Monday, January 31, 2011

Save A Family Week Starts Today!

The American Red Cross Save a Family – Local Relief Fund donation drive is planned for week of January 31-February 5.  Volunteers are needed for collections on the corners of Shaw and Cedar on Thursday, Feb. 3 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at the Fresno State men’s basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m.
Volunteers from the Central Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross respond to families in a six county area offering help during times of disaster. This local relief includes emergency food, on site response, temporary shelter, CPR and first aid training and military communications, even helping members of our community after an apartment fire. In addition to local aid, your local Red Cross chapter has raised money for disasters in other parts of the country and region. Your local chapter needs help now to continue supporting those in our community who have experienced some type of emergency. All money raised during the Save a Family campaign will stay in our community.
If you would like to volunteer, please contact Anya Goosev at the American Red Cross Central Valley by calling 455-1000 or by e-mailing her at To make a donation to your local Chapter of the American Red Cross please visit our website and change a life...starting with your own.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Caught in the CrossFire: 16 People Homeless After Fire In Fresno

Three adults and 13 children are homeless after a fire Thursday night at a duplex in central Fresno. Fire officials say the family was living in one unit. 
The family told CBS47 they've lost everything. The American Red Cross was on the scene to assist the family.

“When we have large families like this, the need is just so great and we will do our best. But its hard with that many kids,” said Joy Dockter, Red Cross.

Fire officials say a nine year old was playing with a candle in the back bedroom.  "Fire got away from them and lit something off, don't know exactly what was lit off from the candle yet,” said Rich Willard, Fresno Fire.  Fire officials say no other units were affected and no one was hurt. Red Cross will be assisting the family.  “Parents are going to have to start over again which is very difficult and of course very expensive for them,” said Dockter.  Fire officials say the family did not have smoke detectors. If you’re in need of a smoke detector, you can get a FREE one at your nearest fire department.

Courtesy of CBS 47 Fresno.

While we all hope disasters will never affect us, you can rest assured that when disaster does strike, the American Red Cross will be there to provide relief to those in need. To join the Red Cross movement, donate, or learn how you can prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies contact your local Chapter at (559) 455-1000 or online at Remember, we are NOT a Government agency, we rely solely on the help of individuals just like you our devoted readers!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More Than Just A Sign....

The Minnesota Planetarium Society has sent our world into frenzy with the newly-released announcement that most of our zodiac signs have changed due to the Earth’s current alignment. According to some astrologers, Earth’s current position in relation to the Sun means that our signs, which were put into place approximately 3,000 years ago, are now outdated. As a result, date alignment with the signs shifted nearly a month causing many individuals to question their self identity. Whether you are a skeptic or a believer, there’s no doubt that the world has, literally, been shaken by this announcement.

As a Scorpio, my natural determined and controlling attitude has left me absolutely dissatisfied and unwilling to accept the news. Have we all been living a lie? Does the scorpion tattoo on my....well, does that mean my scorpion tattoo needs to be removed and replaced with whatever it is you Sagittarius folks believe in? 

We at the Red Cross have daily experience with receiving startling news that can shake up the world on both personal and worldwide levels. We learn first-hand to expect the unexpected. Despite the unpredictable nature of our mission at the Red Cross, one factor remains stable—we believe in hope. This common denominator among disasters of any proportion allows us to persevere through the hard days knowing we have the ability to do what we do everyday. It provides us with the power to help others and stand strongly behind the Red Cross mission. We see this belief all the time. We see it in our volunteers. We see it in our donors. We see it in our staff. We see it in the victims we assist. We see the belief in all of you who believe in us and our mission.

You may or may not believe that the fate of our love lives and stubbornness means changing from a goat to a four-legged man, but when it comes to persevering through the those disasters that seem impossible, we too can say, “keep on believing.”

Hope happens. What keeps you going?

-Alex Villa, Program Manager, Health & Safety
 (Yes, I know this news came out over two weeks ago, but as a stubborn Scorpio I refused to give into the hype, and show my protest until I was ready to. Once again, control issues, I know!)

Quick Update!

Motorcycles: use extreme caution. 

Cyclists: tough s**t! You're going down!

