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:

temp therm


  • 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.


We Salute the Massachusetts American Red Cross Volunteers Celebrating Milestones in Service

It’s sort of like a birthday. Every year, some of our volunteers celebrate the anniversarymilestones of service logo of their volunteer career with the American Red Cross. And in Massachusetts, our volunteers have a lot to celebrate.

Throughout our region, we have volunteers working tirelessly every day to ensure that our services are delivered to the residents of Massachusetts who need our help. From Service to the Armed Forces, to Disaster Response, to Blood Collection, volunteers make up 90% of our workforce.

Our Massachusetts region is split into 5 chapters, and each chapter has volunteers who are celebrating a milestone year of service this year. Please comment below with your thanks to them and spread the word of volunteerism to your friends.

Cape, Islands and Southeast Massachusetts Chapter:
Volunteer Years of Service Hometown
Margaret Tompsett 20 Chatham
Patsy Bruce 20 n/a
Cathy Hatch 15 West Yarmouth
Deborah Medders 15 Vineyard Hvn.
Carol Bliss 10 Chatham
Robert Fichtenmayer 10 West Wareham
Sharon Friendman 10 Mansfield
Ken Armstrong 5 Bee Cave, TX
Donn Burgess 5 Halifax
Charlotte Carneiro 5 Mashpee
Mark Cook 5 Laekville
Ronald Derr 5 Seekonk
Kathleen Donelan 5 Hanover
Jennifer DuBois 5 Wellfleet
Robert Kessler 5 Charlestown
Lisa Maiden 5 Centerville
Vickie Manning 5 Pocasset
Kenneth McGuire 5 West Yarmouth
Mark McLoughlin 5 Fall River
Peter Prestoy 5 Rehoboth
Laurel Ryan 5 Abington
Kelly St.Romaine 5 Cummaquid
Teresa Temple 5 Aquinnah


Mass Bay Chapter (Greater Boston area):
Susan Berger 25 Brookline
Larry Berkowitz 10 Lexington
Anthony Gray 10 Malden
Mustapha Sama 10 Dorchester
Taleb Abdelrahim 5 Waltham
Ken Armstrong 5 Bee Cave, TX
Melida Arredondo 5 Rsolindale
Daniele Baker 5 Waltham
Lawrence Bergstresser 5 Concord
Johanna Carregal 5 Charlstown
Timothy Castano 5 Boston
Giulia Ciaghi 5 Brookline
James Clorite 5 Foxboro
Wilberta Davis 5 Natick
William DiCarlo 5 Heyde Park
Alyssa Dion 5 Cambridge
Lauren, Peter Duffy 5 Franklin
Denise Duggan 5 Auburndale
Matthew Eidukinas 5 Boston
Jill Ginsburg 5 Waltham
Eleanor Glidden 5 Somerville
Kushal Gohil 5 Waltham
Evelyn Green 5 Boston
Elizabeth Kastner 5 Boston
Helene Lieb 5 Cohasset
Daniel Lochmandy 5 Nashua, NH
Carol Madigan 5 Weymouth
Judy Maloney 5 Dedham
Neha Malrani 5 Lynnfield
Keith McAuliffe 5 Quincy
Geeta Mehrotra 5 Arlington
Karen Murray 5 Lexington
Sheila O’Connor 5 South Boston
Lauren Pizzi 5 Quincy
Kathy Plett 5 Quincy
Gregory Solomon 5 Silver Spring, MO
Erin Stickney 5 Windham
Paul Stramaglia 5 Flemington
Max Weng 5 Malden
Charles Whiting 5 Dorchester
Semage Wijeyewardena 5 Boston
Craig Wolfe 5 Hull


