Friday, October 29, 2010

The Man Behind the Red: Henry Dunant

This Saturday will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Henry Dunant, who won the first ever Nobel Peace Prize for his role in starting the Red Cross movement.
Henry was a complex guy. He had great ideas (and a great beard), but apparently not so great business sense and not so great social skills, which is why - I'm sorry to say - he ended up dying pretty sad and lonely.

But now, 100 years later, the small town where he spent the last quarter of his life is paying him tribute. This TIME Magazine article gives a fascinating look into the man, his work, and the last place he called home.

P.S. Read all the way to the last paragraph. Pretty cool coincidence, huh?

Dunant Yourself!

Chances are, if you remember nothing else about Red Cross founder Henry Dunant, you'll remember his beard

Man, could that guy grow a killer beard. 

And now - thanks to the DunantMyself web app from the Austrian Red Cross - you, too, can have your own awesome Dunant beard! How awesome is that!

So Dunant Yourself in honor of the 100th anniversary of his death. Yes, it's goofy. That's what's great about it. It's a ridiculous(ly awesome) way to show your support for the Red Cross/Red Crescent humanitarian movement. You can even post the photo directly to facebook!

I dare you to make it your profile pic. Also thanks to our friends at the Oregon Red Cross Chapter for sharing this!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quick Update: Workplace Fire Safety!

Is this really what we've come to? Either way, I think this is pretty awesome. So awesome, I am going to twitter about it right now! Are you following us? @redcrosscv

What in the World, Wednesday!

Welcome to "What in the World, Wednesday" in which we consolidate the international Red Cross and Red Crescent news into one list of bite-sized links for you. It's a non-comprehensive sampling of the larger and/or more intriguing aspects of our global work...
RUSSIA: The Russian Red Cross is providing assistance in 22 villages after massive flooding destroyed homes.

INDONESIA: The Indonesian Red Cross is responding to two disasters at onceThe eruption of Mt. Merapi has displaced more than 8,000 people. Volunteers are supporting the evacuation process, providing medical care and establishing field kitchens. Tragically, one volunteer lost his life while helping to evacuate residents from the eruption zone. At the same time, search and rescue teams are bringing tents and body bags to the Mentawai islands where an earthquake-triggered tsunami has killed hundreds and left hundreds more missing.

MALAWI: More than 220,000 people are now protected from malaria thanks to a large-scale distribution of mosquito nets by the Malawi Red Cross.

SOMALIA: In recent months, hundreds of civilians have been wounded in fighting and thousands more forced to flee their homes. The ICRC continues to provide hundreds of thousands of people with food, medical assistance and other aid.

HAITI: In response to the cholera outbreak, the Haitian Red Cross sent medical supplies to the main hospital in Saint Marc, including intraveneous fluids, antibiotics and first aid kits, to support patient treatment. Hundreds of hygiene promotion volunteers are also being trained in cholera preparedness and prevention. They'll travel door to door across camps. Local radio networks, text messages and Haitian media are also being used to disseminate cholera prevention information as widely as possible.

ICRC = International Committee of the Red Cross
IFRC = International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Do More Than Cross Your Fingers...

It was a rather chilly morning here in the Valley, and it reminded me that Winter is right around the corner, and while we normally don't have catastrophic weather here in California, we should still always be prepared. I decided to share these videos with you from a member of our Celebrity Cabinet, Jamie Lee Curtis, proud Red Cross Volunteer. Watch as Jamie provides you with all the tools to starting your Emergency Preparedness Kit.

For more information, or tips to start your own Emergency Preparedness Kit, contact your local Red Cross Chapter at (559) 455-1000.

C is for Cookie!

Last week I had the pleasure of taking an Adult CPR/AED course here at our Chapter. However, this course wasn't like any other. The class begin at 6:00 am and was filled with Red Cross volunteers who were brave enough to be seen on camera as we certified Great Day Reporter, Clayton Clark on air! In case you weren't up at 5:00am like I was, you can catch a glimpse of what happens in a Red Cross course by clicking here. In our training we were taught about The 3 C's. Which if you don't know what those C's are I suggest you take a class, immediately! But over the past week I feel that we at the Red Cross have been bombarded with the letter C, so today I will share with you my version of The 3 C's to inform you guys on what we have been up to this past week!

Cholera - The Red Cross is responding to a cholera outbreak that has killed at least 138 people in Haiti’s rural Artibonite and Central Plateau regions north of Port-au-Prince. The American Red Cross, which is running the largest health promotion effort in the camps of Port-au-Prince, has offered support by making available its health and water/sanitation experts, and is also providing large quantities of chlorine to support the operation of water treatment plants. Read More...