Yes, this sign is hilarious, and it is always funny until someone gets hurt. Then you need to be Red Cross Ready. Contact your local Chapter for First Aid training today! Call to register at (559) 455-1000 or online at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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...
MEXICO: The ICRC provided equipment and supplies for manufacturing artificial limbs to the National Rehabilitation Institute in Mexico City.
 The ICRC held a seminar in N'Djamena on health, water and living conditions in places of detention.
VIETNAM: Actor, philanthropist and IFRC goodwill ambassador, Jet Li toured the country encouraging youth to volunteer, give blood, and get trained in first aid.
WORLDWIDE: According to a report published by the IFRC this week, the global Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteer workforce numbers 13.1 million: equivalent to the population of Tokyo! [More amazing stats.]


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hurricane Katrina's Disaster Relief!

Katrina Poitras, Disaster  Services Director
Greetings Disaster Bloggers,

Well, 2011 has started off at a fast pace with 12 fires, 5 floods and 6 gas leak cases opened and that’s just since January 1st! So you could imagine that Hurricane’s War room has been a very busy place to say the least!

Last week's blog featured some of the disasters that dealt with pets. This week I would like to share a disaster that was caused by an unattended recalled portable heater that was being used to heat a family and their home.

On January 5th, around 2:00am the Disaster Action Team (DAT) received a call to respond to a house fire in Central Fresno. When we arrived the firefighters were still on the scene finishing the cleanup and making sure the fire remained extinguished. As we started to help this family of 8 get back on the road to recovery, we talked with them and their tragic story began to unfold.

The fire had started in the living room of the house, where a portable heater had been plugged into a power strip. It had been mistakenly left on when the family had retired for the evening. Mom woke up around midnight to the smell of smoke and an orange glow coming from outside her doorway. She yelled at her son to get the rest of the family out of the house as she called 911.

By the time the fire department had arrived the fire had already enveloped the living room and the downstairs bedroom. The family had gotten out safely but not without major damage to the house. The portable heater was what started the fire; the heater had been plugged into a power strip that was already overloaded. And with the house being a very old house the circuit breakers just couldn’t take the continuous drain of power on the wiring thus sparking the area to catch fire.

This family, like most families that rent did not have renters insurance. Therefore making their recovery process even longer.

Fire Tips from a Hurricane:

  • Select a space heater with a guard around the heating area to keep children, pets and clothing away from the heat source.
  • Keep all flammable liquids away from the heater.
  • Place the heater at least three feet away from bedding, furniture, curtains, or anything else that could fall on the heater and cause a fire.
  • Never leave the heater unattended.
  • Look for a heater that has been tested and certified by a Nationally recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriter's Laboratory. This way you can be sure that specific safety standards have been met.
  • If you use a heater that burns kerosene, LP, natural gas or wood, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed on every floor of your house.
  • When purchasing natural gas or LP heaters, look for a model with an oxygen depletion sensor feature. These sensors will automatically shut the heater down when it detects the air is low on oxygen.
  • If you are a renter, REMEMBER Owner insurance will only cover the structure you are living in NOT your belongings!
  • Check with any insurance agent and ask them about getting renters insurance. 
You can’t put a price tag on you or your family’s peace of mind.                                                                So until we chat again, Be Safe, Be Prepared, Be Red Cross Ready!

Hurricane Katrina!

To learn more about our Disaster Services, Join the Disaster Action Team, or to donate to your local Chapter visit us online at or call (559) 455-1000.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Calling All High School Students! Are you Red Cross Ready? Get a Camera, Make a Commercial, Be A Winner!

When we hear the word disaster, we think about the devastating aftermath of events such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods. What we normally don’t consider are the types of disasters that occur on a daily basis. Disasters could be as simple as a baby choking on an object or a family trying to survive after their house burned down. What can you do to help or even prevent such a situation from occurring? You can start by being Red Cross Ready.

Red Cross is well known for their disaster relief programs. They are on the scene to offer support and vital necessities such as food, water, and shelter for victims of disasters. But not many know that they are also the leader in disaster preparedness and Health & Safety Services. Every household should be prepared for when a disaster strikes. You may be thinking, “I know I should be prepared, but how can I be Red Cross Ready?”

To be Red Cross Ready includes getting a kit, making a plan, and being informed. The American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter is inviting all high school student ages 14 to 18 to participate in their first “Red Cross Ready” video contest for 2011. Students will have the chance to showcase their creative ideas in a video format that relays the message of being Red Cross Ready.

Students who are interested in participating are encouraged to produce public service announcement videos 45-60 seconds long. These videos would emphasize the importance of preventing an accident or responding to an emergency by receiving training from the American Red Cross in any of the Health and Safety programs available. For more information, participant forms, and rules and regulations, please contact the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter at (559) 455-1000 or online at

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Ode to Facebook!

