Power up for disaster preparedness

Free on-line Red Cross presentations share safety tips

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

August 3, 2020- As we move into the “dog days” of August, it’s easy to feel a bit bogged down, a bit lethargic.  The American Red Cross is ready to wake up your brain and pump up your ability to care for yourself and others in an emergency.

“Be Red Cross Ready” is a collection of free safety presentations, delivered on-line. They cover disasters that happen every day – and explain what you can do to prevent and react to them.

People young and old all over Northern Ohio have been sitting in on these hour-long sessions to learn how to strengthen their own safety and the safety of those they love.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

“I wanted to thank you for the wonderful presentation,” Bill Riter said after taking a recent home fire safety class. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can {about preparedness) and your presentation had an immediate impact. I spoke with my girlfriend about a fire extinguisher and she doesn’t have one. She will in two days: I ordered one on Amazon.  We’ll check smoke detectors Saturday.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t stopping the Red Cross from offering vital information about being prepared for disasters,” said John Gareis, Northern Ohio regional manager for individual community and disaster preparedness.

“Our presentations are designed to help people prepare for thunderstorms, floods, home fires and other potential disasters.  We even offer a safety course for pets,” John added.

So, let’s start with pets. Pet First Aid covers hazards that can affect cats and dogs, and the first aid actions owners can take until they get their animal to a veterinarian. Owners also learn the signs of a healthy pet, so they recognize signs of distress.

California Wildfires 2018

How about General Preparedness and Fire Safety, the presentation Bill Riter took? It includes suggestions on how you and your family can be prepared for all kinds of emergencies, especially home fires. Learn how home fires start, how to prevent them and what to do if one flares up.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Speaking of general preparedness, how about General Preparedness and Tornado Safety? This one also covers preparedness for all kinds of disasters, particularly tornadoes. (No, we’re definitely not out of tornado season yet in Northern Ohio!)

Texas Tornadoes 2020

One of the most effective disaster programs of the Red Cross is our Pillowcase Project. Volunteers present this program to children in grades 3-5, teaching them about personal and family preparedness – including safety skills, local hazards and basic coping skills. You can learn to lead students through a “Learn, Practice, Share” framework – a resource that will be vital as schools reopen for in-person learning.

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To join any of these presentations, register by clicking on the date and time of the topic you’re interested in; use the password Prepare20.

For more disaster safety tips, visit redcross.org. Be sure to also download the free Red Cross mobile apps, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play, for tools and preparedness information you can use every day.

 

Preventing wildfires, right here in Ohio

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

July 15, 2020- Wildfires? In Ohio? Absolutely. Ohio’s Emergency Management System (EMS) reports in its Hazard Mitigation Plan, that hundreds of wildfires occur in Ohio each year. Most of them are caused by humans, either on purpose or accidentally. Common causes besides arson are the burning of cleared debris, campfires, smoking and, of course, children playing with lighters or matches. The fires in Ohio are not on the catastrophic size of those in the western United States, but they can still do great damage.

California Wildfires 2018

Wildfires are especially dangerous when they happen in areas surrounded by homes and businesses. Last year, for example, a fire got out of control in a Conneaut farm field near care facilities for both seniors and developmentally disabled adults. Even though it was relatively small, you can imagine the panic the fire caused. In recent years, flames have roared through the Mentor Marsh, which is surrounded by densely populated communities. I personally witnessed a wildfire spring up during a dry spell not long ago. While driving on I-90 I was stunned to see pine trees engulfed in flames along the side of the freeway. Fortunately, fire teams were able to put out the fire before it got farther out of control.

It’s important to know the fire guidelines for where you live. Open burning during daylight hours is often prohibited in the months when wildfires are hardest to control. While July isn’t regularly on that list, dry weather conditions like we’ve experienced create greater risk. According to the National Weather Service’s online Fire Weather page for our region on the last day of June, a dry spell of nearly two weeks was predicted. That included the 4th of July weekend, traditionally celebrated with cookouts, campfires and fireworks.

California Wildfires 2018

Social distancing due to COVID-19 caused many such events to be canceled, community fireworks displays among them. Unfortunately, that encouraged many individuals to create fireworks displays of their own.

According to a June 20 Wilmington News Journal article, mishandled fireworks also cause fires, with July among the busiest days for professional firefighters. Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires last year, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside and other fires.”

California Wildfires 2019

What can you do to keep wildfire risk at a minimum?

