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Jumping the Shark – A Sharknado-Inspired Blog Post

Note: These are fictional rules about a real movie, with some real Red Cross tips snuck in. We hope you never encounter a sharknado, but that you ARE prepared for emergencies.

The thought of a sharknado, either real or imagined, is terrifying. Having survived two movies with a third on the way, we’ve had a lot of time to consider how we might handle a Sharknadopacalypse! So dip your toes into the waters of sharktastic silliness with us. But stay alert, as you may just learn something you can use!

Sharknado Rule #1: Protect yourself with whatever tools you can find.

Shotguns, baseball bats, barstools, surfboards and chainsaws! As we’ve learned through the first two movies, taking hold of any shootable or swingable object you can find dramatically increases your odds of surviving a sharknado.

In fact, having the right tools is critical to getting through any disaster. Among the best tools you can have in real life is the Red Cross Emergency App, which puts valuable emergency tips and resources at your fingertips!

And what better time than now to download it, as we’ve recently included exclusive sharknado tips in the app for a limited time. Head to the “Prepare” section of the app to learn how to spot the danger signs and how to deal with the aftermath, just in time for Sharknado 3! Oh hell no? Oh hell YES!

 

Sharknado Rule #2: Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency.

If we’ve learned anything from sharknado, it’s that splitting up and trying to take on a disaster by yourself isn’t the best idea. You need people to watch your back, and strength comes in numbers.

Establishing emergency meeting locations is a core component of any Red Cross disaster plan – it even applies to sporting events! Your family should establish two places to meet – right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, and outside your neighborhood (such as a friend or family member’s home), in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

Have a plan, and stick to it. One situation you want to avoid? Arguments at the last minute:

 

Sharknado Rule #3: Beware of the dark.

Matt Lauer and Al Roker are up before dawn for the TODAY Show, they should have known they might encounter a shark. No one is really safe during a sharknado, but regular shark safety tips should still apply: Avoid being in the water at night, dawn or dusk, when sharks are most active and not easily seen.

 

Sharknado Rule #4: Stay out of the water…and the streets…and your house…okay, nowhere is safe!

If sharks can end up in baseball stadiums, airplanes, helicopters and subway cars then, let’s face it, there really is no escape. But on your average day, your average shark spends most of their time in the water where they’ve spent a lifetime honing their swimming skills. If you decide to head out into water world (another silly movie for another time), we hope you’ve done some swim training of your own and taken your Red Cross swim lessons. Can you handle the sequence of water competency in order? Hint: this is NOT one of those things…

Sharknado Rule #5: Avoid the local hangouts.

Despite the fact that the occasional sharknado may rip through our local bar, amusement park, or baseball stadium, we humans still love our favorite gathering places. And just like us, sharks also have their favorite hangouts. When we all get through this latest sharknado, this is an important tip to remember: Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep drop-offs—these are favorite spots for sharks.

Sharknado Rule #6: Don’t panic.

Fin Shepard may have been scared to see sharks rain down from the skies, but despite the chaos and incredible bad luck, he kept his cool and managed to get himself safely through two (and presumably three) sharknadoes. Should you ever encounter a shark – the odds of which increase exponentially in a sharknado – don’t panic. Address the situation promptly and efficiently based on the tools and escape routes at your disposal. Remember actual shark safety tips such as not entering the water if sharks are known to be present, and evacuating the water swiftly but calmly if sharks are sighted.

 

Sharknado Rule #7: Stick together!

Regular beach goers should know there’s safety in numbers. Shark attacks are incredibly rare, but when they occur they are more likely to attack a solitary person than a group. The same concept applies for sharknadoes – strength in numbers creates powerful protection and confidence to get out alive.

Know how else you can stick together and help your sharknado comrades? Support sharknado victims (or anyone else in need of blood!) by donating blood or platelets this summer. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and we assume that number shoots up during sharknadoes.

 

Bonus Tip: If Ian Ziering invites you to hang out with him near an ocean, maybe don’t. Dude is a sharknado magnet! And he plays a guy named Fin. FIN! Hello?!

 

Disclaimer: The Red Cross knows that Sharknado 3 is a made-for-TV disaster, and the tips above are no substitute for being prepared for an actual disaster. Download the Red Cross Emergency App today to be prepared in the event of an emergency in your area. Covering 35 real-time alerts and safety information, this all-in-one app is a must-have for your phone.

