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Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Back to School for College Students

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During the elementary, middle, and high school years, much of the responsibility for students’ health and safety belongs to teachers, administrators, and school nurses. Staff members know CPR, basic first aid, and how to use an AED. Staff members know where to find the AED, how to evacuate students from the building, and where to shelter in place. Staff members lead, students follow.

But once students head off to college, a dramatic shift occurs. Though most colleges and universities provide students with extensive health and safety resources, students must begin to take responsibility for their well-being. Without the same level of supervision as in years past, students must begin to lead themselves.

So if you’re heading off to school this fall, check out these tips to help you become and stay healthy, wealthy, and wise during your years as a college student! (Ok, I admit these tips may not make you wealthy…)

Stock your dorm room with a basic first aid kit, basic emergency preparedness kit, and an extra dose of any needed medications. (Think epi-pens, inhalers, etc.)

Learn your surroundings, as in how to safely exit the building in the event of a fire and where to go inside the building should severe weather strike, remembering that stairs – and not elevators – should be used during emergencies. Additionally, figure out where the AED(s) and fire extinguisher(s) for your floor/building are kept.

Learn what to do in an emergency by taking a CPR/First Aid/AED class before heading to school or as soon as possible after arriving on campus. Participate in every fire and severe weather drill as though it’s the real thing. Share your schedule with your roommate, close friends, and/or family members so they could track you down if necessary, and determine how you would contact these people if an emergency separated you from your phone and computer.

Follow your school’s rules and leave prohibited appliances at home, cook safely, and don’t smoke or burn candles or incense in your dorm room.

The American Red Cross is – as always – dedicated to preparing students for a safe and healthy school year. Check out the resources listed below, and visit your college or university’s website for additional campus-specific health and safety information.

Learn more about or sign up for American Red Cross health and safety classes here.

Find American Red Cross first aid and emergency preparedness kits here.

Read more about the American Red Cross Safe and Well website (a central, online location where people affected by disaster can register their status and their loved ones can access that information) here.

The Journey from Arm to Arm — Wynonna & Cactus’ story

Blood donations help millions of patients in need.  To make the journey from “arm to arm,” every unit goes through so many steps and tests to ensure that it is as safe as can be. After finding a blood donation opportunity, and going through a short health history questionnaire and mini-physical, the Red Cross collects about 1 pint of blood and several small test tubes from each donor.  The donation is stored in an iced cooler and then transported to a Red Cross manufacturing center, where it is then scanned into a computer database and sent off.

The blood is received in one of three Red Cross National Testing Laboratories, where a dozen tests are performed on each unit of donated blood – to establish the blood type and test for infectious diseases.  Within 24 hours, the test results are transferred electronically to the manufacturing facility and units that are suitable for transmission are labeled and stored in refrigerators. This is the blood that is available to be shipped to hospitals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Wynonna and Cactus’ Story 

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I am excited to once again partner with the American Red Cross and I am honored that they have chosen August 18, 2014 as Wynonna Judd Day during their 100 Days of Summer, 100 Days of Hope.

This date holds particular significance to me because it is the day that my husband, Cactus Moser, lost his leg, and nearly his life, in a motorcycle accident two years ago in South Dakota. I had long been a supporter of the American Red Cross, however, never before I had experienced the importance of blood donations so personally. Without the blood that was available to Cactus that day, I don’t know how our story would have turned out.

During the summer months, the Red Cross sees a significant decrease in the number of blood donations. So choose your day to make a difference. Give blood, give hope!  – Wynonna

Blood helped save Cactus’ life and strengthened the bond Wynonna and Cactus share.  To witness this bond in person, catch them on the road or follow their journey at www.wynonna.com.

To learn more about donating blood, visit www.redcrossblood.org

From Desk to Disaster: Interns Train to Become Responders

By Liza Crawford, Media Relations Intern

As a communications intern at the American Red Cross, I see stories every day about our volunteers responding to disasters. Their names are rarely mentioned, but their impact is clear. When a disaster strikes, the Red Cross is there, supporting those who have lost everything, providing them with basic necessities and comfort and holding their hands as they embark on the long journey to recovery.

