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.”

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HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY

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.
    STAY SAFE DURING WINTER WEATHER
  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.

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WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

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

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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.

 

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Red Cross Honors 3 Acton Lifeguards

The Red Cross recognized three Acton, Mass., lifeguards Jan. 4 for their actions that saved one and assisted another last August at a community beach.

Jared Arnold, Andrew Dickinson, and Julia Beerman received the American Red Cross Life Saving Award for quickly responding to a swimmer in trouble at NARA Pond in Action, August 10, 2018.

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Kate Richardson, from American Red Cross Training Services, presented the awards to the three lifeguards at the Acton Recreation Department in front of family, town officials and Massachusetts state representatives.

Arnold, Dickinson and Beerman all stressed the importance of working well as a team and sighted the training they received which allowed them to act quickly to save a young girl from drowning, and assist another child who witnessed the incident.

The citations read:

On August 10, 2018, Mr. Jared Arnold, Mr. Andrew Dickinson, and Ms Julia Beerman, trained in American Red Cross Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED, helped to save the life of a young girl who slipped under water and did not resurface at NARA Pond in Acton, Massachusetts. After realizing that the girl had not resurfaced, Mr. Arnold entered the water and brought the girl back onto the shore. Fellow lifeguard, Ms. Julia Beerman, was waiting at the shoreline and started conducting CPR on the girl. While the events unfolded, Lifeguard Mr. Andrew Dickinson, dialed 9-1-1 and promptly went to obtain the AED. Upon Mr. Dickinson’s return with the AED, the girl had been revived by Ms. Beerman. The girl was placed in a recovery position. The girl’s younger sister had gone into shock over the incident. The lifeguard staff kept both the girl and her sister comfortable. The Emergency Medical Responders arrived shortly after for further treatment. Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross Training Services course helped to save the life of this young girl. For this act, Mr. Jared Arnold, Mr. Andrew Dickinson, and Ms. Julia Beerman have been awarded the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award. This is one of the highest awards given by the American Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains a life by using skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course. The certificate bears the signature of the President and CEO of the American Red Cross, and the signature of the chairman of the American Red Cross This action exemplifies the highest degree of concern of one human being for another who is in distress.

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History

For more than 100 years the American Red Cross has been helping prevent drowning in the U.S. In 1914, the Red Cross began teaching swimming and lifesaving training to help combat the mounting number of drowning deaths occurring across the country. Due largely to Red Cross education and outreach efforts, over the course of 33 years the drowning rate was cut in half—from 10.4 drownings to 5.2 per 100,000—and millions of Americans were safely enjoying themselves in, on and around water. This work has continued through the years, and the national drowning rate has declined steadily to about 1.13 per 100,000 per year over the last decade. While great progress has been made, this still translates to approximately 3,700 needless drowning deaths each year.

The Red Cross is teaching people of all ages how to swim and be competent in and around the water by providing multi-year Learn-to-Swim courses. The program specifically targets children who might not otherwise have an opportunity to receive this training. Additionally, the Red Cross Centennial Campaign is teaching advanced Lifeguarding, Basic Swim Instructor and Water Safety Instructor courses to teens and young adults with goal of developing qualified lifeguards and swim instructors from within these communities.

Volunteers, Donors Help Red Cross Serve Residents in 2018

This year, our volunteers and donors helped make sure the Red Cross was ready to respond to the needs of the citizens of Massachusetts, as well as those in need across the country.

Starting in September the American Red Cross launched a wide-ranging relief effort to help people in North and South Carolina devastated by Hurricane Florence. In October, Hurricane Michael severely impacted the Florida Panhandle, followed in November by the Woolsey and Camp Fires in California. With the Camp Fire becoming the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in California history. Our partners also help us make homes safer through our Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, help us to respond to disasters by supporting the purchase of Red Cross vehicles, help military families through our Service to the Armed Forces Programs and help us support our generous volunteer blood donors.

In Fiscal Year 2018, your local Red Cross was hard at work providing comfort and hope right here at home. The American Red Cross in Massachusetts:

  • Responded to 683 local incidents, including fires, power outages, hazardous materials releases, transportation accidents and storms in Massachusetts and provided immediate disaster assistance to nearly 5,000 residents in the form of emergency shelter; food; clothing; children’s items; and other household needs.
  • Installed more than 7,000 smoke alarms as part of the Home Fire Campaign.
  • Taught more than 23,000 Massachusetts residents how to protect themselves and their families or to help others in an emergency through classes in First Aid, CPR, Lifeguard training, Babysitter training, Community Disaster Education programs and more.
  • Provided emergency communications, support services and access to emergency financial assistance to more than 1,300 military families.
  • Collected more than 140,000 units of blood to provide lifesaving blood components, plasma derivatives and transfusion services to hospitals and acute care facilities in Massachusetts.

The Red Cross also runs one of New England’s largest food pantries, serving more than 182,000 people last year.

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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/ma or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossma.

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“They Saved our Life” A Georgetown Mother and Son Share Their Home Fire Story

by Cuthbert Langley

This originally appeared on the Red Cross Palmetto Post blog. Photo and video by the American Red Cross, SC Region. 

