Deck the Halls but Do it Safely – Tips for the Holiday Season

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by Sara Brown, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Blog Writer with Kelly Baker, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Partner

Fa La La and Deck the Halls, the holiday season is now happily here! It’s time to pull your holiday decorations from storage and decorate your winter wonderland. However, The American Red Cross wants you to be safe while hanging mistletoe and sipping eggnog.

Here are some tips to make sure you practice good fire safety during this time of year so nothing happens that will turn you into a Grinch.

Tips for decorating your house:

*Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant.

* If getting a real tree, choose a fresh one and secure it in a sturdy stand. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits and water it daily.

* If hanging stockings on the fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.

* Keep children, pets and decorations away from lit candles.

* Never leave lit candles unattended

* Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.

* Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.

* Connect no more than three strands of mini light sets.

* Read manufacturer’s instructions for the number of LED strands to connect. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.

* Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.

* Keep decorations away from windows and doors.

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General fire safety tips:

Keep combustibles three feet away from any heat sources including fireplaces, space heaters and stoves!

* Never smoke in bed.

* Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep.

* Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area. Put a smoke alarm inside every bedroom.

* Test them regularly and install a new battery if there is no noise when testing. Install new batteries every year. Get new smoke alarms every ten years.

* Develop a fire escape plan for the household and practice it at least twice a year. Everyone should know two ways to escape from every room and you should designate a safe place to meet outside the home in case of a fire.

For more holiday fire safety tips, visit our website. The American Red Cross hopes you, your family and your neighbors have a safe and happy holiday season.

Volunteer Spotlight; Bob Perry – Transportation Program

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By: Kathy Cox, American Red Cross Volunteer

Bob Perry has one word to describe being a Red Cross volunteer: wonderful!

Perry, of Keene, has been a driver in the transportation program in the Keene ARC office for 13 years, but his volunteer work with the organization goes back almost 45 years. Perry, 75, was approached back then by a friend who was on the Board of Directors for the Keene chapter who asked if he’d be interested in joining the board. He was. And while he’s had two “tours of duty” as a board member and even was a paid worker as an assistant to the then-executive director of the Keene chapter back in the ‘70s, he finds being a driver the most rewarding in his long experience with the Red Cross.

Bob Perry, longtime NH Red Cross Volunteer

Bob Perry, longtime NH Red Cross Volunteer Transportation Program

For many years he was involved in emergency services – even ran the department back when board members headed various Red Cross functions. Through that affiliation, he learned about the ARC transportation program and decided he wanted to be a driver. Perry’s responsibility is to take people to medical appointments. The transportation program takes people to appointments within all the towns of Cheshire County and beyond – “wherever people need to go in New England,” he said.

What has kept him behind the wheel for 13 years? “The people you get to meet. Wonderful people! There’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction that you’re doing something hands-on worthwhile.” The people he takes to appointments are always grateful, he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to meet people; absolutely wonderful!”

Anybody can be a driver, he said, as long as you have a clean driving record and you like people. “It doesn’t take a special talent. You’ve got to like people, but no special talent is necessary.”

What would he tell those thinking about becoming a Red Cross volunteer? “Do it. Not only is it a lot of fun, but you have great people to work with and wonderful people to help. You get a tremendous sense of accomplishment. We drivers get far more out of it than the people we drive. Our lives are enriched by doing it. It’s a wonderful thing to be doing.”

Know someone who’d be interested in volunteering in transportation or any other area of the Red Cross? If so please contact us! New volunteers are always welcome and needed to assist residents in our area. You can also download our Team Red Cross App for opportunities and information.

The Best Red Cross Apps for Your Halloween Costume

By: Sara Brown, American Red Cross Volunteer

It’s Halloween! Time for candy, festivities and of course dressing up in costume. The most believable costumes are the ones that commit from head to toe and have the best accessories. A nice accessory to go along with any costume is a Red Cross Mobile App. The Red Cross has a plethora of apps to help you out in any occasion. Here are some of our favorite apps to go along with some fun costume ideas.