  • Water the area around a site where you plan to build a fire.
  • If a garden hose won’t reach the burn site, be sure to have buckets of water nearby.
  • Be aware of the direction in which the wind is blowing. Do not light fires when wind is high or gusty.
  • Remove anything from the area that might catch on fire from flying sparks.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Soak the burning material thoroughly when you are done.

California Wildfires 2017

The American Red Cross responds when disasters such as wildfires occur, even on a small scale. To learn more about this and other services provided by the Red Cross in our area, visit redcross.org/NOH.

If you would like to volunteer to assist those suffering from a disaster both here in Northern Ohio and across the country, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Tips for keeping your pets safe in the summer heat

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

July 9, 2020- During the hot summer months, we’re all looking for ways to keep cool and beat the heat. However, it isn’t just people who need to be safe during hot summer days—our pets need to stay cool as well. Heat and humidity can be dangerous for our pets, so the American Red Cross wants you to know it’s important to follow these tips to keep them safe on hot days.

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  • NEVER leave your pets in the car. This may seem obvious, but you want to make sure you are mindful of this before bringing your dog or pet with you along for a ride. Even just running into the store for 5-10 minutes can be dangerous. On a 75-degree day, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees in a vehicle within 30 minutes, even with a window cracked.
  • If you see a pet in a hot car, take action. Write down the make, model and license plate number of the vehicle and alert a manager in the business so they can assist with finding the owners. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department through their non-emergency number to report the situation.
  • Be aware of hot surfaces your dog is walking on. If it’s too hot for your bare feet to walk on, it is too hot for your dog’s feet too. A dog’s feet pads need to be protected, since dogs sweat through their feet and their pads are sensitive.
  • Give your pet plenty of water. Give your pet plenty of fresh, clean, cool water to drink throughout the day. If you go on a walk, make sure to bring a water bottle and a collapsible pet bowl to help prevent your dog from dehydrating.
  • Find a shady spot. If your pets spend a lot of time outside, make sure they have a cool, shady place to keep cool. An area with good airflow, like a shady tree, will allow your pet to take a break from the sun to cool off.

Red Cross pet photo 2018

If your pet experiences heat stroke, make sure to act quickly. Read these six steps to take if you suspect your pet has heat stroke.

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For more tips on how you can keep your pets safe, or provide first aid to your beloved animal, download the Pet First Aid app from the American Red Cross. The app includes instructions for first aid emergencies and emergency preparedness plans for your pet and more. The Red Cross also offers a free, 35-minute First Aid online course focused on pet first aid and safety at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid.

Sizzling hot tips to stay safe this summer

By Jason Copsey, American Red Cross volunteer

July 1, 2020- It will be an Independence Day like no other this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal routines in countless ways for Northern Ohioans. However, one thing that should not change – no matter how you will be celebrating this Fourth of July – is a close consideration for safety. And, the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio is here to help you enjoy the holiday as safely as possible.

By now, most are very familiar with the guidelines established by public health officials regarding precautions in public settings. Keeping at least six feet between you and others, wearing a facemask, washing or sanitizing your hands frequently, limiting time spent in social settings and being sure to stay home if you are feeling sick have all become part of how we reduce risk for ourselves and others.

Centennial Campaign 2015

As communities reopen, it is important not to take loosening restrictions as a signal to return to normal. If your local pool or beach is open, maintain social distancing both in and out of the water. Also, be sure not to share goggles, nose clips, snorkels or other personal items.

The same safety priorities around the water are as critical as ever. Before heading to
the pool or beach, be sure to download the Red Cross Swim App and take our new free Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers online course.

GRILLING SAFETY

close photography of grilled meat on griddle

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

In northern Ohio, summer grilling season is never cancelled. And, with people doing their best to limit exposure to public places and maintain social distancing, it’s certainly a popular time for grilling family meals at home.

Remember, grilling is an activity that calls for strict adherence to safety. In fact, grilling fires spark more than 10,000 home fires on average each year. Be sure to always supervise a barbecue grill when in use, and never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Keep the grill away from the house or anything that could catch fire.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES The Red Cross has several resources to help protect yourself, your loved ones and your community:

  • Learn how to save a life with the Red Cross First Aid App and training courses.
  • Receive customized weather alerts and warnings with our Emergency App.
  • Enable the Red Cross skills on Amazon Alexa-enabled devices for valuable first aid information, to schedule a blood donation, receive warnings about an approaching hurricane or make a financial donation to the Red Cross.

Red Cross offering virtual safety courses for all ages

Learn how to prepare for disasters like tornadoes and flooding at no cost

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

June 25, 2020- As Northern Ohio, like the rest of the world, is adjusting to the new reality caused by the coronavirus, it is often hard to find ways to entertain ourselves, despite businesses slowly reopening.