Central Massachusetts Chapter:
Robert Warfield 40 Sutton
Jeanine Swick 25 Lunenburg
Ralph Swick 25 Lunenburg
Charles Grosvenor 20 Worcester
Linda Bourque 15 Lunenburg
Peter Caruso 10 West Boylston
Elizabeth Levison 10 Harvard
Alice McGovern 10 Templeton
Elaine Sanborn 10 Westboro
Pat Starr 10 Gardner
Pedro Aldahondo 5 Charlton City
Amber Ali 5 Shrewsbury
Wendy Burley 5 Marlborough
Susan Dion 5 Paxton
Kathryn Fugatt 5 Winchendon
Barbara Gray 5 Framingham
Amelia-Jae Le 5 Worcester
Owen Mangan 5 Hopkinton
Joanne Martinec 5 Lunenbureg
Margaret O’Meara 5 Whitinsville
Gurlie Perron 5 Spencer
Kaz Sawicki 5 Webster
Christopher Shea 5 Worcester
Dorothy Sweeney 5 Worcester
Erica Wood 5 Worcester


Western Massachusetts Chapter:
Lisa Martin 15 Springfield
Ivy Ward 15 Wilbraham
Donald Cawrse 10 Southampton
Cheryl Clayton 10 Westfield
Leonard Finkowski 10 South Hadley
E. Gordon 10 Wilbraham
F. Green 10 Ellenton, FL
Kenneth LaBonte 10 Feeding Hills
Raymone Plate 10 Springfield
Sondra Wolf 10 Agawam
Grace Barsalou 5 Longmeadow
Rebecca Boulin 5 Feeding Hills
Shirley Brouillette 5 Springfield
Ann DeRode 5 Bernardston
Barbara DuCharme 5 Pittsfield
Linda Glenn 5 Longmeadow
Schuyler Goodrich 5 Pittsfield
Terri Grzybowski 5 South Deerfield
Prudence Maloni 5 Springfield
Carolyn McDonald 5 Holyoke
Anne McManus 5 West Springfield
William Miller 5 North Adams
Danielle Palmieri 5 Pittsfield
Teresa Palmieri 5 Pittsfield
Anthony Stirlacci 5 Longmeadow
Bill Trudeau 5 Agawam


Northeast Massachusetts Chapter:
Peter Carlin 10 Raymond
Marie Larose 10 North Reading
Beverly Broderick 5 Burlington
Brian Coolidge 5 Georgetown
Margaret Davis 5 Amesbury
Kathleen Erkkila 5 Peabody
Andrea Florentino 5 Lynn
Robert Heffernana 5 Townsend
Maureen Karabatsos 5 Dracut
Ann Kelleher 5 Westford
Elaine Lafratta 5 Peabody
Pat LeComte 5 Dracut
Lindsay Morand 5 Townsend
Bonnie Norton 5 Salem
Stan Sleppy 5 Lynn
Elizabeth Stanton 5 Lowell
Jean Tearno 5 Methuen


Thank you to all our volunteers who so graciously give their time and talents to ensure that, when the time comes, the Red Cross will deliver our Mission here in the Commonwealth!






With Snow Finally on the Way – Red Cross Offers 15 Ways to Stay Safe

Winter Storms – Red Cross Offers 15 Ways to Stay Safe When Winter Hits

With the first significant snow finally in the forecast, the American Red Cross wants New England residents to be ready.

Winter weather poses unique challenges to people faced with bitter cold, snow and ice. The Red Cross has steps you should take to stay safe if you are in the path of winter storms.

“A winter storm is headed to this region and we have safety tips everyone can follow to stay safe,” said Lloyd Ziel, communications director for the Red Cross in Massachusetts “Whether trying to keep your home warm or having to be outside in the cold, you can follow these steps to get through the storm.”



It’s that time of year when many people resort to space heaters and other sources to keep their homes warm. Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in this country. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps (More home fire safety information available here):

  1. Give the heat space – All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  2. Orient space heaters – If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
  3. Protect your home – Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace. 
  4. Abstain from the range – Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  5. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  1. Beware the Cold – Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  2. Remember to Rest – Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  3. Awareness – Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  4. Dogs and Cats – Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  5. Yield to the Frost – Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.



Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:

  1. Grip That Seat Belt – Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  2. Refrain from Tailgating –  Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  3. Oppose the Cruise –  Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  4. Never Crowd the Plow – Don’t pass snow plows.
  5. Know What Freezes – Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.


DOWNLOAD APPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps


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.


Is Cooking & Heating Safety on Your To-Do List for Thanksgiving?

