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.

Don’t put yourself and others at risk: avoid or be cautious around backyard fireworks

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

July 3, 2020- Fireworks have been part of Fourth of July celebrations since 1777; unfortunately, so have injuries. This year may pose increased risks, as many have responded to the cancelation of professional community displays by purchasing consumer fireworks.

Cleveland.com reports that fireworks complaints in our area have surged, with Cleveland alone seeing a 461% increase. Many regions in the U.S. are seeing similar increases, according to CNN, while the American Pyrotechnics Association anticipates this year will set an all-time high for backyard consumer fireworks sales.

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The number of injuries caused by fireworks in a typical year, however, is sobering. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states that, in 2019, about 10,000 injuries and 12 fireworks-related deaths were reported, 73% of which occurred from June 21 to July 21. During that period, sparklers alone caused 900 injuries, many of them to children. (The full report is here).

Andrew Neading, burn program coordinator at Cleveland’s MetroHealth System, said that MetroHealth anticipates an increased number of burn injuries this year.

“MetroHealth treats approximately six burn and blast injuries related to firework use every year,” he said. “Although most of these injuries can be treated as an outpatient, some do require an inpatient stay. Inpatients may require skin grafting and reconstructive work given the extent of injury.”

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Andrew also mentioned the risk posed by sparklers as their high burning temperature can cause deep burns. He advised close parental supervision, as well as keeping fireworks in a secure location away from children. Andrew also noted that alcohol is often a contributing factor in both traumatic and burn injury and to please consume it responsibly. He added, “Be safe and enjoy the holiday!”

Given the risks of injury and fire, particularly during a time when medical professionals and facilities are stressed, and that most fireworks are illegal in Ohio, the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross recommends avoiding backyard fireworks to help ensure a safe and happy Fourth holiday.

couple holding sparklers

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

If you decide to light fireworks anyway, the Red Cross recommends that you:

  • Check first if it is legal in your area. (Only “trick and novelty” fireworks that smoke, pop, and/or sparkle are currently legal in Ohio).
  • Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight a “dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

These and other July Fourth safety tips are available here.

Fireworks are especially stressful for pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association offers suggestions here.

However you celebrate this Independence Day, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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.

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

Red Cross urges Northeast Ohio residents to practice and prepare for future disasters

COVID-19 social distancing measures provide opportunity to be prepared

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

March 23, 2020 — As individuals and families remain at home at a higher rate due to the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing measures, the American Red Cross is urging all Northeast Ohio residents to take the time to prepare for future disasters.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Here are some safety tips to practice and follow while everyone is home together:

Home Fire Safety

Home Fire Save Story Birmingham, Alabama 2019

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
  • Talk with all family members about a home fire escape plan, make sure everyone has two exits out of every room.
  • Practice your fire escape plan and have everyone meet at the designated safe location. Make sure everyone escapes in two minutes or less.

Flood Safety

2002 Tropical Storm Isidore

Tornado Safety

Tennessee Tornadoes 2020

  • Talk about tornadoes with your family so that everyone knows where to go if a tornado warning is issued.
  • Ensure you have access to NOAA Radio broadcasts.
  • Prepare a pet emergency kit for your furry friends.

Thunderstorm Safety

  • Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household.
  • Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
  • Make a list of items to bring inside in the event of a severe thunderstorm.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Visit redcross.org to learn more emergency preparedness tips to ensure you and your family are Red Cross ready. Be sure to 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.

Cold weather safety tips – especially for seniors

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

February 7, 2020- Surviving winter weather here in Northeast Ohio takes more than just praying for spring (and hoping the groundhog’s prediction is right this year). It can be especially dangerous for the elderly. So if you are a boomer, or you have parents that are, here’s a ‘Do’ and a ‘Don’t’ deserving some serious consideration.

Snow shoveling

Don’t. (If that’s not an option, continue reading.)

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Consider rock salt or other chemical deicer pellets. Let that do the work instead of you.

If you must go out to shovel, stretch your arms and legs for a few minutes before going outside. Warm muscles work better and are less likely to cause problems.

Wear sturdy shoes or boots with good, non-slip soles. Old tennis shoes with no tread can be extremely slippery on ice. Wear a warm hat and gloves.

Use a sturdy, but lightweight shovel, and push rather than lifting if possible. If lifting is necessary, do it in small loads. If the snow is extremely heavy or wet, and you’ve had back problems, flex your knees while lifting instead of using your back muscles.

Have a friend or spouse check on you every couple minutes. If you should slip and fall, they can call 911 if needed. Even if you had your cellphone in your pocket, if you were to hit your head on the sidewalk, you could freeze before regaining consciousness.

Keeping warm inside

Do. Staying inside with a warm heat source is the best way to conquer winter weather, but all heat sources are not equal.

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Never use your kitchen stove for additional heat.

Never burn anything in a fireplace or Franklin stove that is not properly vented. Make sure the flue is open and the chimney is unobstructed.

Keep all flammable materials away from the hearth area of your fireplace, especially draperies that might blow around the flames.

Only use UL-rated portable electric heaters and only use one per electrical circuit.

Never leave the electric heaters on at night or when you leave the room. Make sure the cords are not a tripping hazard.  Make sure pets can’t tip them over.

Check outside vents of heaters, water heaters, clothes dryers and furnaces to make sure they are not blocked by snow.

Install and check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms regularly. If you need smoke alarms in your home, we can help. Call your local Red Cross chapter and get put on a list for free installation.

Consider donating to the American Red Cross

On average, the Red Cross responds to a home fire every eight seconds – many in the wintertime. For many people, we are the first organization to bring them financial help and ongoing assistance as they try to recover. It’s only with financial donations from people like you that we can offer this emergency assistance. Please consider donating, and keep warm!

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: