Halloween Safety Tips


halloweensafeHalloween is just around the corner and the American Red Cross is here to make sure you have a safe  night of tricks and treats! Take a look at these tips to help you get prepared:

  • Look for flame-resistant costumes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends costumes made out of synthetic materials like nylon or polyester, which are less flammable than other materials.
  • Plan the Trick-or-Treat route and make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children along the planned route.
  • Make sure the Trick-or-Treaters have a flashlight. Add reflective tape to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing in order to be seen.
  • Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
  • Instead of masks, which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see, consider using face paint.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  • Be cautious around pets and any other animals.

 WELCOMING GHOSTS AND GOBLINS If someone is welcoming Trick-or-Treaters at their home, they should make sure the outdoor light is on. Other safety steps include:

  • Sweep leaves from the sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
  • Restrain any household pets.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in the jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard.

STEERING CLEAR OF WITCHES AND WEREWOLVES Children and adults can be especially unpredictable and less conscious of road safety, so it’s important for drivers to take on added responsibility.

  • If possible, avoid trick-or-treating areas with heavy pedestrian traffic in favor of major routes and highways.
  • Moderate your speed and be alert for people in the streets.
  • Minimize distractions. It is especially dangerous to use electronic devices while driving on Halloween night. Fewer distractions allow for better awareness of your surroundings.

 LEARN WHAT TO DO People can download the free American Red Cross First Aid App. Users receive instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. Features of the app include:

  • Step-by-step instructions on how to handle the most common first aid situations;
  • Videos and animations that  make the skills easy to learn;
  • Safety and preparedness tips; and
  • Quizzes that users can take to earn badges which they can share with their friends on social media.

People can find all of the Red Cross apps in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.

Happy Halloween from the American Red Cross!


Flu Prevention

It’s getting to be that time of year. People are buying tissues in bulk in preparation, using hand sanitizer after every human interaction and eating cough drops like candy. That’s right, flu season is beginning. But don’t fret! The Red Cross is here to give you information on how to prevent the flu as well as best practices for caring for someone with the flu.

Flallergy-18656_150u Basics:

  • The flu is a contagious respiratory disease caused by different strains of viruses
  • All flus are viruses – meaning antibiotics will not help when you have the flu
    • The flu virus spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes

Flu prevention begins with your daily good health habits such as eating a nutritious diet, drinking lots of water and exercising.  These activities help your body maintain resistance against infection.  Secondly, make sure you get your flu shot as soon as possible each year to give yourself the best chance of prevention. Finally, avoid contact with sick people and things they have touched and wash your hands frequently.

It’s important when someone in your household has the flu to designate one person as the caregiver.  This way germs are not being spread around to multiple people.  If you are the designated caregiver, make sure to keep everyone’s personal items separate, disinfect surfaces that are commonly touched by everyone and wear disposable gloves when coming in contact with bodily fluids.

You can find more information about the flu here and make sure you’re Red Cross Ready when it comes to the flu.

Home Fire Prevention Week!

Today marks the beginning of fire prevention week! Make sure you are Red Cross ready when it comes to house fires with these tips and facts. But first, take our fire safety savvy quiz to see where you stand with fire safety knowledge and what areas you need to brush up on.

The most effective way to keep you and your home safe from house fires is to prevent them. Here are some steps you can take now:

  • Identify and remove fire hazards
  • Keep flammable items at least three feet away from anything that gets hot
  • Install and smoke detectors and check them once a month to make sure they are working
  • Never smoke in bed
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach

Another important step in fire prevention is creating a fire escape plan. It is important to make sure that everyone in the household knows two ways to escape from every room of your home. Practice makes perfect, so practice your escape plan at least twice a year. Try to switch up the time of day so you are prepared for different scenarios and make sure everyone knows where your safe meeting place is.

If you do experience a fire, try to stay calm and put your plan into action. Here are things to remember during a fire:

  • Avoid smoke by crawling underneath it
  • Check closed doors for heat – if it’s warm use your second escape route
  • Make sure everyone is accounted for when you arrive at your meeting place

Download the free Red Cross First Aid App to have advice for everyday emergencies in the palm of your hand. The app includes first aid information on burns as well as a checklist to make sure you are prepared in case of a house fire. The First Aid App is available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store.

This Enigmatic World

This 2-D metal print of Alla's original acrylic painting can be seen on the second floor of DeVos Place.  Vote code: 56397, ArtPrize 2014.

This 2-D metal print of Alla’s original acrylic painting can be seen on the second floor of DeVos Place. Vote code: 56397, ArtPrize 2014.

Story by Emily Glidden.

As a passerby, the connection between the American Red Cross and Alla Dickson’s abstract ArtPrize entry may not be obvious.  However, once the Holland artist begins telling the story behind her piece, a deep and inspiring meaning comes to light.

On Christmas Eve morning of last year, Dickson rose early to get some painting done in her art studio.  Soon after she started her work, Dickson’s husband saw the first puffs of smoke come through their brick chimney into the house.  He immediately recognized the severity of the situation and within five minutes everyone was out of the home.  As Dickson and her family watched the flames come through the roof, her husband Richard looked at them and said, “It’s all gone; life goes on.”

“Then we saw the Red Cross van and once they came we started laughing and smiling, shaking hands and drinking hot chocolate,” said Dickson.

“We immediately felt a transition from tragedy to recovery and celebrating life and community.”

That sense of community is why Alla and Richard decided to settle down in Holland Michigan.  Between the two of them they have visited over 90 countries, but they agreed that Holland had the greatest sense of community they had ever experienced.

Luckily ‘This Enigmatic World’ was saved from the home after the flames were extinguished. Dickson then decided to dedicate the piece to the American Red Cross.

“I am completely on a mission to bring awareness to this great community. Their generosity is unbelievable,” said Dickson.

Dickson’s ArtPrize Submission, ‘This Enigmatic World’ can be seen on the second floor of DeVos Place.  Vote for ‘This Enigmatic World’ with the vote code: 56397.

Read more about her story at The Rapidian.

Being “Right There” for Our Neighbors: Margarethe’s Story

Story by Scott Morton

Margarethe Rosa Reb (right) stands near a cleanup crew at her Kentwood Home. The 88 year-old resident said she never expected to experience a twister in Michigan.

Margarethe Rosa Reb (right) stands near a cleanup crew at her Kentwood Home. The 88 year-old resident said she never expected to experience a twister in Michigan.

Amid the uprooted trees, downed telephone poles, and branches and debris still piled around her neighborhood lives 88 year-old Margarethe Rosa Reb. She was in her Kentwood home on the night of July 6 when an EF1 tornado cut through Kentwood, Wyoming, and southeast Grand Rapids leaving six people injured and hundreds of homes damaged.


The tornado struck at 10:20 that night knocking out Reb’s electricity along with about 20,000 other Consumers Energy customers.  Reb says she never thought she’d experience a twister. To this day she hasn’t actually seen one since the tornado struck at night.


“I was sitting by the table and all of the sudden the lights went out and I got a flashlight,” she says.  “I got dressed in case anything happened because I had my night gown on…all I heard was a whoosh going through.”


The next morning at day break, she and her grandson Nick walked around the three bedroom house to see the storm damage.


“It was a mess. It was terrible!” Reb added. “You couldn’t see over to the next house there were so many branches and leaves piled up.”


Later that morning, two American Red Cross volunteers visited Reb and provided her with food, cleaning supplies, financial assistance and, best of all, someone to talk with.


“The Red Cross was really helpful. God bless them all!”


Rosa Reb4

Reb’s home surrounded by downed trees and branches from the tornado on July 6. The storm damaged hundreds of homes and injured six.

A few days later Reb’s power returned. The day that she spoke with us about her experience a cleanup crew for the damage around her home was finishing up for the day.


Reflecting on the experience, the long-time widow puts the ordeal in perspective.


“It was kind of scary, but I’ve been through worse!”


Still, she says the fact that two American Red Cross volunteers checked on her and provided aid makes her thankful to this day.


“I never thought people would be so nice.  I never thought I’d meet so many nice people.  They were right there!”


You can help people like Margarethe affected by disasters like floods, fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. To make a financial contribution, visit redcross.org/donate, text REDCROSS to 90999, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.