Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The American Red Cross of Central Texas would like to wish you a safe and fun Halloween. Make sure to take a look at our Lucky 13 Tips for Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shoo Flu Don't Bother Me!

It's cold out there! Our new fall weather really brings it home that winter is coming and flu season is here. If you haven't thought about the flu yet this year, now is the time to get active about staying well this flu season.
What is the flu?
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by various strains of viruses. Flu season in the United States starts every fall and ends in the spring. This type of flu is also known as the seasonal flu and affects 5 to 20 percent of Americans every year. Influenza as harmless at may seem can be very dangerous if not taken care of properly. About 23,600 deaths occur each year in the United States because of flu-related causes.
Flu Symptoms
  • High fever
  • Headaches
  • Severe body aches
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
  • NOTE: Having all of these symptoms does not neccessarily mean you have the flu. Many different illnesses have similar symptoms, so it is best to visit your healthcare provider who can provide a better diagnostic.
How Can I avoid the flu?
  • The flu vaccine is the best way of preventing the flu and is available every year in the United States. For a better chance of protection, make sure to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. Here are a few locations offering the flu vaccine in the area:
  • Practice good health habits like eating a balanced diet, getting enough rest, drinking enough fluids and excercising. This will help maintain your body's resistence to infections.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid or minimize contact with sick people that can spread the flu.
Go get your flu shot!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Luncheon with "Miracle on the Hudson" survivor, Dave Sanders, tomorrow

Join us tomorrow for the 2011 Bravo for Bravery Luncheon to hear Dave Sanders, survivor of US Airways Flight 1549, tell his inspiring story and explain how the American Red Cross helped him through this time.

Luncehon will be tomorrow October 27, 2011 from 11:30-1:30. Complimentary lunch will be provided. We ask you please wear business attire.

If you have any questions or to RSVP, please contact Development Associate Jessica Levine at

Monday, October 24, 2011

On the Trick-or-Treat Trail: Halloween Night Safety Tips

Halloween is only a week awa! And there is plenty for you and your family to do in Austin, from festivals to Halloween parties. All of this can be fun, but also a little worrisome for parents. So before you head out the door to enjoy your Halloween festivities take a look at some of our safety tips to help make this an enjoyable Halloween for you and your family:

Safety in numbers: Have a trusted adult with your children at all times. If they are older and are going with friends, know what route they will be taking and have their contact information in case of an emergency. Also, see that at least one person in the group has a charged cell phone that they can use.
Other safety tips:
  • Stay in well lit areas and use sidewalks. Do not take shortcuts across yards or allys.
  • Never go into a stranger's home.
  • Pedestrian injuries are the most common so make sure to communicate where you are going if your group is split up.
  • Stay in well lit areas and use sidewalks if available.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
  • Although cold weather in Austin is still a few weeks away, make sure to take a light sweater for you and your kids to help prevent getting sick.
For more Halloween Safety Tips, visit the American Red Cross.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Halloween Costume Safety Tips

    For kids, Halloween means they can dress up as anything they want for a night. Whether they may want to be a scary vampire or pretty princess, there are some things to take into consideration while shopping for your child's costume:
    • Make sure children wear bright colors. Bright colors are much more noticeable to drivers at night. If your child's costume is a dark color, adding reflective tape or safety light to their costumes can help them be more visible at night.
    • Also, wearing well-fitted costumes and comfortable shoes will help prevent falls or trips that can be caused by long hemlines.
    • Opt for makeup instead of a mask. Masks can make it hard to hear and block your child's peripheral view.
    • Make sure to test makeup in a small area first and to take off before bedtime to prevent irritation.
    • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
    For more Halloween Safety Tips, visit the American Red Cross.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    "Hams" Test Emergency Communications Teams Up with the American Red Cross of Central Texas

    American Red Cross volunteer learns the importance of ham radios. 

    The American Red Cross of Central Texas and Travis County Amateur Radio will partner to replicate a disaster scenario on Saturday, November 5, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m at the Gus Garcia Recreation Center and the American Red Cross of Central Texas offices. The purpose is to practice response and support capacity with the use of area Amateur Radio operators, also known as "hams". 

    Using emergency powered radios and working with local agencies, the hams will have only a few hours to create extensive radio communication networks which can be used should there be a failure or overload of normal services. The hams' ability to get back "on the air" quickly is critical following major incidents. In addition, the ham radio operators provide "interoperability". This means they can pass information between the many government and volunteer agencies which are needed in disasters but often have incompatible communication systems.

    Amateur Radio volunteer operators around the country respond to many calls for aid every year. They provide their services and equipment free of charge to their communities, saving both lives and thousands of dollars for neighbors. During Hurricane Irene, the hams were critical in providing immediate, ground-level reports to the National Weather Service. After the storm, hams continued to provide help in the many flooded communities and areas that lost electric power.

    There is no doubt that these operators take their work very seriously. They are "Amateurs" only in that they are not paid, but their service in a disaster can be priceless.

    The Amateur Radio Services is a national partner of the American Red Cross. We are excited to be a part of their annual simulated emergency test, and feel that this will help us communicate and respond more efficiently the next time there is a disaster or emergency in our area. Thank you Amateur Radio Services for all of your help!

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Fire Extinguishers and Smoke Alarms

    Ok, so perhaps this post I mostly did for my benefit, but maybe a lot of you are in the same boat as me and this will be beneficial to you as well. Of course, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are vital when it comes to home fires, but they are not things that we think about on a daily basis, at least for me.

    It's not until I started interning with the American Red Cross and the recent wildfires in Central Texas, that I realized how prevalent house fires are and how much of a disaster they can cause. Being Fire Prevention Week, I thought it would be a good idea to learn more about the proper care of smoke alarms and use of fire extinguishers and share this information on here.

    Fire Extinguishers
    • Make sure you are trained by your local fire department before using a fire extinguisher.
    • Only use a fire extinguisher if it is a small fire that has been contained and fire department has been called.
    • Make sure everyone in the home has evacuated before using.
    • Remember the word PASS:
      • Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and others.
      • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
      • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
      • Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Step 3: Be Informed

    The last step is to be informed. Learn about what the most prevalent disasters and emergencies are in your area. These can range from personal emergencies that only affect you and your family to natural disasters that can affect your entire community.
    • Know the different weather alerts and their meanings such as "warning" and "watch" and the actions you must take for each. A "watch" means that conditions are right for dangerous weather. In other words, to "watch" for potential dangerous weather in your area. For short-term weather events, like tornadoes, this means that the current weather conditions may cause a tornado to form. In longer-lived events, like hurricanes, a "watch" means that there is no immediate threat yet. A "warning" on the other hand means that dangerous weather is in the area.
    • Know what actions you should take in new areas, for example, if you are traveling or just recently moved locations.
    • Make sure at least one family member is trained in first aid and CPR and knows how to use a automted external defibrilator (AED).
    • Encourage family and friends to be informed and share what you have learned with them.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Step 2: Make a Plan

    Step two is in preparedness is to make a plan. Meet with your family or household members to discuss how to prepare and respond to disasters that are most likely to happen where you are whether you are at home, school, or work. As a way to get everyone involved, assign a specific task to everyone in the household and work as a team. This way everyone has a better idea of what to do.

    Map out and practice an evacuation from your home in case of a fire or any other emergency. Have a plan of where you would go whether it is a hotel/motel or a friend's home in a safe location. Practice your evacuation plan at least twice a year and plan alternate routes in case roads may be blocked. Also, don't forget about your furry friends, and have contact information on pet friendly hotels/ motels and animal shelters that are nearby.

    In case your family is separated have a plan of how to contact each other. Plan to meet outside the home in case of a fire our outside of your community in case you are unable to go back home. Also, it important to have a person of contact who is not in the same household that you can get in touch with to inform family and friends you are safe and well. Make sure that your emergency contact is aware that he or she is your household's contact and that everyone has this contact information with them.

    For more information about fire prevention and safety, visit here.

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Be Red Cross Ready: Step 1 Get a Kit

    Disasters can happen anywhere and come without warning. These three steps can help you be prepared: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed.

    Get a Kit
    It is important to keep an emergency kit in your home with the essential supplies you and your family may need in case of a disaster or any other emergency. Make sure that the kit is easy to carry in case you must evacuate your home. Here are some basic supplies to start your kit:
    • Water: One gallon per person, per day ( 3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
    • Food: non-parishable ( 3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
    • Flashlight
    • Battery-powered radio
    • Extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Medications (7-day supply)
    • Multi-purpose tool
    • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/ lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
    • Cell phone with chargers
    • Family and emergency contact information
    • Extra cash
    • Emergency blanket
    • Map(s) of the area
    You may also want to add other items to your kit based on your family members' needs like specific medical supplies, baby supplies or pet supplies.

    For the complete list of suggested supplies visit here.
    Stay tuned for the next two steps you can take to be Red Cross Ready.  

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Social Media in Disasters

    With Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+... the list goes on and on. Social media has grown tremendously over the last few years. We are no longer only using these social tools to expand our social circle. Because of its fast pace, many people are turning to the various social tools to give and receive information during disasters or emergencies. I think it is a great way to communicate information rapidly, but what happens when it's not the right information?

    Although there are many great examples of social media gone right, people can also be misinformed. Many state, government, and local organizations have used social media as a way to disseminate important information regarding emergencies or disasters happening in the area, but sometimes outside sources may misinform the public in their attempt to help. During disaster response and emergencies things can happen so quickly and drastically that this may cause this misinformation.

    Make sure to always call or check the website to stay informed about disasters or emergencies.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Want a creative way to donate to the American Red Cross?

    During the month of August Threadless challenged artistic minds to create a t-shirt design with the theme of "Everyday Heroes" in mind. The challenge was a way to celebrate those people who help out their communities whether it is by donating blood or preparing meals for others. Each year the American Red Cross responds to about 700,000 disasters across the country and owes much of this to the many volunteers who shape the Red Cross.

    The winning design is now available on Threadless and 25% of each t-shirt sale will be donated to the American Red Cross.

    Click here to find out about other ways to help the American Red Cross.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    October 9-15 is Fire Prevention Week

    American Red Cross volunteer inspects the damage of a house fire in Central Texas.

    Fire Prevention Week is October 9-15, and the American Red Cross encourages families to learn more about fire prevention and what to do in case of a fire.    

    House fires are the number one disaster that Americans face, and as the holidays and cold weather approach, house fires tend to increase. Locally, the American Red Cross of Central Texas alone responds to an average of one house fire every two days. 

    Here are a few tips on how to keep your home safe:
    • Make sure there is a working smoke alarm in every level of your home. Batteries should be replaced every year for most standard alarms.
    • Develop an escape plan. It is important that everyone in your home to have an immediate escape plan in case of a fire.
    • Keep matches and other fire related items away from children.
    • Keep anything that can catch on fire like dish towels and plastic away from stove when cooking .  
    In the coming weeks we will have more information on how to keep your home safe during the holiday season.