Janette Washington and her son were in church on Sunday when a message stuck with them. Not just a message of faith, but one of preparedness. Firefighters from the Georgetown County Fire Department spoke to the congregation about the importance of having working smoke alarms in their homes. The firefighters said they had free alarms to install from the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross.

“I noticed there was just one in my house, so I decided we needed more,” Janette said.

Educating Georgetown residents about home fire safety is a goal of the Georgetown County Fire Department.

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“Anytime we can get to a community event and talk about fire safety and smoke detectors, we’re there,” said Chief Mack Reed.Educating Georgetown residents about home fire safety is a goal of the Georgetown County Fire Department.

A few days later, the firefighters installed several alarms and discussed with Janette ways to escape from her home should a fire break out. She remembered filing away that conversation, never thinking she’d need to use it.

However, in April, as she was falling back asleep after severe weather woke her up, she heard the screeching sound coming from one of the newly installed smoke alarms.

“When I looked down the hall, all I could was the fire coming from the ceiling,” she remembered.

The mother quickly jumped into action to save herself and her 28-year-old son.

“She calls me, and she bangs on the wall: Timothy, wake up! The house is on fire,” said Timothy.

Within just a few minutes, the mother and son said the smoke began choking them. In that moment, however, Janette remembered: two ways to escape from every room in the house. She remembered they could escape from the back door.

The mother and son are alive today, thanks to the smoke alarms and knowing what to do when a fire occurs.

“It was very scary, but I know for a fact, if it hadn’t been for those fire alarms, I was going back to sleep,” Janette said. “They saved our life. We would have been gone, honestly.”

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In the days following the fire, the Red Cross helped in another way. Volunteers helped the family by providing financial assistance for their immediate needs, replacing necessary medications that burned and providing referrals for other agencies that could help in their recovery.

“For me and my son, [the assistance] was a blessing because we didn’t have nothing at the time,” said the thankful mother.

Janette and Timothy are the 52nd and 53rd lives saved in South Carolina since the Red Cross’ home fire campaign launched in 2014. Together with its partners, the Red Cross has installed more than 57,000 free smoke alarms throughout the state over the last several years.

While much of her home is destroyed, what was not damaged was Janette’s sense of gratitude for the Georgetown County Fire Department, the Red Cross and the working smoke alarms.

“I’ve told a lot of people, if you don’t have one, don’t let a day go by because it’s true: they will save your life,” Janette said.

The Red Cross wants to thank all of the local fire departments, Fire Safe SC and Red Cross volunteers for helping save lives throughout South Carolina.

Making Lowell homes safer with Sound the Alarm

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.

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“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.

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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.

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Red Cross & NBC Boston Partner to Make Boston Homes Safer

by Jeff Hall, American Red Cross of Massachusetts

NBC Boston and the American Red Cross of Massachusetts have partnered to make Boston homes safer through the Home Fire Campaign.

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Over the next several months, Red Cross volunteers and members of the Boston Fire Department will install smoke detectors donated by NBC Boston in homes across city neighborhoods. The winter months especially pose a troublesome time for home fires as temperatures dip and people look for alternative heating methods in their homes.

“As temperatures dip, space heaters become one of the leading causes of home fires across the nation,” said Edward Blanchard, interim disaster program manager for the Red Cross in the Boston metropolitan area. “Heaters can overload an electrical outlet or one placed too close to curtains or drapes become an instant fire hazard,” said Blanchard.

NBC Boston received a donation of 500 combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors from First Alert, a manufacturer of home fire safety products, and contacted the Red Cross of Massachusetts to identify residents who could use the new safety equipment.

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“As part of our commitment to the community, NBC Boston, Telemundo Boston and necn couldn’t be more proud of our month-long fire safety campaign with the American Red Cross, First Alert and the Boston Fire Department. We hope through our messaging of the generous First Alert donations, and installations in homes across the city, we were able to make at least one home, safer.”-  Maggie Baxter, Vice President of Programming, NBC Boston, Telemundo Boston & necn.

“The partnership is a great fit for the Red Cross,” said Blanchard. “With the detectors donated by NBC Boston, our Home Fire Campaign can continue to identify families who need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make their homes safer.”

Boston Fire Department officials stress that best way to keep your home or residence safe is to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and near every bedroom. An existing partnership with the Boston Fire Department has already allowed more than 1,000 smoke detectors to be installed across Boston.

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“Fires today are much more dangerous than they were 30 years ago. They reach flash over more quickly,” said Joseph Finn, Boston Fire Commissioner. “When people get an early warning from a smoke detector, they are out of the building before the fire reaches a deadly stage. That early warning is vital for survivability,” said Finn.

This continuing outreach is part of the ongoing Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, in which Red Cross volunteers and partners canvass high-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans. Through another program called the Pillowcase Project, Red Cross volunteers are educating children in elementary schools on how to be ready for a home fire or other dangerous natural disasters. This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from national partners: Almost Family and Delta Air Lines. The Red Cross has also received funding from FEMA through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

In early November, Red Cross volunteers installed the one millionth free smoke detector in the United States as part of the Home Fire Campaign.  To date, the campaign has saved the lives of 285 people who were alerted to smoke or carbon monoxide in their residence.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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  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