Choking - Halloween is this weekend and there will be lots of hard candies, caramels and popcorn around-all serious choking hazards-be prepared, know what to do to keep your little goblins safe. Another serious danger at Halloween? Cars.

Citizens CPR - Sounds exciting and a little dangerous in a good way-right? It’s almost like CPR is getting dressed up for Halloween with a newspaper hat and megaphone. We recently announced a new initiative to train 5 million people in hands-only CPR by the end of 2011 here’s how we’re getting started.

There you have it, my version of The 3 C's. Cholera, Choking, and Citizens CPR. In no means, should this replace Check, Call, and Care, but in the last week these have been hot topics here at the Red Cross so I figured I'm at least qualified to teach you all about how the Red Cross is ready and responding! 

PS. Did I mention today is National "Cranky Co-Workers" Day? Talk about another "C" that I can definitely relate to! Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Questions About Fire? The Red Cross Has Answers!

Are home fires a big problem in the United States?
Sadly, yes. Last year, the Red Cross responded to more than 74,000 disasters, 93 percent of them were fire-related. In the Central Valley area alone, the Red Cross responded to over 450 disasters last year, 90% of which were residential fires.

When do home fires happen?
Home fires can happen at any time, but they generally increase during the Summer, with July and August being the peak months. Home fires are also more common on Saturday and Sunday, and tend to peak between 6:00 and 7:00 PM.

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

How can I prepare for a potential home fire?Smoke alarms are a critical step in being prepared for a home fire. Smoke alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home. If you and your family sleep with the doors closed, install smoke alarms inside sleeping areas, too.

My home has a smoke alarm, is that all I need to do?
No, to function properly, smoke alarms must be maintained. In 2005, the NFPA reported that 74 percent of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Once a month you should use the test button to check each smoke alarm. And at least once a year, all smoke alarm batteries should be replaced. In addition, smoke alarms can become less sensitive over time and should be replaced at least every 10 years.

How can I create a fire escape plan?
Begin by determining at least two ways to escape from every room of your home. For floors above ground level, escape ladders should be stored near the window. Also, make sure to select a central location at a safe distance from your home where family members can meet after escaping. After creating and discussing your plan with all members of your household, the Red Cross recommends that you practice your plan at least twice a year.

If a fire happens, can I go back into my home if I’ve forgotten something?Once you are out of a burning home, stay out! Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home or cell phone.

What if my escape route is covered in smoke?
If you see smoke or fire in your first escape route, use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, crawl low under the smoke. If you are escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it. If it is warm, use your second way out. If smoke, heat, or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with the door closed. Place a rolled towel underneath the door. Open the window- but do not break it. Signal for help waving a brightly colored cloth or shining a flashlight at the window. If there is a phone in the room, call the fire department and tell them your exact location.

How can I help victims of home fires?The number of families that the American Red Cross supports in the aftermath of home fires has increased 10 percent since 2000. Your local Red Cross chapter depends on the generous support of community members like you to help our neighbors affected by home fires. You can help victims of home fires by ensuring your local Red Cross is ready to respond. Contact your local chapter at 559-455-1000 to make a financial contribution today.

How can I learn more about fire preparedness?
Visit or

Trick or Treat, Give Me Something SAFE To Eat!

For many years you have walked the streets of your neighborhood, wearing ghastly get-ups and monstrous masks. Have you ever wondered where the creepiest and coolest holiday of the year originated? Was it the creation of a horror film that sparked this spooky night of candy and costumes?

It turns out that Halloween started as a cheery and bright fall festival where taffy fresh from the puller was served and hayrides were given to the children in townships across America. It wasn’t until the late 19th century when Irish immigrants began immigrating to the US that Halloween became creepier. Ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and monsters were brought into the celebration from these new Americans. The Irish brought another very important aspect of Halloween to American shores; the Jack-O-Lantern. In Ireland, rutabagas, turnips, and potatoes were hollowed out and faces of creepy creatures were carved into the now unearthed vegetables. These enlightened veggies were then used as lanterns for terrifying Halloween celebrations!

As mentioned earlier, candy is a necessity for a perfectly spooky Halloween eve. Candy, although delectable and inviting (My favorite candy is peanut M&M's, by the way), can be a serious choking hazard for those tiny tots and young children. The American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter is dedicated to educating our community about some of the dangers about tasty little treats. Sometimes, sticky and small candies like taffies and mini chocolate bars cause young kids to choke. Here are some tips from our resident candy expert Alex Villa on how to help your child if they are choking on candy:

If you think your child is choking, have someone call 9-1-1 immediately and administer the Three C's:· Check to see if there is an obstruction or loss of breathing, if either are present ask someone to
· Call 911 and administer…
· Care If you find something lodged in the victim’s throat, use the Five and Five Method. Lean the person forward and give FIVE sharp back blows between the shoulder blades with the heel of your hand. If the obstruction isn't dislodged, stand behind the person and give FIVE quick, upward thrusts into the abdomen. Repeat back blows and abdominal thrusts as necessary.