13 Reasons Why Clara Barton Should Be on #TheNew10

As many of you have heard, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is redesigning the ten dollar bill. In their search, they’re looking for a notable woman to put on it. At the American Red Cross, we think there is no better person to put on the ten dollar bill than our beloved founder, Clara Barton. In fact, we’ve came up with a few reason why we think she’s the perfect person. Feel free to share these images and facts on social and tag them with #TheNew10.

1. Dedication

Clara Barton spent most of her life dedicated to serving others.

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2. Equal Pay

While still a teenager, she began teaching school near North Oxford, Massachusetts at time when most teachers were men. The school offered her a position in the winter months with the same lower pay she received for the summer months. She stated “I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man’s work for less than a man’s pay.” Clara’s resolve and sterling reputation as a teacher won out and she was paid the same as the male teachers.

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3. Angel of the Battlefield

She was dubbed “the angel of the battlefield.” Following the battle of Cedar Mountain in northern Virginia in August 1862, she appeared at a field hospital at midnight with a wagon-load of supplies drawn by a four-mule team. The surgeon on duty, overwhelmed by the human disaster surrounding him, wrote later, “I thought that night if heaven ever sent out a[n] . . . angel, she must be one—her assistance was so timely.” Thereafter she was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” as she served the troops at the battles of Fairfax Station, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Charleston, Petersburg and Cold Harbor.

4. Risk Taker

She risked her life more than once during the civil war to aid soldiers—one of the most dramatic happened at Antietam when Clara was giving a soldier a cup of water when he suddenly died. She then noticed a hole in her sleeve from a bullet that narrowly missed her and killed the soldier.

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5. Resourceful 

She removed a bullet from a soldier’s cheek with her pocket knife at Antietam.

6. Fierce Protector

At Antietam, she discovered a woman posing as a man fighting in the war—Mary Galloway. Mary was injured. Clara admired her defiance of custom and spirit to fight. She protected her and helped locate Mary’s future husband—who was also wounded and in a Washington hospital. They later named their eldest daughter after Clara Barton.

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7. Impartial in War

Impartiality was the watchword of her war work. She exhibited this sentiment in Culpeper by providing Confederate prisoners with sheets and clothing to alleviate their suffering.

8. First Aid Guru

She served as honorary president of the National First Aid Association of America founded in 1905. After leaving the Red Cross in her 80s, Clara traveled the country teaching people first-aid skills.

9. Approval from Honest Abe

In March of 1865, President Abraham Lincoln gave her permission to open the Office of Missing Soldiers. Through this effort, she managed to reconcile the fates of 22,000 missing men.

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10. Used World Travels for Good

After the Civil War, She traveled to Europe to rest, per the advice of her doctor. While in Geneva Switzerland, she was visited by two members of the International Red Cross. She learned about the movement. By 1870, the Franco Prussian war had started. She volunteered with the International Red Cross providing primarily civilian relief. Through this experience, she knew that her mission was to return to the United States and found a Red Cross Society.

11. International Issues Mover and Shaker

She lobbied the federal government to sign the Treaty of Geneva. She was finally successful in 1882.

12. Originator

The American Red Cross was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton.

13. Women’s Employment Front-runner

Clara Barton was one of the first female employees in the federal government. She worked for the US Patent office.

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Playing Monster Guard Teaches Aryn About disasters

Post written by Lynette Nyman, originally posted on the American Red Cross Minnesota Region blog.

Kids can learn just about anything these days. With help from the American Red Cross Monster Guard mobile app, they can learn about how to prepare for and respond to a variety of real-life emergencies, including tornadoes, floods, and other weather disasters. Take Aryn Gill who’s 8 years old.

“I finished it in two days. BOOM!,” she says after demonstrating how to play the game.Aryn_monsterGuard

She learned “how to cope when I’m in a disaster, when I’m scared. I need to feel calm, take a deep breath and blow it out.” She also learned about getting supplies and going to a safe place during a hurricane; screwing shelves to walls before earthquakes happen; and covering her mouth with a damp cloth if she doesn’t have a mask during a volcano. Home fire safety was a big learning moment, too: “I didn’t know I needed to make a primary escape plan.” And checking smoke alarms is really important she says, especially checking batteries: “once every month make sure your smoke alarms work.”

Aryn’s not a disaster rookie after finishing all Monster Guard levels and becoming a member. “I tell other kids they should play so they can learn about disasters, too.”

Photo: Aryn Gill, 8, graduated from rookie to member in two days playing the American Red Cross Monster Guard mobile app that prepares kids for emergencies. Photo credit: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

What the Women’s World Cup Can Teach About Disasters

Post written by Patricia Billinger of the Red Cross Colorado Chapters, originally featured on the Colorado Stories Blog.

