A Safer Way to Get that Candle Glow

By Jody Weyers, Communications Volunteer

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The weekend after Thanksgiving I was so excited to get out all my holiday decorations and go to town decorating in a new space. I moved into a new duplex seven months ago and this was my first Christmas in my new place. What makes a place feel cozy and warm during the holidays –candles and lots of them.

I have been with the American Red Cross for almost 15 years, so I know candles are dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association, one-fifth of home decoration fires occur in December, and over half of these are started by candles.

This year, I transitioned to the battery operated candles. I know you are thinking, it is not the same…. But yes, it really is. Battery operated tea-lights are all over my house and you cannot tell the difference from a real candle. They are available in all sizes, shapes and colors. I went to Michael’s Craft Store and was floored by all the different varieties available. I know they don’t give off any scent, and part of the holidays I love is the smells of cinnamon, pine and vanilla so I also invested in an aromatherapy room mist in all my favorite scents and for when I have guests.

IMG_20151128_172634At first you might think they are expensive, but when you look at the cost of your house burning down or investing in battery operated candles, that price tag soon becomes a non-factor. They also provide peace of mind.  If I go to bed or leave my house with one of these candles still on, I don’t have to worry about it.

This is just one small change I am making this year so my holiday is a little safer. The Red Cross offers these additional tips to keep your home safe during the holiday season.

  • If you do decide to burn candles, make sure to keep them away from children, pets and decorations.
  • Choose decorations and artificial trees that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Place away from heat sources and exits. Water real trees daily.
  • Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended.
  • Install smoke alarms.
  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as sources of heat or stoves.
  • If hanging stockings on a fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.

On average, 7 people die and 36 people suffer injuries from home fires every day. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it is too late. The Red Cross’s Home Fire Campaign works to reduce this number by urging American to follow two simple steps: check existing smoke alarms and practice home fire drills.

People can visit www.redcross.org for more information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from home fires.

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A Holiday Mail Story to Warm Your Holiday Spirit

It is always rewarding to give something that means something, especially during the holidays. No matter how big or small the gift is, it is the touching emotions and gratuity that make it all worth it.

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Mr. and Mrs. Claus are definitely watching! Tara and Alexa made it on the nice list!

Rachel Goodrich, Holiday Mail For Heroes Coordinator from our Madison office shares her heartfelt experience delivering holiday cards, celebrating with veterans, and watching her daughters as youth volunteers.

This past Tuesday, Rachel and her two daughters, Tara and Alexa, along with other Red Cross volunteers delivered holiday mail to the veterans at Tomah VA. The holiday mail delivery is part of the Holiday Mail for Heroes program. The program gives people the opportunity to send holiday cards to U.S. Armed Forces members, veterans and their families. Cards may include thanks, support and holiday cheer. As Rachel describes it,

“… a magical night of laughter, tears, smiles and dancing. Red Cross volunteers helped serve cookies and punch. We danced the night away with veterans while wheeling, spinning them around in their wheel chairs on the dance floor. We even took some of them back to their rooms after the evening was over.”

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Special Delivery! Tara gives a veteran his holiday mail!

At the beginning of the eventful night, the girls were a bit timid but once they warmed up, they danced and even asked the veterans to dance with them. And how sweet is this? Tara received a kiss on the hand from a veteran and was thanked for dancing with him. She thanked him for his service too.

Rachel recalls the emotions in the room when the veterans received their cards, “We watched tears roll down the faces of some veterans while reading their cards, smiles lit up the room as we shook their hands and thanked them for all that they have done. The sound of laughter and pure happiness filled the air while volunteers danced with Veterans. ”

It is great to know that Tara, 10 on Christmas Day and Alexa, 8, are making a difference in their community as youth volunteers. They are also registered on the American Red Cross Volunteer Connection, where they log in their own volunteer hours and badges and earn certificates. Rachel continues with, “I don’t even know how to put this into words. Kids love the community service and learning how to give back, show their appreciation, there is more to the world than what’s in front of them”.

A total of 63 packs of holiday mail were given to the veterans! Both girls attend Caesar Chavez Elementary School in Madison. Students in their class created cards as well.

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Red Cross volunteers (L-R: Sharon Ernst, Rachel Goodrich and Jane Ramsey) posed with the big Red Cross holiday card! Can you imagine how many notes and signatures were filled with that card?

We thank each and everyone of our volunteers for their time and dedication. Special thanks to those that sent in and created cards for the members of our armed forces and their loved ones.

To learn more about the Holiday Mail for Heroes programs, please click here. For more ways to help and donate, please click here.

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Red Cross Issues Tips to Keep You Safe This 4th of July

 Throughout the Fourth of July week, many people will be traveling, firingup the backyard grill or enjoying fireworks, and the American Red Cross offers a series of steps everyone can follow to safely enjoy the holiday.

FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting fireworks off at home:

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 SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook treats for the backyard barbecue:

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.

signsHIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways throughout the Fourth of July week. The Red Cross offers five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:

1. Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
2. Do not drink and drive.
3. Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
4. Use caution in work zones.
5. Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn theheadlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.

DOWNLOAD OUR FREE FIRST AID APP  PHSS_FIrstAid_IMGv1-JH

The Red Cross has a free Red Cross First Aid App to put expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips. The app is available for smart phones and tablets and can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July!

You Wore WHAT to Go Sledding?

By PaKou Lee, Social Media Intern

I can’t remember the last time I went sledding. I know it has to be at least more than five years ago because I’ve lived in Green Bay for four years now and I haven’t gone yet. With the holiday spirit still into play, I went sledding with my family two weekends ago. We headed for Triangle Sports Area right on Beverly Road near Baird Creek.