Vampire- Blood Donor App

They have come to drink your blood…..so they can donate it? The Blood Donor App is perfect for a spooky vampire so they can have the best knowledge on where to get blood. Here are some of the best features of the app:

  • Find local blood drives and donation centers quickly and easily.
  • Convenient, easy appointment scheduling and rescheduling.
  • Receive appointment reminders.
  • Keep track of total blood donations.
  • Receive special blood shortage alert messages.
  • Claim rewards from participating retailers for donating blood or platelets.
  • Join or create a lifesaving team, recruit other blood donors and view rankings on the Blood Donor Teams Leaderboard.
  • Rate the blood donation experience.
  • Follow the user’s blood donation journey from donation through delivery, when available.

Dancing in the rain character- Flood App

Who doesn’t love the classic movie Dancing in the Rain? This would be an easy but fun costume to put together. It’s complete with our Flood App that way you know when a good time for dancing is and when to stay home.

  • Simple step-by-step instructions to help you know what-to-do even if the cell towers and TVs are down. Prioritized actions for before, during, and after requires no mobile connectivity.
  • Help distant friends and family in areas prone to flooding with the ability to receive flood and flash flood watches and warning alerts based on their location from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Red Cross location-based open shelters map for when you need it most.
  • Be ready should a flood hit by learning how to assemble an emergency kit for your family in the event of power outage or evacuation.
  • Reduce your household’s stress and anxiety should a flood hit by learning to make and practice an emergency plan.
  • Preloaded content means you have instant access to all safety information at anytime, even without reception or an Internet connection.
  • Interactive quizzes allow you to earn badges that you can share with your friends and show off your flood knowledge.

Lifeguard- Swim App

Nothing is more important than watching over the lives of others. Break out your swimsuit and whistle so you can make sure no one is in trouble in the water. Our Swim App would be the perfect accessory to help you in your mission.

  • Keep track of the skills and water safety topics your swimmer will learn in each Learn-to-Swim level with videos and detailed charts
  • Ensure your swimmer understands and retains the water safety tips they learn with the games and videos in the special section just for kids
  • Do fun activities with your swimmer
  • Learn how to keep your family safe in a variety of environments, such as home pools, rivers, lakes and oceans

Getting to Know You: Helen Long, Workforce Engagement & Preparedness Manager

Here at the Red Cross, we love the people we work with, whether it’s a volunteer, staff or the members of our community that we serve during times of emergency. We thought it would be fun to profile our dedicated staff and get a deeper look at who they are outside of the Red Cross. Now, we’ve got a quick quiz for you. What does preparedness, love of volunteers and the B-52’s have in common? They’re all things that Helen Long,  our Regional Workforce Engagement and Preparedness Manager, has interests in. Get to know Helen by reading our fun questions below:

How long have you been with the Red Cross? I’ve been with the Red Cross Since this past January.

What does your position entail? My position is to provide support to volunteers in Disaster Services and promote Preparedness throughout the State of New Hampshire.

One thing you love about the Red Cross. The one thing I love the about the Red Cross is the volunteers we have.

What’s your favorite song that gets you motivated? Depends on the day- Earth Wind and Fire’s, September or B-52’s, Rock Lobster.

Helen Long Head Shot

Helen Long, Workforce Engagement and Preparedness Manager for American Red Cross in New Hampshire.

One movie you can watch over and over again? There are many movies I could watch over and over again. If I had to choose, I’d say Heaven Can Wait.

Favorite color? My favorite color is light Blue.

What 3 items would you bring with you on a desert island? Items not people, huh? OK. I would bring my pillow, a copy of The Great Gatsby and lots of sun screen.

Favorite season and why? Spring, because I love light mornings, singing birds outside my window, flowers and the rain.

What did you want to be growing up as a kid? I wanted to be a Marine Biologist.

What famous person (dead or alive) would you want to have dinner with?  Fame doesn’t interest or fascinate me. I’d like to have dinner with my Mom again.

Fire Prevention Week: A Good Time to Make Your Family Red Cross Ready

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This post originally ran on October 4, 2013 but we felt, as we end Fire Prevention Week, that it was worth running again.  You can never be too prepared when it comes to home fire safety.  We hope you take some of these tips and use them in your own home.  It is possible to prevent fires! Remember, keep sofas, drapery and bedding three feet away from any heat! – Kelly Baker, American Red Cross New Hampshire, Volunteer Partner/Blog Writer 

 

Red Cross Offers Fire Safety Tips and Much More

by David Moore, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Blog Writer

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, fire departments respond to a fire every 23 seconds in the U.S. In fact, fires in private homes accounted for 79 percent of civilian fire injuries in 2012, and 84 percent of fire deaths.