The other reality is, as more Ohioans stay home in record numbers, including the fact we are now in the volatile summer storm season, there is a higher risk for disasters to occur.

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Safety is the number one priority for the American Red Cross, may it be ensuring the safety of residents from disasters, such as home fires, through safety courses, or preventing the spread of the coronavirus. This is why the Red Cross of Northern Ohio is offering virtual disaster safety preparation courses.

Each course is free to the public, lasts approximately an hour and covers a range of various disaster preparation topics.

Here is a list of the upcoming Be Red Cross Ready virtual sessions that is sure to have a topic of interest for everyone:

General Preparedness & Fire Safety

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This presentation will focus on actions that you can take now, before an emergency happens, to make you and your family safer. The fire safety presentation discusses how you can avoid home fires, actions you can take if a fire occurs in your home, actions you can take to escape a fire and ways to make you and your family safe.

Tuesday, June 30- 3 PM

Tuesday, July 7- 3 PM

Wednesday, July 15- 3 PM

Thursday, July 23- 3 PM

Tuesday, July 28- 3 PM

Virtual Pillowcase Project

 

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The Pillowcase Project is a preparedness education program for grades 3-5 that teaches students about personal and family preparedness, safety skills, local hazards and basic coping skills. Red Cross volunteers lead students through a “Learn, Practice, Share” framework to engage them in disaster preparedness and survival skills.

Wednesday, July 1- 3 PM

Wednesday, July 8- 3 PM

Thursday, July 16- 3 PM

Tuesday, July 21- 3 PM

Wednesday, July 29- 3 PM

General Preparedness & Tornado Safety

Texas Tornadoes 2020

It is summertime in Northern Ohio, which means it is tornado season. This presentation will cover the concept of “Build a Kit, Make a Plan and Be Informed.” It will also share tornado safety information and steps you can do to protect you and your family.

Thursday, July 2- 3 PM

Thursday, July 9- 3 PM

Wednesday, July 22- 3 PM

General Preparedness & Thunderstorm Safety

This presentation will share suggestions on how you and your family can be better prepared for all types of emergencies. It will also cover thunderstorm safety preparedness information, share information on how thunderstorms develop and steps you can take to be prepared.

Tuesday, July 14- 3 PM

General Preparedness & Flood Safety 

2002 Tropical Storm Isidore

This presentation will share suggestions on how you and your family can be better prepared for all types of emergencies. It will also cover flood safety preparedness information, share information on how flooding can happen and steps you can take to avoid being trapped in your home if flooding occurs.

Thursday, July 30- 3 PM

To join each presentation, click on the date of the presentation you are interested in to register and use the password Prepare20.

For more disaster safety tips, visit redcross.org. Be sure to also download the free Red Cross mobile apps, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play, for tools and preparedness information you need every day.

 

 

Red Cross issues heat safety tips as temperatures climb

By Jim McIntyre, Regional Communications Manager, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

June 10, 2020- It’s hot out there and the soaring temperatures can be dangerous. The American Red Cross has steps people can follow to help stay safe when it’s hot outside.

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NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN OR PETS IN YOUR VEHICLE. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. Other heat safety steps include:

  • Stay hydrated, drink plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors as they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors. Avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

Centennial Campaign 2015

HEAT EXHAUSTION Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1.

HEAT STROKE IS LIFE-THREATENING. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

Hurricane Harvey 2017

DON’T FORGET YOUR PETS Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of shade and cool water.

  • Animals can suffer heat stroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are:
    • Heavy panting and unable to calm down, even when lying down.
    • Brick red gum color
    • Fast pulse rate
    • Unable to get up.
  • If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally.
    • If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees.
    • Bring your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.

LEARN MORE

The Red Cross has several resources for people to learn how to treat heat emergencies including online and in-person training courses, a free First Aid App and Pet First Aid App, and a First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.

Red Cross continues to teach lifesaving skills

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

June 5, 2020- The first week of June is National CPR and AED Awareness Week, which calls attention to the critical importance of these lifesaving skills and how many can be saved if more Americans learn CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). While more than 1,600 people suffer cardiac arrest each day in the nation, immediate bystander CPR can double or triple the chance of survival.

CPR Classroom Stock Video and Photography Shoot 2018

Cardiac arrests and other emergencies do not cease during a pandemic. While immediate aid for someone suffering sudden cardiac arrest is crucial at any time, increased calls for assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic may increase the need for a relative or bystander to provide effective assistance.

