10 Ways to Prevent Home Fires as You Deck the Halls this Holiday Season

Prevent home fires through holiday decorating safely

We want you to stay safe from home fires—the nation’s most frequent disaster—by testing your smoke alarms (English, Spanish) and practicing your home fire escape plan. In addition, we have these 10 simple safety tips as you put up lights and ornaments:

  1. Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord.
  2. If you’re buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
  3. If you’re getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  4. If you’re using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
  5. When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If you’re using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
  6. If you’re using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
  7. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  8. Remember to turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
  9. Keep children, pets and decorations away from candles.
  10. If you’re hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.

12 Reasons to Donate at 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive

It nearly goes without saying that the reason to donate blood during the 12 Hours Giving Blood Drive on December 19 is that your donation could help save up to three lives this winter. But since this is the festive season, we’ve added some sparkles to our list of reasons for you to donate the gift of life at this holiday drive.

1. Free gift wrapping!  Bring gifts that still need to be wrapped and we’ll wrap them for you.

2. Hourly prize drawings!  Prizes include but are not limited to a television, gift cards, and small appliances.

3. Free food and refreshments!  Scrumptious food, cookies, and drinks will be provided.

4. Convenient location! Finish up last minute holiday shopping at the nearby the outlet mall.

5. Help save lives! Our goal is 500 units of blood for patients in need.  Each unit could save up to three lives.

6. Photo opportunities!  Festive photos with Santa or Buddy the Blood Drop. Post on social media with hashtag #MNRedCross.

7. Easy sign-up!  Book your appointment online at RedCrossBlood.org or on the Blood Donor App. Sponsor code: 12 Hours

8. Share Your Story Tree! Share a story about donating or receiving blood products to hang on our Giving Tree.

9. Live Music! Instrumental and vocal groups will perform throughout the day.

10. Family tradition!  Donors return to this annual event year after year with their families to help save lives together.

11. Face art! Get a festive-themed face painting (hours: 2 to 7 p.m.).

12. New Year’s resolution! Kick-off the New Year now by becoming a regular blood donor or a Red Cross volunteer supporting blood donation.

Join us in Oakdale on Dec. 19.  Schedule your appointment here.

Happy Holidays!

Holiday safety in Minne-snow-ta

In Minnesota, the holiday season requires us to be extra cautious. While holiday cooking and decorations increase risks of fire and injury, the winter weather conditions create additional hazards on the roads. For example, every year across the country there are on average more than 150,000* crashes due to icy roads. With the spirit of safety first, we offer below some helpful tips for a fabulous and fun holiday season.

Roads

1. Keep a windshield scraper and emergency kit including food and warm clothing in your vehicle.

2. Test your car battery. As temperature drops, battery power drops as well.

3. Allow extra time to drive to your destination. Not only will there be more traffic than usual, but it is safest to drive more slowly on snowy roads.

4. Practice braking on icy roads in an empty parking lot.

5. Check tire pressure and tread life. Consider installing winter tires.

Homes

1. Check all smoke alarms to verify that there is a working smoke alarm on each level of the home. Review your home fire escape plan.

2. Turn off decorative lights and blow out candles before leaving the house or going to sleep.

3. Remain in the kitchen while something is cooking.

4. Wash hands and cook food to safe minimum standards to avoid food poisoning.

5. Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from hot ovens and stove tops.

For immediate access to weather updates and information on treating common first aid emergencies, download the American Red Cross Emergency App for free.

*Source: NHTSA and Federal Highway Administration

Be a holiday hero at the 6th annual 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive on Dec. 20

The arrival of the holiday season often means spending time and exchanging gifts with family and friends. But what if the gift you needed couldn’t be bought? For patients like Mike McMahon, the generosity of blood donations was the perfect gift and didn’t cost anything other than a bit of someone’s time.

Following a tragic tree felling accident on Nov. 10, 2016, McMahon, a Stillwater, Minnesota resident, suffered life-threatening injuries. He needed 11 units of blood during emergency surgery to keep him alive.

