The Red Cross is in communities everyday helping people affected by disaster, be it a flood, tornado or fire. Home fires account for much of the disaster work the American Red Cross does every day.
Since 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has been making homes safe across the United States. Four years and one million smoke alarms later, volunteers with the Red Cross have helped save nearly 250 people, people who didn’t have working smoke alarms in their homes and were alerted to danger by one of those million smoke alarms.
Here in Massachusetts volunteers installed more than 7,000 smoke alarms in homes across the Commonwealth. Our most vulnerable communities are densely populated areas with multi-family homes and the elderly. Our volunteers are hard at work finding those in need and making homes safer for residents and their local community.
Our Central Massachusetts Executive Director Kim Goulette, received the following hand-written thank you note from a resident who benefited from the Home Fire Campaign.
Together we can help make more home safer with fire education and smoke alarms.
Dear Ms. Goulette, May 7, 2018
Thank you for sending two Red Cross men to my home to install the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide devices!
Chief D’Amico of the Marlborough Fire Department came also to assist them in making my home safe and protected from smoke and fumes.
I appreciate the “Lunch & Learn” info workshop very much.
Summer is one of the most popular times of year for people in the United States to take a trip that involves international travel. If you are planning a trip which involves driving across a border, sailing to a coastline, or flying halfway around the world, the American Red Cross has some steps you can take to stay safe.
Download the first aid app. The American Red Cross first aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Whether you’re in the United States or abroad, arming yourself with basic first aid skills can save a life. Be sure to download the app while you’re still in the United States, otherwise you’ll download the local Red Cross or Red Crescent’s mobile app (which will be in the local language).
Make a plan. Just like at home, it’s important to establish a time and place to meet family members in case you get separated.
Know what natural disasters are possible. There’s no reason to panic, but it’s important to research whether your destination faces emergencies you’ve never experienced. While you’ll need to gauge the local context, the Red Cross offers basic tips about what to do during natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes.
Register your trip with the State Department. Enter your travel details with the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program online, which allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency while you are abroad. You can also get information about safety conditions in the country you are planning to visit.
Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in case of emergency while traveling.
Keep your destination country’s emergency numbers handy. You know to use 911 in the United States, but how will you reach the fire department, police, or an ambulance abroad? Find your destination country on this reference sheet from the State Department—and write down the emergency numbers before you take off.
Know the six-month passport rule. Some countries deny travelers entry if their passport expires in less than six months. Renew your passport about nine months before the expiration date.
Let your credit card company know what countries you will be visiting and when. This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most.
Pack your International Certificate of Vaccination. Also referred to as the “yellow card,” it lists your immunizations, allergies, and blood type. The “yellow card” is available from your physician or local health department.
Bring medications, bug repellent. If you’re traveling somewhere with mosquito-borne illnesses—such as malaria, dengue, or Zika—be sure to spray repellent and/or cover your arms and legs with lightweight clothing at critical times of the day. Don’t forget your medications and it’s a good idea to bring other stuff like OTC pain reliever and something for an upset stomach.
Check for emergency exits and evacuation routes. The American Red Cross has helped many communities around the world install signs that indicate evacuation routes in case flooding or another natural disaster occurs. Be sure to identify evacuation routes at your destination and, as always, pay attention to the location of emergency exits.
About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
The American Red Cross recently launched the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness of the need for new blood donors – and those who haven’t given in a while – to donate and help ensure lifesaving blood is available for patients in need. During the campaign, A’s, B’s and O’s – representing the main blood groups – have gone missing from signage, websites, social media and other public-facing platforms to illustrate the critical role every blood donor plays.
The message is clear, donors are needed now to help fill the gaps. If you’ve never donated before or haven’t in a while, now is the time to make an appointment to give.
If you’re nervous, have no fear, the Red Cross has 6 simple tips to get you ready for a successful donation experience:
1. Make an appointment time that’s convenient for your schedule.
2. Get a good night’s sleep.
3. Hydrate – drink plenty of water.
4. Eat a healthy meal including iron-rich foods.
5. Complete a RapidPass to speed up the donation process.
6. Relax and remember you’re helping save lives!
In November, my husband and I and our three children were assisted by Red Cross workers the morning our house burned down in Littleton.
It’s been long enough now that I can remember all the good things that happened for my family that morning. My husband was injured in the fire, trying to rescue a few last things as the fire started to move down to the first floor. It funny how daily you remember different things that you don’t have anymore. As St. Patrick’s Day was approaching, I remembered a small leprechaun I put out with the TV every March. It was stored away in the attic. It’s the small things that daily remind me of the loss.
I mention the leprechaun because one the Red Cross workers told me that day in November that I would keep remembering things I lost for at least a year; as I went through holidays, birthdays, and the different seasons. Her advice to me was remember how even though the loss is painful, my family all made it out and are alive.
I want to give a special thanks to all the members of the Red Cross team, especially Trudy and Jeanie. They were so comforting that day. The advice they offered and the follow-up calls with a Red Cross member helped us through our disaster. We still don’t feel quite settled into our new home but we are making new memories here and are thankful we have the chance to make them together as a family.
May went out like a lion this year, with Red Cross volunteers responding to eight separate fires across Massachusetts May 31 alone, affecting 32 people.
While there were no fatalities reported, it emphasizes the message the Red Cross stresses year-round, being prepared for a fire can save your life.
“Having a working smoke alarm in the home is the number-one way to keep your family safe,” said David Lewis, regional executive for Massachusetts. “The Red Cross will not only install free smoke alarms in your home, we’ll sit down with residents and go over safety measures every family member can use to get out of a burning home alive.”