Oh Facebook. Where would I be without you? No really, where would I actually, physically be without you? Certainly not on my couch wrapped up in my Snuggie with my laptop as I often am. But probably out in the real world visiting friends face-to-face. Weird.

Well, regardless of how much time Facebook sucks away from my life, I love it. It's a great, quick (if not lazy) way to get information about friends, family and organizations. Speakin' of, did you know that the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter now has a facebook page? You can find it here:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Prepare-aphernalia: Turn Your Trunk Into A Motorhome!

If you drive a car frequently, we hope you at least keep a basic preparedness kit in your trunk. But if you want to step your preparedness level up a notch - or rather several notches - we've found an amazing piece of prepare-aphernalia for you...

100 years after the invention of the Swiss Army Knife, a new incredible, foldable, compact, gadget-packed contraption has made it's debut. It's called the 
swissRoomBox, and it's basically an entire motorhome that folds up and fits inside the trunk of your car.

Provided you have a hatchback or an SUV. (And, if you're a Valley resident, there's a good chance you do.)

Like a 
Transfomer, the swissRoomBox can unfold and reform itself to become many different things - a sink, a shower, a bed, a table, and even a stove top range. Basically, it offers nearly complete self-sufficiency. Which would be handy if you ever find yourself stranded in your vehicle.
At a little over $8,000 it's a significant investment, but much less than an actual motorhome. Now who wants to buy one and invite me to go camping with them?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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...

BRAZIL: The worst mudslides in 40 years left many people in isolated areas unable to contact the outside world. The Brazilian Red Cross and the ICRC have been makingsatellite phones available, so that people in the affected areas can reassure their worried relatives that they are safe and well.
COLOMBIA: Around 23,000 victims of recent flooding have received food, seed and basic necessities from the ICRC and the Colombian Red Cross.

TUNISIA: The security situation and humanitarian conditions in Tunisia remain unsettled. One of the ICRC's major priorities is to get access to the many people arrested by the security forces, in the past few days especially, in order to check on how they are being treated and to send news to their families.
SRI LANKA: Major flooding has affected one million people. Red Cross staff and volunteers have been assisting in evacuation, cleaning hospitals, providing boat service, relocating the displaced and distributing bottled water, food and relief items to the affected communities. 
BANGLADESH: Tropical Bangladesh has been experiencing a severe and unprecedented cold wave. The Bangladesh Red Crescent is putting together a "first warm clothes" package to assist more than 30,000 people. 


Quick Update!

Yet another unfortunate spot to lose your keys...and your hand.
I guess there is no fortunate spot to lose your hand.
But that's why the American Red Cross offers First Aid training!
Take a class today, or call (559) 455-1000.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Woody Warned Us: A Cataclysmic Californian Disaster!

Well everyone, Woody warned us in the film 2012 that mayhem and destruction was headed right for us. Well just us Californians actually. Normally whenever the USGS or CalEMA releases reports like this, we at the Central Valley Chapter sleep a little easier knowing that we are from enough away from Los Angeles or San Francisco leaving us unaffected by earthquakes and mudslides. However, this report that was released yesterday by the United States Geological Survey mentioned that California is overdue for a cataclysmic superstorm and even mentioned the Central Valley receiving ten feet of rain! Rest assured readers, that should this disastrous event take place the American Red Cross would be there, along with the help of such "Prepare"-aphernalia such as the Stormtec Sandbag. For more information on how you can be Red Cross Ready, contact your local Chapter today. Check out the full-story below!
A group of more than 100 scientists and experts say in a new report that California faces the risk of a massive "superstorm" that could flood a quarter of the state's homes and cause $300 billion to $400 billion in damage. Researchers point out that the potential scale of destruction in this storm scenario is four or five times the amount of damage that could be wrought by a major earthquake.
It sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic action movie, but scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey warned federal and state emergency officials that California's geological history shows such "superstorms" have happened in the past, and should be added to the long list of natural disasters to worry about in the Golden State.
The threat of a cataclysmic California storm has been dormant for the past 150 years. Geological Survey director Marcia K. McNutt told the New York Times that a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley was inundated from 1861-62. The floods were so bad that the state capital had to be moved to San Francisco, and Governor Leland Stanford had to take a rowboat to his own inauguration, the report notes. Even larger storms happened in past centuries, over the dates 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, according to geological evidence.
The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.
The scientists built a model that showed a storm could last for more than 40 days and dump 10 feet of water on the state. The storm would be goaded on by an "atmospheric river" that would move water "at the same rate as 50 Mississippis discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico," according to the AP. Winds could reach 125 miles per hour, and landslides could compound the damage, the report notes.
Such a superstorm is hypothetical but not improbable, climate researchers warn. "We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes," Geological Survey scientist Lucy Jones said in a press release.
Federal and state emergency management officials convened a conference about emergency preparations for possible superstorms last week. You can read the whole report here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Red Cross and 17 Encourage CPR Training!

