Be a good neighbor this National Good Neighbor Day

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

September 28. 2020- September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day. How will YOU celebrate today? 

You may be a long-time resident in your neighborhood or possibly just recently moved in. I have lived in several different neighborhoods across Northeast Ohio that ranged from disconnected to extremely tight. In my experience, you will find the best neighbors are the ones that reach out consistently to each other during good times and bad.

As you know, we all are currently living during a historic time with the pandemic. On top of that, there are wildfires on the West Coast, hurricanes and tropical storm affecting in the South and flooding on the East Coast.  Now more than ever, we really need each other’s support!

Your long-time friend or brand-new neighbor might need to borrow one of your yard tools, a cup of sugar or possibly need help during a health emergency. The American Red Cross has an enormous amount of resources that you can learn to be a true asset to your neighborhood.

Courses & Certifications

 You can learn lifesaving skills to help your family, friends and neighbors in the safety of your home with our online classes.

Those of us who don’t face health emergencies every day can also benefit from Red Cross training. With a wide array of lifeguarding, caregiving and babysitting, and swimming and water safety courses, the Red Cross can provide you with the necessary training and skills you need to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

An easy way to help the people around you are simply by having an Emergency Preparedness kit. Be prepared for disasters and other emergencies with a well-stocked emergency kit for your home, workplace and automobile. You can build one yourself or choose from a variety of survival kits and emergency preparedness supplies to help you plan for tornadoes, flooding, fire and other disasters.

Volunteer to Help Save Lives

COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross’ mission, and we are still providing the same types of support as we always have.

To help keep people safe, we are following guidance from CDC and public health authorities — and have put in place additional precautions. Some of these plans include social distancing protocols, face coverings, health screenings and opening additional shelters that can support fewer people than normal so that we can ensure social distancing protocols.

Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency operations plans.

The Red Cross is in need of healthy individuals who want to assist their local communities and respond to disasters. For more information and to see high-demand volunteer opportunities, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

AEDs for a Safer Workplace or Community

Create a safer workplace environment with help from Red Cross safety experts. The Red Cross can help with competitively priced Automated External Defibrillators (AED) solutions designed to fit your location, organization needs and stay within your budget.

The Red Cross works with the leading manufacturers to help you select AED devices to keep you and the team safe.

The Red Cross helps you put a complete, life-saving AED program in place at your facility, with:

  • AED product demonstrations
  • Access to assistance with on-site needs analysis, placement, and program implementation at your facility
  • Flexible AED purchase options, including different AED brands and multiple models
  • AED employee training
  • AED accessories and service
  • Single-source AED management systems
  • Qualified medical direction resources

For more information about obtaining an AED please call (888) 968-0988
Monday-Friday, 9:00am-6:00pm ET.

Maybe the best way for you to celebrate National Good Neighbor Day is by watching out for each other, respecting one another and just being there for the people around you.

Blood donations to treat sickle cell disease are needed

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

September 25, 2020- September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and the need for blood donations to assist the 100,000 Americans with sickle cell disease is especially critical this year. While the disease does not have a cure, blood transfusions are one of the most effective treatments. The American Red Cross requests anyone who can help with a lifesaving blood donation to do so.

Sickle cell disease, which mostly affects those of African and Latino descent, causes red blood cells to be hard and crescent-shaped. Blood has difficulty flowing smoothly and carrying oxygen to the rest of the body, which may lead to severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes.

As Christy Peters, External Communications Manager for Red Cross’ Northern Ohio Biomedical Services, reported in June, blood donations from African Americans are vital in treating sickle cell disease, as blood must be closely matched to reduce the risk of complications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, she noted, “the number of African Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half.”

Julie Broze at MetroHealth Medical Center’s Hematology/Oncology Department also mentioned the importance of blood donors in treating sickle cell disease. While MetroHealth has not had its blood supply for sickle cell patients hindered, she said more people donating is vital, as the demographic can be difficult to match. African Americans who do not have the sickle cell trait or disease are especially encouraged to donate, as their blood has a greater chance to have needed antigens and be a better match.

For a personal perspective, I spoke with Demeatrice Nance, whose daughter Makenzie, now 16, has sickle cell disease. Both Demeatrice and Makenzie are effective advocates in educating people about sickle cell, the need for blood donations, perseverance and helping others.

Makenzie has given a number of talks, especially to fellow young people, on sickle cell and the need to donate blood. Demeatrice, a Certified Community Healthcare Worker for the Ohio Sickle Cell and Health Association, has performed vital roles in a number of efforts, including the largest African American blood drive in Ohio.

Their outlooks are inspiring. While they have faced sickle cell disease—and its personal and emotional challenges—for 16 years, they focus on being positive and doing what is needed. This remains true even during the current pandemic. Demeatrice said there is a greater need for blood, but many are currently afraid to give, so she and her daughter are continuing to educate and help.

An avid football fan, Makenzie adapts a coach’s saying that, when you get hit, keep your legs moving as you can still gain yardage. Makenzie says we can learn from that, whether donating blood, facing sickle cell, cancer, COVID-19 or other hardships. Even with the hits we are experiencing, we need to keep going, as we’ll help ourselves and others gain a bit more. So please, consider donating blood.

For another powerful perspective on sickle cell disease, please read Glinda Dames Fincher’s story here.

More information on joining the fight is available here.

Information on donating blood and Coronavirus is available here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Help family, friends and neighbors by becoming a Red Cross Volunteer Transportation Specialist

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

September 21, 2020- We are all living in a new world with daily changes, challenges and a different pace in our professional and personal lives. Everyone has been pushed to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One glaring fact is that millions of people have had their lives transformed into a daily struggle for life’s basic needs of food, shelter and, most importantly, their health. I have learned a deeper appreciation for these basic needs.

Chris Chmura

For years, I have donated blood to the American Red Cross to help others in need, feel like I was giving back and to follow my father’s lead with his years of donations. I wondered how I could increase my support by stepping into a more active role. I signed up to become a volunteer transportation specialist. 

Why this role? 

The Red Cross has many options for you to volunteer your time but the transportation specialist fit into my personal and professional schedule. Plus the position is fun! I enjoy going into various hospitals/labs, traveling throughout the city and working with people who are making a huge difference in millions of lives. My professional role is in the business world. So this volunteer position takes me into the dramatically different health profession. My respect has gone sky-high for the kind people who work around the clock at Red Cross labs and hospitals to process blood for people in need. I am amazed by the journey blood travels from a donor to the person who relies on it to save their life.  

My position started with some online training, driver shadowing and taking the leap to take over a shift. The Red Cross has an incredible network of support to help you succeed in this volunteer role. I hope you decide to sign up for this fulfilling experience. You can meet all types of people, learn about this lifesaving organization, expand your personal growth and feel the satisfaction of helping during this historic time. 

Do you have what it takes?

Are you a dependable, safe and courteous person who can help us make these important deliveries? Volunteer Transportation Specialists deliver lifesaving blood products from Red Cross distribution facilities to hospitals, using a Red Cross vehicle. We need you to commit to two to four shifts per month (or more if you can). Typical shifts are about four hours.

You’ll also need to meet these important qualifications:

  • Have a valid state driver’s license and proof of insurance
  • Have three years of driving experience and a clean driving record
  • Ability to lift up to 45 pounds

Apply to volunteer at: redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer


Bound by Love and Emergency

By Mary Falconer-Williams, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

Editors Note: September is National Preparedness Month. Nonstop massive disasters have kept thousands of American Red Cross volunteers busy for weeks, working tirelessly to provide food, shelter, comfort and support to people in need. Our work is just beginning; we will be providing support for weeks to come.In response to Hurricanes Laura and Sally, and the western wildfires, the Red Cross has served more than 1.2 million meals and snacks, and distributed nearly 190,000 relief items with the help of partners. While our region is not affected by hurricanes, we are not immune to disasters. Read the following blog article to learn how you can help keep your family prepared and safe during a disaster.

September 18, 2020- In the summer of 2018 my husband, my two small children, cat, dog and I merged households with my in-laws. One of the home projects I requested was a FAMILY EMERGENCY BINDER. This is a robust collection of personal information that can be grabbed in the event of an emergency, such as a medical need or if your family needed to quickly evacuate.

