Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Survive Sharknado 2*

By Alice Ding

Meteorologists are warning that an oncoming storm—Sharknado 2—is expected to hit New York City tonight. For those who haven’t heard, Sharknado is a tornado that scoops up sharks and flings them from the sky. As this severe weather condition approaches, we are here to provide a few tips that can help you stay safe during this dangerous event. 

(1) Make an Emergency Communications Plan
First, make a communications plan with your loved ones. As we’ve heard from Los Angeles Red Crossers, these sharks are not friendly. Regardless what time of the day Sharknado 2 storms across the city, you need to know where your family and friends are and where to meet them. As in any other emergency situation, we encourage you to have contacts outside of the city. During an emergency, local phone lines might be overloaded or out of service. In that case, it’s often easier to call long distance. 

(2) Build a Sharknado Preparedness Kit
Because these sharks will definitely try to bite off your limbs, it’s crucial to have a survival kit ready. The most important lesson we learned from the first Sharknado is that having a chainsaw is essential for cutting sharks in half and escaping from inside a shark should you be eaten whole. Here are some other essential items you might want to include in your Sharknado kit.  
  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit (We will talk about this more in detail later.)
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

(3) Know Your Flood Zone
Sharknado is expected to cause heavy rainfall—or should we say, sharkfall—that floods the streets. To avoid becoming a midnight snack for the sharks, check out New York City Office of Emergency Management’s evacuation zone map to find the shelters closest to you.

(4) Download Free Red Cross Disaster Apps
After completing the previous steps, download the free American Red Cross emergency mobile apps for iPhone and Android for tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, first aid and more. When severe weather (and/or sharks) loom, you want to stay informed. Our mobile apps provide lifesaving tips and real-time information about severe weather threats. These apps are available in English and Spanish

(5) Take First Aid Training 
If you are not the warrior type, take Red Cross first aid classes. You want to be able to perform some basic first aid techniques when others have been wounded fighting sharks or when your family members have been injured while evacuating. Having a first aid kit ready is also helpful. You can find a premade kit from the Red Cross Store. If you decide to assemble your own first aid kit, make sure to include the following items:   
  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • First aid instruction booklet

By following these tips, you and your family should be safe during Sharknado. Like any severe weather condition, the key is to be Red Cross Ready — and avoid sharks falling on your head!

*Although Sharknado 2 is a fictional event, our tips will help you in real-life emergency situations. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

In Case You Missed It

In the last week the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency relief in the form of shelter, food, clothing, health services and/or emotional support to 157 New Yorkers impacted by 38 local disasters in our region. Here is a upcoming Yankees event and some highlights from the last week.
Upcoming Event

Last Week in Review
Red Crossers at fire scene in Hunts Point, Bronx

Monday, July 21, 2014

In Case You Missed It

Weekend Roundup

  • Red Cross volunteers and staffs shared a wonderful evening on the Hudson River during annual Red Cross Metro New York North Hudson River Cruise. We appreciate the time and effort our volunteers contribute to the organization. 

Last Week in Review
Youth Leadership Summit
  • In the last week the Greater New York Red Cross provided emergency relief in the form of shelter, food, clothing, health services and/or emotional support to 90 New Yorkers impacted by more than 40 local disasters in our region.
  • The peak of hurricane season is around the corner. Check out our preparedness tips to better prepare you and your family. Thanks to Nina Raffio from our preparedness team for providing these helpful resources.
  • The Red Cross Greater New York Region hosted the first annual Youth Leadership Summit for high school and college Red Cross Clubs last week. A total of 28 students from around the region attended the event, hearing a series of presentation ranging from public speaking to international humanitarian laws. 
  • As people continue to recover from Sandy, the Red Cross continue to provide support. We sponsored Visiting Nurse Service New York's disaster management workshop on Tuesday, July 15. If you and/or your loved ones need emotional support, contact VNSNY at 718-888-6955.
  • Our 100 days countdown to 2014 #RedTieHeroes event began on Wednesday. Check our Facebook page for event highlights from last year. 

6 Things To Keep In Mind During Hurricane Season

By Nina Raffio

It's hurricane season. Are you prepared? Here are 6 things to keep in mind to prepare yourself, your friends and your family.

1. Although hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 31, if conditions are right, hurricanes can occur at any time of the year.

2. Know the difference between a hurricane watch and warning. A hurricane watch indicates that conditions are a threat within 48 hours. If you learn of a watch, review your hurricane plans, get ready to act and stay informed. A hurricane warning indicates that hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.

