commitment to the Red Cross mission. 


Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare – Chandler Blackington Award

What started as a small group of volunteers trained to support local shelters expanded to a much larger group of disaster volunteers. In the past year, the Harvard Pilgrim Team has trained over 50 employees in sheltering, installed smoke alarms and built comfort kits for children. Although the shelter team hasnt yet been activated, every time there is a significant disaster in Eastern Massachusetts the team reaches out, eager and ready to help. In the meantime, they are eager to continue to train and become more informed on how they can support the American Red Cross and our clients in times of disaster.  

Betsy Eggleston – Boston Food Pantry Volunteer of the Year

Betsy Eggleston has volunteered in the Boston Food Pantry since November 2017. It did not take Betsy long to transition from first-time, Thanksgiving volunteer to core every day volunteer.   

Betsy is a Wednesday morning regular, recording more than 260 volunteer hours this past year. She also volunteers many Thursday mornings, serving income eligible seniors in the Commodity Supplemental Food ProgramBetsy displays a great ability to teach how to use our database and bar-code system to new volunteers just learning. She is the go-to person for the training function because of her abilities, patience, cool-head and trustworthiness.  

The Red Cross has been helping Massachusetts residents for more than 100 years, bringing aid and comfort to those affected by disaster. One of the largest missions of the Red Cross in Massachusetts is the response to homes fires, which affected nearly 700 homes last year. Volunteers respond to assist residents displaced by home fires, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


Give blood: Help patients in need this summer

emergenc bio

During the Fourth of July week, fewer blood drives are held across the country and many blood donors are away enjoying vacations. This creates a difficult situation for the blood supply, and the American Red Cross is facing an emergency need for blood and platelet donors after a significant shortfall in blood donations during the Independence Day holiday week and ongoing challenges finding new blood donors.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types available – and less than a two-day supply of type O blood. Blood donations are currently being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in. More donations are needed now to replenish the blood supply.

Eligible individuals are urged to give now to help avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients this summer.

Who needs blood

megan bio

Blood from generous volunteer donors helps families like the Jolliffes. In February 2018, Meghan Jolliffe suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. During childbirth her heart stopped beating for 14 minutes, resulting in the need for an emergency cesarean section. Her organs began to shut down, and her blood would not clot. Meghan received nearly 100 units of blood within a seven-hour period during her procedures. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and stabilize Meghan’s condition. Over the next several days, Meghan underwent five surgeries, dialysis and more to repair the damage to her body.

Meanwhile, after her son Sullivan was delivered, he went without oxygen for seven minutes. Doctors performed a process called therapeutic hypothermia, or whole-body cooling, to preserve his neurological function, and he also received several units of blood. In all, Meghan and Sullivan received 109 units of blood.

“My family and I are forever grateful for the generosity of Red Cross volunteer blood donors,” said Meghan. “Donating blood is so important. You or a loved one may never need these lifesaving products, but I can assure you that someone, somewhere will.”

 Don’t wait – help now:

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting orgor calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is a #BloodEmergency and ask them to give now.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.

Blood transfusion is the fourth most common inpatient hospital procedure in the U.S., and these blood products can only come from volunteer donors. Yet, only 3 out of 100 people in the U.S. give blood. It’s crucial that the Red Cross has a sufficient blood supply on hand to meet the needs of patients every day and to be prepared for emergencies that require significant volumes of donated blood products

Please make an appointment to give now.

A Humanitarian Path Discovered in Retirement Through the Red Cross

article by Karuu Kamau, University of Massachusetts, Boston


Ken Boyajian began volunteering with the American Red Cross in November 2018. A recent retiree, Ken was looking to stay busy in retirement, as well as working in his local community. Remembering the recent gas explosions in Lawrence, Ken knew helping with the Sound the Alarm campaign would help families be ready in the event of another local disaster.


Question – What region were you volunteering for the Sound the Alarm campaign?

Answer – Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover Massachusetts.

Q – Was this After the gas explosion disaster?

A – Yes, the gas explosion was a year before, last September.

Q – What is your background?

A – I am retired, I retired last July and joined the Red Cross in November


Q – Are you a member of the Disaster Action Team?

A – Yes, it is a team of first responders with the Red Cross, responding to a disaster scene in your local area. You volunteer by registering online and committing 4-to-6 hours, several times per month. In case of a disaster, these team members respond by providing comfort and necessary resources, like finding a hotel, food, clothes – anything to help the victims of the catastrophe until they can recover.

Q – Are most disasters fire related?

A – Yes, most of the tragedies in the area are fires, but in other parts of the U.S., such as the Midwest and Southern States, there are hurricanes, tornadoes, and other major national or regional disasters. I am in the mailing list of those too. They mainly occur in June, July, and August. I help in setting up shelters for the victims, for two weeks at a time.

Q – Is there anything that surprised you, or you unexpectedly encountered during the Sound the Alarm smoke detector installations?


A – Yes, I thought you had to be an electrician to do so, but I learned they were battery powered and not connected to electrical wires. So, you don’t have to be an electrician to do the installations, and it was an easy activity.

Q – What was your assessment of smoke detectors in homes, are there many homes without them?

A – In most instances, the smoke detectors are old and therefore malfunctioning or not working at all. Smoke detectors have a 10-year life span, and therefore, people quickly forget about them. We were, thus, going in and checking if the ones installed are functioning. It was beneficial to many that needed new units. People were very appreciative of the campaign.

Q – What challenges did you encounter doing the installations?

A – It was an easy straight forward process. We were well prepared beforehand, and the campaign was professionally managed

Q – Why do you volunteer?

A – Two reasons: keeps me busy, and I love helping other people. I have made many friends from the Red Cross, and our efforts and contributions are well appreciated. Sound the Alarm was an excellent service that hopefully will prevent significant disasters and unnecessary deaths from fires. I applaud the Red Cross for this service, and I am happy to help.


Follow these Red Cross Steps for a Safe 4th of July Holiday

The 4th of July holiday is just around the corner and many of us will take time off to enjoy a long weekend of summer fun. The American Red Cross wants everyone to have a great holiday and offers safety steps people can follow.



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The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public firework show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.


If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”




Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs. Wash your hands before preparing the food. Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. If you are going to cook on a grill, follow these steps:

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Never grill indoors — not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open and away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.




Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.

  • Stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors as they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Slow down, stay indoors. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.




Be “Water smart.” Children and adults should learn to swim so, at a minimum, they achieve the skills of water competency: be able to enter the water, get a breath, stay afloat, find an exit, swim a distance and then get out of the water safely.

Prevent unsupervised access to water. A person who is drowning has a better chance of survival if these steps are followed:

  • Recognize the signs of someone trouble and shout for help;
  • Rescue and remove the person from water without putting yourself in danger;
  • Call 9-1-1;
  • Begin rescue breathing and CPR; and
  • Use an AED, if available, and transfer care to advanced life support.


Here are a few more steps people can take as we approach the holiday:


  • Go to for water safety courses, tips and resources.
  • Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to information on how to treat bleeding, burns, insect bites and stings, and more.
  • Give blood. The number of people donating blood often drops during the summer when people are on vacation and schools are closed. Visit or download the Red Cross Blood App for more information or to schedule your donation.