Disaster Update: Earthquake in Turkey

Rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Tabanli village near the eastern Turkish city of Van on Oct. 23, 2011. (Photo: Reuters/Abdurrahman Antakyali/Anadolu Agency)

The Turkish Red Crescent Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has determined that external assistance is not required at this time. As such, the American Red Cross is not accepting donations designated to this response operation.

Turkey – A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the eastern province of Van, Turkey on Sunday at 1:41 pm local time. The quake’s epicenter was below the village of Tabanli. Turkey is located on an active seismic zone and this is the most powerful earthquake to hit the country in over a decade. Dozens of buildings collapsed leaving many people injured, trapped, or homeless. Temperatures are close to freezing at night and aftershocks continue to strike the region.

Turkish Red Crescent is one of the largest disaster response organizations in Europe and has prepared extensively for large earthquakes.The Turkish Red Crescent headquarters in Ankara has sent more than 100 disaster specialists and thousands of relief supplies to the region. The Turkish government is leading the response effort and has mobilized vehicles, personnel, supplies and ambulances.Turkish Red Crescent volunteers and staff are working diligently to reach people trapped in the rubble. They have distributed more than 12,000 tents and 25,000 blankets, as well as food and clean water. The Turkish Red Crescent has set up feeding centers for those who have lost their homes or are unwilling to re-enter them, fearing aftershocks. A tent city is being set up in the stadium in the city of Ercis and blood products are being set to hospitals in the region.

The American Red Cross is in communication with partners in the region and is monitoring the situation closely. After the devastating 1999 earthquake in Turkey that left over half a million people homeless, the American Red Cross developed a strong partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent to help increase their response capacity. We have provided support following major earthquakes as well as supporting initiatives to strengthen disaster preparedness.

Red Cross Warns Community about Cooking Fires

With Thanksgiving approaching, the American Red Cross is advising people to be cautious when cooking.

Local Red Cross chapters are urging everyone to help save lives by being prepared for home fires while cooking this Thanksgiving.

“Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries,” said Steve Hansen, Northeast Wisconsin Regional Chapter Executive. “Having a working smoke alarms provides a few minutes of advance warning in the event of a home fire, and that extra time can save lives.”

To prevent cooking fires this holiday, follow these tips:

  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you must leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, boiling, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • Keep kids away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of three feet around the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch on fire—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove top and oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least twice a year.

The Red Cross also recommends families create and practice a home fire escape plan, which should include at least two escape routes for every room in the home. Families should choose a convenient meeting place outside of the home and practice their escape plan at least twice a year with all family members.

Nationally, the Red Cross responds to thousands of local fires throughout the country every year. In the past year, the Northeast Wisconsin Red Cross Chapters responded to 163 local disasters, most of which were residential fires – which is nearly one every other day.

The Red Cross reminds people of the following fire safety tips they should take:

If a fire occurs, get out and stay out.  Call the fire department from a cell phone or neighbor’s home.

  • If smoke or fire blocks the first escape route, use a second way.  If someone must exit through smoke, they should crawl low under the smoke to the exit.  If escaping through a closed door, feel the door before opening it.  If the door is warm, get out a different way.
  • If smoke, heat, or flames block the way out, stay in the room with the door closed. Signal for help using a brightly colored cloth at the window. If there is a telephone in the room, call the fire department and tell them the location

Visit www.redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to prevent home fires. People can help those affected by home fires and other emergencies by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross.

 About the Northeast Wisconsin Region:

The Northeast Wisconsin American Red Cross is a regional grouping of four chapters serving 20 counties with a mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters throughout the East Central Wisconsin, Lakeland, Outagamie and Scenic Shores Chapters. To learn more about Red Cross programs, volunteer opportunities, and how you can help, contact the Northeast region at 920-231-3590 or visit www.NewRedCross.org. Find us on Twitter and Facebook at @NEWRedCross.

 About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.