As families prepare for the coming holiday and all the trappings that it brings, a rash of recent home fires is a sad reminder that extra care is always a good idea around fire safety.

Since Nov. 15, Red Cross volunteers in Massachusetts responded to seven home fires across our region that displaced 19 families totaling 45 people. These fires displaced families in Amherst, Rockland, Bellingham, Plymouth, Malden and Brockton. Red Cross volunteers in Massachusetts are on call 24/7/365 to respond when the call goes out.

Home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in the home. The second leading cause of home fires is heating sources like wood stoves and fireplaces. Fires caused by smoking are the leading cause of deaths.

Home Fires Campaign, Iowa 2014

Residents should also take steps to ensure their home heating system is properly maintained and in good working order as winter quickly approaches. Furnaces and chimneys should be inspected regularly by a professional to ensure dangerous carbon monoxide gas isn’t collecting in utility and living spaces. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, all homes should have detectors placed near heating sources to ensure safety.

The American Red Cross provides the means for families to get immediate emergency support such as clothing, food and shelter in the first few days after a fire. Volunteer Client Caseworkers then work with the families to help them navigate the days and weeks following to recovery. The American Red Cross is a charitable organization, not a government agency. It depends on volunteers and the generosity of people like you to perform our mission.


The Red Cross asks everyone to take two simple steps to help prevent injury and death during a fire in their home – check their smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home. Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of the day. The plan should include two ways to get out of every room and a place to meet outside. Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above.

People should also install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. The alarms should be tested every month and the batteries replaced at least once a year.

The Red Cross and community partners around the country are participating in a campaign called the “Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.” If you, or someone you know doesn’t have smoke alarms installed in your home, Red Cross is working with local teams to install them free of charge. If you are in need of someone to install smoke alarms, please contact the American Red Cross to arrange for a free smoke alarm installation or battery check by going to redcross.org/ma or by calling 1-800-564-1234.

In Massachusetts, a family is displaced by a disaster – most usually a home fire – on average every two hours. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org/MA, call

1-800-564-1234, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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.


Traveling Outside the U.S. this Summer? Red Cross Offers 12 Tips for a Safe Summer Vacation

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.


  1. 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).
  2. 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. 

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in case of emergency while traveling.
  6. Check out the State Department’s ‘What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis‘ and have an evacuation plan that doesn’t rely on the U.S. government.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

A New Headquarters Unearths Treasures from the Past

A Living History of Red Cross Volunteerism

written by – Martine Costello, Red Cross Volunteer
imagery by – Sasha Goldberg, Red Cross Volunteer 

Decades of work by Red Cross volunteers came to life recently as the organization prepared to move its Massachusetts regional headquarters from Cambridge to Medford.


Volunteers in the process of packing unearthed thousands of old photos, scrapbooks, personal letters, vintage uniforms and dozens of other memorabilia that have found their way to museums and archives all over the country.

The newly discovered boxes form a rich living history of the thousands of volunteers in the region who gave from the heart for projects spanning blood drives and disaster recovery missions to first aid training and fire scene rescues. In an age of 140-character tweets and 24-hour cable news, the trove of material that filled a wing of several rooms of the Red Cross offices was a nostalgic look-back of a simpler, though no less generous, time of giving.  Some of the items date back to the 19th century, spanning World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Great Molasses Flood in Boston and many other key points of history.


“Germans Licked West of the Rhine,” read one banner headline from a newspaper dated February 28, 1945.  There was a note from a Vietnam soldier dated Dec. 22, 1968, thanking the unidentified Red Cross volunteer who sent him a holiday care package.  “It is somewhat difficult for me to say what it means to know that there are people other than one’s own family who care for GIs,” he wrote in neat script.  A package from home, he said, is often the one thing that makes a difference in a man’s will to live during times of war.

There was an article from the Red Cross News, dated July 1918, about a successful program to knit 90,000 pairs of socks for American soldiers fighting in Europe during World War I. “More knitters needed,” it said. There was a scrapbook from Hurricane Camille in 1969. Annual reports, bound in red leather with gold trim, dating from 1905-1974. Wartime ration books, carefully folded American flags, monogrammed silver tea services. There were pins and patches and dozens of uniforms in heavy wool and brass buttons, each with its own distinctive hat. There were books about the Geneva Convention, first aid training and disaster response. There was a needlepoint sampler, hand-stitched, dated 1918.