Please heed the advice of Alex and make sure you know what to do in case of an emergency. More than 3,000 people die each year as a result of choking so make sure your little goblins and ghouls are snacking safely. We don’t want the spookiest part of your night to be seeing your little monster choking on chocolate. Also, take into consideration what your kids are eating. It’s ok to go through your kid’s candy bag! In fact, 90% of American adults admit to taking candy out of their kid’s Halloween collection. What you do with the candy is your choice, but if you’re going to eat it, make sure someone else knows what to do in case you run into some trouble with a chewy confection.

From all of us at the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter, have a safe and spooky Halloween!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ghosts, Goblins, and DAT Members!

Volunteer Coordinator, Anya Goosev along with Health & Safety Coordinator, Alex Villa
When I first started  with the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter, I overheard many terms used by the Disaster Services Staff, such as: DAT, DSHR, and CAT. Fortunately, there is Disaster Relief even for Red Cross employees, which comes in the form of the American Red Cross Dictionary, which has the definition for almost every "Cross-word" that you can ever imagine. 

DAT (Disaster Action Team) - Responds to the scene of a disaster to provide immediate assistance to the individuals and families affected, whether it is one person at a house fire or 300 people evacuated to a shelter because of a flood.

Last night, we held a meeting in order to recruit and inform our newest volunteers to join the "Disaster Action Team," and what is expected of you as a Red Cross Volunteer. There was plenty of spooky dishes shared, and costumes worn by almost all of the members. We heard many great stories from DAT members who have responded to several local calls, and those who have worked in shelters, and even a great story from someone who has been deployed on a National level. 

I also had the pleasure of meeting, Sally Ramirez, a DAT volunteer who has been with the American Red Cross for over 55 years. You would think after this many dedicated years our Sally would be burned out (no pun intended) but as you can see, she is still having a great time and dedicated to the mission of the Red Cross. It is with the help of our volunteers like Sally, that the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter has been able to provide Disaster Relief services to over 446 local families in the last year. 

Overall, I left the meeting with a real sense of understanding of what and who the Red Cross is. It is with these dedicated individuals that the Red Cross has been known as the face of relief for so many years. I cannot express my gratitude enough to those who put the needs of others in front of their own day in and day out to ensure that the mission of the Red Cross has been fulfilled.

Alex Villa
Health & Safety Coordinator

Become a Disaster Action Team Member:

The DAT volunteer signs up for 6 to 24 hour shifts at a time, responds from home as called and works as part of a 2-4 person team. A minimum of 36 hours per month (on call) commitment is requested. Basic training is offered free of charge to the volunteer and includes computer-based and classroom courses, as well as on the job training.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, have reliable personal transportation during scheduled on-call periods, a valid driver’s license and pass a basic criminal history check.

Emergencies happen locally all the time. If you are interested on being part of a local response team and are not already assigned to DAT Team, email Anya Goosev or call 559-455-1000.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Great California Shakeout!

We're just minutes away...

Today, October 21st at 10:21am millions of people throughout California including your local American Red Cross Chapter will Drop, Cover, and Hold On. It's a statewide practice drill in case of an earthquake. You can register your family at It's a perfect time to have dialogue with your friends, family and neighbors about what to do during and after a disaster. Check out the website for more information on how to prepare a drill or a plan for your home, your business and your neighborhood.

It's imperative to have the conversations ahead of time, so that in the event of an earthquake you know what you need to do, where you need to go and how you need to handle the disaster. Over 6.9 million people participated in the Shakeout last year, we hope that number will double this year. The more folks that know what to do ahead of time, the better we'll all be able to handle it when it happens in California.

So, make it a priority today, 10/21/2010 at 10:21am...Drop, Cover and Hold On!

For more information on how to build your own disaster preparedness kit, contact your local American Red Cross Chapter at (559) 455-1000.

What In The World, Wednesday!

Welcome to What in the World, Wednesday, in which we consolidate the international Red Cross and Red Crescent news into one list of bite-sized links for you. It's a non-comprehensive sampling of the larger and/or more intriguing aspects of our global work...
VIETNAM: From ox carts to canoes, the VietNam Red Cross is using what it takes to reach flood survivors with food, clothing, clean water and other relief supplies. (As you know, the American Red Cross has also committed $30,000 to the disaster response.)