I began researching organizing tips to help us combine all of our pertinent information so that any one of us could know – at a moment’s notice – insurance information, medical details, and many other bits of information that we, ourselves, know but may not have organized. Drawing from a few sources (links in the sentence before this!) I came up with a format that would help four adults, two children, and two pets have all the necessary details at hand in case of emergency!

With so many other home projects needing to take priority, plus the start of school, birthdays, and other callings of life, my project was put on the back burner. Until a pandemic kicked it into high gear!

With this being PREPAREDNESS MONTH, it is the perfect time for you to start a Family Emergency Binder for your home. Pro tip: If you have aging parents, be sure to add a section for them so that you have all their information at your fingertips as well!

If you want to go full-on-organizing-crazy, like me, here are some things you’ll need in your next Amazon order:

  • 3” Binder*
  • 3-hole-punch (if you don’t already own one) *
  • Printer (or access to a printer)
  • Ink for the printer!
  • Label maker
  • A set of 5-tab binder dividers (I like the Avery Big Tab for the section headers) *
  • A set of binder dividers that matches the number of people in your household (for us – 4 adults + 2 kids +2 pets = an 8-tab pack)
  • Fire-proof/water-proof safe*
  • A USB* stick

Otherwise, you can just pick up the starred items.

Once you’ve collected and sorted all your information, you’ll want to save a digital copy to a USB stick. Put the USB in your safe as backup!

Keep in mind that this is not a “one-time” project! You will need to update this binder as things in your life (medicines, insurance providers, etc.). But once you’ve done the initial lift of gathering and recording all of the information in one binder, you will have the security that comes from knowing that if an emergency happens you and your family will have a primary source to help you stay prepared.

Volunteer heals from personal loss by helping others in need

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

September 16, 2020- Debbie Levison is filling monumental holes in her life – the loss of her husband to COVID-19, the end of her career – the best way she knows: Caring for others.

“I know I don’t really know what I’m getting into, but I’m looking forward to it,” she said, the day before flying to Oregon to help the American Red Cross provide shelter for tens of thousands fleeing historic wildfires.

Debbie Levison

Debbie readily admits 2020 has been a tough year for her. While her husband of 36 years struggled alone in a hospital against the virus that would take his life, she battled the same disease for a month at home, alone. When she recovered, she couldn’t bring herself to go back to her pharmacy job in the hospital where Bruce died, so she retired.

After a month of cleaning out closets, with family and friends sheltering in place elsewhere, “I realized I needed to do something; the walls were closing in on me.”

So Debbie turned to an organization she had long admired. “I always believed in the Red Cross. I believe in their mission.”

She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do; she started with a variety of online classes and – given her background in the medical field – chose blood services. She checks prospective donors’ temperatures, helps them check in, sanitizes surfaces and generally watches to be sure donors are feeling well after giving blood.

Debbie Levison (center) during her deployment to assist with the Oregon wildfires relief effort

In fact, having recovered from COVID herself, she has twice donated her blood with “convalescent plasma,” which may give a boost to those fighting the virus.

Next, she took training to join a Red Cross disaster action team, to help those displaced by home fires and other local disasters. On her very first call, she was struck by how much that Red Cross aid was a comfort to someone who had lost their home.

As natural disasters piled up across the United States – Hurricane Laura, the Midwest derecho, wildfires across the west – Debbie felt the pull, and the ability, to deploy in person. Once again, she turned to online training, specifically to help with sheltering evacuees in the COVID environment.

Headed for the west, she admitted to being in awe of the challenge. “The governor of Oregon said there might be as many as 60,000 people who would need shelter. That’s a lot of people,” to find housing for.

But she’s undaunted. “It has really given me a purpose,” she said. “It’s a very worthy mission.”

More than 5,000 Red Crossers are currently working to provide food, shelter, comfort and support to people dealing with major disasters across the country. And more will be needed to help those impacted by Hurricane Sally and whatever natural or manmade disasters follow.

You can help.

  • To make this humanitarian work possible, make a donation by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • If you are able to give time, review our most urgently needed volunteer positions at redcross.org/volunteertoday. Training is free and protocols are in place to keep both our responders and our clients safe.