Imagine trying to find someone in this crowd, everyone wearing the same colors. Photo by Patricia Billinger

On Sunday, my husband, mother, father and I were among the more than 50,000 jubilant fans swarming to BC Place in Vancouver for the Women’s World Cup Finals.The buzz among the crowd was palpable. Red, white and blue overtook the color spectrum, and fans decked out in their country’s colors thronged in every direction. We paused to take a photo.

And then we realized that my dad had continued on and disappeared somewhere into the swelling crowd.He had no ticket – my mother had both of theirs.

He had no cell phone, because he hadn’t wanted to risk incurring exorbitant international usage fees.

And they had no emergency meet-up plan. It hadn’t dawned on them that they might get separated.

We told my mom to stay put by a landmark (the statues of runner Terry Fox), and we fanned out in a widening circle in search of him. It was nearly impossible to tell one fan from another – everyone was wearing red, white and blue! Within 100 yards in either direction, the crush of the crowd became so tight that it was impossible to see past more than a few fans in any direction.We retraced our steps, sought higher ground to look out over the crowd, circled back to my mom twice. No luck. My mom’s panic rose as she considered the possibility that one or both of them might miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

For me, the minor personal emergency really drove home the importance of a message we at the Red Cross tell the public all the time: it is so important to have an emergency communications plan. Your plan should include an emergency meet-up location and a plan for how you’ll communicate if you can’t do so by cell phone.

The stress of being disconnected from my dad and unable to reach him was intense – but nothing remotely comparable to the fear and anxiety that accompanies being separated from your loved ones during a real emergency.

The worst thing that could happen to my parents that day was they could miss an amazing and historic soccer match.

During a disaster, your life, safety and property are at risk. Time is of the essence; you may not have time to circle in search of a husband, wife, daughter, son or pet.

During a disaster, there is a good chance that you won’t be able to reach each other by cell phone – cell towers get damaged or inundated, people flee without their phones, batteries die, phones get dropped or damaged.

During a disaster, you may not be surrounded by 50,000 fans dressed alike, but you may be evacuating alongside hundreds or thousands of other people. And unlike the limited geographic area of a city stadium, you may find yourself wondering which of many routes your loved ones took, which shelter they fled to – did they make it to a shelter at all? – which town they may be in.

Prior to the USWNT match, I recalled seeing media coverage of increased potential terrorist threats against the U.S. for the 4th of July weekend. A small part of me worried whether the World Cup match would be targeted. Thankfully, peace prevailed and the weekend was without incident – but it also got me thinking about what we would have done in such a scenario when we couldn’t even find each other amid the peaceful pre-game chaos.

Ultimately, our story has a happy ending: as the crowd dispersed into the stadium, my parents found each other and made it to our seats in time to watch the U.S. score 5 goals, the most ever scored in a Women’s World Cup Final. All was right in the world.

But we learned our lesson, and hopefully you can learn from our mistake. The next time you settle in to enjoy your favorite sport on TV, I encourage you to take a few minutes to make your emergency game plan. Sit down with your loved ones over half-time and talk about where you’ll meet up and how you’ll get in touch if disaster strikes. You can find sample plans, tips and specific steps to incorporate into your plan here: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan.

You may never need it, but you’ll be glad you have it so that you can focus on more pleasant things. Like winning the World Cup!

Red Cross 4 Our Troops

It’s that time of year when people start thinking about three things: fireworks, parades and family BBQs. However, the Fourth of July is also a great time to reflect on those who have served and those who continue to serve our country to protect the freedoms that we Americans enjoy every day.

In the spirit of the Fourth of July, here are four ways the Red Cross supports service members, veterans and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

1. Holiday celebrations

When stationed overseas, Red Cross volunteers and staff are always ready to help military families celebrate holidays and special occasions, providing them with a taste of home. Red Cross staff and volunteers currently provide services to 33 overseas installations.

2. Fun activities

Recovering from illness or injury at the VA or a military hospital doesn’t always have to be serious business. Red Cross provides a variety of fun programs for service members and veterans to enjoy, such as art, horticulture and learning to scuba. Last year nearly 11,000 patients participated in therapeutic programs provided by the Red Cross.

3. Kids with heart

Red Cross youth are passionate about supporting service members and veterans. Volunteers provide support to members of the military, veterans and their families in military and veterans hospitals and become youth leaders and service providers on military installations.