I joined the Red Cross because I wanted to be a part of this mission, so I jumped at the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and learn what it takes to be a disaster responder. For two days, I joined several other interns in Disaster Action Team (DAT) training – a series of courses led by incredible volunteers who go out into the field at a moment’s notice to help clients in their time of need.

DAT training detailed how the Red Cross meets the needs of those affected by disasters, including psychological first aid and providing shelter, and completely changed my perspective on disaster response.

The training began with an overview of disaster services, led by volunteer Kim Lemoine. She set the tone with an opening statement: “I get so much more out of it than I give,” she said, holding back tears. Instantly, I understood how rewarding volunteering can be.

Interns Adam Familiant and Cayla Machleit practice playing the role of Red Cross caseworkers.

Interns Adam Familiant and Cayla Machleit practice playing the role of Red Cross caseworkers.

After covering the basics, the training became more focused. We learned how the Red Cross provides immediate relief. The instructors reviewed skills and techniques to properly address the needs of each person, and then split our group into pairs for a role-playing activity. Each pair read through a disaster scenario and took turns playing the affected person and the Red Cross caseworker.

The second day of training began with a course on psychological first aid. The Red Cross helps both disaster victims and volunteers deal with the stress and trauma. This course explained various symptoms that may signal the need for a mental health professional.

The final course outlined the fundamentals of opening a shelter. Relocating to a shelter can be extremely stressful for disaster victims, and we learned how to plan and communicate to ensure the most comfortable experience possible. Training concluded with an orientation for any interns who wanted to volunteer with the local chapter, the National Capital Region, and many of us did.

When my training was over, I had an overwhelming urge to go out and hug every DAT volunteer. Next time I see a news clip reading “The American Red Cross is assisting the survivors,” I will know how important that assistance truly is.

To learn more about becoming a Disaster Action Team member, please contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Sometimes Heroes Wear Crowns

By Scott E. Toncray, APR

Hayley Lewis, 21, Miss Tennessee 2014 recently preformed lifesaving skills she learned from being an American Red Cross Certified Lifeguard. A fellow pageant contestant choked on a piece of chicken and Lewis’ instincts kicked in enabling her to clear the airway of the other contestant who is also her friend. Lewis also had to preform CPR on a drowning victim when she was a lifeguard. “I just figured that it was time to renew my skills realizing how important they are,” Lewis said following the First Aid and CPR class at the Nashville Area chapter of the American Red Cross. Sixteen other participants were certified the same night as Hayley. Her story was featured on the local Fox News affiliate.

Lewis practices how to save a choking victim on Red Cross Volunteer Scott Toncray

“I can’t imagine anyone not being around who could help someone if they needed it to prolong their life,” Lewis said encouraging others to take the class and become certified. Lewis participated in a blended course that includes both online and practical classroom experience with learning totaling approximately 5 hours. “Life threatening situations can happen to anyone and I wanted to learn skills so that I could help someone again if they ever need it,” Lewis explained.

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Miss Tennessee 2014 Hayley Lewis received her First Aid and CPR certificate at the Nashville Chapter of the American Red Cross

Miss Lewis will represent the state of Tennessee in the 2015 Miss America Competition on Sept. 9-14, 2014 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Miss Tennessee 2014 Hayley Lewis learns CPR at the Nashville Chapter of the American Red Cross

In the Nashville area, nearly 7,000 people a year receive Red Cross training in CPR, first aid and other skills that help save lives. The American Red Cross offers courses where ordinary people can learn extraordinary lifesaving skills, such as how to perform CPR, how to use an AED, what to do if someone is choking, and how to prevent and respond to other emergencies until advanced medical help arrives.

