Wednesday, November 30, 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...

MALDIVES: Last week the Maldivian Red Crescent became the 187th member of the IFRC at its 18th General Assembly in Geneva. The process of forming the new National Society began in the wake of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which affected over 27,000 people in the Maldives. These low-lying islands will be among the most threatened territories should sea levels rise significantly.

YEMEN: Two ICRC staff members and a Yemen Red Crescent Society volunteer who had been briefly held by armed individuals in a village in Lahj governorate, southern Yemen, returned to Aden. On November 22nd, they left to distribute food rations and essential household items to displaced people in Lahj, but were prevented from returning to their office. The ICRC was in regular contact with them after the incident occurred, and contacted the authorities and other leaders in the area to request their assistance in arranging for the prompt return.

NIGER: The ICRC is providing support for a major immunization campaign against meningitis that began last week in the Agadez area of northern Niger. The ICRC is supporting the campaign in the districts of Arlit and Tchirozérine, where over 58,000 people aged one to 29 will be vaccinated by the first week in December.

IRAQ: Over the past two weeks the ICRC, in a joint Iranian-Iraqi operation, found the remains of 103 Iranian and Iraqi soldiers in Al-Fao, southern Iraq, who went missing during the 1980-1988 war between the two countries. In its capacity as a neutral intermediary, the ICRC provides support for the efforts of the Iranian and Iraqi authorities to account for those who went missing during the war and to ease the suffering of their families.

SOMALILAND (SOMALIA): While Southern and Central Somalia carry the brunt of the East Africa food crisis, Somaliland has not escaped the effects of recurrent droughts and political violence. At the newly-established Sheikh Omar Internally Displaced People's (IDP) camp, the Somalia Red Crescent has been working to recruit volunteers and distribute relief items provided by the Icelandic Red Cross from its clothing business.


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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Sorry, did you think I was going to finish the song lyric? Well you're mistaken! In fact the weather is just that, frightful. As we have come to expect every year, the valley fog is back! It's our version of snow in case you are reading from other parts of the country.

As a child I couldn't ask for anything better than the additional hour and a half of sleep on foggy day schedule. But as an adult, I think the fog stinks, which is why I am still petitioning for workplace foggy day schedules, but that's a whole different story.

So, as we all continue to venture off to work, school, or to start on our holiday shopping (yes, I had to throw that link in there) let's not forget to be a little more cautious while on the roads by following these delightful tips...
  • Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.
  • Reduce your speed -- and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.
  • Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.
  • Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.
  • Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
  • Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.
  • Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. If your car stalls or becomes disabled, turn your vehicle's lights off, and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the vehicle to avoid injury.
What is fog? Well in case you aren't a scientist or this is your first Valley winter, let me break it down for you...fog can be thought of as a cloud at ground level. It forms when the temperature drops to the dew point (the temperature at which air is saturated), and invisible water vapor in the air condenses to form suspended water droplets.

See, you learn something new everyday! Now what are you waiting for, go online to and buy yourself an emergency preparedness kit for your car, so you too can Be Red Cross Ready this Winter!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How To Survive Black Friday!

Yes, it's almost here. The best two days of my life. A time where I can eat all the turkey and mashed potatoes that I could posibbly want, followed by a day of deals and shopping galore. Yes, I am talking about Black Friday. 
It's become a family tradition that each and every year my sister and I travel all across town snatching up deals and raiding the aisles. So I figured that it's only fair that I share some Black Friday survival tips for you who are brave enough to shop in the wee hours of the morning. How is this Red Cross related you may wonder? Well, I personally feel that knowing what to expect on this glorious of days is also another form of...yes, PREPAREDNESS.

Disclaimer: For those of you who aren't fans of the Black Friday rush, have no fear, the Red Cross Holiday Giving Catalog is
here. Shop online and give gifts that mean something this holiday season.

Okay, back to Alex's Black Friday Shopping Survival Guide...

Know what you want before heading out. If you don't have any idea of what you want, seriously question your purpose in heading out into the crowds. Without a plan, it will be tempting to spend money you don't necessarily have on items you don't necessarily need and the experience will be fraught with exhaustion, impulse buying, and possibly even guilt. It is a lot better to have a plan in mind, or else you could be using this day more constructively to take a rest or see a movie!

Plan your shopping attack with the precision of a general planning a battle. Not only is the budget and list important, but so are the methods you plan to adopt when going in for the bargain. Timing is everything with limited bargains, so the first thing to keep in mind is hour at which you intend to turn up. The earlier, the better, if you have your eye on items that you know will sell out fast. If you're super keen, you might like to camp out - read How to Camp Out for Black Friday for more details on how to do this.

Take along anything you need to help you. While it's important not to be carrying too much, things you will probably benefit from include: a watch so that you know the time, a cell phone to keep in touch with family members and friends also hitting the shops, and bags to carry your purchases in. Even if the stores provide bags, it is a good idea to bring along your own, stronger bags, especially if you plan on carrying the purchases around for a bit before putting them in the car or elsewhere.

Ensure that you have plenty of sustenance. Plan meals and snacks into your shopping expedition. It can be too easy to forget food amid the rush for bargains but not eating for energy will leave you feeling tired and irritable, and more liable to blowing up at your fellow customers as they snatch the last limited bargain from under your nose.

Plan breaks. Rushing around all the time will wear out even the most ardent shopper. As well as ensuring you're eating properly during the day out, be sure to factor in some breaks for a breather and to regain your sense of humor so that you avoid Black Friday turning into Black Mood Friday!

There you have it, my five tips for a successful shopping day. Now, should you have a rough encounter with a rowdy shopper, or worse, ME, be sure that somoeone in your family knows First Aid by signing up for a class today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey Day Safety!

The kitchen is the place where family and friends love to gather, but it is also the setting of more fires than any other room in the house.

Cooking is the number one cause of home fires in this country and during the holidays, the American Red Cross wants everyone to be aware of steps they should take to avoid a fire while cooking.

Start by not wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking. Never leave cooking food unattended – stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. Other safety steps include:

  • Check your food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  • Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
The Central Valley Chapter of the Red Cross responded to more than 500 home fires during the 2011 fiscal year. House fires are the worst disaster threat to families in the United States. To learn how to prevent a fire in your home and how to keep members of your household safe, you can find many downloadable fact sheets available at on how to be fire safe over the holidays, how to avoid home heating fires, candle safety, proper use of smoke alarms and teaching your children what to do in the event of a fire.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Five-and-Five Can Keep Them Alive.

Moms know best when they say, "It's not polite to talk with your mouth full." Apart from being a dinner table faux pas, talking while eating is the most common cause of choking. This Thanksgiving, the American Red Cross offers tips that can help avoid a dinner disaster and save a life.

If someone is choking, remember "FIVE-and-FIVE can keep them alive."

•Ask the person if they are able to breathe and if you can help.

•Once you know the person is unable to cough, speak or breathe, have someone call 9-1-1.

•Lean the person forward and give FIVE sharp back blows with the heel of your hand.

•If the obstruction isn't dislodged, give the person FIVE quick, upward abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich maneuver).

•If you are alone, you can perform abdominal thrusts on yourself, just as you would on someone else. Thrusts can also be administered by pressing your abdomen firmly against an object such as the back of a chair.

•If you feel as if food may be caught in your throat, never leave the room. Stay where others can see you and help if your airway becomes blocked.

To learn more on choking rescue enroll in a Red Cross First Aid and CPR course today. For more information visit or call your local Chapter at (559) 455-1000.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Prepare-aphernalia: Flu Prevention Coasters

The flu is back and seems to be making the rounds this season, it's especially important to avoid swapping germs by mistakenly drinking from someone else's glass at Thanksgiving dinner. (You wouldn't want to inadvertantly give - or receive - The Holiday Gift You Don't Want.)
That's why I'm loving these slip-on coasters from DimmalimmHome on Etsy. They're handy, classy, and just seem much more practical than wine glass charms. They come in packs of six, but it looks like you can get combos of 12 or more color/shape variations if you're planning a big holiday party.

Could there be a more stylish way to be prepared for flu season? I think not.

Here are a few more tips for keeping your germs to yourself at holiday gatherings:
  • Avoid the usual kisses and handshakes when greeting friends and family.
  • If hosting the holiday dinner and someone in the household becomes ill, make sure that they can be isolated into a separate area for care, or ask another family member to host dinner to avoid spreading the flu.
  • Wash hands frequently, before preparing food, while cooking, and especially before eating.
  • Keep plenty of hand soap in the bathroom, preferably in a pump container. Skip the pretty hand towels this year and instead use disposable hand towels or a roll of paper towels.
  • Consider putting the glasses away this year and using plastic cups, or provide a way for guests to identify their drinks. (<-- Like the awesome slip-on coasters!) Don’t drink out of anyone else’s glass.
  • Put serving utensils in every dish, including snacks like nuts, pretzels, etc. This allows people to spoon out their portion instead of reaching in with their hands.
And, last but not least... Please remember the sleeve sneeze.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Worldwide Wednesday Wrap-Up!

A day late, and a dollar short, I know!

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...

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The ICRC is currently bringing aid to around a thousand families whose houses were destroyed or seriously damaged in clashes between two armed groups in the city of Bria in September. In partnership with the Central African Red Cross Society, the ICRC is distributing such essential items as tarpaulins, blankets, sleeping mats, basins, soap, jerrycans and kitchen utensils.

THAILAND: The population of Rachaburi Central Prison in Thailand has leapt from 300 inmates to 1540, due to evacuations from flooded prisons elsewhere in the nation. With prisoners sleeping in corridors and gardens, the ICRC has been providing blankets and other essentials to make conditions a little more bearable. Additionally, the ICRC has helped evacuees let their relatives know where they are.

NAMIBIA: With financial support from the Swedish and Belgian-Flanders Red Cross societies, the Namibia Red Cross has begun a massive water and sanitation program under the campaign, ‘Water is Life’. The program ensures the protection of springs and water pumps in selected areas and communities.

UGANDA: The Rural Water and Sanitation Program managed by Uganda Red Cross Society and supported by the Danish Red Cross and the European Union has been implemented in the districts of Ntoroko, Bulisa, Kabarole, Kasese and Hoima, bringing clean water and hygiene promotion, and having a massive impact on communities.


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

Workplace Preparedness - FAIL!

It looks like this company could definitely use a Workplace Preparedness Seminar. 

The Central Valley Chapter offers FREE hour-long workplace preparedness courses on-site. To schedule a training contact Alex Villa at (559) 455-1000 or

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honoring Our Veterans

Friday, November 11th is Veterans Day. This annual and federal holiday in the United States (Armistice Day or Remembrance Day are celebrated on the same day in other parts of the world) honors those who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces.
An important holiday worldwide, Veterans Day is especially significant throughout the Red Cross because of the organization’s ties, through the Services to Armed Forces (SAF) program, to the United States Military.
- The Red Cross provides pre-deployment briefings on the support systems and resources available to service members and their families while service members are away.
- The Red Cross provides – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – a lifeline between service members and their families by verifying and transmitting emergency messages.
- Additionally, the Red Cross provides military families with access to financial assistance in partnership with military aid organizations as well as referral information and assistance to veterans.
So this Friday, take a few moments to thank those who have bravely and generously served our country through membership in the Armed Forces.
- Post a thank you message on Facebook or tweet a thank you message on Twitter.
- Participate in the Holiday Mail for Heroes program by making a holiday card for a service member, veteran, or military family. (Click here for more information about the Holiday Mail for Heroes program.)
- Donate blood at one of the hundreds of Veterans Day blood drives going on throughout the country. (Click here to find a Veterans Day blood drive in your area.)
- Donate a monetary gift, in honor a service member, veteran, or military family, through the Red Cross Holiday Giving catalog. Even a small amount ($50 = 1 military comfort kit, $20 = 1 military phone card, and $30 = hygiene kids for 3 homeless veterans) can make a tremendous different in the life of an active duty service member or veteran. (Click here to shop the Red Cross Holiday Giving catalog.)
My sincerest thanks to all of our veterans, and happy Veterans Day.

Thursday, November 10, 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...

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: Torrential rains recently hit South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, destroying over a thousand houses in Sange and leaving many people destitute and without shelter. The Red Cross Society of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with support from the ICRC, distributed essentials such as clothing, kitchen utensils, hygiene items, hoes, blankets, sleeping mats, buckets and tarpaulins to 1,080 families between 30 October and 5 November.