“Bystanders that activate emergency response, initiate chest compressions, and apply and follow the directions of an AED have the greatest impact for the survival of the victim of a cardiac arrest,” said Rosanne Radziewicz, a registered nurse and volunteer with American Red Cross Disaster Health Services.

AED Trainer with participant 2

To help address this need, the Red Cross continues to provide CPR and AED training, whether online, in classrooms or a blend of the two.

A number of CPR and AED training and certification courses are available, many of which are tailored to the needs of workplace responders, professional rescuers, school staff, healthcare providers and the general public. Several courses are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliant.

While online-only courses do not offer the opportunity to demonstrate skills to a certified instructor—and may not meet certain certification requirements—they are still an excellent choice for many. The expert-designed courses are interactive, engaging and can help provide the skills and confidence to save a life in an emergency.

CPR Stock Photography 2018

In addition, the Red Cross is offering special pricing on some online-only courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those who need in-person training and certification, essential Red Cross CPR, AED and first aid programs are available. These courses can be in an instructor-led classroom setting or a blend of online training with an in-class skills session. All in-person sessions use social-distancing approaches and follow the guidance of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and state and local public health officials.

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For more information on online, in-person and blended classes or to register, visit redcross.org/takeaclass.

The Red Cross also offers a free First Aid app and Red Cross Skills for Amazon Alexa.

Edited Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

It is time to prepare for spring and summer storm season

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

May 1, 2020- Everyone around the world is understandably focusing on COVID-19 and this new normal we are living. But as we approach the spring and summer storm season, it is important to prepare because emergencies don’t take breaks.

Spring and summer in Northern Ohio ushers in tornado and flood season. This year’s tornado and flood season has already begun to make an impact in the United States.

In what some are calling the deadliest tornado season since 2011, the American Red Cross is responding across multiple states impacted by ongoing severe weather. Hundreds of tornadoes have been reported across the eastern half of the country in April, most of these occurring in the southeast.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

While taking increased precautions during the current public health emergency, the Red Cross is providing shelter, warm meals and emotional support for those with immediate needs after a disaster. Red Cross disaster workers, many of whom are working virtually, are also connecting affected residents to additional community resources to support their recovery.

More than 1,100 people displaced by storms and tornadoes across the Southeast spent Sunday night in 393 hotels across Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. This shelter is made available with the help of our valuable hotel partners and community stakeholders. Overall, more than 13,900 hotel stays have been provided to residents displaced by tornadoes and storms since nationwide COVID-19 social distancing measures were put into place.

The Red Cross has provided more than 45,600 meals and snacks. We are working closely with our hotel partners to ensure distribution follows social distancing and safe food handling protocols.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

To ensure everyone across Northern Ohio is prepared, here are some tornado safety tips:

  • Identify a safe place in your home where everyone, including pets, can gather during a tornado: a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor away from windows.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts, through streaming a NOAA radio station, or downloading a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store or Google Play.
  • If you are in a high-rise building during a tornado, pick a hallway in the center of the building.
  • In a manufactured home, choose a safe place in a nearby sturdy building.
  • Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a storm.

While not common in Northern Ohio, spring and summer also means hurricanes. May 3 to May 9 is considered National Hurricane Awareness Week. Forecasters are warning of an active hurricane season in 2020. Experts are predicting that we could see 20 named storms this year in the Atlantic, making 2020 the second most active season in terms of number of storms.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

If you or a loved one are at a location when a hurricane hits, here are some hurricane preparedness tips:

  • First, talk with your family about what to do if a hurricane strikes. Discussing hurricanes ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for young children.
  • Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or one-half-inch marine plywood.
  • Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans.
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly.
  • Make sure you have plenty of clean water for drinking.
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet, washing the floor or cleaning clothing.
  • Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
  • When the hurricane makes landfall, be sure to stay indoors.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater.

For more tips, download the hurricane safety checklist.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

Regardless if you are preparing for a hurricane, a tornado or any other storm, be sure to download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for the area and where loved ones live. The Emergency App and all Red Cross apps are available for free download in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

Spring tornado safety tips with recommended precautions to keep older adults safe

By Jason Copsey, American Red Cross volunteer

April 3, 2020- As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves daily, the American Red Cross faces a spring storm season unlike any other in recent memory. Amidst the dramatic changes everyone is experiencing in their day-to- day lives, some things remain the same: Spring will bring storms, and the Red Cross will be ready to help those impacted by them.

