Coronavirus: Safety and Readiness Tips for You

From the American Red Cross

ARC coronavirus safety 3-16-2020The American Red Cross is closely monitoring the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

We know this is a stressful time and people want to know what they can do right now to protect themselves and their families. That’s why the Red Cross is highlighting some everyday health and preparedness steps that people in the U.S. can take now.

There are also special recommendations for people who may be at a higher risk which you can find below.

LIMIT THE SPREAD OF GERMS AND PREVENT INFECTION

The Red Cross recommends following common sense steps to help prevent the spread of any respiratory virus.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; throw used tissues in the trash. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, computers, phones, keyboards, sinks, toilets and countertops.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them – use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Full information on how to disinfect found here.
  • Wear a facemask if you are sick. You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.

GET YOUR HOUSEHOLD READY

There are things you can do right now to be ready for any emergency, and many of these same tips will help you prepare as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve in the U.S.

  • Have a supply of food staples and household supplies like laundry detergent and bathroom items, and diapers if you have small children.
  • Check to make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your prescription medications, and have other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes and vitamins.
  • Know how your local public health agency will share information in your community and stay informed. Find more information here.
  • Learn how your children’s school or daycare, and your workplace will handle a possible outbreak. Create a plan in the event of any closings, event cancellations or postponements.
  • If you care for older adults or children, plan and prepare for caring for them, should they or you become sick.
  • Help family members and neighbors get prepared and share the safety messaging with those who may not have access to it.

According to the CDC, patients with COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Call your doctor if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms.

WHO IS AT A HIGHER RISK?

COVID-19 is a new disease, which means scientists and public health experts are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may spread in the U.S.

Early information shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this virus. This includes older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or a serious medical condition, it is extra important for you to take actions to avoid getting sick.

  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Stock up on supplies.
    • Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time.
    • If you cannot get extra medications, consider using a mail-order option.
    • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
    • Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.

During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible. Full information for those at a higher risk is available here.

UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION

For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19.

If you live outside the United States, health and safety tips can be found through the World Health Organization and by following your local Red Cross or Red Crescent society’s social media channels.

Download Helpful Tip Sheets For Steps to Help Protect Against Coronavirus COVID-19. Available in multiple languages.
English | Spanish | French | Haitian | Chinese | Korean | Vietnamese | Tagalog

Readiness, Service and a Fire Close to Home: Our First Year Together

By Mark Thomas, Wisconsin Region CEO & Southeast Wisconsin Chapter Executive, American Red Cross

It was December 2018 and, as always with the holidays, it was time for family updates. Checking in with siblings, relatives, loved ones, a roundup on new jobs, relationships, babies and other benchmarks.

From my sister, the update was initially grim: my nephew in Racine had suffered a home fire.

Mark Thomas headshot proThat’s the kind of news that puts so much into perspective. She said he and his girlfriend had gotten out safely. They lost many possessions, including gifts from the holidays. But, as my sister said, they had hope right after the fire, because that’s when they received comfort and help from volunteers at the American Red Cross.

My sister and nephew didn’t even know I had started a new career at the Red Cross. This was just weeks after I had joined. The story from my sister was an unfiltered acknowledgement that fires didn’t just happen to other people. And that hope and help came from the Red Cross for everyone in need, my family included.

Once I had the chance to share about my new role at the Red Cross, I knew from my family’s story that I had come to the right place.

I’m happy to report that my family is back in their place and on solid footing. As for me, I’m now at one year as Regional CEO and Southeast Wisconsin Chapter Executive with the Red Cross. On this anniversary and during a time of year when people are extra reflective, I wanted to revisit a few of the milestone moments from another outstanding year of service by your Red Cross in Wisconsin. I also wanted to share a big lesson I’ve learned and the vision I have for the time ahead.

But back to 2019. As the anecdote I shared at the start shows, our programs and mission became very real in my life right away. Here are a few, high-level bullets of the stand-out moments our Region has been involved with over the past 12 months:

January

  • Received the “Region of the Year” recognition for the fundraising success of my predecessors and present leaders on our fund development team
  • Brought together our Southeast Chapter Board for my first full meeting (special shout-out to board chair Becky Fitzgerald for your leadership and guidance)

February

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With our team at the Milwaukee Stand Down, held at the Armory. 

March

  • Met people displaced by a large-scale apartment fire in Bayside, including a dear friend and a local reporter brave enough to share her story
  • At a shelter from ice jam flooding in Fond du Lac, watched as strangers brought a turkey on their Harley for people who were displaced, and was impressed by all the volunteers who kept spirits high (my teenage daughter was wowed, too, and impressed me by putting on a Red Cross vest and pitching in)

April

  • Welcomed and enthused by our staff at our first, in-person meeting in Madison
  • Those feelings multiplied this same month on an introductory meeting with my national colleagues at the historic Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C.