He spent the next six weeks in the intensive care unit and inpatient rehab, including three weeks during which he had to be intubated as he was unable to breathe on his own.

During his hospital stay, he also experienced an ulcer on a major artery in his intestines. The ulcer was so severe that he needed an additional seven units of blood and the artery was coiled to stop the hemorrhaging.

Mike McMahon

“I remember clearly as my nurse hooked me up to the first bag of blood,” said McMahon. “The thought of blood passing through another person’s heart and now into me, to keep me alive, was very emotional. From the first pint to the last, each one was equally moving.”

McMahon was told that he might not be able to do a lot of things ever again – his future was uncertain. However, just a few days before Christmas he was released from the hospital.

McMahon is thankful for blood donors and credits blood donation with helping save his life. “I’m grateful for the donors who gave me such an amazing gift – to spend Christmas and more holidays with my family. I was an occasional blood donor before the accident – today I donate as often as I can to help ensure others receive the same gift of life.”

You can give patients like McMahon more time and memories this holiday season by donating blood at the American Red Cross 6th annual 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive at Inwood Oaks in Oakdale, Minnesota. As a special thanks, all who come to give will be treated to free parking, complimentary gift wrapping, a special gift bag, a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, and holiday food and entertainment and will be automatically entered into hourly prize drawings including grand prizes – a large flat panel TV and a HP laptop computer.

To make an appointment to give blood at the 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive, donors can click here or use sponsor code 12 hours on the Red Cross Blood Donor App, online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

We hope to see you at the 12 Hours of Giving Blood Drive. Happy holidays from your friends at the Red Cross!

Story and photo by Sue Thesenga/American Red Cross

Help ensure a sufficient blood supply throughout the holidays

Winter 2015_Thanksgiving Critical Day ImageAs the holidays approach, people are getting busy – organizing dinner parties, plotting out Black Friday shopping strategies and planning family get-togethers. Lots of fun stuff awaits, and people want to feel good for the holidays, but not everyone does. Patients in hospitals are still in need of blood products from generous donors in good health.

Donors are especially needed in the weeks leading up to and after the holidays. Blood and platelet donations often decline from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day when festivities pull people away from their donation appointments. This often causes a drop in the blood available for patients in the winter months.

You can give someone the chance to feel better before the holidays are in full swing. Be part of something meaningful, and give blood or platelets through the American Red Cross to help someone hurt or sick. If you are unable to give blood, you can still help by hosting a Red Cross virtual blood drive, volunteering or making a financial donation.

As Thanksgiving approaches, reflect on your blessings and look for ways to give back to the community or someone less fortunate. Remember that giving an hour of your time and donating blood could give a patient needing blood the most valuable gift of all – the gift of life. Many families have started giving blood together on Thanksgiving Day, or over the Thanksgiving weekend, as a way of giving back and giving thanks.

To help encourage blood donations around the holidays, the American Red Cross has teamed up with celebrity chefs John Besh, Richard Blais, Rocco DiSpirito, Mike Isabella, Ellie Krieger and Ali Larter to bring gourmet recipes to donors’ kitchens. Those who come out to donate blood or platelets November 25-29 will receive a Red Cross mixing spoon and celebrity chef recipes, while supplies last.

Make a blood or platelet donation appointment now by downloading the Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS. Please share the need with others in your social network and use the hashtag #GiveWithMeaning.

Caring Enough To Send A Card

The American Red Cross expects to receive and distribute more than one million holiday cards to military veterans and those serving in the armed forces.

Cari McCollor is one of our heroes!

Here in the Twin Cities we’re helping to make this happen with the assistance of Cari McCollor. A veteran who served in the U.S. Army and the National Guard, McCollor understands the importance of sending holiday wishes.

“It’s hard to remember family and friends when you’re sitting somewhere in a field far away from home,” says McCollor. “Getting a card lets the service member know that someone cares enough to write and send a card.”

McCollor expects to distribute holiday mail to approximately 20 sites, ranging from veterans homes and adult day centers to army reserve and national guard units, throughout the greater Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area.

Cards must be postmarked by December 10. Click here to learn more.