Visit redcross.org/takeaclass or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767, option 3) for more information and to register for a class.

Scott Toncray is a public affairs volunteer for the Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross and serves on the Advanced Public Affairs Team.

 

100 Days of Summer International #YouthDay

By Eddie Zitnik, Chair, American Red Cross National Youth Council

Today is International Youth Day, a special day during the year which celebrates the impact youth can make on society all around the world. At the American Red Cross we hope to inspire youth and young adults to donate blood this summer to help meet the daily need of 15,000 blood donations for approximately 2,700 hospitals across the country. As young people, we can make a difference.

We are at an exciting time in history when youth have the potential to change the world in more ways than one. Donating blood is one of these ways. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states) and weigh at least 110 pounds may donate blood every 56 days. Imagine how many lives you could save in your lifetime if you started donating today!

intl youth day blood donor

The first time I donated blood I was 16 years old and living in Ohio. While I had been volunteering with the Red Cross for two years, I wasn’t quite old enough to become a donor. There was nothing like becoming a part of the proud group of blood donors who I volunteered alongside for years. I still remember the feeling of knowing that I helped save the life of a complete stranger who I may never know or even meet. This taught me an important lesson in altruism, a lesson which I carry with me even today as a medical student. I ask youth to challenge themselves, become Red Cross blood donors, and give back to their communities through the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross.

During the summer months, about two fewer donors give blood at each Red Cross blood drive than what hospital patients need. Additionally, blood donations among youth between the ages of 18 and 24 drop by about 40 percent! Blood cannot be manufactured and can only come from volunteer donors like you. So what can you do to help? Grab a couple friends, find a local blood drive (redcrossblood.org, 1-800-RED CROSS), and donate a unit of blood for a person in need. It’s that simple. While the need is constant, the gratification is instant!

When you get back to school this fall and your friends and teachers ask what you did with your summer, you can proudly say that you helped save up to three lives by becoming a Red Cross blood donor!

From the Archives: Hurricane Response

This post was written by Kristen Rowley, Historical Programs intern.

The first storm of hurricane season has come and gone. While experts are expecting a fairly mild season, it is important to recognize that even a mild season can easily wield a devastating storm. The Red Cross has over 120 years of experience dealing with damaging storms, so we’ve learned a thing or two to help our responses adapt and progress throughout the decades.

In the early part of the 20th century, weather forecasting was in its infancy. Predicting when and where a hurricane would make landfall was difficult, leaving residents little time to prepare. Communication and transportation were also slower. For example, when a hurricane and subsequent storm surge engulfed Galveston, Texas, in September 1900, it took nine days for Clara Barton and her volunteers to arrive on the scene. Once there, volunteers distributed food, clothing, and household furnishings.


 

Red Cross volunteer Ada Claessens helps Mildred Ramsey, a fellow victim of Hurricane Carla in 1961, choose a dress from a rack of donated clothing at a shelter in Kemah, Texas.

Red Cross volunteer Ada Claessens helps Mildred Ramsey, a fellow victim of Hurricane Carla in 1961, choose a dress from a rack of donated clothing at a shelter in Kemah, Texas.


As the 20th century progressed, the basic needs in times of disaster did not change, but the Red Cross response did. The improved ability to predict when and where a storm was going to hit allowed for establishing shelters in schools and community centers and providing aid quickly in the aftermath of the storm. In the mid-1960s, strategically chosen chapters became homes to mobile disaster units, providing aid to victims as soon as possible.


 

A Vacherie, Louisiana disaster headquarters sits among mud and debris left in the wake of Hurricane Betsy in September 1965.

A Vacherie, Louisiana disaster headquarters sits among mud and debris left in the wake of Hurricane Betsy in September 1965.


