Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn is Here!

Celebrate by Attending the First Annual Autumn Gourmet Gala

Even though the recent weather has been perfect, sunny, and warm, last night I noticed that by 7pm the sun was already setting. Which means in a few weeks when we set our clocks back an hour (and update our smoke alarm batteries and 72-hour kits) the sun will be setting around 6pm!

Although I'm not too keen on the idea of less light in the day, I am looking forward to the Autumnal goodness that is cozy sweaters and jackets, blankets, mittens and the changing of the colors; as in this great video that the national Red Cross blog shared:

With the arrival of Autumn comes the first annual American Red Cross Gourmet Gala at Snowbasin Ski Resort.

Northern Utah’s chefs and restaurants are preparing their finest dishes to benefit the American Red Cross of Utah on October 7, 2010 for the first annual Autumn Gourmet Gala at Snowbasin Ski Resort. It's going to be a fun, chic event in which restaurants from across the state will be preparing food for every palate. The Gala will include a silent auction featuring dining experiences, travel, jewelry and other specialty items donated by participating restaurants and businesses.

For more information about the event and to purchase your ticket click here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Masters of Disaster Program Launch!

Utah Students Get Prepared for Disasters in New Pilot Program
In the wake of the Herriman fire evacuations, preparedness is on the minds of many Utahns and a new pilot program in twenty schools in the Salt Lake Valley offers one new way to help get students prepared for disasters. Thanks to the American Red Cross and Be Ready Utah, teachers will be using the American Red Cross Masters of Disaster® kit.

Check out pictures from the Masters of Disaster Pilot Kick-Off  held at Channing Hall School in Draper this morning.
For more information about the American Red Cross Masters of Disaster® kit check out our website.

Preparedness Month Tips

To me, being prepared for any type of emergency, whether it's a fire, flood, or evacuation, starts with getting a 72-hour kit. At the Red Cross store online you can buy all sorts of tools and supplies for your 72-hour kit; including radios, water storage, lights, and first aids kits.

For those of us on a budget, I want to introduce you to the Family Dollar.  When I was in there the other day getting stuff for a bachelorette party I was throwing for my sister, I was amazed at how many items they had that are essential to have in your 72-hour kit.

If you want my recommendation for a cheap way to put together an all encompassing 72-hour kit here it is: Order the Deluxe Personal Safety Kit from the Red Cross online store. This kit comes with a bag that can be used as a back pack. Once your kit comes in the mail; head down to Family Dollar to add other essentials. I recommend putting in extra batteries, advil, deodorant and toothbrush, as well as a deck of cards or a book to keep you from being bored. Do you have kids? Throw in a coloring book and crayons. And as winter is approaching, pick up a hat and a pair of gloves. Family Dollar also has great deals on granola bars and other non-perishable foods to add in there as well.

Given the recent fire in Herriman, at the Salt Lake County Emergency Preparedness Fair this weekend, I had many people ask about what to take when you have to evacuate. While bringing your 72-hour kit is a great recommendation, other supplies could be more important for an evacuation.
The items in your 72-hour kit are meant to serve as all the supplies you would need to survive for three days in case a large disaster were to prevent the Red Cross, the National Guard, FEMA, etc from getting to everyone in a timely manner. For evacuations, my recommendation is to have copies of important documents like your driver's liscene, insurance cards, home ownership paperwork, etc. Grabbing any photos or family heirlooms is also a great idea however, getting yourself and your family members out of the house is most important.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Herriman Fire Reminds Us to Be Prepared

Jana Sweeny, Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross, spent time in the Red Cross shelter for residents of Herriman who had to evacuate. Here is her story of one family who took the necessary precautions to be prepared. What would you bring in the event of an evacuation? Are you prepared?

Monday morning haze hung over Herriman High School as people wandered around the American Red Cross shelter located there. Some were waking up from sleep, some stayed awake all night waiting for news. Most people were in the cafeteria getting breakfast for their children and a snack or cup of coffee for themselves. Like many people do when hearing about this type of disaster, I began thinking about what I would take from my home if I only had 10 or 20 minutes to get out. I have my disaster kit ready to go and keep important documents in a fire-proof lockbox. I also keep a list of things I want to remember to grab- work boots, change of clothes, prescriptions for my family and my pets. I started talking to people about this. What did they grab? What do they wish they had grabbed? Most answers were similar- computers, paperwork, and family photos. Many people talked about having to leave precious family mementos behind. Antique furniture made by relatives, artwork, and other treasures that could never be replaced.