SOUTHERN EUROPE: Recent days have seen countries in southern Europe faced with extreme weather conditions, including severe rain and storms. Most affected were south-east France and the north-west regions of Italy. Italy in particular was hit by two devastating waves of flooding in a period of ten days, which have so far left 17 dead. The Italian Red Cross is focusing on urban search and rescue (USAR), health care, food assistance, shelter and psychosocial support activities for those affected by the floods.

LIBYA: Although fighting has ceased in most of Libya, civilians continue to be injured or killed regularly by explosive devices. In Bani Walid, and particularly in Sirte, where the highest concentration of ordnance is to be found and the humanitarian impact is the most serious, the ICRC is launching urgent campaigns to educate people about the risks. Removing the threat of explosives in heavily contaminated areas will take considerable time and resources.

TUNISIA: At the same time as bells rang the end of the Gaddafi régime in neighboring Libya, Tunisia was experiencing its first democratic election polls since the fall of the Ben Ali régime. A wind of change from the Arab Spring was in the air, and the Tunisian Red Crescent prepared for anything. With the support of the ICRC, volunteers made extensive preparations to provide help should it be needed. The elections went smoothly and there was no need to activate emergency first aid preparations.

IRAQ: While the security situation in Iraq has slowly but steadily improved, there are many humanitarian needs that still have to be met. The ICRC is expanding humanitarian activities in disputed territories and in the belt around Baghdad, giving priority to women heading households, physically disabled people, primary health in rural areas, displaced people and others who are not getting the services they are entitled to.


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

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The First Ever National Emergency Alert System Test!

As many of you may already know. Next Wednesday at 11am, across the Nation will be the first ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). This is the first time the EAS has been used to deliver a nationwide alert. This alert will be different than the familiar tests or alerts involving severe weather or Amber Alerts.

Of note is a possibility that the “test” banner may be missing which will leave just the banner “emergency alert” due to differences in systems nationwide all coordinating at the same time. Some residents with access and functional needs may not have full access to fully understand the message. The YouTube Video below produced by FEMA is an excellent educational tool and I highly recommend you watch it and start pushing out the message components now and feature the story on Tuesday as a reminder.

Your partnership in this effort is CRITICAL.

This test is part of a nationwide effort to strengthen and improve our alert and notification and to keep our nation and communities safe. The City of Fresno fully collaborates with FEMA, Cal-EMA and our local partners to support this effort. We are committed to emergency preparedness to make our community safe.

On a parting note, I would like to point out in the YouTube video, the use of an ASL interpreter in the video box. Nationwide, many safety broadcasts are lost in translation to the Deaf community as some speak only ASL and would not understand text. In Fresno and Fresno County we have a large Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. I HIGHLY encourage you all to consider the use of ASL interpreters whenever you are delivering critical safety information so the entire community is included.

Get Ready To Bid: Katy Perry Dress!

Starting on November 9, you can bid on one of Katy Perry’s concert dresses (pictured above). If you win, you’ll also get 2 tickets to a Katy Perry concert on November 22 in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. If you can make it to LA, Katy will hand deliver to the dress to you.
Proceeds from the auction will benefit the American Red Cross.
Do you want to create an auction to benefit the Red Cross, too? Try out eBay’s Giving Works.
Want to bid on other items that benefit the American Red Cross on eBay? Check out our page.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Local Circle K Convenience Stores Raise Over $60,000 For Local Chapters

Circle K employees offering support at Red Cross event.

Immediately following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, Circle K - West Coast Division jumped into action helping raise more than $300,000 to support the ongoing efforts in Haiti.

Building on the momentum, the leadership team at Circle K - West Coast Division wanted to help their community where their employees live and their stores operated. Throughout 2011, more than 300 Circle K stores throughout the western United States will run four targeted campaigns asking patrons to support the Red Cross.

The American Red Cross is very excited and proud to announce that it is teaming up with Circle K stores across California, Washington, and Oregon. Circle K will contribute to Red Cross a minimum pledge of $250,000 this year through cash donations, customer donations, and fundraising events that will greatly help local Red Cross chapters in their efforts to ready their communities and respond to times of emergency and disaster.

The Market Manager for the Northern California Division of Circle K Stores Inc. announced today that it has raised $62,249.74 in support of the Central Valley Region of the American Red Cross, through its fundraising canisters placed in stores in Fresno, Merced, Kings and Kern Counties. The largest portion of these funds has been raised in the Merced County area with a total of $34,544.38 raised since the launch of the campaign in May 2011.
“Circle K has become an amazing partner of the Red Cross, through their in-store customer donation programs which they are promoting year-round”, stated Ellen Knapp, Regional Chief Executive Officer for the American Red Cross Central Valley Region. “Their support is making it possible for the Red Cross to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.” 
Look out for American Red Cross signs at your local Circle K store the next time you stop in for a quick drink, grab a snack, a cup of coffee, or a full meal all in one convenient location! You will soon be able to enjoy fast and friendly service at Circle K as well as support your local American Red Cross chapter at the same time!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall Back on Sound Advice: Time to Change Your Clock AND Your Smoke Alarm Batteries

As our nation moves back to Standard Time beginning this weekend, the American Red Cross encourages you to mark the occasion as a time to test your home smoke alarms and replace the batteries if more than one year old.

Every day in the United States, needless home fire deaths occur. Working smoke alarms significantly increase your chance of surviving a deadly home fire. A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you're awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert scanning the air for fire and smoke.

In addition to changing your smoke alarm batteries this weekend, the Red Cross recommends following these simple steps to protect your life, your loved ones, and your home:
  • Dust or vacuum smoke alarms when you change the batteries.
  • Test alarms once a month using the test button.
  • Replace the entire alarm if it's more than 10 years old or doesn't work properly when tested.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, and both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual sensor alarms.
  • Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout your home so that when one sounds, they all sound. Interconnected alarms are available at most stores that sell smoke alarms.
  • Make sure everyone in your home understands the warning of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
Finally, prepare and practice an escape plan so that you and your loved ones can get out of your home safely should there be a fire. Plan to meet in a place a safe distance from the fire and where first responders can easily see you.

For more information on smoke alarms, fire escape planning, and fire prevention, visit the American Red Cross website at

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Safety Graphic Fun!

Well which is it? Are you choking or suffocating? You're giving me mixed signals here.

Don't be unprepared. Take a Red Cross Health & Safety course and learn how to perform CPR, Conscious and Unconscious Choking Rescue, and Basic First Aid.

To register for a class visit us
online or by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS

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...

THAILAND: Severe flooding continues to impact Thailand, particularly the capital of Bangkok and its surrounding communities. Relief has been difficult to deliver as navigating the widespread flooding takes several extra hours by truck, and often utilizes boats as well. Since the floods began in late June, Thai Red Cross has distributed more than 175,000 family kits almost with almost two million bottles of drinking water.

TURKEY: Relief continues to be delivered after the October 23rd 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Eastern Turkey. At least 590 have died and nearly 100,000 may be displaced. The IFRC is working to augment to Turkish Red Crescent’s response, with member societies donating items for the winter (including 60,000 blankets, 3,600 sleeping bags, 3,000 tents, and 1,300 heaters). 

CAMBODIA: More than 1.2 million people have been hit by flooding that has affected Cambodia since August, with the Kampong Thom province one of the provinces that has suffered the most. The extent of this year’s flooding, the worst since 2000, has stretched emergency resources to the limit. A total of 143 safe areas had been set up in Kampong Thom, but only 50 of these are still active – the other areas have been inundated by the rising water. At least 21,000 families in Kampong Thom have received flood relief assistance from the Cambodian Red Cross Society.

CHAD: Chad is still structurally fragile as it continues to host almost 285,000 Sudanese refugees, 95,000 Central African refugees and several tens of thousands of migrants from Libya. The ICRC response is evolving from addressing an emergency situation to establishing stability, through projects supporting the Red Cross of Chad. This includes visiting people deprived of their liberty, restoring family links, assisting displaced persons with returning home, treating the wounded, and preventing violations of humanitarian law. In addition the Red Cross of Chad, supported by the IFRC, has sent almost one thousand volunteers into communities to spread the word about how to stop a growing cholera epidemic.


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