3 Things To Do Before Fourth of July Weekend

We’re thinking ahead, and we hope you will, too, because we have three things for you to do before the Fourth of July weekend arrives. So, let’s get started…

One: Download the Red Cross First Aid App 

This free and helpful app for your smartphone gives you instant access to the most common first aid emergencies like cuts, burns, and eye injuries. The app is free. Download it now from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Or text GETFIRST to 90999.

Two: Brush Up On Fireworks Safety

Photo: Tony Webster, Portland, OR / Wikimedia Commons

The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show presented 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.

Three: Prepare for Grilling Safely

Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up 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.

Have a fun and safe Fourth of July Weekend! 

Photo: Marko Kokic / American Red Cross


10 tips to keep home cozy all season long

Image credit: Gemma Correll

Home cooking is cozy.

Kitchen fires are not.

Use the 10 tips below to keep cozy all holiday season long.

1. Avoid wearing loose clothing or sleeves that dangle

2. Never leave frying, grilling or broiling food unattended

3. Check often simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food

4. Use a timer to remember the stove and oven are on

5. Keep kids and pets away from cooking area, especially the stove and oven

6. Place items that can catch fire – like pot holders, oven mitts, and wooden utensils – away from appliances that generate heat

7. Clean cooking surfaces frequently to prevent grease buildup

8. Have, and know how to use, a fire extinguisher in or near your kitchen

9. Make sure appliances, especially the stove and oven, are turned off before going to bed or leaving the home

10. Test smoke alarms. Need them? Click here.

Want more tips for emergencies? Click here to find and download free Red Cross First Aid and Pet First aid apps for your mobile devices.


Back-to-school: 6 Pro Tips for Teachers and Students

Glenna Housman and her family. Photo courtesy of Housman family.

It’s officially that time of year again: back-to-school. We know many of you may be getting your little ones ready for their first day, or settling into the groove of things with classes back in session. It’s a chaotic week for families, students and staff. In an effort to help get your kids prepared and to help prepare teachers, we talked to some experts in education, namely Glenna Housman, a middle school nurse in Virginia.

“We know that when it’s time to get kids ready to come back to school, parents’ lives get a little hectic,” says Glenna. “Staff members tend to rely on parents to share a lot of information about their students, but I think it’s also very important for teachers and school administrators to take certain prep steps, too.”

Here are 6 tips for teachers and students alike to be Red Cross Ready as they embark on the new school year:

Get a Kit

  • Think about emergency preparedness items you don’t already have in your classroom. Some good supplies to have on hand are a flashlight and cell phone charger in case the power goes out. We tend to rely on our technology in times of crisis, especially to communicate.
  • Talk to your school nurse and ask for an extra batch of first aid items like gauze pads and bandages without latex (in case of allergies), for emergencies or if you can’t get to the nurse’s station right away.
  • Know which students have allergies and which ones do not. If you’re a parent, we suggest putting a supply kit together in your student’s backpack. If they have allergies or certain medical needs, be sure to have those things noted for the teacher. If you’re a teacher, have some snacks in your classroom that can be used for kids with allergies or diabetes. Some examples include non-peanut snacks, non-perishables, hard candy. Also be aware of allergies to things like grass or wood chips often found on playgrounds, in case a student has an allergic reaction at recess.

Make a Plan

  • Know where to go for emergencies like a tornado or fire in the cafeteria. Most schools have policies in place and practice drills regularly. If your school doesn’t have these policies already in play, talk to your administrators and staff about how to protect your students.
  • Don’t forget to update your child’s school health records. These records should be updated at the beginning of every school year. Any health care plans signed by the doctors are needed each fall for food allergies, inhalers, diabetics, sickle cell anemia, etc. so teachers and nurses are well-equipped to treat your kids.
  • Talk with your class about what to do in emergencies. Keeping the steps simple and easy to follow will help them remember when you practice.

Be Informed

  • While we hope your school year goes off without a hitch, we know it’s always best to be prepared for whatever may happen.
  • If you’re on top of emergency preparedness, then you’ll be teaching your students a good life skill and making their parents feel better while they’re under your care.
  • If it’s not already, your school could be a Red Cross shelter if disaster strikes. Learn more about how to make your facility a safe space with Red Cross Ready Rating.