The February issue of Seventeen magazine hit the shelves last week, and there’s a special mission inside of it!
(Spoiler alert: Seventeen‘s blog also hints at this mission.)
Pick up a copy to read the heroic story of Jahan Nurhussein, a volunteer with the Greater Chicago chapter, who saved a man’s life using CPR.
National Celebrity Cabinet member, Penn Badgley also shares his Red Cross involvement and encourages CPR training.
Seventeen readers also score the chance to learn the skills to save a life! The first 1,000 people to enter the code found on the Seventeen page will get trained in hands-only CPR by the American Red Cross.
Want to learn more about how the hands-only CPR technique can make the lifesaving difference to someone who suffers sudden cardiac arrest? Check out this video!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hurricane Katrina's Disaster Relief!

Katrina Poitras, Disaster Services Director
Disaster Relief is such a big part of what we do here at the American Red Cross, and it needs people with a big heart to assist us in fulfilling our mission. Katrina Poitras, has recently joined the team as the Disaster Services Director and has so graciously offered to fill you all in with all the assistance the Red Cross has been providing right here in our Valley. So with that, we welcome Katrina, and I present to you, "Hurricane Katrina's Disaster Relief!" (Clever, right?!)

Fresno County

Gas Leak 1/8/11 
The Red Cross was called out at 3pm where I was told there were 14 adults and 19 children involved. When I got there the count had gone to 20 adults and 18 children. I had other DAT team members called out to meet me on scene. Four other DAT team members responded. Cindy assessed what families needed our services. DAT Team Members started assisting the families, while I secured transportation and housing with Yellow Taxi and Vagabond Inn.

Fire had been called out due to 2 of the children in one of the homes not feeling well. When the fire department arrived they entered into the apartment and noticed immediately there was a gas leak. They then began to evacuate the building and out of the 11 apartments, 9 had gas leaks. The families were living in substandard housing with no heat and only a few residents had small space heater to warm their homes. The rest were using the gas stoves to heat their homes. OES was called out along with social services and other agency to help with the crisis. All agencies worked well together in helping the families get to a safe place for the weekend and help them get their lives back on track. The American Red Cross housed 6 families and transported 2 families to the hotel. No food or clothing were in need as the families were able to take their own food and clothing with them to the hotel.

Fire Call  1/7/11 Single family home involved in a fire with 2 trailers that were not damaged by the fire but had residents living in them on the property, so a total of 3 families were affected.  Owner of the house lost everything and the other 2 families lost power to the trailers. Home owner is staying with family so only food and clothing was given provided, the other family received housing in a hotel for 3 nights and food. The third family has not come forward to receive any assistance. The homeowner lost 2 dogs and 5 puppies that were under the bed.

Fire Call  1/3/11 Single family home, child playing with a cologne bottle and matches as a torch and set the Christmas tree on fire, family has lost everything. Fire was around 5pm on Monday evening. Fire was contained and put out with only partial damages. Family left to spend the night with nearby relatives, when they were called out again around 4 am because the house had caught fire a 2nd time and they lost everything including their exotic pet animals – a snake, a Macaw, however they were able to save the Iguana and 2 cats. This was a single mom with 3 children. We housed them in a hotel for 2 nights and gave them food and clothing assistance.

Merced County 

Fire Call  1/4/11Single family home caught on fire due to electrical issues. Family has lost everything. They too had exotic and domestic animals that were lost, they had 4 dogs and 21 puppies just 4 weeks old, they were not able to save the mother dogs but the puppies were saved. The American Red Cross teamed up with a local pet rescue that were able to secure 6 of the puppies for foster care and the rest have been farmed out. The 6 that were surrendered to the pet rescue were the 6 that were struggling to survive due to smoke inhalation.
Update as of 1/10/11 one of the 6 puppies had to be put down, one more is struggling to live the other 4 seem to be coming out just fine.