4.Visits from a furry friend 

Nothing lifts the spirits of an ill or injured service member in the hospital like a wagging tail and sloppy kisses from a canine companion. Last year we served nearly 23,000 wounded, ill or injured through rehab and morale programs.

In celebration of Independence Day, show your support for our dedicated service members, veterans and their families using the generosity app from Google – One Today.

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Fourth of July: Top 5 Tips for Fireworks, Grilling and Swimming

There’s no place better to celebrate Independence Day than Washington, D.C. — The crowds! The heat! The patriotism!

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(See how patriotic it looks? See all the people? Good stuff.)

No matter if you’re heading to the National Mall this weekend or to a neighbor’s Fourth of July party, brush up on your firework, grilling and swimming tips to have an injury-free weekend.

Sparklers and Fireworks!

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  1. Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  5. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.

Grilling!

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  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

Swimming!

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  1. Be aware of the danger of rip currents. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. When free, turn and swim toward shore. If unable to swim to the shore, call out for help, float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore. 
  2. If someone plans to swim in the ocean, they should always check weather conditions before going in the water.
  3. Swim only at a lifeguard protected beach, within the designated swimming area and listen to all lifeguard instructions.
  4. Always swim with a buddy and always swim sober.
  5. Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

 

DC fireworks image credit: Steve Schwark

The Beach Is Not a Pool – Plus 5 More Things to Keep in Mind

Post by Dr. Linda Quan, Vice-Chair of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council (SAC)

As summer brings another wave of hazy, hot and humid weather, many of us will be taking to the nation’s lakes and coasts in search of refreshing waves and cool breezes. The beach is an ideal place for a hot weather getaway, but it’s important to remember that that the ocean and large lakes can be as dangerous as they are fun.

Keep your family safe at the seaside with the following tips from the American Red Cross:

  1. Don’t be fooled; it’s not a pool. Unlike pools, oceans are unpredictable. They don’t have easy edges, and the water can get suddenly deep or shallow. The waves are always moving and changing and can have enough force to knock you into deeper water. Be alert to changes.
  2. Find a guard. Only swim where there is a lifeguard. Lifeguards not only keep watch for swimmers in trouble, they will alert you to unsafe conditions such as stinging jellyfish, hidden sandbars that could endanger divers, rip currents and rough seas.
  3. Watch your wee ones. Remember that lifeguards are not babysitters. It’s up to you to keep watch over your kids. Always keep children within arm’s reach of strong swimmers and stay extra close around waves that might knock little ones down.
  4. Use your noodle – but only in the pool. Water wings, floaties and noodles are not for lakes or oceans. These inflatables can put kids in dangerince they can float away and may not stay buoyant .  They are not safety devices. Use only US Coast Guard approved life jackets.
  5. The heat can creep. Even if you are in the water all day and there’s a breeze, keep hydrated and re-apply sunscreen frequently.  Check on kids and remind them to drink and rest in the shade of an umbrella between playtimes in the waves.
  6. Know before you go.  Make sure your family is water competent before you hit the beach with Red Cross Learn-to-Swim classes. Be prepared for a beach or heat emergency- learn CPR  in a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class.

Take your fun and your ocean seriously, and your “dog days” will be safe days at the beach.

Bonus! Here are a few more tips from fellow Scientific Advisory Council Member Roy Fielding.

Dr. Quan is Vice-Chair of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council (SAC). The Council is a panel of nationally recognized experts drawn from a wide variety of scientific, medical, and academic disciplines. The Council guides the Red Cross on preparedness and emergency practices that align with the latest evidence-based scientific and medical knowledge.

6 Tips for Summer Road Trips: As Told by the One in the Backseat

Post by Sam Roth, American Red Cross Social Engagement Intern 

Summer has officially started, and is arguably the greatest season of the year (at least to this Red Cross intern!). With summer comes warm days, sweet summer fruits, relaxing by the pool and family vacations. This summer, my family made the crazy decision to take a twelve-hour road trip up to Ogunquit, Maine. In preparing for this adventure, I wanted to share six of my favorite road trip safety tips to help keep your summer driving adventures safe, fun and (hopefully) go by quickly.SW_Lizzie+Guilbert

1. It’s time to hit the road, and you’re ready to go – but is your car? Don’t wait for a rattle or warning light to find out your car isn’t up for the trip. Be sure to have brakes, tires, oil and fluids checked before taking to the roadways.

I’m a first-time owner of a fifteen-year-old car, so getting mine inspected seemed intimidating. It was surprisingly easier than I thought to make an appointment with my local car shop and took only an hour or two to complete!