3. Know your zone. Use the NYC Office of Emergency Management online map to find out which New York City hurricane evacuation zone you live in and to locate nearby shelters.

4. The worst hurricane damage is caused by storm surges (giant walls of water pushed onshore by hurricane winds), rather than high winds.

5. Hurricanes do not only affect people that live in coastal areas--they can reach hundreds of miles inland.

6. Board, don't tape. Taping up windows does not keep them from breaking and therefore offers little protection against flying debris. Use plywood instead.

For more about hurricane preparedness including information about our mobile apps, click here.

Nina Raffio is an intern at the American Red Cross Greater New York Region and is part of its Individual and Community Preparedness team. She also attends New York University, where she is currently studying Global Public Health/Media, Culture and Communication.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Voices from the Greater NY Red Cross Youth Leadership Summit

The week of July 14 to 18, the Greater New York Region held a Red Cross Youth Leadership Summit for members of its Red Cross High School and College Clubs. A total of 28 students from schools around the region took part. They heard presentations on a wide range of topics, including public speaking, mission-related activities, conflict resolution, managing volunteers, psychological first aid, how to manage a budget, the International Humanitarian Law and more.

Here’s what a few of the participants had to say about the week and their Red Cross involvement.

Danial Khoshkehpazl and Shania Mahmud
Danial Khoshkehpazl – Deer Park High School, Deer Park, Long Island
Q. What prompted you to join your Red Cross Club?
A. I grew up in Macedonia and now I live on Long Island. I joined the Club to find friends, acceptance and people who understand me. I’m the club president.
Q. What are your thoughts about the summit?
A.  I’m here to obtain new skills and ideas which I can use throughout the year and develop new activities and maybe make our club friendlier. It can help people to get to know each other. Some kids are like “My friend doesn’t like her, so I’m not going to like her too,” which is not a good reason. The summit is the most exciting thing I’m learning the whole summer.

Shania Mahmud – Deer Park High School, Deer Park, Long Island
Q. What is your involvement with your Red Cross Club?
A. I joined the club to meet new people and have fun. It’s the only club I want to go to. We meet after school on Friday and I look forward to it every day of the week. I like doing humane service work and being there to help people. I also enjoy organizing and being in charge.
Q. What did you learn during the summit?
A. I gained some leadership skills that can be useful, since I’m the Club secretary.

Irena Hsu
Irena Hsu — Horace Mann School, Bronx, New York
Q. What can you tell us about your Red Cross Club?
A. The school’s Red Cross Club was started a short time ago, in February 2014; I’m the president, starting my junior year in September. We hope to grow the club from 10 members to at least 20. 
Q. What do you like about the summit?
A. It’s fun. The courses are divided into leadership building and club management. I’m jumping between the two so that next year I’ll be more prepared to take the club where it needs to be. The presentation on speaking skills was really useful. Often you get questions about how the club works and what the club is about. It’s really important for us to convey in a very short time everything the person needs to know. This course taught me some tips and tricks on how to calm myself down and be able to talk to people more efficiently. 

Saif Billah
Saif Billah – Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, New York
Q. You’ve been a volunteer since you were a child, yes? 
A. When I was young, I would volunteer at my local mosque and at a soup kitchen. Volunteering is something I really liked. My parents encouraged me at first, but now I do it on my own and I love that we’re helping people in need. I enjoy that, and I love the Red Cross. I joined the school’s Red Cross club as a sophomore; I became more involved as a junior. I ran for and won the event coordinator position. In the coming year, I’ll be the club secretary,
Q. Are you enjoying the summit?
A. It’s helping us develop a lot of skills necessary in the professional world and everywhere, really. Yesterday we went to the Ropes course. That turned out really well. When we were separated into groups we had to work together. We learned a lot about listening and communicating. The social media class was really applicable to us. A good majority of us are seniors. We’re going to be applying to colleges and we really need to watch what we say and do on social media.

Agatha and Orlinka Kereere
Orlinka Kereere – Mendham High School in Morris County, New Jersey
Q. What do you think of the summit?
A. This week I’ve learned that listening is important, because especially in times of disasters, you need to know how people feel. If you don’t communicate with them or listen to them, you’re not helping them at all. I’m glad our parents put us into this program. I’m going into 9th grade next year and I think I can bring a lot to my school. It sets a great example for my sister and me, and we can one day work for the Red Cross as well. I don’t know if my high school has a club, but I’d be interested in starting one.