Now these services have become even swifter. A Google map and a mobile app allow people to see where the nearest shelter is and how much space is available. The Red Cross also has hundreds of Emergency Response Vehicles stationed around the country, prepared to travel anywhere they are needed. And there are volunteers specifically dedicated to improving the mental health of those affected by these deadly storms. More than 130 years after the American Red Cross was established, volunteers continue Clara Barton’s work, providing food, shelter, and basic necessities to those who need them most.


 

 A young boy in Homestead, Florida enjoys a hot meal and a cold drink from a Red Cross Disaster Services truck assisting victims of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.

A young boy in Homestead, Florida enjoys a hot meal and a cold drink from a Red Cross Disaster Services truck assisting victims of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.

Sometimes Simpler is Better

Last summer I spent a good 90 minutes crafting and giving a demonstration – using 10 pints of water, red food coloring, matchbox cards, and a Red Cross testing facility built out of Legos – that I hoped would provide my then-six-year-old son with a comprehensive understanding of the blood donation process. The demonstration worked, but if I had it to do over again (and I do, now that my five-year-old daughter has started asking about blood donation), I might opt for a simpler course of action.

PrintLuckily for me, I came across this fantastic Red Cross graphic that I think will do the trick.

I love this graphic for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the nurse looks exactly like my mom when she first became a nurse in the mid 1970’s (yes, nurses used to wear those caps). Oh, and I think the snack looks delicious. I may start a campaign to push for the Red Cross to serve croissants at blood drives.

The process is simple, and the end result is lives saved. Maybe that’s all our kiddos – at least as elementary schoolers – really need to know.

Don’t Drink the Water

More than half a million people in parts of Ohio and Michigan had no water over the weekend due to toxins from algae in Lake Erie and the American Red Cross distributed water in the affected counties.

Red Cross chapters in Northwest Ohio and Southeastern Michigan set up free water distribution sites throughout the affected counties and delivered water to residences of individuals who could not leave their homes to find clean drinking water.

Read more about the Red Cross response, and other ongoing responses to wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington. Additionally, volunteers have provided more than 100 meals and more are on standby in San Bernardino County after unexpected rain caused flash flooding and mud slides in the area. We will let you know if these situations change, but to stay up to date on any of our disaster responses, go to redcross.org.

Red Cross Around the World

[Slideshow] Responding to the Ebola Outbreaks in Western Africa

The American Red Cross, along with the global Red Cross network, is helping amplify efforts and strengthen capacity of the Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia Red Crosses as a devastating outbreak of Ebola wreaks havoc on the region. Since March 2014, some 1,200 cases have been reported and more than 670 deaths have been linked to the virus, making it the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in recorded history.

Helping Victims in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza

As the security situation in the Occupied Palestine Territories and Israel continues to deteriorate, Red Cross Red Crescent staff and volunteers in the region are helping people in need.

Israel’s Magen David Adom and the Palestine Red Crescent are providing support to the victims of airstrikes, rocket firings, and other hostilities. As part of the same global network, both societies follow the same guiding principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality.

In the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Palestine Red Crescent has been at the forefront of relief operations since the beginning of the crisis. Red Crescent hospitals, clinics, staff and volunteers are delivering emergency medical care to the wounded and evacuating residents to safer locations. This past weekend, two Palestine Red Crescent volunteers lost their lives while providing humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

In Israel, Magen David Adom’s ambulance teams are responding to rocket attacks by providing first aid, medical care and transportation as needed, as well as psychosocial support to victims. The society has increased blood service operations, ensuring that hospitals have sufficient supply. In addition, staff and volunteers are offering first aid training to the public and have distributed first aid kits to some 80 public shelters as part of its preparedness initiatives.

[Infographic] Crisis in Iraq

With the media focus on Gaza, it’s easy to forget that there are humanitarian crises going on both in the Middle East and beyond. Our global Red Cross colleagues in Beirut have put together a new graphic which manages to explain the scale and seriousness of the population movement in response to violence in Iraq. As with the Red Crescent societies in Syria and the Occupied Palestine Territories, the Iraqi Red Crescent is responding to help support the needs of all those affected by the crisis. See infographic here.