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Look at that view! That’s the hill that my family and I sled on. Can you imagine walking all the way back up after a speedy downhill? Luckily, the park had a tow rope to pull us up!

I was wearing my black, fashionable boots from Target and my toes were feeling super cold already. I wasn’t sure if I was going to survive the whole day of sledding. I didn’t think it would be too bad since I haven’t had any issues wearing them when shoveling the snow previously. Little did I know, just how cold it was going to get for my little toes.

After the first down hill and walking back up while dragging the tube, I couldn’t feel my toes anymore. I knew I wouldn’t be able to last another five minutes outside. I had my brother, Pheng, take me home to change my boots. I am so thankful that my niece Nevaeh, 10, and I share the same shoe size (Don’t judge my small feet… we share the same size for only certain types of shoes, haha). I wore her extra snow boots. I made sure to double my socks and changed my jacket too! The zipper was broken so I couldn’t zip at all. My sweater was little protection from the cold. Not sure what I was thinking when I got dressed. Probably because I didn’t have my coffee but I definitely learned my lesson.

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Jada, 6, all ready for a day of sledding and hot coco! Check out her cute owl hat!

So with my learning experience, I want to show you a prime example of what you should be wearing for sledding. Jada, my 6-year-old niece was my sledding partner. She was definitely more prepared than me!

  • Winter jacket
  • Hat
  • Face mask
  • Scarf
  • Mittens/Gloves
  • Snow pants
  • Snow boots
    And of course, always LAYER, LAYER, LAYER!!!

I also want to encourage you to watch a video of Dr. David Markenson, chair of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, provides winter weather tips to keep you safe when you are active outdoors. For more winter weather safety, visit redcross.org.

What’s Included in Your Vehicle Winter Preparedness Kit?

m8540166_167x82-winter-storm-3The first day of winter is tomorrow but we are definitely getting hit with lots of snow already. Do you have all of the emergency essentials in your car? Having a vehicle emergency kit available is a great way to prepare for any road or winter emergencies. Also, most kits come in convenient sizes to fit in the glove box. Safety should always be the first priority. It’s recommended to avoid the roads, if necessarily. If you have to drive, be cautious; make sure to buckle up and have a full tank of gas also.

The American Red Cross has a list of essentials that should be included in your Vehicle Winter Preparedness Kit:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Cell Phone Car Charger
  • Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  • Fleece Hat, Gloves, Scarf
  • Flares
  • Folding Shovel
  • Sand or Cat Litter
  • Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Small battery-operated radio
  • Emergency contact card with names and phone numbers
  • Extra prescription medications
  • Bottled Water
  • High protein snacks
  • Maps
  • Whistle

There are two already-made kits available for purchase on redcross.orgItemImage_580_7193

  • Automobile first-aid zip kit. For $10.00, the kit includes an assortment of bandages, gauze, antiseptic, insect relief pads, sunscreen and sanitizer.
  • Personal Safety Emergency Pack. For $11.00, the kit includes emergency blanket, drinking water, emergency poncho, light stick, whistle, mini first-aid kit and mask.

Know the Difference

  • Winter Storm Outlook: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.
  • Winter Storm Watch: Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Winter Weather Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
  • Winter Storm Warning: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin with 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

Here is a checklist of precautions you can take during this wintery weather! Also for more information on disasters and emergency preparedness, visit redcross.org.

3 Easy Steps to Snap & Share Your Postagram

This holiday season, the American Red Cross has partnered with Postagram to give you a new and exciting way to send a free postcard to your loved ones about your blood donation.

1. Simply upload a picture of yourself giving blood or platelets now through January 6 at rcblood.org/holidaypostcard

2. Write a special message: Invite a loved one to follow in your footsteps and donate blood, or let smae_verticalomeone know you’ve donated blood or platelets in his or her honor.

3. We will deliver your personalized postcard to your friend or family member in the mail, courtesy of the Red Cross and Postagram.

It’s a wonderful way to give something that means something.

Give it a try!

Appointments to donate can be made by visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Who’s Ready to Watch Some Football Tomorrow?

By: PaKou Lee, Social Media Intern

578386_655499837794299_2053414044_nThe Packers will be playing against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field starting at 11:30 a.m. I thought the last game against the Minnesota Vikings was pretty rough. I was nervous throughout the entire overtime play. My home state versus my favorite football team. Of course, the Packers are my favorite.

I was never into football before moving here to Green Bay. My friends and family finally converted me after nearly a year of living in Green Bay. The culture here is definitely different than back at home in St. Paul. Green Bay has a lot of community events involving the Packers, smaller organizations and businesses. It feels more personable to me. Back at home, there’s so much going on; the city is bigger, there is a lot more to do. I’m always on the fast lane that sometimes I forget about what my home state is all about. I definitely appreciate both cultures and states. Just spreading my Minnesota Nice to Green Bay.

I’m still trying to understand football. When I started watching the games, I had a ton of questions: What is an interception? Where is the ball? Once I even made a silly, but serious comment, “Wow! The Packers had a really good home run.” Of course, I know the difference between a home run and a touchdown. It just slipped out. It still makes my family laugh when someone brings it up, so there’s something good in that. I’ll be sporting my Packer gear tomorrow and cheering them on. I hope you and your family have a great time watching the Packer game or any of the other teams playing tomorrow. Stay warm if you’re going to be outside.

Be Prepared – Get the app

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Whether you’re watching the game at home or playing your own football game in your backyard this Thanksgiving, be prepared to handle the most common first aid emergencies. Get your head in the game and download our First Aid mobile app on your iPhone or Android device.