The black and white photos, spanning more than 100 years, were perhaps the most vivid reminder of a bygone era. They were in cardboard boxes and leather-bound albums, taped into worn scrapbooks and framed under glass. There were men in fedoras and nurses in starched white uniforms; blood drive publicity photos; volunteers wearing boutonnieres receiving awards for their service; second graders collecting Red Cross subscriptions, dated Jan. 2, 1941.  There was a smiling Clara Barton, the Civil War nurse who founded the Red Cross in 1881, seated in a rocker.  Some of the larger photos were stacked on tables and leaned up against the walls: a framed panoramic photo of a banquet from the American Red Cross’s 21st National Convention in Philadelphia, June 18-21, 1946.

“Every time you opened a box something new and fascinating would pop out,” said Sasha Goldberg, the Red Cross volunteer who carefully cataloged and photographed all of the items. “There are so many fascinating stories and we were able to find homes for everything so all of it could be properly displayed.”


Goldberg’s work took most of the summer leading up to the Red Cross’ move in late September.

Many of the items featuring Barton made their way to the Clara Barton Birthplace Museum in North Oxford.  These included plates and cups with the Red Cross logo; three stained glass Red Cross panels; a pamphlet outlining services to the armed forces and veterans from 1881-1981; a report of New York and New England hurricanes and floods from 1938; assorted magazines and books from 1916-1939.

Goldberg put together a special box of memorabilia from V-J Day, Aug. 15, 1945, when the Japanese surrendered in World War II.  Most of these items came from a longtime volunteer of the American Motor Corps, a group of intrepid women who transported wounded troops and supplies. The Motor Corps women, dressed in their trademark knee-high boots, have been an institution during both of the world wars as well as during the 1918 flu pandemic.  In World War II alone, approximately 45,000 women of the Motor Corps logged more than 61 million miles, often using their own vehicles.1  Local Motor Corps women also helped out during the Molasses Flood of January 1919 in Boston’s North End, when a storage tank burst. Twenty-one people were killed and 150 injured as 2.3 million gallons of molasses streamed down the streets.


There was also dozens of old books about swimming, first aid and water safety, some dating back to the 19th century, which made their way to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale.  The Framingham History Center took home treasure, as did several Red Cross regional offices, the Tewksbury Public Health Museum and historical societies in Natick, Quincy and Weymouth.

Sara Goldberg (no relation to Sasha), an archivist with Historic Newton, collected several binders of photos, newspaper clippings and typewritten material about the Newton chapter of the Red Cross. Of particular note, she discovered details about the Junior Auxiliary, founded by Newton students in December 1917, which sewed clothing and bandages for soldiers in World War I. Other volunteers sewed rag doll toys for French children in need. “It helps us to understand Newton’s role in the larger events the Red Cross was involved in,” Goldberg said of the recovered treasure.


Lily Mysona, local history librarian at the Malden Public Library, took home five boxes of material, including one dedicated to Malden chapter memorabilia, one on the Motor Corps, black and white photos and a dozen old uniforms that could date back to the 1920s and 1930s.

Both Goldberg and Mysona are still poring through the material, weeks later.

“I love history,” Mysona said. “Sometimes it’s the stories about the individuals who draw you in. You see how people lived their lives, and what they gave back.”


  1. “Volunteer for Red Cross Motor Corps”. Virtual Museum of Public Service School of Public Affairs and Administration Rutgers University-Newark. Retrieved 23 December 2015.

Links to photographs of historical items:

Photographs from a display at the Volunteer Appreciation Day in Cambridge: https://www.flickr.com/gp/60784495@N07/1xmPso

General Items:   https://www.flickr.com/gp/44966885@N00/zv7800

Selections from Malden’s items:  https://flic.kr/s/aHsm29HEwU

Selections from Newton’s collection: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm6L93qN