2. Carry a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

All I have to say is, thank goodness peanut butter can be included on the supplies list.

3. If you are taking your pet with you, there are special things you should know to make your trip more enjoyable.

While my family’s cat often isn’t invited on road trips, we still keep this list of helpful ideas on hand to consider before our furry family member joins us for a trip.

4. Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.

Since my family’s doing twelve straight hours in the car for our vacation, I’ve already offered to help drive for a few hours. As a bonus, this is also an excuse for me to drive my mom’s new car.

5. Keep up with news and weather alerts for the latest road conditions with the Red Cross Emergency App.

35 different severe weather and emergency alerts at your fingertips. Yes, there’s an app for that.

6. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.

Besides, your phone should be preoccupied pumping out our summer Spotify playlist, anyway!

Much to my dismay every year, summer doesn’t last forever. So, why not make the most of it by taking a road trip with your family? This isn’t my family’s first road trip to Maine, but now we can have a little peace of mind with my favorite six Red Cross travel tips.

Blood Recipient Profile: Joshua Dri and Summer Blood Donations

Summer can be a busy time of year with family vacations, pool parties and other fun activities. But patients like 6-year-old Joshua Dri, of Cumming, Georgia, don’t get a summer vacation from needing blood. He’s counting on the generosity of Red Cross blood donors to continue donating through the summer, so he can enjoy the fun of being a little boy.

Joshua Dri_Brave

Bravery Comes in Small Packages

It ‘s hard to tell Joshua struggles with a blood disorder just by looking at him. He’s happy, energetic and has a smile that would make any heart melt. Joshua is also proof that bravery can come in small packages — he even has a t-shirt to prove it!

Joshua lives with Thalassemia and must undergo blood transfusions every three to four weeks. Going in and out of the hospital is difficult for a child, but Joshua keeps his positive spirit. His parents couldn’t be more grateful for the generosity of others.

“Blood donors play a significant role in our family’s life. Every time a unit of blood is hooked up to his IV, I think about the person who donated it and how they have no idea what a difference they made by taking the time out of their day to donate,” said Joshua’s mother Alison Dri. “Blood donors are truly heroes and lifesavers. We are profoundly aware of this as we watch our son grow and thrive.”

Joshua Dri_Make a Muscle

How to donate blood

The American Red Cross urges donors to choose their day to give hope to patients in need by donating blood or platelets during the “100 days of summer. 100 days of hope.” campaign, officially sponsored by Suburban Propane.

Interested in helping out patients like Joshua? Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information.

Read more about our summer campaign and donating blood on redcross.org.

11 Ways Wearable Technology Can Do Good in Disasters

Post by Abi Weaver, director of the Global Technology Project

Every so often, we have to pay homage to a good old-fashioned Buzzfeed-esque “top 10” list. Or, in this case, 11. Today, we count down the many ways wearable technology can do good in disasters.

Wearable technologyAnd by wearable technology we mean mini computers and sensors embedded in your watches,  jewelry, clothing, shoes, backpacks, headwear, eyewear, prosthetics and medical implants, temporary tattoos, body cameras and basically just about everything else that attaches to your body, leverages your mobility and can be operated hands free. If this list isn’t long enough, TechCrunch has shared an entire periodic table dedicated to wearable technology.

The American Red Cross began exploring wearable technology applications back in 2014 along with other emerging technologies like 3D printing, drones and robots. We’ve been actively connecting with entrepreneurs and other tech savvy groups developing software and hardware solutions that can support people’s future disaster-related needs. Here are 11 of our favorites.

Full descriptions of each idea are available at www.tech4resilience.org.

Preparedness applications for wearable technology

1. Early warning of threats and hazards
2. Simulating disaster scenarios
3. Controlling other electronics, such as remotely shutting off gas lines

Response applications for wearable technology

4. Navigating through an evacuation
5. Searching and rescuing
6. Reconnecting separated families
7. Assisting the disabled with emergency messages

Recovery applications for wearable technology

8. Tracking lost pets
9. Diagnosing and treating illnesses and injuries
10. Translating conversations and signs
11. Charging and connecting your other devices

There you have it – 11 of our favorite ideas for applying wearable technology in disaster situations.

Take the challenge

Want to get in on the wearable technology trend and do good in the process? Take up our challenge and help the Red Cross develop these ideas further. Start by joining the Wearables for Good competition sponsored by UNICEF, frog and ARM. We’ve supplied them with some of these potential applications to help inspire the competitors and will advise the finalists as they build out the most promising concepts.

Image credit RIT.edu.