During this string of conversations I started talking to Chris Streicher who recently moved into his Herriman home with his new bride Angela and his teenage son. As we began to talk I realized that his story of evacuation was much different. Chris and Angela care for three aging family members in their home. Chris’s mother who is in her 70’s and Angela’s aunt and uncle who are in their 80’s live with the couple. They bought their home in Herriman because it had the space to accommodate the needs of these very special
family members. They were able to add handicap accessible fittings to bathrooms and stairwells to make sure that all three, who use assistive devices including wheel chairs and walkers, could comfortably access their whole home.

When the notice came from police that they had 20 minutes to get out the first thought was, what do they need to bring for their elderly family members. Chris loaded the wheel chairs and walkers, while Angela packed the bags. They made sure to grab everyone’s medication and then they piled in the car and headed to Herriman High School. On arrival Chris immediately notified the Red Cross nurses of the condition of his family. He asked that they be looked at by a medical profession to ensure that the high level of smoke hadn’t caused any breathing problems. After they were checked out Chris made the difficult decision to split the family up. He realized quickly that his mother and Angela’s aunt and uncle would be more comfortable in a hotel. He made arrangements and dropped Angela off with the older members of the family. He and his son returned to the shelter for the night knowing that it would probably be the best place to quickly receive updates on the situation.

Taking into account the needs of vulnerable family members is key to smart disaster planning. Chris had great suggestions for elderly family members. Ensure that you have assistive devices that will help them continue to feel some level of independence, not only wheel chairs, but walkers or canes. Make sure to grab all medication. Remember that elderly family members often feel security in certain items such as their purse or wallet. Be sure to grab those things as well. As Chris said “you can always run to the WalMart for new socks, but some things are harder or will take longer to replace.” He also recommended making sure that all of your family members are informed about what is happening. As any of us with aging relatives know, change in routine is often hard. Even though he had little time, he quickly explained to them what was happening and then took more time in the safety of the shelter to talk through the decision with this family. Additionally, make sure to inform shelter staff at check in of any potential medical needs of your family. Finally, ask for help if you need it. Chris asked members of the police department who were patrolling the neighborhood to assist him in getting everyone and everything loaded into the car. Recognizing that it would take the Streicher family longer than families who were all able bodied, they were more than happy to help.

Chris and Angela did everything right. They made good and informed choices for their family and were able to react quickly because they had taken time to think through potential scenarios and plan for them ahead of time. To ensure your family is prepared like the Streichers are, visit the Red Cross website.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Herriman Fire Photos

A few photos taken by volunteer James Fair from the Red Cross shelter at Herriman High School. Thank you to James and all the volunteers helping in Herriman.
Volunteer Holly Andrews with a client at the Red Cross shelter

Lunch room of the Red Cross shelter at Herriman High School

Red Cross shelter update in Herriman

About 80 people spent last night at the Red Cross shelter at Herriman High School. Red Cross volunteers are on hand to provide medical attention, trauma counseling and emotional support. We will keep updating our Twitter @utahredcross with information.

For inquires about friends and loved ones in Herriman click here or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

To make a donation to the relief efforts click here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

9:00 p.m. The American Red Cross has 50 people affected by the Herriman area fire evacuation at the Red Cross shelter (moving from the Ft. Herriman Middle School to the Herriman High School at this hour.)
The American Red Cross has cots for 100, water, snacks, and more than a dozen Red Cross volunteers helping on the scene with sheltering needs for the night if needed. The Red Cross is prepared to open additional shelters for up to 1900 people IF needed.

Red Cross Helps in Herriman

7:00 p.m. Update
The American Red Cross is helping evacuees with an evacuation center in Herriman.
Local residents who are evacuated are urged to go to the Fort Herriman Middle School at 14058 S. 6200 West.
The center offers a place to gather, gain information, get updates on the evacuation. If an overnight shelter is needed, the Red Cross will open a shelter here tonight also.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Be Informed!

Our guest blogger, Jeff Gurney, shares the last step in our three part Be Red Cross Ready preparedness plan. Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and now Be Informed. Thank you Jeff for sharing your preparedness wisdom!

Probably the most important of the three parts of being prepared is to be informed. We can have all sorts of equipment, make our plan, but with out the correct information we are limited. Information can come from a lot of different sources. Make sure that when you are looking for information to make yourself better prepared that the information is coming from a trusted source.

Some of the best sources that I have found are the ones that explain things in a format that makes things easy to understand. One of the best sources I have found is the Red Cross web site. I know, sounds like a shameless plug. The Red Cross website has all sorts of useful information. They have also been doing this sort of stuff for a long time. During an emergency it is easier to remember things that were simple to follow in the first place.

A few other places that I have found that have some very good information are the city library and the state websites. The library has a lot of information, you just need to sort through most of it. You will find varying opinions on what the different authors find as “important information”. The state websites I have found, have some of the best advise. This information is usually gathered from the best minds in the business.

Another source of useful information are some of the dedicated survival and preparedness websites, such as In Case of Emergency, Read Blog. Some of these have information that should be taken with a grain of salt, but most have some type of helpful information that you can use in the education process. Remember that each family or persons plan is different and we all have different needs. Adjust your plan to fit your specific needs. You can have all the equipment in the world and still not know how to best use what you have.

Knowing what to do in an emergency can literally save your life or the life of a loved one. Have as much medical info as you can consume, and know the best way to deal with the emergency at hand. Stay up with radio and news reports during an emergency. These things will tell you what to expect next or if the emergency is over.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What are you prepared for?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Preparedness Month and all of things you can be prepared for. For example, any gracious pet owner who carries "doggy bags" while out for a walk with their mutt is prepared; Or those who have spare tires in the back of their car; Or those who always make sure to have extra toilet paper at home in case of emergencies.

Being prepared can mean a multitude of things. Parents who carry a diaper bag with food, a change of clothes, and toys for distraction; making sure you have your phone charger in the car in case it dies; putting a Tide-To-Go pen in your purse in case of spills; even having a credit card keeps you prepared in case of financial emergencies.

People prepare themselves everyday when they take a sweatshirt or umbrella if there's a chance of rain, or even when they bring a lunch or snacks with them to work, in case of hunger. So why is it so hard for some of us to put food, water, a first aid kit and other supplies in a back pack in case of disasters, or to get off the couch and take a CPR class? Many people think, "Oh a disaster won't happen to me!" or "If a disaster happens, someone else will take care of me."

Well guess what, disasters happen everyday, and you never know when they might happen to you. So take the first steps in preparing yourself and your family. Put together a 72-hour kit, make a family plan, and sign up to certify in First Aid and CPR. Take the extra step in being prepared.

Happy Preparedness Month!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Make a Plan

Here's a new post from our guest blogger Jeff Gurney. Being "Red Cross Ready" consists of three parts, Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed. Below is Jeff's plan, what's yours??

The second part of being prepared in case of an emergency is to make a plan. This has two parts to it.

I had not set up my plan. So after discussing it with my family and educating myself on what was the best way to go about this. This is what I came up with.

First is to make a plan on how to get out of your house and if at work on how to get out of the building you are in. In the case of your house you will want to find the easiest and fastest way out of your house. You will also want to have alternate routes out of your house if the primary route is blocked. This could include safety ladders positioned in windows of bedrooms or other rooms. These are only necessary if those rooms are on the second floor. Some houses have basement windows that are well below ground level and should have permanent ladders in all windows.

Having fire extinguishers located in vital areas through out the house is also important in case of fire. Make sure that all family members know this escape plan and where the ladders and extinguishers are located. An important part of this plan is also a pre-planned meet up point away from the house.

The second part of the plan is if the house or building is not safe to occupy and you need to stay somewhere else. Pre-plan a location such as a relatives house near by or a shelter that all family members can meet up in. Know where your locale Red Cross shelter is located. Have all important documents photocopied and in a zip-loc water proof bag. It is important to have these in an easy to find location. Things like birth certificates, copy of a drivers license, social security card, mortgage papers and insurance cards.

Have more than one first-aid kit on hand. It is good to have one for the house as well as one for the car. If you are unable to get to the one in the house then you can get the one from the car if anyone is injured.

It is a good idea to also have important telephone numbers handy in case of emergency. These phone numbers might include the police, fire department, and close relatives. At times of emergency you will find that your 72 hour kit comes in handy.

If there is an earthquake and severe damage is done to your home, make sure that you have a wrench to turn off the gas and also make sure that you turn off the electricity to the house from the main breaker panel. These two things can save you from having even more damage done to your house after the earthquake is over.

If there is a large earthquake and damage is done to your house, make sure you do not re-occupy your home until it has been checked out and authorities have deemed it safe to go back in. If there are any questions about this process talk to your local building inspector.