Reuniting a Family Torn Apart by Civil War

“It was like finally waking up from a bad dream.”

That’s how Sylvester Gboya describes reuniting with his wife and children after five long years of separation. Through the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links program, however, Gboya was able to send Red Cross Messages through to his family and reconnect. Eventually, his wife and two children were able to join him in the U.S.

Last year, the Red Cross assisted those seeking to reconnect with their loved ones from countries such as the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, South Sudan, Syria, and Afghanistan and facilitated the exchange of 279,000 messages. For more information visit redcross.org.

Disaster Update: Flooding in Paraguay 

The Paraguayan Red Cross is carrying out response operations following the recent floods that have affected the southern part of the country and left more than 200,000 people homeless. The American Red Cross is providing 2,000 hygiene kits, which contain personal hygiene supplies like soap and toothbrushes. Additionally the American Red Cross is contributing $45,000 to assist with transportation of relief supplies from a Red Cross warehouse in Panama.

Red Cross Preparedness Tips. Because Sharknado.

Last year, no one knew quite what to expect from Syfy’s Sharknado. Turns out, there was plenty of fodder to go around for disaster preparedness tips and debunking weather myths.

This time, before the sharknado hits New York on Thursday, make sure you’ve got your preparedness tips down pat.

Know:tornadomythfact

  • Lightning can strike 10-15 miles away from a storm, so even if the sky is clear you’re not necessarily safe from a storm. Same goes for a sharknado. 
  • While many believe opening doors and windows will help equalize pressure during a tornado, this will actually have no effect. Plus, it will let the sharks in. Take shelter from any sort of vortex, with or without hostile marine life, in an interior room with no windows on the lowest floor.
  • It’s also a myth that city skyscrapers protect against tornadoes. Cities simply cover a small geographical area, so the chances of a direct hit are small. This doesn’t mean city dwellers shouldn’t be prepared for whatever may be heading your way.

Prepare:

The full list of survival kit essential items is on redcross.org, but we’ve pulled a few to feature, in light of the sharknado forecast.

Keep your supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate. To avoid the sharknado.

At a minimum, you should have the basic supplies listed below:

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home) – You’ll want to stay hydrated for any chainsaw, shotgun or barstool use for your defense.
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home) – Keep your energy up. You’ll need it.
  • Flashlight – Are sharks like cats? Can we distract them with shiny, moving lights?
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) – Keep up to date with the locations of all water spouts watches and sharknado warnings.
  • First aid kit – You’ll need all the sterile gauze pads you can get.
  • Cell phone with chargers – How else are you supposed to maintain your Twitter feed and see all the on-the-ground sharknado pics and videos from @JimCantore?
  • Family and emergency contact information – ”Dear Mom. You didn’t leave many outlandish dangers off your list of reasons why I shouldn’t move to New York. I have one more to add to the list…”
  • Extra cash – Rent a car. Move to Ohio. No more coastal living if it means sharknados!
  • Emergency blanket – Doubles as as trampoline to catch sharks and fling them back up into the sharknado.
  • Map(s) of the area – Fight or flight. Choose your escape route wisely.

Additional supplies to keep at home or in your survival kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

  • Whistle – For when you’re eaten alive and are in the shark’s belly, Jonah style.
  • Duct tape – If you can get a handle on those slippery beasts, can we tape their mouths shut? Like a crocodile? I saw that on TV once.
  • Scissors – For when you’ve run out of all other options. Go for the eyes.
  • Household liquid bleach – Can you imagine all the shark guts to clean up? Ew.
  • Entertainment items – To keep your mind off the current situations. Just avoid games like Hungry Hungry Hippos, which might trigger some adverse reactions.

Considering we haven’t yet released the Red Cross Sharknado mobile app, we hope these tips keep you safe in the interim.

And don’t miss how Clarence handles a sharknado with his survival kit: