The American Red Cross and Unitil Advise NH Residents to Prepare for Severe Winter Storm

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edited by Kelly Baker, American Red Cross NH & VT Volunteer Partner 

(Information from a joint press release dated February 13, 2015)

As New Hampshire braces for yet another major winter storm this weekend, the American Red Cross and Unitil, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, are working together to plan, prepare, and assist residents who may be impacted by this weather event. Together, the American Red Cross and Unitil urge residents to prepare in advance of this potentially devastating winter storm to keep their family and loved ones safe.
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The American Red Cross and Unitil strongly encourage residents to begin preparing for the possibility of blizzard-like conditions beginning late Saturday night and throughout Sunday. Current forecasts are predicting up to 12-18 inches of dry snow, combined with strong wind gusts in the Seacoast region.
 
“The storms this winter have caused a number of problems that can be hazardous – from bad road conditions to mounds of snow that need to be shoveled and removed from exits of homes. Using caution and being prepared before the next flakes fall are critical to ensuring your safety and the safety of your family” stated Maria Devlin, CEO American Red Cross of NH/VT.
 
“The incredible amount of snow we’ve received over the past few weeks is creating a dangerous situation for property owners,” said Unitil Media Relations Manager, Alec O’Meara. “Please take care to make sure your vents and meters are free of snow and ice, and if you use a rake to clear snow from your roof, please be mindful not to hit overhead power lines.”
 
The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for winter storms by:
Assembling Emergency Preparedness Kits: Pack winter-specific supply kits for both home and your vehicle that include a flashlight, first aid supplies, warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with blankets and extra warm clothing. Sand or non-clumping kitty litter is good to have on hand in case your car is stuck and to help make walkways or steps less slippery. Additionally, your home kit should have essential medications, canned food and can opener, bottled water, and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in the event of a power outage.
 
Preparing Your Home and Car: Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full, which helps prevent the fuel line from freezing. Make sure your home is properly insulated by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to help keep cold air out. Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year. Running water, even at a trickle, helps to prevent pipes from freezing. 
Heavy snow and icicles can have an impact on home meters, especially natural gas meters and vents. Keeping vents and meters clear will allow for proper ventilation and can prevent carbon monoxide buildup within your home. As snow continues to accumulate, Unitil advises customers to take the following steps:
Remove snow and ice carefully from a meter or outdoor appliance vent carefully with a broom. Do not use a shovel as it can damage the meter.  
 Avoid shoveling or plowing snow up against or covering the meter or pipe.
 Remove icicles from overhead eaves and gutters to assure dripping water does not freeze the meter or vent pipe. Contact a qualified roofing vendor if you cannot reach icicles yourself.
 Do not kick your gas meter in an attempt to break ice off, as this too can cause damage.
For additional advice on preparing for severe winter weather, please visit www.unitil.com or www.redcross.org.
 
About Unitil Corporation
Unitil Corporation provides energy for life by safely and reliably delivering natural gas and electricity in New England. We are committed to the communities we serve and to developing people, business practices, and technologies that lead to dependable, more efficient energy. Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company with operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, Unitil’s operating utilities serve approximately 102,700 electric customers and 77,900 natural gas customers. Other subsidiaries include Usource, Unitil’s non-regulated business segment. For more information about our people, technologies, and community involvement, please visit www.unitil.com.
 
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 visit us on Twitter at@RedCross.

American Red Cross New Hampshire to Honor Local Heroes

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by Kelly Baker, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Partner

Heroes come all walks of life. These people are proof that one person can make a significant difference and positively impact the well being of others”, Maria White, CEO American Red Cross NH & VT

The Red Cross Heroes Breakfast was created to celebrate and recognize those individuals who live and work amongst us who have had a significant impact on our community or displayed a selfless act of heroism.  It is vitally important we continue to recognize these unsung heroes so they can continue to serve as an inspiration for all, weaving a more vibrant web of support and involvement within our communities.

This years Heroes Breakfast, celebrating American Red Cross Heroes will take place on Thursday, March 5, 2015 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at Southern New Hampshire University Dining Center, Conference Facility 2500 North River Road, Manchester, NH 03104. Tickets to the event are $25, and a table of 8 is $200. Please reserve your seat today by contacting Lucie Thibodeau at 603-889-6664 ext. 228.

For more updated information, please “like” us on Facebook by visiting us today at www.facebook.com/nhredcross, or follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/NHRedCross.

2014 NH Red Cross Heroes Awards Crafted by Seacoast Artist Walter Liff

2014 NH Red Cross Heroes Awards Crafted by Seacoast Artist Walter Liff photo by EpixStudios

Meet This Year’s American Red Cross New Hampshire Heroes

Police Officers Stephen Arkell & Derek Franek were the first on scene at a Brentwood home after reports of an elderly man being abused by his son. Officer Arkell courageously entered the home without backup and was ambushed by the suspect. Knowing he was approaching a perilous situation, Officer Franek entered the home and came under fire, but was able to locate Officer Arkell and warn other officers. Tragically, Officer Arkell was killed in the ambush, but the quick actions of both officers saved lives and prevented a larger loss of life in this tragedy.