This post was originally published on Red Cross Chat and is published on this blog with permission. 

Has anyone ever heard of frostbite?

mittens wintertip-fb

A high of 10 degrees will feel, well, downright balmy when bitter cold descends upon the upper Midwest in the coming days. So, in the spirit of feeling things (like our body parts during a polar plunge), let’s review some basic cold weather First Aid tips that you can find in the free American Red Cross First Aid App.

Frostbite happens when a part of your body gets frozen. It usually happens to parts of your body that may be hard to cover up, like your ears and nose, cheeks and chin, and fingers and toes. Signs of frostbite include first pain, and then numbness or loss of feeling, and loss of skin color. If you feel pain or numbness anywhere on your skin while you’re out in the cold, go inside immediately. Once inside, gently warm fingers and toes, such as with warm water. When in doubt, call 9-1-1 to get medical help.

Hypothermia happens when the body is losing heat faster than it can make heat. It’s like the opposite of having a fever, but just as dangerous. Shivering is one of the first signs of hypothermia. Other signs include confusion, drowsiness, and slurred speech. If you start shivering outside in the cold or feel drowsy, go inside immediately and warm up. Once inside, take off any wet clothes and put on dry ones. Keep the body as warm as possible with blankets and jackets. Drink warm beverages, and stay warm and dry. When in doubt, call 9-1-1 to get medical help.

Icon App

You can find more helpful and lifesaving information on the Red Cross First Aid mobile app. Download it now by texting “GETFIRST” to 90999. And, remember pets during severe cold. Text “GETPET” to 90999 to download the Red Cross free Pet First Aid mobile app. Or, click here to find all of the Red Cross apps.

By Lynette Nyman, American Red Cross

Sarah’s Top Five Swimming Safety Tips

Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross
Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

Sarah Carlton has always had a passion for health, fitness and swimming. She graduated from college with a degree in exercise science and health promotion, and now she’s in charge of the aquatics program for Community Education in Stillwater, Minnesota. Sarah has been the Aquatics Coordinator there for four years and she continues to be a supporter of the Red Cross swimming programs they use for instruction.

“A Red Cross program consists of our community education instructors teaching and guiding swim students using an approved curriculum,” says Sarah. By using the Red Cross program, she knows that her students and their families will get the best swimming education possible. “Through the Red Cross program, there are 6 levels of swimming lessons. It also offers preschool and parent with child classes. Students can start as young as six months and most end lessons around the age of eleven or twelve.”

Luckily, while working with students, Sarah hasn’t run into any scary incidents. Sarah says, “The benefit of doing swim lessons is teaching the kids how to swim and prevent drowning. It also teaches them safety skills, not just in the pool, but while at the beach or boating.”

Junior lifeguarding training, Florida, 2015. Photo credit: Connie Harvey/American Red Cross
Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

When Sarah became the Aquatics Coordinator for Stillwater Community Education, she obtained her Red Cross Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor certifications. Having these certifications helped her understand the job responsibilities better, gave her a great networking forum and improved rapport and credibility among her staff team. When needed, she can take a lifeguard shift or fill in as a swim instructor, which enables the program to run within ratio and with minimal disruption to customer service.

Her best advice for people who don’t know how to swim: learn to swim using a Red Cross program. “It’s used around the country and teaches the right skills to be safe in or near water. If you’re an adult, take private lessons. It’s never too late to learn.” The biggest reward at the end of the day for Sarah is seeing the student faces light up when they pass a level or when they know they’ve become better swimmers.

hoto by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross
Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

Sarah’s Top Five Swimming Pool Safety Tips:
1. Always swim with a buddy
2. Learn to float and use survival strokes
3. No horseplay on the deck or in the pool
4. No crazy stunts off the diving board
5. Learn how to stay afloat in the deep end of the water

If you plan on being in or near water this summer, find a community education program near you for swimming lessons. For more water safety tips, click here. To download the Red Cross mobile Swim App click here.

Story by Kaylee Beevers/American Red Cross Intern

Top ten reasons to learn how to save a heart

By Cassie Sage, an American Red Cross Intern in Minnesota

Valentine1_TWIt’s February, the month of love. A month that is centered on valentines and as we are out and about we see hearts and decorations everywhere we go. We are focused on loving the most important people in our lives and we go out and buy them chocolate and other Valentine’s Day inspired gifts.