Help sustain the nation’s blood supply by going to redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive near you. The Red Cross can move lifesaving blood around the country safely to wherever and whenever it’s needed most, even in the pandemic environment. Blood donations are now being tested for COVID antibodies, so donors can learn if they’ve had the infection.

If you are in good health and you are willing and able to receive free Red Cross training and can deploy, you are invited to attend one of the upcoming virtual volunteer information session on Friday, September 18 or Saturday, September 19. Both sessions will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. For more information and to register, email Melanie Collins at melanie.collins4@redcross.org or call 330-204-6615.

Editor’s note: Debbie Levison is currently deployed to the Oregon wildfire disaster relief operation, her first national assignment. She worked 12 hours shifts on Monday and Tuesday this week, helping displaced residents in need of shelter settle into hotel rooms.

Northern Ohio disaster workers continue to deploy to several relief efforts

9 working virtually; 18 have physically deployed

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

September 14, 2020- With Hurricane Sally approaching the Gulf Coast and expected to make landfall on Tuesday, the American Red Cross continues to respond to the California and Oregon wildfires, as well as the Hurricane Laura relief efforts in Louisiana and Texas.

Currently from Northern Ohio, one disaster worker has deployed to California, while nine have deployed to help with the Oregon wildfires.

In addition, 17 workers are continuing to assist people affected by Hurricane Laura, including three responding in Texas and 14 in Louisiana.

Northern Ohio Region leadership members Mike Parks, CEO and Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer, are among the disaster workers assigned to assist with the disaster responses. Mike has deployed to the Hurricane Laura response, while Tim was assigned to respond to the wildfire in Oregon. Both are working virtually currently.

To date, as part of the Hurricane Laura and the west coast wildfires disaster relief efforts, the Red Cross has provided emergency lodging to more than 29,600 residents, and with the help of partners, the Red Cross has also served more than 769,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 174,000 relief items.

September 13, 2020. Central Point, Oregon. Patty Albin of the American Red Cross checks on Travis Wagner as he rests at the Jackson County Expo and Fairgrounds shelter after fleeing the wildfires in Central Point, OR on Sunday, September 13, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Additional volunteers are needed to train for disaster responses, specifically to respond to home fires locally and to staff shelters during national disaster responses. Licensed health care professionals are also needed to help people in disaster shelters.

If you are in good health and you are willing and able to receive free Red Cross training and can deploy, you are invited to attend one of the upcoming virtual volunteer information session on Friday, September 18 or Saturday, September 19. Both sessions will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. For more information and to register, email Melanie Collins at melanie.collins4@redcross.org or call 330-204-6615.

August 31, 2020. Sulphur, Louisiana Pamela Harris of the American Red Cross looks out on damage caused by Hurricane Laura, in Sulphur, LA on Monday, August 31, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

If you are unable to deploy but you would like to support the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts, donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation

The Red Cross remembers September 11

By Renee Palagyi, senior program manager, Disaster Cycle Services

Note from the Regional CEO: As we begin this day, 9/11—Patriots Day, I can’t help but remember the 3000+ people who perished on that fateful day 19 years ago.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the countless first responders and others, including Red Crossers, who sacrificed to render aid to those in need.  I’m sure we all remember where we were when we heard the news of the attacks on our nation.  As I think back to the people I called immediately, my wife & my mom, I encourage all of us to take a moment today to call those same people, if they’re still with us, and just tell them how much they mean to us.  Thanks for all you do!!  Please stay safe and well–enjoy your weekends.  Best regards…Mike

September 11, 2020- Today marks the 19th anniversary of one of the most infamous tragedies in American history: September 11, 2001.

Following the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, along with Flight 93, the American Red Cross did what the Red Cross does when individuals are in need: support first responders, provide the world class Red Cross comfort and help individuals get back on their feet.

Immediately, the Red Cross:

  • Activated 6,000 Red Cross volunteers
  • Opened 13 Red Cross shelters
  • Sent disaster mental health workers to shelters, crash sites, airports and hospitals
  • Set up a mental health hotline
  • Opened respite centers for firefighters, police officers, port authority workers and others
  • Received 1 million calls on the blood donation line (the previous record in one day was 3,000 calls)
  • Every chapter in the nation supported stranded passengers at airports as air space was shut down
  • Launched the Family Registration Web, a predecessor to today’s redcross.org/safeandwell
  • Sent teams of Red Cross workers door-to-door in the Restricted Zone for families who had chosen to stay
  • After one year, the Red Cross had served 14 million meals for disaster workers and victims, mental health services for more than 237,000 people, and health services for 131,000 people.