It is a best practice to have periodic drills or dry runs to make sure that everyone is on the same page and understands the plan. This also gives you a better idea of the things that work, and the ones that need to be changed to better fit the family's needs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Be Prepared

As you may already know, September is National Preparedness Month. I can't count the number of times I have said "Be Prepared" this month, and it's only the first week. Everytime I say it, I get this song from the Lion King stuck in my head. So check out our website, listen to Scar, and "Be Prepared!!"

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bandanas: Not just for Bret Michaels

It being Preparedness Month and all, I've been thinking a lot about survival and what I would need in an emergency. One thing I plan to put in my 72-hour kit tonight is a bandana. And not just because Bret Michaels wears them and I happen to be a big fan of Rock of Love (all 24 seasons).

There are so many uses for a bandana, a topic of dicsussion that my fellow Red Cross volunteer Kellie Mieremet brought to my attention when we gave a presentation a few months ago.

Here are some uses for a bandana:
  • A tourniquet
  • Put ice in it and use it as a compress
  • Sling
  • Dip it in cold water and place around your neck in hot weather
  • Earmuffs
  • Tissue
  • A signal
  • Use it to mark your trail if lost
How would you use a bandana? Perhaps as a pot holder? Or toilet paper? Let us know! And in the meantime check out the Red Cross Store for other survival essentials

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What's in your 72-hour kit?

Jeff Gurney is a guest blogger for the month of September. He will be writing about preparedness and discussing tips and tricks on being ready for anything! Below is Jeff's first post this month. Enjoy!

By Jeff Gurney

Everyone should have some kind of Emergency Kit, the Red Cross calls it a 72-hour kit butI like to call it a, “Bug-out-bag.” This is the kit that can save your life and make a bad situation a little more tolerable.

I am going to tell you what’s in my “Bug-out-bag” so that you can get a better idea of what you might need. I am diabetic so I have modified mine to better fit my needs. You can also modify yours to fit any special needs you may have
I have chosen to put all my stuff in an Army LC-2 rucksack, this makes it very easy to just grab-and-go. This particular pack has a lot of room and lots of pockets making it easy to find stuff as I need it. Get a bag that fits you and is comfortable to wear.
Here are the contents of my bag:

• Bivy tent (Small one person tent)

• Sleeping bag

• Gore-Tex sleeping bag cover

• Water proof tarp (ground cloth for tent)

• Cook kit (stove,pan,windscreen,lighter)

• First aid kit

• Bath kit

• Army p-38 can opener

• Safety whistle

• Compass

• Water (enough for three days)

• Food (M.R.E's for three days)

• Water purifier

• Spare pair of shoes

• Two changes of clothes

• Jacket

• Two pairs of socks

• Head lamp w/extra batteries

• Small AM/FM battery powered radio

• Small LED flashlight

• Extra water bottle with duct tape wrapped around it

• 100 ft Para-cord

• 120 ft of climbing rope

• Leather work gloves

• Sunscreen and lip balm

• Good quality folding knife

• 4 Emergency blankets

• 4 plastic poncho's

• 2 2 liter water bags (to carry water in)

• Important documents (in a waterproof zip-loc bag)

• Extra medication and insulin

• Small hand sized Bible

• Extra pair of eye glasses

These are the things that I have in my bag. You can modify yours to fit your needs. Remember that you have to carry this bag, so really think about what you put in there.
Some of the things in your kit can save your life. Others will just make a really bad situation a little more comfortable. Make sure you have copies of your important papers in a Ziploc bag. Documents like a copy of your birth certificate, driver’s license,

Social Security card, insurance cards and any other documents that you think you may need. You may not get a chance to grab those documents in case of emergency or disaster.
Each person in your household should have a kit. If you have small children you can combine their stuff into one bag that either rolls or is easy to carry. You can modify its contents to suit the child's needs. Remember to add a few things like coloring books and crayons or a few books for them to read. These things will keep them occupied if you are taking cover in a shelter or the power goes out.
Remember that it does not hurt to be a little over prepared but it can be deadly to not be prepared at all.

Check out the Red Cross store to purchase your own 72-hour kit. Use the promo code PREPARE and save 10% on your purchase.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy National Preparedness Month!

Believe it or not, today is September 1st. Where did August go? In honor of National Preparedness Month, beginning today the American Red Cross will be posting preparedness tips everyday for the entire month. Whether you read this blog because you're related to me (hey Sarah!) or because you happened to click the link on our facebook page, I welcome your comments, suggestions, and stories and hope that the tips and tricks will inspire you to be prepared.

In an effort to personally be more prepared this month, I am vowing to update my own 72-hour kit and talk to everyone in my immediate family about making their own.

What will you do to be prepared this month?