Although Valentine’s Day is in February, it is also National Heart Month, which is quite fitting. It is a month that focuses on educating people on how to react and respond if a person suffers from a cardiac arrest. Every year more than 300,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest but when CPR is performed or an automated external defibrillator can help save the lives of victims.

The American Red Cross offers in person or in class training courses to the public and teaches people how to respond to sudden cardiac arrest, along with first and CPR. So in the spirit of love and hearts here are the Top Ten Reasons to take a CPR class:

  1. You are prepared in an emergency situation.
  2. If an emergency occurs and you perform CPR a person is three times more likely to survive.
  3. You are able to help save a loved one.
  4. You can help save someone else’s loved one.
  5. You become knowledgeable about something that is very important.
  6. CPR is a skill that cannot be learned online, the Red Cross offers in depth classes that will teach an invaluable skill.
  7. Out of 200,000 cardiac arrest deaths a year almost 50,000 are preventable. CPR will lessen this number.
  8. You can be confident that you will be prepared to help if an accident occurs.
  9. You will learn to use life-saving technology, such as an AED, which are available in almost all public places.
  10. This is a skill that can be valuable for a lifetime and you will never know when it will be useful, but when it is everyone will be glad you know CPR.

There are many other reasons why everyone should take a CPR class no matter what month it is. You may have your own personal reasons or stories as to why knowing CPR is important but lets all take the time to take care of everyone’s hearts.

Red Cross safety tips for ghosts and goblins this Halloween

ghostcostEven zombies and vampires need to know how to celebrate safely. Check out the Red Cross tips below and share them with your favorite super hero or princess this Halloween.

COSTUME SAFETY Whether the little one wants to be a ghost, a princess or a superhero, parents can help keep them safe by following some costume advice:

  • Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to be seen.
  • Use flame-resistant costumes.
  • Use face makeup instead of masks, which can cover your eyes and make it hard to see.

SAFE TRICK-OR-TREATING To maximize safety, plan the route ahead of time. Make sure adults know where children are going. If the children are young, a parent or responsible adult should accompany them as they make their way around the neighborhood.

Other safety tips to follow include:

  • Make sure trick-or-treaters have a flashlight to see where they are going and be seen by drivers.
  • Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door—never go inside.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.
  • Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  • It’s not only vampires and monsters people have to look out for. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.

WELCOMING THE KIDS If someone is manning the candy giveaway at their house, they can make sure it’s a fun night for all by doing the following:

  • Make sure the outdoor lights are on.
  • Sweep leaves from the sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
  • Restrain the pets.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in the jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard.
  • Use extra caution if driving. The youngsters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing

MG2_IconFIRST AID APP Download the free Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

MONSTER GUARD APP Download the free Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App, a game that helps kids learn how to save lives. Children between the ages of 7 and 11 learn ways to prepare and stay safe in home fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other disasters by role-playing as different monster characters.

Calling all babysitters!

By Erin Ferris, American Red Cross

During a Babysitter's Training course in Minneapolis, Minn., youth learn that CPR is performed differently on infants than on children and adults. Techniques are performed here that require hands-on skills focusing on back blows, chest thrusts and proper ways to safely hold an infant. Photo credit: Krista Weiler/American Red Cross
During a Babysitter’s Training course youth learn that CPR is performed differently on infants than on children and adults. Techniques are performed here that require hands-on skills focusing on back blows, chest thrusts and proper ways to safely hold an infant. Photo credit: Krista Weiler/American Red Cross, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 2015.

My first American Red Cross experience came at 11 years old when I enrolled in a Red Cross Babysitter’s Training course. Eager to earn a little extra spending money, I had plans to start caring for children in my neighborhood and knew I needed to prepare myself for whatever my charges might literally and figuratively throw at me.

The decision to become a babysitter ended up a great one, as it led to years of gainful summer and weekend employment and began me on my journey to a life-long partnership with the Red Cross.

25 years later, the Red Cross continues to offer babysitting courses to students ages 11 and older. The courses, available mainly online, provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and responsibly care for infants and children and to manage their own babysitting businesses.

The Babysitting Basics online course takes approximately 4 hours to complete and includes videos, interactive games, and downloadable resources covering basic caregiving skills (holding, carrying, diapering, feeding, bathing, etc.), what to do in emergency situations, how to play with children, how to interact with parents, and how to build a babysitting business. The course is designed for children between the ages of 11-15.

For those 16 and up, the Red Cross offers the online-only Advanced Child Care Training. This training features the latest in learning techniques – simulation learning – for an engaging format that students of this generation prefer.

Learning materials are provided by the American Red Cross to aid in the education of all attendees (Handbook, Reference Guide, Student Kit). Photo credit Krista Weiler/American Red Cross, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 2015.
Learning materials are provided by the American Red Cross to aid in the education of all attendees (Handbook, Reference Guide, Student Kit). Photo credit Krista Weiler/American Red Cross, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 2015.

My almost 9-year-old son, while still a little young for babysitting, loves to look out for his younger sister, cousins, and friends. I plan to enroll him in an online Red Cross babysitting course in a couple of years, knowing that along with learning how to care for younger children, he’ll learn how to deal with emergencies, the basics of building a business, and how to work with adults in a professional manner. Sounds like a pretty good introduction to real life responsibility!

Whether your future babysitter wants the Babysitting Basics course or the Advanced Child Care Training course for older, it is guaranteed to be a fun and educational course.

This post was originally published on the national American Red Cross blog. To find Red Cross babysitting and childcare classes near you, click here.

11 safety tips to practice at water parks

WaterSafetyLifeguards2_cropOne of the most popular ways to beat the summer heat is to visit the local water park and fly down the water slide or tube along the lazy river. To help make sure your trip to the park is fun, the American Red Cross has some safety steps you should follow.

1. Learn to swim. It’s the best way to stay safe in, on and around the water. If you cannot perform the five steps of water competency in order, find a Red Cross swim class.

2. Make sure lifeguards are on duty before you go in the water and follow all their instructions.

3. Wear protective clothing, including a hat and some kind of cover-up for when you’ve had enough sun.

4. Use sunscreen before leaving home and reapply during the day.

5. Be prepared if soap and water aren’t available with a product like the new Red Cross alcohol-free hand sanitizer

6. Drink plenty of fluids – avoid drinks with sweeteners or caffeine.

7. Parents – keep an eye on the kids. If they can’t swim or are less than four feet tall, have them wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.

8. Read the attraction signs and listen to all instructions given to you by the lifeguards. Obey the rules. Follow age and height requirements.

9. Signal a lifeguard if you see someone is in trouble. Yell if you need to grab attention, but don’t go in after the person yourself.

10. Set up a meeting place in case someone gets separated from your group. Use the buddy system to make sure no child is alone.

11. Watch the weather and get out of the water at the first sign of lightning or the rumble of thunder. Stay indoors and away from water for 30 minutes after the last lightning flashes or thunder roars.

DOWNLOAD FREE APPS TO PROTECT YOU. Our Emergency App allows you to choose weather alerts, such as thunderstorms, for areas where you are near the water. It will also give you real-time information on how to keep safe for that particular alert. Our Swim App allows you to access water safety and drowning prevention information and track your child’s progress in Red Cross swim lessons. Children will enjoy learning water safety tips with child-friendly videos and quizzes. Download both apps from your app store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Do you really know how to swim?

water-safety-infographic-2015_lowresMany people believe they know how to swim. But in reality, the really don’t, especially children and teens. Last year the American Red Cross released survey results revealing something quite shocking: more than 60 percent of youth are unable to perform all five basic water competency skills.  To reduce this life-threatening statistic, the Red Cross has launched a national campaign to reduce drownings in half by 50 percent during a three to five year period. In Minnesota, that would mean cutting the number of non-boating accident drownings from an average of 40 per year to 20.

Additional key survey findings include:

  • Nearly a fifth (18 percent) of adults who are not able to perform all five water safety skills expect to supervise a child near water this summer.
  • Fear is listed as the top reason for not learning how to swim both as a child and as an adult.
  • Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) report that they have had an experience where they were afraid they might drown.
  • Near-drowning experiences are more common among young adults (ages 18-24). And younger Americans are also more likely than those in any other age group to report that they know someone who nearly drowned (36 percent).

To learn more and to test your swim skills before you hit the water, click here.
To find classes for your family, contact your local swim facility or click here.

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