Agatha Kereere – Emerson College, Boston Mass
Q. What are your feelings towards the Red Cross?
A. My background with the Red Cross started with our mother; she’s been an active participant in Red Cross.* I think we’re coming up on a decade. I was already familiar the organization’s principles and a lot of the work they do. I became a volunteer with the Red Cross my freshman year, and I’m about to be a senior. This week I’m shadowing the interns because I hope to intern for the Red Cross next summer in Greater New York.  I’m a journalism major/psychology minor and I’d love to be a broadcast journalist.
Q. What’s been most helpful to you this week?
A. The session on psychological first aid, taught by Desiree Diaz, really spoke to me. She gave us examples of people helping others, even if you’re not part of the Red Cross. I thought, this is a testament to helping your fellow person. You can do it in small ways. If you see someone crying you can off a tissue or ask, Hey what’s wrong? As a disaster responder you can give a debit card. I think the number one thing I learned that struck a chord with me was the strength of the human spirit.
*Agatha and Orlinka’s mom, Suzan Kereere, is Greater NY Red Cross board vice chair

Andrew Lee
Andrew Lee – Stuyvesant High School
Q. Talk about your involvement with your Red Cross Club
A. I’ve been with the Stuyvesant Red Cross club for three years—since I started high school. I like the fact that we build a community in our high school. I teach first aid and CPR that to my fellow students. I teach with my co-president next year. We teach about 400 juniors every year—about half of our junior grade—in conjunction with our health classes. They get credit for taking the class. We certify them in Adult First aid and CPR/AED. We run six classes a year; next year we’re expanding to eight classes. I feel like it’s a noble cause to teach high school students how to save lives. We’ve also certified some teachers.
Q. Thoughts about the summit?
A. I really like this week. It’s made me realize that there’s more to Red Cross than just First Aid and CPR. There’s disaster services; there’s International Humanitarian Law. I was so concentrated on the first aid, I wasn't as tuned into the other aspects of the Red Cross as I might have been.   
Q. Please talk about your involvement with the Red Cross. 
A. I really love the Red Cross; it’s been my life for the past three years. I hope to continue on in college and wherever I go in life. I’ve formed a special bond with the people who have been with me, not just people from my high school but people from other high schools. It’s great to get to know them and to learn what they’re doing at their schools.

Monday, July 14, 2014

In Case You Missed It

Upcoming Events
  • Red Cross and Visiting Nurse Service of New York will host another free post-Sandy stress management workshop at the North Babylon Public Library on Long Island. The workshop starts at 10 a.m. on July 15th. 

Last Week in Review

  • On Tuesday, a Red Cross team provided emergency assistance to two families who lost all their belongings in an apartment fire on St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan. 
  • Thursday, Red Cross staff and volunteers supported the FDNY funeral service and Mass for Lt. Gordon Matthew Ambelas, who died in the line of duty at a fire in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lt. Ambelas and his family. 
  • Red Crossers spent Friday at the League of United Latin American Citizens Convention to recruit volunteers and raise safety awareness.

    (Photo: Ronnie G. Rigos)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First Time Out in the Field

by Alice Ding

As an intern at the American Red Cross Greater New York Region, part of my job is to interview volunteers and blog about their experiences. After hearing heart-wrenching and inspiring stories from volunteers during phone interviews, I had the chance to experience the work of a volunteer disaster responder firsthand.

In the beginning of July 2014, I shadowed long-time volunteer disaster responder Gerald Rothstein, and volunteer-in-training Jason Gray during one of their shifts. This is what the Red Cross calls a ride-along.

Gerald, Jason and I were assigned to a fire scene in Queens. The fire had ripped through a three-story house with four apartment units.

Arriving at the scene, after speaking with the fire chief to get a better sense of the situation, Gerald sat down with the owner of the house, whose family occupied the bottom two floors. Gerald explained the Red Cross assistance available to the owner, who was planning to stay with relatives, and left him with a flier with the organization’s contact information. Through the entire conversation, the owner appeared distressed, not wanting to talk much. He kept repeating that he didn’t know what to do next.

As Gerald and Jason assessed the damage inside the house, the couple from the top floor arrived. We greeted them outside and asked if they needed temporary accommodation since their apartment was not in livable condition. The woman was pregnant; her eyes were red and I had heard her crying while I was still inside. Learning they had nowhere to stay, we provided them with temporary housing and financial assistance. Gerald also directed them to come to headquarters the next day and speak with a caseworker to help them start their recovery.

Residents in the fourth unit were not home. We left Red Cross contact information so they would know where to look for help upon their return.

I left the scene with a sense of sadness. Merely imagining losing my home while trying to start a new family would bring me to the verge of tears, yet this is a reality the couple has to cope with. However, knowing the Red Cross is there to help them to get back on their feet provided some comfort for me.

This experience helped me put the work of the Red Cross in perspective. I had the chance to see that disasters can leave people with a feeling of helplessness. Knowing the Red Cross is always there to provide assistance, I left the scene with a renewed sense of purpose in my job: letting people know that the Red Cross will be there for you in the face of disaster.

Monday, July 7, 2014

In Case You Missed It

Upcoming Events
  • Red Cross and Visiting Nurse Service of New York will host another post-Sandy stress management workshop in Babylon, Long Island, on July 15. Check our Facebook and/or Twitter feeds later this week for more information. 
Weekend Roundup
Red Cross caseworkers met with families affected by the four-alarm fire in Brooklyn to provide assistance and support.
  • Red Cross disaster responders raced to Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn at 2 a.m. on July 4th to  provide assistance to over 100 residents after a four-alarm fire tore through several floors of a 71-unit building. The following day, Red Cross opened a service center at a nearby school where caseworkers met with families to discuss the next steps in recovery. Read more about the fire response here.
Last Week in Review
  • The Metro New York North Red Cross helped a family of five adults and one infant during a fire  on Brookdale Avenue in New Rochelle on June 30.
  • The Red Cross provided two adults with emergency housing after a two-alarm fire ripped through a three-story building in Queens on July 2.
  • Red Crossers distributed 200 flood clean up kits to residents in Sullivan County following a flood on July 2.

Brooklyn 4-alarm Fire (July 4, 2014)

Our disaster responders put their Fourth of July plans on hold to help families affected by a four-alarm fire in Brooklyn that tore through several floors in a 71-unit building. Red Cross team opened a reception center at P.S. 129 and provided food, water, emotional and health support. The following day, our caseworkers met with families to discuss their next steps in recovery.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fun in the Sun: Water Safety and CPR Tips with Good Day New York

By Caroline Hroncich

Now that summer’s here, everyone wants to spend some time cooling off in the pool. But what would you do if that relaxing day were to take a turn for the worst? That’s exactly what Fox 5's Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly asked American Red Cross representatives Diana Price and Lipica Shah on a June 27 segment of Good Day New York. Amidst a lot of laughter, some important tips were shared about how to stay safe this summer, and possibly save a life. Click here to watch the segment.

Following the segment, we asked Diana Price, Red Cross aquatics specialist, a few more questions about water safety, CPR and her experience on the "set" of Good Day New York

What are some helpful tips people need to know about how to stay safe in and around the water this summer?
Diana: The most important thing is to swim in a supervised area. It’s also important for parents to keep a close eye on their children, whether there is a lifeguard present or not. Make sure you have safety equipment and a phone around your home pool. When the pool is not being used keep fences up, and have alarms to notify you if someone falls in. Another good tip is to remove any items that would be attractive to a young child, like a toy, from the pool. So the child doesn't accidentally fall in the water. Vigilance is the most important thing.

How can someone become CPR certified?
Diana: Take an American Red Cross class. People can go to, put in a zip code and find classes in their area.

If someone’s not CPR-certified, what can they do to help in a situation where someone is unconscious or not breathing?
Diana: If someone not breathing, even if you are CPR-certified, the first thing to do is to call 911 to get help to you as quickly as possible. If someone is not CPR certified, they can do the ‘hands-only compressions’ that Lipica talks about in the clip. But the most important thing is to call 911, and get advanced care as quickly as possible. The most important equipment you can have near any kind of water is always a phone, so if you need to call 911 you can easily do that.

What was the best part about taking part in the Good Day New York water safety segment?
Being given the opportunity to explain water competency. It’s such an important skill; it’s not just about being able to jump in the water, you have to be able to jump in the pool, bring yourself up to the surface, tread water, float on your back and swim at least 25 yards. That’s how you know that you’re water competent. And remember, even though you may be deep water safe, you should still never swim in an unsupervised area. 

Thanks to Diana and Lipica for their excellent work on this segment. For more information about CPR training or tips on how to stay safe this summer, visit us online.

L to R: Diana Price and Lipica Shah