To learn more about the Red Cross’ response following September 11, please read the following previous blog articles of reflection and rememberance:

LinkedIn ranks Red Cross as leading volunteer organization

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

September 8, 2020- The American Red Cross is the nation’s top volunteer organization, according to LinkedIn.com. Each year, LinkedIn tallies those companies with the highest number of monthly volunteers. The Red Cross now proudly sits at #1 among these top 10 volunteering organizations of 2020, surpassing other organizations like the Crisis Text Line and Toastmasters International.

Digging into the statistics, LinkedIn data states that people under age 25 are the most likely to list volunteering activities, relative to their overall share in total membership. People over age 55 are least likely.

Maybe those over 55 aren’t listed, but as I look around the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross, I consistently see dozens (if not hundreds) of silvers and golden-agers actively engaged. My guess is that they just don’t have profiles on LinkedIn and, consequently, if they were added, they would rank even higher. (Well, maybe not higher than first place.)

What does the Red Cross offer volunteers?

Fortunately, the Red Cross has something for anyone and everyone. If you can only help sporadically, we’ve got random opportunities or shifts you can select whenever the opportunity presents itself. Volunteer opportunities are also available across Northern Ohio, with chapters from Ashtabula to almost the Indiana line.

If you enjoy traveling, Red Cross deploys disaster workers across the entire country. Conversely, if you’re a homebody, we have virtual opportunities as well. I just assisted on Hurricane Laura while sitting home in my office.

Red Cross provides training for most of their positions, from personal to professional development. Free classes are available from disaster response to diversity training to services to the armed forces. Or maybe your interests lie within human resources, public affairs or the biomedical field. Within just hours, you could learn enough to be providing valuable assistance taking temperatures or greeting people at blood drives or disaster shelters.

Why volunteer?

The reasons to volunteer are endless. Some volunteer to pass the time. Some look for comradery. While still others are looking to gain experience that might lead to other opportunities.

Whatever the reason for volunteering, once a volunteer meets someone down on their luck and are able to offer comfort, food and shelter, they’’ll be forever touched.

Meet the team

Volunteer recruitment and engagement for our region is handled by Gail Wernick, regional volunteer services officer, Melanie Collins, senior volunteer recruitment specialist and Debra Kellar, senior engagement specialist. Thanks to them and their counterparts across the country, the Red Cross took this top honor.

“I realize our efforts around volunteers require an all-hands on deck effort and genuine commitment from leadership,” said Mike Parks, our Regional CEO. “That said, these three staff members live and breathe the recruitment and engagement of volunteers every hour of every day…thank you!  Keep up the great work—it’s not only recognized but greatly appreciated.”

How about you? Are you ready to help make a difference? Or do you know a friend or relative who has what it takes to be a great volunteer? Get started on our volunteer recruitment page and find out where your or your friend’s talents could be best utilized

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

10 Tips to Stay Safe this Labor Day Weekend

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

September 4, 2020- This year’s Labor Day plans may look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you are staying home or venturing out, here are a few tips to enjoy the holiday weekend from the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region.

First things first: make sure you follow the guidance of state and local public health officials with any activities you have planned. Whether it is a backyard barbeque or spending the day in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, make sure you know what the latest COVID-19 guidelines for the area are.

Water Safety

If you choose to hang out this weekend on Lake Erie, at the pool or on any of our Northern Ohio waterways, make sure to swim only in designated areas that are supervised by a lifeguard. Make sure to maintain social distancing, both in and out of the water, between you and anyone who doesn’t live with you.

  1. Wear face coverings on land, especially when physical distancing is difficult. Do not wear them in the water as it may be difficult to breathe.
  2. Don’t share goggles, nose clips, snorkels, equipment or other personal items.
  3. Make sure to wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while boating and have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear one around the water.
  4. A kiddie or inflatable pool can be a great alternative to going to a public place to enjoy the water. There should always be an adult supervising when children are in and around the pool. When swim time is over, make sure to drain the water from the pool and flip it over.
  5. Make sure to always supervise kids in or around water and avoid distractions. In group situations, designate a water watcher whose sole responsibility is to oversee the activity in the water until the next water watcher takes over.

Make sure you’re prepared by taking our free Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers online course and visit our Water Safety for Kids site for videos, activities and quizzes.

Heat Safety

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

While forecast for this weekend looks picture perfect, it’s always important to be mindful of the warm temperatures and the dangers that the summer sizzle can bring. Here are a few tips to always remember:

  1. Never leave children or pets alone in a vehicle. Temperatures inside a vehicle can reach dangerous levels within minutes.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day even if you do not feel thirsty.
  3. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb the sun’s rays, making you feel warmer.
  4. Keep your pets hydrated and cool too! Check on them frequently to make sure they are not suffering stress from the heat.
  5. Avoid strenuous exercise and activities during the hottest parts of the day when it’s hot out.

The American Red Cross First Aid app is a great resource to always have on your phone for information on how to treat heat emergencies.

Be sure to also take a virtual Be Red Cross Ready class to learn valuable preparedness information. Visit NOHRedCross.org/calendar for more information.

Being prepared is the first step to endure and recover from disaster

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

September 1, 2020- September is National Preparedness Month, and this year’s events have underscored the importance of being prepared for a disaster in Northern Ohio as everywhere. The American Red Cross is also focusing on the needs of seniors in disaster preparation, as new research from the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and the American Academy of Nursing  finds that, “Older adults are more vulnerable and experience more casualties after a natural disaster compared to other age groups experiencing similar events.”

While Northern Ohio rarely faces large-scale disasters, we do face home fires, flooding, and tornadoes, among other events. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that all of us need to be ready.

To discuss preparedness for Northern Ohioans and the needs of seniors, I spoke with John Gareis, the Red Cross’s Regional Manager for Individual Community and Disaster Preparedness for Northern Ohio. John has a wealth of experience in preparing for and recovering from disasters of all types.

Preparation and lessons from COVID-19

John emphasized that in any disaster, including a pandemic, the needs remain the same: food, shelter, clothing, information, and emotional support. “Taking steps to prepare, before any emergency event would happen, is key,” he said. This is especially important for seniors.

John said the COVID-19 pandemic taught us to better prepare for emergencies. He pointed out that many were caught off guard, causing shortages of everyday staples. “People began to hoard and stock up on items taken for granted in everyday life,” he said.

We can learn from this, however. John recommended that every household prepare an emergency kit or supplies based on what is used every day. While having enough for at least three days is good, he said, supplies for one to two weeks is better.

August 30, 2020. Cameron, Louisiana Pamela Harris of the American Red Cross looks out on a home destroyed by Hurricane Laura in Cameron Parish, LA, one of the hardest hit areas, on Sunday, August 30, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Especially consider necessities for seniors, children, and those with special needs. John pointed out that emergency supply kits don’t have to be expensive and can be gathered from items already owned. In addition to daily supplies, have copies of important documents and contact information for doctors, family, and close friends. He also said to think about your home and, if you had to evacuate in under two minutes, could you?

John also said, “Information is key in any disaster. Knowing what could happen and how to keep informed are the main things people need and want.”

Ensuring seniors are prepared

As older adults are more vulnerable during a disaster, the Red Cross especially encourages seniors to prepare, and that everyone ask older adults in their lives if they need help, whether relatives, neighbors, or fellow seniors.

August 24, 2020. Vacaville, California. LNU Complex Fire burn zone on Pleasants Valley Road in Vacaville, California. Red Cross volunteer Jillian Robertson explores the burned area, stepping over discarded fire hoses that had been left behind. Photos by Dennis Drenner/American Red Cross

In addition to preparing supplies, seniors should maintain and grow communications and social networks. “In any emergency,” John said, “having someone to check on you or that you can check on is key. It’s the buddy system.”

For help preparing, please visit Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults, How to Prepare for Emergencies, and COVID-19 Safety Tips. Red Cross apps are available here.