In 2011, Tara Holmes Ball, of Exeter, lost her 14-year old son, Connor, to suicide. Since then, she launched an annual 5k fundraiser named Connor’s Climb that has raised $37,500 to support suicide prevention and education in New Hampshire schools. Undoubtedly, her devotion to suicide awareness is saving young lives in New Hampshire.

Mike and Gloria Caponera, of Franklin have been volunteering at Red Cross donor centers throughout New Hampshire every Wednesday for the past eight years. Mike averages 20 platelet donations a year, which provides life-saving platelet doses to patients in need. As platelets can only be stored for a few days, regular and frequent donors are in great demand and constantly needed. The Red Cross is exceptionally grateful for the Caponera’s ongoing generosity and dedication to serving others at its donor centers.

Jacey Montague, of Alton, may only be 6-years old but she had the presence of mind to save her grandfather’s life when a tree fell on him in the woods. Immediately after the accident, Jacey quickly returned home to call 911 and then waited outside the woods to guide the first responders to her grandfather. Jacey’s quick actions and presence of mind to assist the first responders saved her grandfather’s life.

Journalist James Foley, who grew up in Wolfeboro, was killed by Islamic State militants in Syria in 2014. James knew the risks of reporting from the most unstable parts of the world as he was kidnapped once before in Libya. However, he also knew the importance of front line journalism and ultimately gave his life while showing the world what the oppressors didn’t want us to see.

Thank you to all our wonderful sponsors!

Thank you to all our wonderful sponsors! Photo by EpixStudios

We are honored to share this inspiring morning with Unitil, the Title Sponsor for this year’s Heroes Breakfast. In addition to Unitil as our Title Sponsor, we are pleased to recognize FairPoint Communications, BAE Systems, Dartmouth Hitchcock Manchester, Exeter Hospital, Bellwether Community Credit Union, HealthTrust, Northeast Delta Dental, Rath, Young and Pignatelli, P.A., Anagnost Companies, Geneia, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Anagnost Companies, Lincoln Financial Group, New Hampshire Electric Co- Op, Optima Bank, Seabrook Station and St. Joseph Hospital.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available, please contact Stephanie Couturier, 603-225-6697 ext. 219 for more information.

A Blizzard Oh My – How to Survive Winters Worst Weather

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by Kelly Baker, American Red Cross New Hampshire Volunteer Partner

As I sit by a toasty fire (I should confess right here that I’m watching a toasty fire video on YouTube) and ponder life’s tough questions like who’s going to shovel all this snow, where am I going to put all this snow, and why didn’t I stock up on cookies when I had the chance, I realized that for some people this type of weather can spell disaster. Being ready for a winter storm is not having a selection of take out menus handy or stocking up on tabloid magazines but it’s taking the steps to ensure you and your family are ready for an emergency if it occurs.

While the storm is already in full force and staying inside is strongly advised you can start planning for the next severe winter storm right now and be Red Cross Ready.

  • Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Weather conditions and travel bans may force your family to shelter-in-place at your home. Make sure your kit includes at least three days water and non-perishable food, as well as essential medications. Additionally, make sure you have a first aid kit and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries in your home in the event of a power outage.
  • Keep an Emergency Preparedness Kit in your Car: Remember, many people thought they could make it to their destination and ended up stranded in their car for hours. Make sure your car safety kit includes snacks and water, as well as a warm coat, hat, mittens or gloves, and water-resistant boots, along with extra blankets and extra warm clothing for each family member. If you must drive never use cruise control on snow or ice covered roads and remember to keep at least five car lengths between you and snow removal equipment.
  • Download our Red Cross Safety AppsWhen power goes out, especially when restoration could be hours or days away, shelters are often opened in affected areas.  Will you know where a shelter is when you need one? Download our Shelter App before disaster strikes. Is that cut or bruise serious? Do I have frostbite?  If you have already downloaded our First Aid App you’ll have the answer at your fingertips. 
  • Fire Safety - Your Life Depends on It: While every day is Fire Safety day during a storm it’s even more important to be fire safe in your home. Are you using a generator during power outages? If so was it installed and vented properly? Are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors working? If you’re using space heaters or a fire places/wood stove for extra warmth do you know how far away to keep combustibles? During a winter storm fire crews could be delayed in responding to your home and with fire every second counts.  Make a plan of escape and practice that plan! 

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So while Winter Storm Juno has arrived in full force there is still time to do a few things to make yourself safe and ready for the reminder of this storm and for the next inevitable storm to come.  In New England we are a hearty bunch of souls but being hearty does not take the place of being prepared.

Now I must turn up my faux fire and settle in for a winters nap.  Wake me up around May 15th or when you’re finished baking chocolate chip cookies.

Stay safe New Hampshire!

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!

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