Tennessee Tornadoes 2020

As always, preparation is a critical responsibility we all share. April, May and June are the peak months for tornadoes in the United States, with each month bringing hundreds of events across the country. Although tornadoes are most common in Plains states, they can occur anywhere, at any time.

Last year, an EF2 tornado (with wind speeds of 111 to 135 miles per hour) touched down near Shelby, Ohio, traveling 17 miles across Richland County and leveling multiple homes. Red Cross volunteers provided shelter and assistance to those displaced by the storm.

Tennessee Tornadoes 2020

The Red Cross recommends a number of precautions to keep safe during a weather event that could produce a tornado, including:

  • Know your community’s warning system. Many communities use sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
  • Identify a safe place in your home to gather — a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Move or secure items outside that can be picked up by the wind.

While preparation is critical for everyone, recent research indicates older adults are more vulnerable during weather events compared to other age groups.

Tennessee Tornadoes 2020

A report produced by members of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and the American Academy of Nursing Policy Expert Round Table on Emergency/Disaster Preparedness for Older Adults identified several factors contributing to the heightened vulnerability of older adults, including:

  • A greater prevalence of chronic conditions, multi-morbidity, cognitive impairment and medication concerns during disasters.
  • A greater dependence on assistive devices (i.e. walkers, glasses) and support requirements, from caregivers and others, during disasters.
  • Likelihood of social isolation.
  • Potential for psychological distress.
  • Gaps in how prepared the caregivers of older persons are, especially those who care for older adults with dementia.

Tennessee Tornadoes 2020

Improving disaster preparedness among older adults, as well as response efforts, is even more important as we move into a 2020 spring storm season dramatically impacted by COVID-19. To help address this need, the report offers recommendations such as:

  • Older adults who are reliant on mobility aids should remove or minimize barriers affecting their ability to evacuate and should take steps to ensure their safety within their surroundings.
  • Programs that provide essential community services and assistance with daily living activities for older people (financial, medical, personal care, food and transportation) should develop plans and protocols related to responding adequately to the needs of their clients during emergencies and disasters.
  • Local governments should leverage data sources, such as registries, that identify at-risk individuals to enable emergency responders to more easily prioritize their search and rescue efforts following an emergency.
  • Healthcare professionals and emergency response personnel should receive training on providing geriatric care relevant to their discipline and how best to assist both older adults and their unpaid caregivers during disasters.

Many more tips to keep yourself and your family and loved ones safe are available at www.redcross.org.

You can also download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to emergency alerts, lifesaving information and ways to contact family and friends. Download the app for free in the Apple or Google app stores or at redcross.org/apps

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Vaccines, healthy choices, tissues and the crook of your elbow: Tips to stay safe during flu season

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer 

January 31, 2020- We are in the midst of the flu and respiratory disease season, schools in Northeast Ohio are closing due to student illnesses, and there are concerns about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (see the link below). The Northeast Ohio  Region of the American Red Cross offers information and recommendations to help keep you, your family and those close to you safe.

Flu safety is especially important for those at high risk for flu-related complications, including children over 6 months, pregnant women, those living with a chronic medical condition, anyone living with or caring for someone at high risk, and those age 50 or older. If you are at high risk, update your vaccinations each year as directed by your physician.

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children younger than 6 months are also at high risk of flu complications but are too young to receive a flu vaccine. Due to this, the CDC advises those who live with, care for or are around infants younger than 6 months to take special care to safeguard the child, including getting vaccinated. More information from the CDC is available here.

There are other preventative actions you can take. Foremost is practicing good health habits such as eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of fluids, exercising, managing stress and getting enough sleep. You can also help stop the spread of germs by frequently washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose with tissues when coughing or sneezing (if a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow), minimizing contact with sick people, avoiding others when you are sick, and adopting business and school practices that encourage those who are sick to stay home.

Philippines 2018

When you or a loved one does get the flu, we recommend taking a number of steps. These include designating one person as the caregiver, keeping everyone’s personal items separate, disinfecting common surfaces, washing dishes in the dishwasher or by hand using very hot water and soap, washing your hands after handling dirty laundry, and wearing disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids. See more Red Cross information here.

Finally, regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, the CDC states its investigation is ongoing and the situation rapidly evolving. Currently, CDC experts say, “While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat.” The CDC offers similar recommendations to those outlined above as well as taking flu antiviral medication if prescribed. Special considerations and care need to be taken by healthcare professionals, travelers and those who may have the infection. Information and updates are available on the CDC website.

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Stay safe this flu season. For more information on the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross, click here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

American Red Cross statement on Novel Coronavirus: