12 Days of Holiday Safety

1. Prepare your vehicle for traveling to grandmother’s house.

Make an emergency kit and include items such as blankets or sleeping bags, jumper cables, fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type), compass and road maps, shovel, tire repair kit and pump, extra clothing, flares, tow rope.

2. Drive your sleigh and reindeer safely.

Avoid driving in a storm, but if you must, keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.

3. Help prevent the spread of the flu.

Wash hands with soap and water as often as possible, or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Use sanitizing wipes to disinfect hard surfaces such as airplane tray tables, luggage handles, cell phones, door handles and seat armrests.

4. Prevent hypothermia by following Santa’s lead.

Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

5. Use a Red Cross-trained babysitter when attending holiday festivities.

Red Cross-certified babysitters learn to administer basic first aid; properly hold and feed a child; take emergency action when needed; monitor safe play and actively engage your child; and some may be certified in Infant and Child CPR.

6. Avoid danger while roasting chestnuts over an open fire.

Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking and be alert. Keep anything flammable – such as potholders, towels or curtains – away from your stove top. Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared or carried.

7. Be a lifesaver during the holidays and always.

The Red Cross recommends at least one person in every household should be trained and certified in first aid and CPR/AED. Your local Red Cross chapter has conveniently scheduled courses and can have you trained and certified in a few hours.

8. Designate a driver or skip the holiday cheer.

When you designate a driver who won’t be drinking, you help make sure a good party doesn’t turn into a tragedy. A good host ensures there are non-alcoholic beverages available for drivers. The designated driver should not drink any alcoholic beverages, not even one.

9. When the weather outside is frightful, heat your home safely.

Never use your stove or oven to heat your home. Never leave portable heaters or fireplaces unattended. Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.

10. Cut down on your heating bills without being a Grinch.

Get your furnace cleaned by a professional; change the filters regularly. Make sure heat vents aren’t blocked by furniture. Close off any rooms you aren’t using and close heat vents or turn off radiators in those rooms. Use either insulating tape or caulking strips to surround your windows and door moldings. Put up storm windows or storm doors to keep the cold out.

11. Don’t move a muscle, until they buckle.

Each person in your vehicle should have their seat belts securely fastened before driving off. Ensure children are buckled up and their car seats are installed appropriately based on their age and size. Children 12 and under should always sit in the backseat.

12. Resolve to Be Red Cross Ready in the New Year.

You can take one or more actions to prepare now, should you or your family face an emergency in 2013. Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday from the American Red Cross.


Travel Safety Tips for Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest times of the year for travelers. Millions will hop a plane or train to visit loved ones and even more will take to the highways. The American Red Cross offers these tips people can follow to have a safe trip over the upcoming holiday.

DRIVING TO GRANDMA’S HOUSE Check the weather along your route and plan for travel around any storms that may be coming. Watch weather predictions for your entire route so you know what to expect along the way.

Make sure you follow these steps to have a safe trip:

  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drive impaired.
  • Be well rested and alert.
  • Follow the rules of the road.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Observe speed limits – driving too fast or too slow can increase your chance of being in a collision.
  • Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  • Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Clean your headlights, taillights, signal lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.
  • Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or if you are using your windshield wipers due to inclement weather.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

If winter weather threatens and you become stuck in the snow, these tips are for you:

  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
  • Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk.
  • Keep your car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.

PLANES, TRAINS It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.

  • Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.


Download the American Red Cross First Aid App. The app provides users with quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. See all Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.

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.

A Look Into CPR/AED/First Aid Training at the Red Cross

By: Emily Glidden

On Friday, October 24th at 9 a.m. I went to the Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids to take the Adult & Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED class. I thought the title was a mouthful, but it’s long for a reason. There is so much to be learned through this course.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the variety of people. The majority needed certification for their job, or a job they applied for. Others felt that knowing CPR and first aid was important so they could be prepared in an emergency. I was afraid everyone was going to be grumpy because they were there to fulfill a requirement. However, everyone seemed eager to learn.

Students look through training book during CPR/AED course.

Students look through training book during CPR/AED course.

The class was comprised of lecture, discussion, videos and hands on learning. I appreciated the mixed style, which helps people with different learning preferences comprehend the information. The different displays of information kept the class interesting.

This course is set up in three sections: adult CPR/AED, first aid and Pediatric CPR. Those who signed up for just adult CPR/AED leave the class after that portion has been taught, and so on. I thought this was an efficient way to run this course because it opens up more days for classes to be taught. This way, three courses are done in one day without the instructor having to repeat information over and over.

We began with CPR and after listening to lecture and watching video testimonials, we were all ready to start practicing on the models. After running through multiple scenarios it became clear to me how intense CPR could be. I could feel parts of my hands beginning to blister and my arms getting sore, but then I visualized using this skill in a real life situation. I tried to remember that this is a skill that could potentially save someone’s life, which made the exhaustion that came along with pumping my arms up and down not seem as bad.

After learning CPR and how to use AEDs, we had time for lunch and those who were only signed up for the first portion left. We then moved onto first aid, and had some fun bandaging each other’s arms.


All bandaged up!

The final portion of the class was learning how to perform CPR on infants. This was a skill I hadn’t really thought about until recently. With more and more friends of mine having children, I now have a better understanding of the importance of pediatric CPR.

I am an anxious person, so even though I had been CPR and first aid certified years ago in high school, I was always nervous about standing up if an emergency were to occur. It’s common for people to think that when an emergency does happen, someone else will step up to the plate and help those in danger. But the thing is, you don’t know when an emergency is going to happen or who’s going to be around when it does. That’s why it is essential to have these skills yourself so you can feel prepared.

After taking this course I feel confident in my new abilities in first aid and adult and pediatric CPR/AED. It was great because I had a digital certificate to prove my new skills emailed me that same day. This way I have it saved on my computer to pull up or print any time I need it. Redcross.org is also a great resource to keep you up to date and to give you a refresher every now and then. Having all of these documents online reduces paper waste and provides access anytime, anywhere.

Overall, I had a great experience taking a Red Cross course. In one day I learned so much and gained the confidence to potentially save someone’s life. If you are interested in signing up for a class, visit http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class today!

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.