May

June

July

  • Able to notch success in nearly every way for our fiscal year, which ended in June
  • Completed my first CPR training
  • Worked alongside local and national Red Cross teams at the LULAC Convention in downtown Milwaukee
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Meeting disaster volunteer Ryan Clancy before he headed to help during Hurricane Dorian. Also met a few members of the Milwaukee media, who helped share Ryan’s journey.

August

  • Talked with volunteers as they flew off to the large-scale response to Hurricane Dorian and other flooding and fires – what an impressive machine to help people in desperate need

September

October

  • Grateful to have Greg Novinska take a new role with our biomedical services team, my colleague in everything happening behind the scenes to merge the full power of the Red Cross for people in our state

November

  • Cold weather came early, and with it, the typical spike in home fires … thankfully, our volunteers around the state have once again answered the call for families displaced by this every-day disaster
  • Had important discussions around inclusion and diversity with our talented Wisconsin leadership team, such a vital part of plans to make our organization the best place it can be for everyone

December

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Kids in Milwaukee enjoying swim lessons, with the promise of many more to come thanks to the Centennial Campaign and Milwaukee Rec.

There has been so much from those events and more that have impressed, humbled and energized me about the work we do. From it all, two ideas stand out.

The first is readiness. That word – readiness – means so much more to me, now that I’ve seen us in action. Home fires, floods, staff meetings, volunteer recruitment, fundraising, blood collection, outreach to military families … even as these words are coming together, our teams in Osseo are wrapping up a reception center for people affected by a massive car pile-up. Just before I pulled together these thoughts, one of our long-time and wonderful volunteers, Marge, stopped in and reminded me of the value of openness and being ready to share her passion and ideas for our mission. The countless ways readiness is part of our service at the Red Cross keeps what we do exciting and important.

From that important lesson on readiness, I have a solid foundation on how we build for the days ahead. We have a very strong network across Wisconsin. I am committed to making sure our core service is focused on our customers – including people in need, our volunteers and our supporters – and that it remains inclusive to all. There have been incredible people who have sustained and led this organization for more than 100 years in our state. I will carry that legacy of service. And I aim to make sure every community we serve knows the Red Cross is here to help, the right way. With you, I know we can help our friends, family and neighbors in need for the next 100 years – and beyond.

WI Red Cross Nurse Volunteer Assists Houston Residents after Hurricane Harvey

It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, TX. There is still so much to do with cleaning up and taking care of those in need. Carol Miller, a Red Cross volunteer and nurse from Rhinelander, WI arrived in Houston the day after the disaster and has been assisting at the Brown Convention Center, one of the many shelters set up. She shares her story:

(Left to right): RNs Darryl Lemick (CA) and Darla Soles (MD) talk to a resident at one of the dormitory DHS desks.

As a team of 28 Red Cross volunteers, they rode in the back of a city dump truck to get to the shelter because of the high waters. Although it was not an easy transport, they arrived safely to prep for the receiving of 5,000 disaster survivors. By Sunday evening on August 27th, there were a total of 4,900 people staying there. A shortage of cots and beds began that same night as well. The total increased greatly over night to more than 10,000 people. Carol expressed her gratitude towards the local volunteers because they pitched in their assistance to the team when some Red Cross volunteers were not able to get into the city.

Carol’s office views over Dormitory D in the shelter.

By Wednesday this week, things started to turn around for the better. Prior, Carol and her team worked diligently on a minimum of 12-hour shifts but have dropped down to 8-hour. They also received additional good news: they were getting handicap accessible showers! It’s definitely the little things that count. Also, the number of people staying at the shelter dropped to roughly 1,600 that same day but she mentioned that the current population “includes many people with the highest level of needs- those with access and functional needs, mental health issues, healthcare needs and those with limited ability to self-determine the next steps to recovery.”

She added, “Community partners have set up areas to provide eye refraction and glasses, dialysis, prescription meds, acute dental care, immunizations, lab work, behavioral health, and social services and housing referrals.”

(Left to right): Carol in Staff Wellness Office with RNs Jada Mai (CA) and Jill Boesch (AZ)

Another dorm area is set for shelter residents that have pets where they have access to medical services and food supplies from local veterinarians and pet supply retailers.

Carol ends with asking for a prayer for the people affected by Hurricane Harvey. We cannot thank her and the rest of the volunteers enough for their support, courage and love for the community.