The American Red Cross responded to about one fire every nine minutes last year, providing support and comfort to impacted families; which is, when you think about it, both a good news and a bad news situation – good news that the Red Cross is always there in times of need, but bad news that there is so much need.

Okay, we’ve been dealing with home fires ever since early man first carried a burning ember into the cave … so why aren’t we better at preventing it? The answer may lie in the planning, or lack of it. That’s why the American Red Cross of New Hampshire is celebrating National Fire Prevention Week (October 6-12) by helping families and businesses to learn how to better protect themselves and others from fires.

The focus of this year’s campaign is the prevention of cooking-related fires. Each year, cooking is involved in more than 150,000 structure fires, claiming nearly 450 lives and causing almost $1 billion in direct property damage, according to the NFPA.

Home Fires Campaign, Iowa 2014

 

“By making kitchen fire safety the theme for 2013 Fire Prevention Week, we can raise the awareness of the leading cause of house fires and provide lifesaving safety tips to improve the safety of everyone in the home,” said Maria White, CEO of Red Cross New Hampshire.

The following list of American Red Cross fact sheets links you to some good factual and organizational information covering fire safety and prevention tips, escape planning, CO poisoning and much more:

Business should be prepared, as well, because fire is the most common of all business disasters. Companies, schools and other organizations can learn how to prepare for fires and other emergencies by becoming a member of the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program at www.readyrating.org. Complete a free, online assessment of your current readiness level and receive customized feedback with tips to improve preparedness.

 

 

Small Steps Can Make a Big Difference in Home Fire Safety

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by Sara Brown, Volunteer Blog Writer, American Red Cross New Hampshire

A fire in the home is the biggest disaster threat to American families, more of a risk than floods, hurricanes or tornadoes. The American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes and nearly all of these responses are for home fires.

“A home fire can happen to anyone at any time,” said Maria Devlin, CEO of American Red Cross New Hampshire. “Now more than ever, it is important for Granite Stater’s to take steps to prepare their home and families to prevent home fires.”

Luckily, most home fires can be prevented. Here are some tips that you can use to prepare your home and family to prevent home fires:

* Install smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside each sleeping

area, placing them on the ceiling or high on the wall.

* Put a smoke alarm inside every bedroom.

* Test the smoke alarms regularly. Install new batteries every year.

* Get new smoke alarms every ten years.

* Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that

gets hot, such as space heaters, wood stoves and other heating sources.

* Never smoke in bed.

* Always turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to sleep. 

 

Home Fires Campaign, Iowa 2014

You can also get even more prepared by downloading the free Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns. The app also has a Spanish language toggle switch and can be downloaded by visiting redcross.org/apps.

Maybe you live in an apartment or condo. Don’t you worry; we’ve got some tips that are specifically catered to your needs:

• Learn the fire safety features of the building, including fire alarms, sprinklers and

evacuation plans

• Make sure all exits are clearly marked and not blocked

• Know the locations of all available exit stairwells on the floor, one or more of the

exists might be blocked by fire

• Identify a meeting place outside and away from the building

Here in New Hampshire, we also offer the opportunity for schools, businesses, and other organizations to get even more prepared to prevent home fires by having a Red Cross Preparedness Presentation. Specially trained volunteers who focus on preparedness can provide you with tips to Be Red Cross Ready for any emergency. To learn more about these opportunities, fill out the presentation request form on our web site!

Home Fires Campaign, Iowa 2014

Achoo! Cough Cough, Groan…Flu Season?

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By Sara Brown & Kelly Baker, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Blog Writers

Colder days are coming! That means so is flu season. That achy, sniffling, can I just say in bed feeling.  However, don’t fret. There are some easy ways you can keep yourself healthy this season and stop the spread of the flu virus.

1) Get the shot! A flu vaccine is available in the U.S. every year. Get your flu shot as soon as it is available for the best chance of protection.

2) Wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

3) Stay away from others as much as possible when you are sick. Staying home from work or school helps spot the spread of the virus.

4) Cover your mouth and nose with tissues when you cough and sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.

5) Drink plenty of fluids. This helps your body’s resistance to infection. Chicken Soup is good for you!

It may be difficult to tell if you are suffering from the flu or another illness. If you develop flu-like symptoms and are concerned about possible complications, consult your health care provider.

If someone in your household does get the flu make sure you:

-Keep everyone’s personal items separate. All household members should avoid sharing pens, papers, clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, food or eating utensils unless they have been cleaned between uses.

-Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.

-Designate one person as the caregiver.

For more information on preventing the flu, check out our flu checklist

The American Red Cross wants you to be Be Red Cross Ready!  Plus, your family and coworkers will thank you!

Home Fire Preparedness – Today and Everyday

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by Sara Brown, Volunteer Blog Writer, American Red Cross New Hampshire

Making sure your house is prepared for a fire is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family. Here are the do’s and don’ts on home fire preparedness.

DO: Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and replace the batteries at least once a year.

DON’T: Leave portable heaters on when you leave the room or go to sleep.

DO: Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home.

DON’T: Wait to talk with all household members about a fire escape plan. Make sure to practice the plan twice a year.

DO: Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.

DO: Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.

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If your community has experienced a disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to let your family and friends know you are safe. You may also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register yourself and your family.

Meet Our Newest App – The Blood Donor App

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By Sara Brown, Volunteer Blog Writer, American Red Cross New Hampshire

The American Red Cross launched a first-of-its kind Blood Donor App that puts the power to save lives in the palm of your hand.

The app allows users to schedule blood donations, track their total donations, get rewards and invite friends to join them on a lifesaving team. It continually encourages people to give blood and make a difference. The Blood Donor App is a great new way to help meet the constant need for blood.

 

Mary Brant, communications manager for the Red Cross Northern New England Region of Blood Services said, “The app sends a clear message to those who roll up a sleeve to give blood – you hold the power to save a life. The Red Cross is our nation’s single largest supplier of blood and blood products and is uniquely positioned to bring this cutting edge technology to blood and platelet donors.”

The app has cool features like convenient, easy appointment scheduling and rescheduling as well as receiving appointment reminders. You can also rate your blood donation experience and follow the blood donation journey from donation through delivery, when available.

The new app is free and available for download on iPhone and Android devices through the App Store and Google Play Store. Text “BLOODAPP” to 90999 to get a link to directly download the Red Cross Blood Donor App. For more information visit redcrossblood.org/bloodapp or redcross.org/mobileapps.

It’s Preparedness Month! Are You Prepared?

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by Sara Brown, American Red Cross NH volunteer blog writer

Disasters can strike at any time, and the American Red Cross, New Hampshire Region, encourages everyone to take the first step during National Preparedness Month and join America’s PrepareAthon, creating a disaster plan for their household that can help keep people safe in an emergency.

“Having an emergency plan is an important step so everyone in the household knows what they should do if something happens,” said Maria White, Chief Executive Officer for American Red Cross New Hampshire. “We believe people should mark National Preparedness Month by creating or updating their plan.”
Part of that plan is making sure you have all the proper items for your emergency kit. Here are the top five items everyone seems to forget about but is important to have.
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Manual Can Openers- Having a can opener during an emergency might not seem important but it is. These handy little devices will help you open up all those canned goods you ran to the store to buy. This will make life easier.
Batteries- Making sure you have enough light is vital in the case of an emergency. Candles can be dangerous so make sure you have enough batteries for all your flashlights. Also, prepare to have some extra batteries for when your old ones die.
Cell phone chargers- A cell phone can only be useful if it’s charged fully. Have an extra phone charger in your emergency kit to make sure you never have to deal with a dead phone.
Games and activities for children- If you have to stay in one safe location during an emergency, children may become bored quickly. Have some fun games to keep them occupied.
Red Cross Apps – The Red Cross has developed mobile apps that provide information on what to do before, during and after emergencies, including a “Make a Plan” feature on how to develop an emergency plan. The free apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
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