Too Hot?

Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

As high temperatures sweep across the country, know that excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you’re at the beach or have to stay outside this week, the American Red Cross has a guide for danger signs and what to do if someone gets too hot.

First, 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.


Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin
Heavy sweating
HOW TO HELP HEAT EXHAUSTION If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion, you should:

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 or the local emergency number.

Hot, red skin which may be dry or moist.
Changes in consciousness.
Vomiting and high body temperature.
HOW TO HELP HEAT STROKE If someone is exhibiting signs of heat stroke, you should:

Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number 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.
For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, download the free Red Cross Emergency App. The app also gives users the option to receive alerts for excessive heat watches, warnings and heat advisories.

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 or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.


Delta Sigma Phi Philanthropy

0727151323a_resizedArticle by Derek Zuverink

The Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity at Grand Valley State University established the Red Cross River Dash in 2014.  In a recent effort to improve our philanthropy efforts, this event was created.  This year, our chapter was able to raise $11,620 for our national philanthropy, the American Red Cross, while completing the 120 mile canoe trip down the AuSable River an entire day early.  The trip itself took place May 14-16, 2015.  Each night, we set up camp right alongside the river, where we cooked food and rested for the next day.

We had 12 brothers attend this year’s trip, while nine canoed on the river, and three became support crew (set up camp, cooked food, drove alongside the river with supplies,etc.).  With businesses donating to our efforts, as well as friends and family, we were able to see this event succeed.

The Red Cross River Dash means a lot to my chapter, and to myself as an individual.  This event is an opportunity for my fraternity brothers and myself to give back to the community, and help others understand that Greek life is not the negative stereotype recently seen in our society.  For a lot of us, dare I say most of us, we genuinely want to help the community and make a positive impact on others.  I’d like to believe this doesn’t just apply to my chapter, or my university – but for Greek life seen at all of our nation’s universities.  If we look past the negative media, there is evidence that supports this idea.

As I go into my senior year at Grand Valley State University, I feel confident that once I graduate, this event will continue to grow.  I’m incredibly excited to see how the Red Cross River Dash will influence the community, and how it will influence my brothers as well.  The American Red Cross has truly been a pleasure to work with, and I feel very privileged to have them as my fraternity’s national philanthropy.

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

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 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.