You can still help! To donate to the Red Cross and learn how your donations are helping those impacted by disaster relief, please visit http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Harvey-Donations-Hard-at-Work-Red-Cross-Efforts-Ongoing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4th Annual Disaster Training Conference

Last week, the Wisconsin Region conducted our 4th  annual Disaster Training Conference. Though the conference was held on the shores of Green Lake, attendees paid little attention to beautiful autumn scenery outside. The 183  attendees, Red Cross volunteers and staff from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, enjoyed four days of learning, sharing and networking.

The broad range of classes provided opportunities for brand new volunteers and seasoned veterans. The newest volunteer had been with the Red Cross for only two days and several in attendance had more than 20-years of service. Classes were offered to provide instruction on delivering the Red Cross mission, supervision & leadership along with diversity & inclusion. Workshops built upon classroom instruction and provided hands-on opportunities to set-up a shelter, conduct damage assessment and manage a disaster relief operation.

On Wednesday night, Red Cross volunteers partnered with the Berlin Fire Department to make homes in Berlin safer. They visited homes and provided smoke alarms testing, free smoke alarm installation, home evacuation planning and fire safety tips. 25 homes were visited and 69 smoke alarms were installed.  Community outreach like this is happening around the state and more than 10,000 smoke alarms will installed this year alone!

By all reports, the Disaster Training Conference was a wonderful success! It was wonderful to see so many Red Crossers come together to learn and celebrate together. Plans for next year’s conference are already underway. We hope to see you there!

 

Greenfield’s Life-Saver Receives National Award

At only 11 years-old, Abram Suminski of Greenfield, Wisconsin, is a official recipient of the American Red Cross Certificate of Merit for selfless and humane action in saving a life. This is the highest award given by the Red Cross to an individual or team of individuals who saves or sustains life by using skills and knowledge learned in the American Red Cross Preparedness, Health and Safety Services courses.

When Abram Suminski was learning first aid basics in an American Red Cross Babysitter’s training course, I doubt he knew how quickly he’d be putting them to use in a real-life situation. Good thing he was prepared though when his younger brother, Logan, was in need. Shortly after, the brothers were playing in their grandmother’s basement when Logan started to choke on a piece a candy. Abram saw his brother turning purple and jumped into action to perform abdominal thrusts. His quick actions dislodged the piece of candy from Logan’s throat, saving his life!

Abram’s instructor from the Babysitter’s training course heard of his life-saving story, and she, along with the Greenfield Rec. Department (where the training took place), nominated Abram for the Red Cross Certificate of Merit, which is signed by the President Barack Obama, who is the Honorary Chairman of the American Red Cross!

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Abram Suminski holding his award with the help of his younger brother, Logan.

On Tuesday night at the Greenfield Common Council Meeting, Abram received the Red Cross Certificate of Merit. The Mayor of Greenfield, Michael J. Neitzke, and local Red Cross CEO, Patty Flowers, had the honor of presenting the award to Abram. In attendance, were some very special guests including Abram’s family, the vice principle of his school, his Red Cross instructor and the Greenfield Fire Department.

If you’re thinking about signing up for a Red Cross training course, don’t hesitate – be prepared! Information about the Red Cross Babysitting course, First Aid, CPR/AED and other training courses are available at redcross.org/takeaclass.

To see live action watch the Fox 6 news clip!

 

Ending Measles in Kenya: A Volunteer’s Perspective

Written by Sara Horein, American Red Cross volunteer and Tiffany Circle Donor

Sara recently traveled to Kenya to witness the life-saving work of the Measles and Rubella partnership. While the disease is most prominent thousands of miles from Madison, Wisconsin, it’s just a plane ride away.

kenya1

 

I recently returned from a trip to Kenya where the government —supported by the American Red Cross and our partners in the fight to eliminate measles—completed a successful nine-day vaccination campaign in the East African country. Targeting 19 million children between nine months and 14 years old, this effort was Kenya’s largest immunization campaign in the Measles & Rubella Initiative’s 15-year history.

Although preventable by a safe, effective and inexpensive vaccine in use for over 50 years, measles still kills about 315 children every day. Conditions in Kenya made this campaign particularly vital: 45.9 percent of the population currently live in poverty, while many children have limited or no access to medical treatment and are often malnourished.

Because of widespread poverty and weak kenya2public health infrastructure, only 79 percent of children in Kenya receive vaccines through the routine immunization system. The large number of unvaccinated children
 can lead to deadly measles outbreaks, such as a 2016 outbreak in remote Mandera County. These outbreaks are particularly deadly in communities that are also experiencing conflict or natural disaster, with the youngest children—those less than two years of age—
at greatest risk of dying from the disease. In recent years, Kenya has experienced extreme flooding and drought, increased security issues and urban growth.