This concludes this week’s update; this was a hard week for families and their pets. Please consider taking a Pet First CPR and First Aid class and I encourage every family to Be Red Cross Ready.

"Hurricane" Katrina Poitras

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

American Red Cross Issues One-Year Report on Haiti Relief and Recovery

Donations Made a Real Difference in Lives of Haitians Following 2010 Earthquake

The American Red Cross today released a one-year report on how the Red Cross has helped hundreds of thousands of Haitian survivors after the January 2010 earthquake, what has been done to respond to new issues such as the cholera outbreak, and plans for the years ahead to support Haiti’s recovery.
“Thanks to the generous contributions of so many donors, people in Haiti are receiving immediate relief and resources, as well as the necessary support and training to help them recover and rebuild,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “Red Cross efforts saved lives and improved the quality of life for Haitians with emergency shelter, food, water, latrines, medical treatment and other supplies.”

“People in the Central Valley and across the country responded quickly to help Haiti, and these donations have made a real difference in the lives of Haitians,” said Ellen Knapp, Regional CEO.

The one-year report on Red Cross relief and recovery efforts in Haiti can be found at

Since the earthquake on January 12, 2010, the American Red Cross and the global Red Cross network have provided:
  • Medical care for nearly 217,000 patients
  • Cash grants and loans to help 220,000 people
  • Latrines for 265,000 people
  • Daily drinking water for more than 317,000 people
  • Emergency shelter materials for more than 860,000 people
  • Vaccinations for nearly 1 million people
  • Food for 1.3 million people for one month

Since the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the American Red Cross has raised approximately $479 million for the Haiti relief and recovery efforts, including more than $32 million from the record-setting text donation program.

At the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, the Red Cross expects to have spent and signed agreements to spend $245 million, which is more than half of what has been raised. Specifically, 30 percent of the money will have been spent on emergency shelter and basic homes; 26 percent on food and emergency services; 15 percent on providing clean water and sanitation; 13 percent on health and disease prevention programs; 10 percent on livelihoods and host family assistance; and 6 percent on disaster preparedness activities.

The remainder of the money will go to longer-term recovery over the next several years, with spending plans likely to evolve to respond to changing needs.

In addition to responding to the earthquake and its aftermath, the Red Cross worked to provide help following the cholera outbreak last fall. The American Red Cross has spent more than $4.5 million and plans to spend at least another $10 million to fight the spread of cholera.  

One of the big challenges facing the Red Cross and other non-profit organizations is finding land to get people out of camps and into transitional homes. It has been difficult for the Haitian government to determine exactly who owns the land where these homes would be built. Much of the available land is covered with tons of rubble that must be removed, and there is not enough heavy equipment in Haiti to do this quickly. In addition, the government, which would take a lead role on much of the land ownership and rubble removal, was severely affected by the earthquake.

Overall, the American Red Cross expects to spend about $100 million of the remaining funds on construction of permanent homes and community development projects. These efforts, which will unfold over the next few years, will depend on several outside factors including the availability of appropriate land and the coordination of infrastructure, livelihoods and community centers.
“The Red Cross will continue to spend the money entrusted to us by the American people in the most responsible way possible to help Haiti and its people,” McGovern said.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What In the World, Wednesday!

Welcome to the 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...
Côte d’Ivoire: In response to ongoing tension following the November presidential elections, the ICRC has stepped up its humanitarian activities for those arrested, injured and displaced, and for refugees in neighboring countries.

ZIMBABWE: For more than a year, the ICRC has been conducting an emergency assistance operation to improve the nutritional situation in Zimbabwe prisons. Therapeutic feeding programs for acutely malnourished prisoners and general food distributions have allowed malnutrition rates to drop sharply.

SUDAN: Almost 7,800 people affected by recent fighting and tensions around Shangyl Tobay, in North Darfur, have received emergency assistance from the ICRC over the last few days.

SOMALIA: Ongoing fighting exacerbated by drought is forcing millions of Somalis to continue to depend on humanitarian assistance. The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society have just finished providing food and urgently needed household items for over 540,000 displaced people and vulnerable residents in major cities and along the road heading south-west from Mogadishu to Afgoye.

HAITI: Nearly a year since the earthquake, Red Crossers are still hard at work on projects like cholera prevention, hygiene, immunizations, supplying water, prosthetic limb fitting, digging drainage ditches to mitigate flooding, and building semi-permanent shelters. Keep an eye out for more Haiti updates in next week's Wrap-up.