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Now Recruiting: Social Media Ambassadors for Red Cross Giving Day

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Can you tweet in your sleep? Instagram on the fly? Facebook your face off? We need your help!

You are: A social media maven. Passionate about helping those who are in need.

We need: Social pros to help carry our Red Cross Giving Day message far and wide. We’ll give you all the tools you need. Help out as much (or as little) as you can.

What is Giving Day? Red Cross Giving Day is coming up on June 2. It’s a chance for neighbors, friends and families to unite in order to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most in our communities. Because we never know when an emergency will occur and a neighbor or family member may be left with nowhere to turn, your support is critical to be sure the Red Cross is there to respond with help and hope.

Your mission: You have a simple, yet important assignment – spread the word about Giving Day to your social media networks! You will have access to content, images and badges to use in your posts. Wondering what to write? We’ve got you covered. The Social Ambassador Toolkit provides easily customizable, click and paste social posts and images for you to use. We even have a special hashtag to use – #allin1day – to add to the Giving Day conversation.

Sign me up! It’s easy – head to the Giving Day website and let us know a little about who you are. You’ll receive periodic emails from us with ideas on how to keep the momentum going as we lead up to June 2.

Are you a student or young professional? We have a special program just for you. Take our pledge, and we’ll send you a t-shirt to rock your Red Cross pride.

Together let’s bring more good days for families in need! #allin1day

When Disasters Happen: Family Links for the Nepal Earthquake

Nepal Earthquake April 25, 2015

Post by Lisa Ghali, LMSW, International Caseworker for Europe and Asia at the American Red Cross 

When disasters happen, people’s first reaction is usually to think about family or friends. Maybe they were affected. Are they ok? They contact them by phone or through social media only to discover that their loved one isn’t responding. Thoughts quickly travel from the best case scenario to the worst case scenario and then back again. In times of emergency, the Red Cross is there, helping loved ones reconnect after a disaster.

By going to our Family Links page, you have the opportunity to be proactive in finding your loved ones. You can search the list of people who are safe and well and register the names of ones who are still missing. Currently there are about 1600 registrations for the recent earthquake in Nepal. As more people know about the site, the more the list will grow and we can help reconnect even more families.

My role as a national headquarters caseworker has been to work with the chapters across the United States to support them in their efforts to engage the Nepalese community and coordinate with our international partners to understand our on-the-ground operations. In this recent earthquake, the best method for connecting with loved ones is the Family Links website. I support our colleagues nationally as they broadcast the message out to their community. Our colleagues have been canvassing neighborhoods handing out flyers with information on the family linking website and with contact information for their local Red Cross. They are reaching out to community leaders, consulates and the Nepalese diaspora providing information, referrals and access to mental health services.

Nepal Earthquake April 25, 2015

For example, our colleague Terri Illes in New Jersey was contacted by the Mayor’s office after they learned of the tragedy of this recent earthquake. New Jersey has one of the highest populations of South Asians in the United States, therefore their community was dramatically affected by this recent disaster. Over the weekend, Terri was able to disseminate information on our response through the mayor’s office and became a local resource for information and support to the Nepalese diaspora during this challenging time.

As Red Crossers, we work as a global team to support our communities, whether they would like help connecting with their families overseas or disaster relief in the moment. We recognize that our global reach has a local impact and we stand committed to serving our community in these times of need.

Three Ways to Help Nepal Earthquake Relief Through the Red Cross

The global Red Cross network, led by the Nepal Red Cross, has mounted an international relief effort to provide emergency humanitarian assistance following the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal.

How Can I Help?

If you’re wondering how to help Nepal earthquake victims, you have three easy options:

1. Donate online to Nepal earthquake relief on redcross.org.

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2. Visit your iTunes store to find a donation link.

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3. Spread the word on relief efforts and ways to help online. Find and share information on social channels, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Twitter account and our very own Facebook and Twitter posts.

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UPDATE: To help with critical mapping efforts, visit http://tasks.hotosm.org. No experience is needed, just a computer and internet connection.