The safe, effective and inexpensive vaccines delivered throughout Kenya will undoubtedly add to the growing number of lives saved through the Measles & Rubella Initiative. Since 2001, the Initiative has helped immunize more than 2 billion children in 88 countries. This work has had an extraordinary impact. The number of measles deaths decreased by 79 percent between 2000 and 2014— saving the lives of 17.1 million children.kenya3

The seemingly impossible feat of reaching 19 million children in just nine days is only achievable through dedicated Red Cross volunteers. The success of any campaign relies on mobilizing parents and caregivers to bring their children to vaccination centers, and Red Cross volunteers are ideally located and well equipped to carry out this vital task. They speak the local language, know community members and understand local customs.

Leading up to and during the nine-day campaign, the
 Red Cross trained more than 1,300 local volunteers to canvass neighborhoods throughout Nairobi, Bungoma and Tharaka Nithi. These volunteers played a fundamental role
 in building awareness, educating parents and calling them 
to action on vaccination days. While they used many forms
 of communication—including megaphones, radio ads, and text messages—the most relied-upon and effective method was personal outreach through house-to-house visits. This was particularly important in engaging households that may otherwise not be reached through traditional communications. kenya4

As a Red Cross volunteer and donor, I witnessed the strong partnership and lifesaving efforts between the American Red Cross and Kenya Red Cross. The breadth and depth of staff knowledge, dedication of local volunteers and overwhelming resilience of Kenyans amazed me. It was exciting to see donor dollars hard at work, saving lives one vaccination at a time. The Measles & Rubella Initiative is important because the virus is only one plane ride away – living in one shared world, we need to improve the lives of everyone. I am honored and humbled to have represented the American Red Cross during this mission-focused trip in the fight to eliminate measles.

Watch Sara and other Red Cross volunteers’ trip to Kenya to vaccinate millions of Kenya children with Measles and Rubella vaccines.

How YOU can help: Donate! Text PREVENT to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross and help us vaccinate children against measles. Learn more here.

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Volunteer of the Month – Floyd Duranceau

Congratulations Floyd Duranceau, the July 2016 Volunteer of the Month!

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When July volunteer of the month, Floyd Duranceau looks back on his Red Cross service, he’s reminded of the great gifts he has been able to offer others; first through the teaching of lifesaving skills and now through the distribution of lifesaving blood.  After working as a Red Cross Health & Safety CPR Instructor for more than twenty-six years, in 2015 Floyd decided to volunteer in a new position for the Red Cross with the BioMed Transportation Program. Volunteering as a Transportation Specialist, Floyd delivers blood product to hospitals providing the vital link between donor and patient, making sure that critical blood products get delivered quickly and effectively to those in need.

In the past six months of volunteering Floyd has accumulated over eight-hundred hours of volunteer service. This level of commitment speaks to the special qualities that make Floyd an outstanding leader in this program. “Floyd has become a real asset to the transportation program. In addition to driving almost every day of the week to places as far away as Chicago Illinois, he routinely recruits new volunteers to become drivers by informing them of the need for this important service,” shares Joshua McDonnell, Blood Services Manager of Volunteer Services.

“Volunteering to me just means getting to know people, after that I feel impassioned to make their day a better one.” When asked about his favorite volunteer moments, Floyd recalls, “I’ve had a number of great moments working in the Red Cross mission. The most memorable though happened in one of the last CPR classes I taught. A gentleman near the end of the class said that he had taken many CPR classes over the years and could never wait to have them end but with my class he did not want it to end.” This clearly shows how well Floyd shares his dedication to the American Red Cross mission with others.

As a Red Cross volunteer, Floyd said he is determined to do whatever he can for others for as long as he can. Every week he commits to working an average of thirty hours with the Bloods Services transportation program all while he continues learning, training and mentoring others. To encourage others to become a volunteer with the Red Cross, Floyd emphasizes, “We just need to show people that someone cares. This may sound simple but it can change both the lives of others’ and the volunteer’s own life tremendously. You don’t need a special talent to help others; the Red Cross will train and prepare you.”

Thank you, Floyd for proudly representing the Red Cross in your community and for giving back to others in so many remarkable ways!

This month, consider giving someone a chance to share more joy, laughter and time with family and friends. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Blood transfusions are a very common medical procedure. A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the United States alone. Although 38 percent of people in the U.S. are eligible to donate blood, only 3 percent actually do. Be the change in someone’s life by donating today. For more information visit http://www.redcrossblood.org

If you are interested in joining Floyd as a Blood Services transporter of blood and blood products throughout the region in a safe and timely manner please contact us. Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed. To learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwisconsin@redcross.org.