Have a Safe Fourth of July Weekend!

558c8a6726505.imageThe long Fourth of July holiday weekend is just ahead and the American Red Cross has steps you can follow to stay safe when enjoying the fireworks or taking a trip to the beach.

FIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many states outlaw most fireworks. If you are setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children, and 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.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

BEACH SAFETY If your holiday plans include swimming in the ocean, learn how to swim in the surf. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. While you’re enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. And even if you’re confident in your swimming skills, make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.

Other safety tips include:

  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.

RIP CURRENTS Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:

  • If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

Additional water safety tips are in the free Red Cross Swim App and available here.

SUN PROTECTION Limit the amount of direct sunlight you receive between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply your sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. And don’t forget your feet! The sand can burn your feet and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.

During hot weather, watch for signs of heat stroke—hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke:

  • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
  • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

FIRST AID APP Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross First Aid App which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Have-a-Safe-Fourth-of-July

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Soaring International Capacity in Michigan

RFL Casework Training 5.12.15

Story by Daniel Kim

On Tuesday, May 15, the American Red Cross Michigan Region heated up over aspirations of contributing to global justice and human dignity through the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program, a service of the Red Cross that helps reconnect families separated internationally by conflict, disaster, migration and other humanitarian emergencies. More than 45 volunteers and staff came to Grand Rapids from every corner of Michigan to become a Restoring Family Links Caseworker. Mary VanderGoot, Restoring Family Links Mentor, and I were instructors for the training. The seven hour training included group projects, simulations, and role plays to help Red Crossers understand the importance of our reconnecting families services, and how to deliver this humanitarian assistance to their communities.

It was very exciting to meet the future RFL caseworkers who will end up providing this service across Michigan. The state resettles the fourth largest number of refugees in the US each year, a population often in need of reconnecting families services. While teaching, I dreamed of our region reconnecting all the families in need of our humanitarian assistance – ending the human suffering caused by not knowing the fate or whereabouts of loved ones. Throughout the training, I was excited to see the participants’ passion and eagerness to help their communities.

By taking the Restoring Family Links Casework training, the participants will be able to identify new ways of supporting their local refugee communities. Conducting outreach will be crucial for them to build relationship with refugees and service provider agencies, and to grow and develop the Restoring Family Links program.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to teach the Restoring Family Links Casework Training and thankful to my co-instructor, Mary VanderGoot for her support and knowledge of this service. It was an amazing opportunity to reenergize my passion and love for International Services and the Restoring Family Links program. I look forward to all the amazing reconnecting families work the training participants will do back home. Go Restoring Family Links!

To learn more about Restoring Family Links and the ways you can get involved, please visit here.

Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Jamie Hamming

We are continuing a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

The American Red Cross is proud to honor Jamie Hamming with the General George Marshall Patriot Award for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration. This award recognizes an individual or a group of individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in service to the United States of America and in service to our men and women in uniform. There is no doubt Jamie has done just that.

In 2013, Jamie founded the Veteran Explorers Program with Spectrum Health which provides opportunities to veterans who are interested in the health care industry. The program allows veterans to go through a 10 week rotation between three departments in order to find the best fit for their skills.

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Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Jonathan Logan

Jonathan Logan and MarandaWe are continuing a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

The American Red Cross is very pleased to honor Jonathan Logan with the Jane Delano Lifesaver Award, which recognizes individuals who have acted bravely in an emergency to save a life. At 17 years-old, Jonathan is the youngest individual to be recognized during the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration. He has dedicated much of his own life to saving lives and his story is inspiring.

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Hometown Heroes 2015 Profiles: Sylvia Daining

Sylvia DainingWe are continuing a series of posts highlighting the awards recipients for the 2015 Hometown Heroes Celebration put on by the American Red Cross of West Michigan. Each year the American Red Cross celebrates the community heroes who inspire us through their commitment to service and their recognition of the humanity of their neighbors down the street, across the country, and around the world. The event will be held on Thursday, April 30 from 6:00PM-10:00PM at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. For ticket information please visit our Hometown Heroes event page.

The American Red Cross is pleased to honor Sylvia Daining with the Dr. Charles Drew Health Advocate Award, in honor of an individual who has dedicated their life to a cause that directly impacts the health and wellbeing of others.

Sylvia began her career as a Program Administrator at Wedgwood Christian Services. Wedgwood Christian Services aids youth and families through professional counseling and educational services. She concentrated on behavioral and mental health development of at-risk children and families during her thirty years of service.

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To learn more about how you can make a difference, please visit http://www.redcross.org