What We’ve Done So Far

  • Funds: The American Red Cross is committing an initial million dollars to the response operation and working closely with the Nepal Red Cross and the global Red Cross network to coordinate additional support.
  • Management Support and Relief Items: The American Red Cross is also providing remote mapping and information management support and is arranging for supplies from its warehouses in Kuala Lumpar and Dubai to be sent to Nepal, including non-food items such as tarps, buckets, kitchen sets and blankets, although logistical transport remains a challenge.
  • People and Skills: Additionally, eight American Red Cross disaster specialists are on their way to Nepal to support emergency relief, cash transfer programing, information management, recovery planning and IT/telecoms.

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Keep an eye on redcross.org and our social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to see the latest updates.

This post has been updated to reflect current response numbers and information.

App Review: Emergency!

Throughout the last year I’ve navigated through a number of American Red Cross apps. Until recently there were 12, and while each one provided valuable information about preventing, preparing for, and/or responding to emergencies, I simply didn’t have enough storage space on my phone for all of them. In the end I narrowed the list, downloaded the three apps most relevant to my family and location, and reluctantly left the rest behind.

Imagine my excitement then, when the Red Cross released lucky #13: a new, comprehensive, interactive emergency app. I couldn’t wait to check it out, and after having done so, to share with you my thoughts on what Emergency has to offer.

Emergency is an all-inclusive, customizable app, capable of using real-time information to keep you and your loved ones safe. The app combines more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts (provided by the National Weather Service/NOAA, the USGS, and FEMA) to help you monitor your location, as well as the locations of your family members and friends, for watches, warnings, and potential hazards. The app also provides access to information on what to do before, during, and after an emergency strikes.

When I first opened the app I was prompted to allow it to monitor my current location for watches and warnings. I liked that the app started here, and that within the first two minutes I had already set up my phone to alert me to potentially dangerous conditions using push notifications.

Next I added the locations – besides where I live – I wanted the app to monitor. 18 months ago my sister and her family lost their home in the Washington, Illinois tornadoes, so it’s important to me to keep tabs on the weather in the cities my family members call home.

When I finished with the Alerts tab and moved to the Prepare tab, I was taken aback by how well the app creators had organized this section’s information. (That is perhaps the greatest compliment someone with OCD tendencies – like me – can give.) The comprehensive list of natural and man-made disasters, arranged alphabetically and each with its own color and image, made it easy to find what I was looking for. When I clicked on each option, I found detailed information on what to do before, during, and after that specific disaster, as well as steps that could be taken ahead of time to lessen the impact of that disaster on my family and home.

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Under the Quizzes tab I found (and took) – you guessed it – a number of short quizzes, each covering one specific disaster. I admit to getting a question wrong here and there, but I liked and appreciated how the app provided me with the correct answers after I’d finished each quiz.

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The Maps tab allowed me to see real-time hurricane tracker, radar, satellite, cloud cover, rain, wind speed, and snow maps, not just for my city and county, but for the entire country. The Maps tab also shows all of the Red Cross shelters currently open across the country.

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Under the Info tab, I could link to all of the other 12 Red Cross apps, change the language in which the app operates, share and rate the app, and take care of other Red Cross-related business. Donating money, setting up an appointment to donate blood, signing up for a course, buying a first aid kit, and/or signing up to volunteer can all be taken care of via Emergency.

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I enjoyed using many of the first 12 Red Cross apps, but Emergency is by far my favorite. I love having the ability to access so much information in one place, appreciate the safety features it offers by way of its many monitoring and alert capabilities, and…it’s free! Download the new Emergency app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

HOW TO: Set Emergency Alerts on the New App

Emergencies are stressful. We lose sleep when dangerous thunderstorms, tornadoes, earthquakes or wildfires hit close to home, but also when they threaten areas of the country where our loved ones live.

Luckily, a new app, Emergency by the American Red Cross, includes a helpful tool to monitor multiple locations for watches and warnings of all kinds. The app can alert you with an alarm when hazards or potential emergencies may impact where you live as well as regions of the country where your loved ones call home.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to setting up alerts on your phone.

1. Get Started

Download and open the Emergency app on your phone. When you see the first screen on the left, click Continue. When you see the second screen on the right, click Allow so the app can monitor your current location. The app will automatically add your location to your list of monitored places, so you don’t have to! (Follow the app’s prompts to select Allow twice.)

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2. Add Places

When you see the screen on the left, select Get Started. When you see the screen on the right, select Add Place.

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3. Search Locations to Monitor

In the search bar, enter the zip code or name of the city and state you would like to monitor.

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4. Select and Verify

When it appears, select the name of the location you would like to monitor. Then verify the app has correctly highlighted the map by clicking on Next.IMG_3005 IMG_3006

5. Label Locations

If someone you care about lives in the location you would like to monitor, click Yes. You can program that person’s contact information into the app so they will also receive alerts by selecting Add Person.
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6. Associate Phone Numbers and Wrap Up

The app will take you to your phone’s Contacts, where you can insert a contact’s phone number. If you would like to add an additional loved one, select Add Person again. (P.S. Even if your contact’s main phone number is a land line, the Family Safe feature in the app knows to use the contact’s mobile number, or will prompt you to add one.)

Once you have finished adding people, select Finish. When you see a confirmation screen, select Finish a second time.

 

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7. Monitor Your Location 

At the top of the screen, slide the highlight bar to Places. Scroll down to Monitor Current Location and slide the circle to the right (until you see green behind the circle) so your current location will always be monitored.

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8. Tweak Monitored Areas

Now select the location you added. If you would like to change the size of the monitored area (perhaps you would like to monitor ten miles outside of a particular city), click on Alert Radius and enlarge the area using the bar at the bottom of the screen.

If you choose to delete the person associated with the location, simply swipe left on the person’s name on an iOS device or press the contact’s name on an Android device and you will receive a message to remove the contact.

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9. Set Notifications

Next click on Notification Settings. Work your way through the different emergencies, choosing whether or not to Show Alerts, Notify with Sound, and Send Notifications for each one.

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10. Adding More Places

If you’d like to monitor additional locations, return to Places, select Add Another, return to step #4. 

 

That’s it! Thanks to the Emergency app, your phone will alert you to emergencies in your current location, as well as any locations you chose to track, even if the app is closed. 

Sleep easier knowing you have notifications at the ready, but go to bed with your phone nearby and the phone volume turned on, just in case!

The “Tail” of Red Cross Pet Adventures

Pets come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their adventures. Red Crossers share some lessons from their furry family members and tips to keep your pets safe.

AUDIE, THE ADVENTURER

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“Audie blew out his knee on our beach vacation. I used my pet first aid training to make sure he was comfortable and safe until we were able to get him home and to the orthopedic vet. The training also came in handy during his very long recovery from knee surgery.”

DOVER, THE AMBITIOUS

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“Dover can get a little ambitious with his raw hides and tends to eat them until they are in super small pieces. We try to take it away before they get that small, but sometimes he beats us to it. He’s gotten the small pieces caught in his throat before, so we’ve had to open his mount and pull it out. He just loved those raw hides to the very end!”

PATCHES AND MIMI

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“Patches and Mimi are all set at home with a dog preparedness kit, just like I have one for us. The kit has the American Red Cross Pet First Aid book, bowls for food and water, leash, photos, a vet card, copies of papers (county license and latest rabies shot), food, water, a blanket, treats and a couple of toys.” Remember to keep your papers updated in the kit!

PIPPA, THE PRINCESS

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“Pippa is a one-year-old goldendoodle. In February her nail got too long and, while playing in daycare, she chipped her nail a little too close for comfort.  I consulted the Pet First Aid App so I’d know what to do if it started bleeding. We took her to the vet and got it cleaned, clipped and bandaged.”

LOUIE AND PENNY

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“A few years ago there was a fire in our apartment building. We knew where the crates were and quickly put Louie and Penny into the crates to take them outside with us as we evacuated the building. The only other thing we took with us, besides the cats in their crate, was my purse. We keep a crate in the coat closet by the door so that if there were a fire, we could quickly get them in it and out the door.

Another cat pet tip I try to remember is that lilies and tulips (popular flowers this time of year) are poisonous to cats, so you want to make sure your cat is not eating them!”

Pet owners can download the Red Cross Pet First Aid App for instant access to information on what to do during an emergency with their pet until veterinary assistance is available. 

Holocaust Remembrance Day: Lives, Legacies, and Reflections

The American Red Cross is dedicated to supporting Holocaust survivors reconnect with and learn the fate of their loved ones through the Restoring Family Links program. We also want to ensure that their legacies continue to be known by future generations. To accomplish this goal, Restoring Family Links is hosting Yom HasHoah, the Day of Remembrance, to encourage interaction between the Holocaust survivor community and youth.

