Monday, October 31, 2011

Our Lucky 13 Tips for a Safe Halloween!

Ghouls and goblins will take over the night. But even scary creatures need to be safe and celebrate Halloween right. Halloween’s greatest hazards aren’t vampires and villains, but falls, costume mishaps and automobile collisions. The Red Cross want your family to have a safe Halloween so we’re providing these tips, the Lucky 13:

1. Map out the route that you plan to roam, so adults are assured you will find your way home!

2. From the bravest of superheroes to the noblest of knights, everyone should remember to bring their flashlights!

3. If you visit a house where a stranger resides, accept treats at the door and, please, don’t go inside.

4. When you get ready to put on your disguise, use face paint instead of masks, which will cover your eyes.

5. Always remember, before you embark, to wear light-colored clothing to be seen in the dark! (And remember to use reflective tape, even on bikes, and brooms and the edges of your cape!)

6. Whether you walk, slither or sneak, do it on the sidewalks and not in the street.

7. As you roam through the neighborhood collecting your treats, please look both ways before crossing the street! (And speaking of streets, the corners are the place for trick or treaters to cross no mat- ter their pace.)

8. Wigs, capes and costumes are flammable attire, so avoid open flames to prevent a fire!

9. Use a glow stick instead of a candle so your jack-o-lantern isn’t a safety gamble!

10. You may fly on a broom or a space ship from Mars, but please be on the lookout for drivers in cars! (Between parked cars is no place to hide, be sure that you’re seen whether you’re a clown or a bride.)

11. Monsters and zombies should stay off the lawn, and only visit homes with their porch lights turned on!

12. You may be dressed as a werewolf, a cat or a frog, but be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.

13. Have a grown-up inspect your candy when you’re done trick-or-treating to remove open packages and choking hazards before eating.

The Origins of Halloween.

This morning as many of us came into work with our costumes, we all laughed about how silly we must have looked while driving into the office. We began to think, why is it that all of us are dressed up today? Why is Halloween such a big deal to us Americans? So I did a little research and this is what I have found...

What does the name 'Halloween' mean?

The name Halloween (originally spelled Hallowe'en) is a contraction of All Hallows Even, meaning the day before All Hallows Day (better known as All Saints Day), a Catholic holiday commemorating Christian saints and martyrs observed since the early Middle Ages on November 1.

How and when did Halloween originate?

The best available evidence indicates that Halloween originated in the early Middle Ages as a Catholic vigil observed on the eve of All Saints Day, November 1.

It has become commonplace to trace its roots even further back in time to a pagan festival of ancient Ireland known as Samhain (pronounced sow'-en orsow'-een), about which little is actually known. The prehistoric observance marked the end of summer and the onset of winter, and is said to have been celebrated with feasting, bonfires, sacrificial offerings, and paying homage to the dead.

Earliest Halloween customs

The earliest documented customs attributable to Halloween proper grew out of the tandem observances of All Saints Day (November 1), a day of prayer for saints and martyrs of the Church, and All Souls Day (November 2), a day of prayer for the souls of all the dead. Among the practices associated with Halloween during the Medieval period were the lighting of bonfires, evidently to symbolize the plight of souls lost in purgatory, and souling, which consisted of going door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for "soul cakes" and other treats.Mumming (or "guising"), a custom originally associated with Christmas consisting of parading in costume, chanting rhymes, and play-acting, was a somewhat later addition to Halloween.

Again, however, despite the obvious similarities between old and new, it's an overstatement to say these Medieval customs "survived" to the present day, or even that they "evolved" into modern Halloween practices such as trick-or-treating. There's no direct historical evidence of such a continuity. By the time Irish immigrants brought the holiday to North America in the mid-1800s, mumming and souling were all but forgotten in their home country, where the known Halloween customs of the time consisted of praying, communal feasting, and playing divination games such as bobbing for apples.

So, we may have strayed a bit on the meaning of Halloween but we do love to look silly. So from all the boys and ghouls at the American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter, we wish you and yours a safe and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween is Lurking Around the Corner

 Red Cross tips help make it safe and less scary.

As ghosts and vampires get ready to roam the streets, the American Red Cross has tips to make this a frightfully safe Halloween.

Costume Safety
Whether a child wants to be a princess, a monster or a superhero for Halloween, parents can help keep it safe by:
Adding reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
Using flame-resistant costumes.
Using face makeup instead of masks, which can cover your eyes and make it hard to see.

Navigating the Neighborhood
To maximize safety, plan a route ahead of time. Make sure adults know where children are going. If the children are young, a parent or responsible adult should accompany them as they walk through the neighborhood.

Here are more safety tips to follow as children go from house to house:
Make sure trick-or-treaters have a flashlight.
Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door—never go inside.
Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.
Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
Be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.

Trick or Treat!
For those who expect to greet trick-or-treaters at their door, they can make sure it’s fun for everyone by following a few tips:
Make sure the outdoor lights are on.
Sweep leaves from sidewalks and steps.
Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
Restrain pets.
Use a glow stick instead of a candle in jack-o-lanterns to avoid a fire hazard.

Visit for more advice on having a safe and fun Halloween.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Still Searching For The Perfect Halloween Costume? Try This!

Halloween is only a few days away, so my guess is you’ve already figured out your costume. But if time has gotten away from you this fall and you still don’t know what you’ll dress up as, here are a few Red Cross-themed costumes I’d recommend.
American Red Cross CPR Instructor (bring along a first aid kit or mannequin to make this costume even more authentic)
American Red Cross Lifeguard (a good choice for those of you living in my neck of the woods, where the temperatures on Halloween will likely still be in the 80’s)
American Red Cross Nurse (I realize that Red Cross nurses don’t dress like this today, but I love these vintage nurse uniforms)
American Red Cross Volunteer (throw on a Red Cross t-shirt, jeans, and a lanyard and you’ll be all set)
Now that you’ve gotten your costume squared away, take a moment to review the Red Cross’ Lucky 13 Tips for a safe Halloween.
Trick or treat!
Note: If you choose to dress up in a Red Cross-themed costume, please keep in mind that you’re representing the organization and remember to respect its mission and fundamental principles. Thanks!

Worldwide Wednesday Wrap-Up!

Welcome to the Worldwide Wednesday Wrap-Up, 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...

TURKEY: The Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) and IFRC are working to assist survivors and reach people trapped in the rubble following the 7.2 earthquake that hit the eastern Turkish province of Van on Sunday. At least 217 people have been killed and 1,090 people have been injured, with hundreds more missing. 

CENTRAL AMERICA: Over the past week, heavy rains in Central America caused flooding and several major landslides. A landslide in La Libertad, El Salvador took five lives and another five were rescued from under the dirt by members of the Salvadorian Red Cross. In Guatemala, the Guatemalan Red Cross is delivering relief supplies to those affected by landslides. At least 100 have died in the region, which continues to receive heavy rains from Hurricane Rita.

AFGHANISTAN: Every year, as the weather turns cold, the ICRC runs a winter program for Afghan detainees. By the end of October, the ICRC will have distributed over 26,000 parcels, blankets and other supplies to 72 prisons all over Afghanistan.

MADAGASCAR: Last week was the final training seminar in a series of 10 at the national police academy in Ivato, Madagascar. The seminars, organized by the ICRC, gave 400 officers the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the rules on the use of force under human rights law.


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

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prepare-aphernalia: The Office Edition

Here on the blog we spend a lot of time talking about being prepared. We’re pretty sure that a magnitude 9 or so earthquake (that will cause extensive damage and probably a pretty big tsunami) is coming and we know that you are all packing away food, water and emergency supplies so you’re ready for the “big one” but what about those day to day emergencies?

I came across a few key items to help solve workplace "emergencies" that many of us face everyday and wanted to share:

Can’t find a pen? Not a problem anymore you'll be offering, "borrow my pen" before anyone has a chance to ask with this set of eight reputable business logo pens such as “Stuffed with Love Taxidermy” where just as the pen says “No pet Too small – Give us a Call”. (We think these won't be walking away from your desk anytime soon either)

Someone keeps using your coffee Mug? Chances are good with this mug it won’t be a problem – wash as much as you like, the lipstick and coffee stains are there to stay.

No office windows? Here is an inflatable window with a lovely tropical scene. This could also be a useful addition to your office disaster kit – a little morale boost when your stuck under your desk waiting for help post earthquake.

Your lunch went missing from the staff fridge, again? Not a problem anymore with Anti-Theft lunch bags – these zip-locks have green splotches printed on both sides. Only you will know that sando hasn’t been in there since last summer. I know for a fact, that this would deter many Red Cross staff members as we had the "great moldy cookie debate of 2011" recently.

[Note: We don't endorse, nor sell, the prepare-aphernalia products we feature here. We just like to share cool stuff we come across. These items and more availabe at] 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breaking News: Red Cross Sets Up Shelter, Donations Needed.

Breaking News:  On October 22nd, at 4:35am a fire occurred and the Mt. Whitney Hotel located in Lindsay, CA. This is a 26-unit hotel with elderly long-term residents. 37 individuals were evacuated.

Update: The American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter has set up a shelter at the Lindsay City Park Community Center, 911 Parkside Ave, Lindsay, CA following a destructive apartment fire that has left over thirty
individuals homeless. Red Cross nurses, mental health professionals and shelter volunteers have been working around the clock today to help the individuals cope with their loss. Please support your local Red Cross by making a donation online at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Are You Ready For The Great Shake Out?

Be Prepared!
It’s a message all Californians have grown up with given their vulnerability to natural disasters. They have seen it all – firestorms, flooding, drought, blizzards, and of course earthquakes.  Additionally, with the “Hurriquake 2011″ that struck the East Coast, and the tornadoes and storms that ravaged the Midwest and South this Spring, we would assume that disasters are a fact of life, so it would be safe to assume that preparing for potential disaster would be automatic for everyone.
Surprisingly, recent research indicates that LESS THAN HALF of all Californians have taken necessary steps to prepare for disaster and reduce their risk of damage and injury.
As disaster can strike at any moment, now is the time for Californians – and Americans – to take immediate action.  Fortunately, there is no shortage of resources to help us get started.
Today, October 20, millions of Californians will participate in the 4th annual Great California ShakeOut, the largest earthquake drill in our nation’s history.  It is an opportunity, not only for participants to practice the skills that can save lives in an earthquake, but to also focus on what needs to be done and how easy it can be to prepare yourself.
Simple steps such as building an emergency preparedness kit for every member of your family including your pets – will ensure you have essential items that will sustain you should you need to evacuate immediately or find that you must go it alone until help arrives.  In fact, you most likely have many of the items you need already in your home.
In an effort to promote preparedness and encourage Californians to take action, the California Emergency Management AgencyCalifornia Earthquake Authority, and California Seismic Safety Commission have partnered to launch the Totally Unprepared earthquake readiness campaign.
The campaign, which features several of the links above, is a year-long effort aimed to present preparedness info and action steps in a new, more interactive way.  Californians are encouraged to get involved via YouTubeFacebook, and Twitter to not only learn for themselves but to easily share the valuable information with their own network of friends and family.
In a state so prone to disasters, we all share in the responsibility of getting prepared to the greatest extent possible.  While we can’t prevent or predict when and where disaster will strike, we can all be proactive in our preparedness efforts.
Every journey begins with a single step.  We encourage you to take that first step and join the over 8.3 million people already registered to participate in ShakeOut this Thursday, October 20.
Don’t live in California?  Don’t worry.  ShakeOut may be coming to your state.  We’re all in this together.  Let’s get involved and get prepared.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Worldwide Wednesday Wrap-Up!

Welcome to the Worldwide Wednesday Wrap-Up, 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...

CAMBODIA: Flooding continues in Southeast Asia due to heavy monsoon season rains, ravaging many provinces in Cambodia. The Cambodian Red Cross is working to evacuate people to higher ground, compiling lists of evacuees, and distributing relief aid to over 36,000 families.

THAILAND: Almost 2.3 million people have been affected as heavy flooding has washed its way down from northern provinces to the outskirts of Bangkok. The Thai Red Cross has been responding to these floods since they started in June, and so far have reached more than 500,000 people in 32 of the 60 flooded provinces.

SWITZERLAND: At the Assembly of the ICRC earlier this week, the organization's governing body appointed Peter Maurer as the ICRC's next president. Maurer is currently Switzerland's State secretary for foreign affairs, and succeeds Jakob Kellenberger, the ICRC president since 2000, who expressed the wish to retire at the end of his third term.

COLUMBIA: On the afternoon of October 17th, 10-year-old Nhora Valentina Muñoz was handed over to the ICRC in a rural part of Arauca, after 18 days in captivity. The ICRC has been active in Colombia for 30 years and has regularly helped facilitate the release of persons deprived of their liberty.


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

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's An Elevator Speech Anyway?

If you’re like most people, when you step onto an elevator full of strangers you keep to yourself. You press the button associated with the floor to which you’re heading, step away from the door and the people you don’t know, and watch the numbers light up.

This unique situation, where we are presented with a potentially captive audience but choose not to take advantage of it, led to the creation of the Elevator Speech/Pitch. An elevator speech is a short description of what you do; the point you’d like to make; or a product, service, or organization and its value to the individual or community. The name “elevator speech” comes from the idea that the entire summary should be deliverable in approximately 30-60 seconds, or the time the average person spends on an elevator ride.

Why am I talking about strangers and elevators and speeches, you might ask? Because we, as representatives of the Red Cross, have a responsibility to the organization, and those the organization serves, to create and USE our own elevator speech.

How many times have you mentioned your Red Cross affiliation to someone unfamiliar with the organization (either on an elevator or elsewhere) and received a response like, “Oh sure, you guys host respond to hurricanes, right?” Or, “I took a CPR class once, back when I was in high school.”

Most people have heard of the Red Cross. Many people know a little bit about one piece of the organization. But very few people truly understand how important the Red Cross is to the health and safety of communities across the country and around the world, and your elevator speech can change this.

They’re easy to write. Talk about who you are and why you became a Red Crosser. Talk about what you’ve contributed to the Red Cross. Talk about the impact the Red Cross has on your community. Keep it short and simple, speak to your audience, and share what’s in your heart.

Here’s mine (in response to the “Oh sure, you guys respond to hurricanes, right?” question):

“Yes, we do respond to respond to natural and man-made disasters like floods, tornadoes, and fires. But we also provide relief to local families on average every sixteen hours who fall victim to home fires.  The Red Cross provides assistance whenever and wherever there’s a need, thanks to generous donations from this community, which is what motivated me to become involved in the first place. Might you be interested in getting involved? I’d be happy to connect you to our local chapter!”

Now it’s your turn! Those of you with a Red Cross elevator speech, please consider sharing – perhaps along with a story about using your speech – in the comments section. Those of you without, read through the elevator speeches written by your fellow Red Crossers for ideas. Together we can help our neighbors, communities, country, and world better understand the American Red Cross, one elevator ride at a time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Things To Know About Fire Extinguishers!

Remember the acronym PASS. This stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep. First, stand about 20 feet away from the flames. Locate the pin at the top of the extinguisher. It usually has a ring at the end. Grab a hold of this ring and pull the pin out. Take the hose and aim it toward the fire. Using your other hand, squeeze the lever. This will release the water, foam, or other fire fighting chemicals. Move the hose from side to side, sweeping the fire. Walk closer and around the fire as the flames diminish. Stand ready in case the fire flares back up. Note that each type of fire extinguisher may differ in its operation. Read the directions before use. It is best to be aware of fire extinguishers in your place of work and home and get familiar with their operation before a potential fire.

A fire extinguisher is easily recognized by its large metal cylinder. Usually the metal is red or stainless steel, but can come in any color. The extinguisher is made out of metal so it can hold water, foam, or chemicals that have been pressurized. (That is why users are asked to start about 20 feet away from the fire. The intense pressure causes the fire fighting agents to spray out fast and far.) At the top of the cylinder is a lever, and attached to that is a hose. When the lever is pressed, the chemicals are released through the hose, which help the user direct the fire fighting agents toward the fire. On top of the entire extinguisher is a gauge. It is similar to a thermometer, but instead of taking temperature, it measures how much pressure is in the extinguisher's cylinder. If there is not enough pressure, the extinguisher will be useless.
There are different types of Fire Extinguishers for different types of fires. Please be sure to review the Class listing below to make sure you have the proper fire extinguisher in your home.

Class A- puts out wood and trash fires
Class B- use on flammable liquids
Class C- puts out electrical fires
Class D- fights fires involving metals
Class K- use on grease fires

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten Simple Steps to a Safer Home...

Is your home fire safe? Have you practiced what to do if ever there is a fire in your home? Do you have smoke detectors? Are they working? When was the last time you checked the batteries?

We know that nothing is more important to you than your family's safety. If you couldn't answer "yes" to the all of the questions above, then there are things you can do today that will assure you and your family sleep safer tonight. It easy! And even if you answered those questions correctly, check below to make sure you've done all you can.

Below are "10 simple steps" you can do today that will drastically improve the safety of your home, and assure that your family reacts correctly in the event of a fire.

· Take fire safety seriously! If you don't, your children won't!

· Make your "Family Escape Plan." Create a simple, easy to understand escape plan, include two exit routes from every room, and a safe meeting place outside your home (like a tree, telephone pole, or neighbor's home) where your family will gather once outside the home.

· Practice fire safety! Your children know that if they want to be good at something, they have to practice. Fire Safety is no difference. Take time to practice your family escape plan, making sure to have two exits from every room. Practice with your children several times, then allow them to do it by themselves to make sure that they fully understand what they should do if ever there's a fire.

· Keep your home safe! Fire safety is not a once-a-year exercise. It must be part of your daily focus. Just as important as knowing what to do in the event of a fire, it is just as important to take steps to assure a fire never starts, and if a fire does start, that your family will be alerted as quickly as possible.

· Install Smoke Detectors! Statistics show that more than half of all fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms, and nearly three quarters of fire deaths occur in homes without alarms or with non-functioning alarms. By placing smoke detectors in your home, you can increase the chances that all of your family gets out safely by 40-50%!

· Change batteries twice a year! Most fire safety personnel recommend changing the batteries within your smoke detectors twice year. It's a simple, yet powerful message, "Working smoke detectors save lives!" Can't remember the last time you changed the batteries? Why take a chance? Change them now!

· Know that sound! Make sure that all family members know and recognize the sound your smoke detectors make. An easy way to accomplish this is to make sure that you gather your family together each time you test your smoke detectors. The quicker you recognize that sound, the quicker you can react if ever there's a fire.

· Keep a look-out for safety hazards in the home! To many items plugged into one outlet, a shirt thrown over a lamp, a worn electical cord; these are just a few examples of hazards within the home.

· Be careful when cooking! Make sure that young children never cook without proper supervision. And make sure to keep cooking surfaces clean to avoid grease fires. A majority of fires within the home begin in the kitchen.

· Every home should have a fire extinguisher! Keep a fire extinguisher in a handy location. The best location is typically just inside a door or entrance, out of the reach of children. Avoid locating an extinguisher right next to where a fire could develop. Remember, a fire extinguisher is no substitute for the fire department, but it can be used to stop a small fire from getting out of control. Know how to use it! It's to late to learn once a fire has begun.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October is Fire Safety and Prevention Month!

October is Fire Safety Month and the Red Cross encourages the people to take steps to lessen the risk of a fire in their home. It’s important to take simple steps now to protect you home and family. Every second counts during a fire and being prepared can greatly reduce the effects of these devastating disasters. The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.

Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes from every room in the home and a convenient meeting place at a safe distance from the home. Practice the escape plan at least twice a year and revise as necessary. Families are encouraged to pay particular attention to developing and regularly practicing escape plans for children and older adults.

Additional recommendations include:

· 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.

· Talk with all household members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.

· Keep matches and lighters away from and out of reach of children.

· Don’t leave the kitchen, and don’t leave the home while you’re frying, grilling or broiling food.

· Once you are out of the house during a fire, stay out! Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home.

A fire can grow from first spark to full blaze in just three minutes, leaving families little time to escape. During Fire Safety Month this October, take time to prepare for a home fire by developing an emergency escape plan and practicing fire safety with your family.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Worldwide Wednesday Wrap-Up!

Welcome to the Worldwide Wednesday Wrap-Up, 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...

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Flooding caused by two typhoons is affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Hundreds have been killed and thousands left homeless as the flood waters rose.IFRC societies are busy addressing their local concerns and learning the extent of damage.

LIBYA: Over the past week the ICRC has been stepping up aid for 10,000 people near the conflict area of Sirte. Locals have been fleeing their homes and heading towards the desert or nearby villages to the east and west. On October 1st a medical team reached Ibn Sina hospital, inside Sirte, with urgently needed surgical supplies. Two days later additional equipment was delivered.

SOUTH PACIFIC: After six months of little or no rainfall, several South Pacific island nations are facing a water crisis. The New Zealand Red Cross’ International Operations is working to deliver thousands of collapsible water containers, hand sanitizers, water capture devices, and emergency desalination units.

SOMALIA: The situation in Somalia remains highly critical as the struggle against food insecurity continues. Livestock has been decimated and there is no hope for an improvement in the situation until the next harvest in December. The ICRC is working to strengthen support for the Somali Red Crescent’s therapeutic feeding centers. In July and August they distributed one-month rations to over 162,000 people in the areas hardest hit by drought.

AFGHANISTAN: The ICRC issued a summary of operations during July and August, as additional emergency assistance has been needed to assist thousands of people fleeing conflicts in their villages. 10 years after the conflict began access to heath care in rural areas remains difficult, as rising prices and lack of job security are taking a toll on ordinary people’s lives.


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