These simple safety measures below can prevent fires from happening, and get you out alive if a fire does break out. Most people don’t know, but on average a person has two minutes to exit a home before toxic smoke and flames become fatal.
“Keep an eye on what you fry.” Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or using an open flame.
“3 feet from the heat.” Furniture, curtains, dish towels and anything that could catch fire are at least 3 feet from any type of heat source.
Never smoke in bed.
Large and small appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets.
Matches and lighters are locked away
Change smoke alarm batteries every year unless it has a long-life battery.
Replace smoke alarms every ten years.
Test your smoke alarms each month. If they’re not working, they can’t get you out the door.
At least twice a year, practice your fire escape plan with all family members.
Practice makes perfect! After each fire drill, mark down your escape time.
For more information about keeping your home safe and for free installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, call 800-746-3511. An operator will take your information and a Red Cross volunteer will follow up and schedule the installation. This is a free service brought to you by the American Red Cross.
A devastating fire brought Dionisio Quadros to the Red Cross in 2007. His apartment, along with those of three other families, burned on a cool November night in the Highlands section of Lowell, Mass.
“I remember being woken by the smoke alarms on the floor above me,” said Quadros. “I thought maybe someone had burned something in their kitchen, it didn’t cross my mind that it was an actual fire.”
When Quadros fully woke up he could hear more than one smoke alarm sounding in the three-story house. The upper portion of the 60-year old wooden structure was fully ablaze when Quadros made it safely to the sidewalk.
“I remember grabbing my keys and nothing else.”
Quardros and the three other families spent the next few hours with Red Cross volunteers at a near-by restaurant, the manager keeping the lights on late so that Red Cross case workers could assist those affected by the fire.
“I found a new apartment about 10 days later. Between the money from the Red Cross, friends and family, I was luckier than some in the house.”
Flash forward to May 5, 2018. The American Red Cross Sound the Alarm event drew more than 50 volunteers in Lowell to make homes safer. Volunteers were wrapping up a training session and rally at the Lowell Senior Center that morning before hitting the streets for STA appointments when Quardros walked into the recreation area at the center.
“Dionisio was noticed when he walked in, he wasn’t your average senior citizen with his leather vest and bandanna,” said Deb Duxbury, disaster program manager for the Northeast Massachusetts Chapter of the Red Cross. Duxbury said Red Cross volunteers asked him if he’d like a home safety check and for volunteers to test his smoke alarms. He gave his address and phone number to a group of volunteers and was added to the afternoon appointments.
Volunteers replaced and installed seven smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the three-unit home where Dionisio lives, making an apartment safer where three young children lived with their mother and grandmother.
Dionisio went on to say how glad he was to stumble onto the program that morning at the senior center on his morning coffee run.
“The Red Cross helped me in my hour of need many years ago. I’m glad they’re with me now. I feel safer with the carbon monoxide detector in the basement,” said Quardros.
Lowell volunteers went on to install 703 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during the 12-day Sound the Alarm event in Massachusetts’ third largest city.
On April 19, 1897, runners hit the pavement at the first ever Boston Marathon.
The day of the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, Mother Nature threw everything she had at competitors & race support staff. An almost relentless gusting headwind, bitter cold, and persistent rain alternating with sleet and snow combined to create a runner’s nightmare. Who would have expected this brutal unnamed competitor to join the race?
A young woman from Florida stood wet and freezing at the starting line waiting for her turn to run. Kelley Batton-Duell is a wife, mother, martial arts instructor, and runner. She is an athlete with a passion to excel. Kelley trained for this event, including the possibility of bad weather, because it is not unexpected by these athletes. In fact, running in a storm can be invigorating to a serious runner. But unbeknownst to her, she was about to compete against the most formidable and dangerous competitor she has ever encountered: the weather.
As Kelley pushed forward, hypothermia ran beside her matching her step for step. As major muscle masses gave off precious heat, her core organs cried for help to stay warm. Her highly trained body begged for balance as her core temperature began to fail. Dehydration, disorientation, and muscle fatigue sent out warning signals, begging Kelley to quit. Kelley is not a quitter. For her, quitting was never an option. Her training as a Martial Arts Instructor screamed “to quit is to die.” Kelley finished the Marathon on automatic, having ignored every good reason to have quit.
But while Kelley did indeed finish the race, she crossed the finish line exhausted, wet, cold, and disoriented. She would later learn she could have died on the sidewalk.
She placed one foot in front of another, barely able to stand. She was not sure what or where to go for help. He body was depleted of all energy and her mind barely functioning due to severe hypothermia. All she remembers seeing was a large Red Cross in the window of a building.
Stumbling forward, she made a B-line for the sign. Somewhere deep inside her she knew help was there. Two men, Rob & Rocco (who Kelly refers to as the Angels), Webster Bank employees and Red Cross volunteers for Race Day, greeted her outside the Team Red Cross Finish Line. They immediately saw that Kelley needed help, and that it had to be fast. Rob and Rocco shielded her with their umbrella and accompanied her to the Red Cross Medical Tent, carrying her the two blocks to medical aide.
The American Red Cross has been providing medical support to the Boston Marathon for more than four decades. The 26 medical tents – mobile emergency service centers – are strategically positioned the length of the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to Boston’s Copley Square. Each medical tent is manned by a head doctor, RNs and CPR/First Aid-trained volunteers with the entire operation under the oversight of a Physician supervisor.
According to the Boston Athletic Association, more than 2,500 runners sought out medical treatment in one of the American Red Cross Medical tents located along the route. That number included 25 elite runners, while eighty-one runners were transported to the hospital. Kelley was one of the luckier ones: she was treated for hypothermia – a life-threatening condition – and able to walk out of the tent and return home to her family.