Leading up to the event, youth were encouraged to interact with the survivor community through interviews and group discussions focused on legacy issues. Through these activities, participants learned about the lives of survivors after the Holocaust – how the event shaped them, their hopes for the future, the message they want future generations to remember. You can view these videos by visiting the Restoring Family Links blog.

Join us on Thursday April 16th from 4:00-6:00 PM EST for a special online panel discussion featuring a youth panel discussion on the importance of honoring the legacy of those who died during the Holocaust and those who survived, and how to ensure that legacy lives on in future generations. Event details, including Google Hangout information, is available on the registration page.

National Volunteer Week – Share Your Story!

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April 12 – 18 is National Volunteer Week, a time to recognize and celebrate the selfless efforts of those who give so much in support of others.

For well over a century, the American Red Cross has relied on volunteers to deliver care and compassion to those in need across the country and around the world. From providing disaster relief, to keeping military families connected, providing lifesaving training, to assisting with local blood drives, volunteers are an integral part of everything the Red Cross does!

Across the country the Red Cross relies on the efforts of nearly 400,000 volunteers to deliver critical services. That means more than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce is volunteers!

It’s fair to say that the Red Cross simply could not fulfill its mission without the selfless efforts of our volunteers. During National Volunteer Week – and every week throughout the year – we thank all of those who give so much to help others in need. Thank you, volunteers!

Want to thank a volunteer? Send them a note!

And follow our news page this week for more great volunteer stories!

Every volunteer has a story! Tell us your Red Cross story in the comments section or share it on social media using #NVW and/or #RedCrossProud.

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Students Become Teachers with the Pillowcase Project

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According to a recent poll conducted informally among several adult friends, approximately zero percent had their act together and knew what they would do in the event of an emergency. Granted, this survey was conducted at a social gathering where the priorities were eating and avoiding conversation with that boring preparedness guy. Fair enough.

However, my daughter – always seizing any opportunity to teach us old people a thing or two – quickly offered her two cents on the subject.

“Grab your emergency kit, follow your escape plan to safely get out of the house, and call for help,” she said with confidence.

That was far better than any of the grown-ups had to say on the subject. If she had been holding a microphone, she would have dropped it at their feet before she skipped away.

Chalk up another success story for the Red Cross Pillowcase Project!

Red Cross volunteers had recently visited her classroom to educate the students about how they can be prepared for an emergency situation and help their families stay safe, and it was already paying off!

Designed for elementary school students in grades 3-5, the Pillowcase Project is a one-hour classroom session that encourages students to “learn, practice, and share” important emergency preparedness information.

Learn

Practice

  • Regularly practice emergency plans with all members of their household

Share (my daughter’s favorite part)

  • Tell friends and family what they have learned and help them take steps to be prepared!

Of course the impact of this program extends well beyond my daughter’s sphere of influence, having expanded to more than 60 Red Cross regions across the country since its inception. In fact, when a tornado recently touched down in Moore, Oklahoma, at least one young man saved the day thanks to his pillowcase!

As parents, we’re supposed to have all the answers. At least our kids like to think we should. But if you’ve ever fumbled around with a Smartphone as your kid rolls their eyes at you, you know our children can teach us a few things. And when it comes to the Pillowcase Project, what our kids have to teach us could be lifesaving.

Red Cross volunteers are bringing the Pillowcase Project to classrooms around the country. To find out how you can bring it to your school, contact your local Red Cross office.

Satirical Fodder, Yet Again (Hi ClickHole!)

You have just one day to meet our goal to fill the Grand Canyon with blood! At least, that’s what ClickHole wants you to think.

A satirical website (count it in the same vein as our beloved The Onion) has yet again focused on the American Red Cross, and what a worthy cause they chose! Oh yes, we see you ClickHole. We see you.

Our biomed messaging isn’t typically clickbait material, but we’re happy to play along! While we haven’t made the call for blood donors to donate “5.45 trillion cubic yards of bodily fluid,” we do say that the need is constant and the gratification is instant.

But seriously – Donate blood. One donation can help save up to three lives. See if you’re eligible, find a drive, or start a SleevesUp campaign all on redcrossblood.org.

 

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Image courtesy of ClickHole.com and Microsoft Windows’ Paint.