CHILE: Throughout the trapped miners' 70-day ordeal the 40 Chilean Red Cross volunteers worked in shifts, ensuring a permanent presence among the 33 miners’ families and friends, offering them constant support - and they will remain at the side of the miners and their families for as long as they are needed.

PAKISTAN: The deputy head of the ICRC delegation in Islamabad explains how the ICRC is helping hundreds of thousands of people caught between a natural disaster and armed violence.

HUNGARY: The Hungarian Red Cross is helping to break the cycle of urban vulnerability by sheltering and empowering families experiencing homelessness.

ICRC = International Committee of the Red Cross
IFRC = International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Purchase Your Holiday Greeting Cards To Support Your Local Chapter Today!

Food. Shelter. Comfort. Hope.

Give the Gift that Saves the Day.

The holidays are already around the corner! Order your holiday greeting cards today from the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter and your support will help when a neighbor loses their home to a fire, a military family needs emergency communication, or when a child needs a hug and a blanket. 

It's simple, just click here, customize your cards as you wish, and a donation will benefit your local chapter. Help us raise the funds needed to ensure we will always be there for you when you need us most. I can assure you that your gift today will save the day for those we serve tomorrow - giving hope when it's needed most. 

Thank you for your generosity,


Ellen Knapp
CEO American Red Cross Central Valley

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Did You Hear? New First Aid Guidelines!

Because I feel that this happens to everyone daily, I figured it's time to share the good news....

Revised first aid guidelines were released today and there are someupdated recommendations for the treatment of snake bites, anaphylaxis (shock), jellyfish stings and severe bleeding. Here's the scoop:

Jellyfish Stings: The revised guidelines reaffirm the recommendation to use vinegar to treat the sting. The vinegar neutralizes the venom and may prevent it from spreading. After the vinegar deactivates the venom, immersing the area in hot water for about 20 minutes is effective for reducing pain.
Snake Bites: The treatment for snake bites has been amended slightly to recommend applying a pressure immobilization bandage to any venomous snake bite, with pressure being applied around the entire length of the bitten extremity.
Anaphylaxis: If symptoms persist after a few minutes of giving the patient an epinephrine injection from a prescribed auto-injector and medical help is delayed, the first aid provider can give a second epinephrine injection from a prescribed auto-injector.
Severe Bleeding: The guidelines recommend that the general public not routinely use hemostatic agents (substances used to help stop bleeding) to control bleeding because of significant variability in effectiveness and the potential for adverse effects. Tourniquets and hemostatic agents should be considered alternatives for professional rescuers when direct pressure is not possible or fails to control bleeding.
And, with that (and a Red Cross first aid class), you're up-to-date!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prepare-aphenalia: The Stormtec Stormbags

Happy Monday Central Valley Red Crossers! I know this may sound very un-Californian of me, but I absolutely love this rainy and gloomy weather. I particularly love to fall asleep to the sound of rain, so over the weekend I made sure to sleep with all the windows open to take advantage of the few rainy nights that we have here in the Valley. I was surprised when I was woken up late in the night by the heavy downpour of rainfall happening outside of my window. It lead me to think that I am not prepared in the event of a flood. I did some research and our friends at have found the perfect tool for those of you to stay prepared as we enter the rainy season. Fortunately, in my case the rain ceased in five minutes, but hey it gave me something to write about. So without further ado, I introduce to you the Stormtec Stormbag....
"I found the Stormtec Stormbags at my local hardware store last fall. Basically, they're burlap sacks with water absorbing polymer crystals inside. You soak them in fresh water and the polymer crystals expand to create an alternative to a sandbag. They're lightweight (a pound when dry), easy to transport to the disaster site, and simple to soak and set in place. I've never used them for flood control, but they look like they'd work quite well. When exposed to water they increase 33 pounds in weight in about 5 minutes.
I have used them to soak up an intermittent leak in my husband's garage. We laid it down where the puddle usually forms, and it slurped up all the water, keeping it in one place. They will eventually dry out if set aside in a dry, well-ventilated area, so they can be reused. I put ours up on our plant shelf outside, where it got air on all sides. I expect there's a limit to their reuseability; mostly because they'd get really disgusting after a while.
The Stormbags cost $7.00 each at the Stormtec website, or $340 for a box of 50 bags. They also sell door protection kits that will fit various sizes of doors. They're expensive, compared to regular sandbags, until you consider how easy they are to store and transport and their alternative uses. If you have a small leak having a couple of these on hand is a real time and money saver."
-- Amy Thomson
Stormtec Stormbags - $7 per bag or $340 for 50 - Available from and manufactured by StormTec. Alternatively, they are available in cases of 50 from Costco for $280 with shipping included.