Friday, September 12, 2014

Red Cross Offers Flood Cleanup Tips

Follow these tips for a safe clean-up:
  • Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
  • Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud, including canned goods and containers with food or liquid that have been sealed shut. When in doubt, throw it out.
  •  Be careful when moving furnishings or debris since they may be water logged and heavier.
  • Some cleaning solutions can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if mixed together. If you smell a strong odor or your eyes water from the fumes or mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (e.g. mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys).
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
  • Clean hard surfaces (e.g. flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent.

The American Red Cross offers the following informational resources in both English and Spanish for returning to your home after a flood:

Repairing Your Flooded Home (Spanish)

You can also download the free Red Cross Flood app for tips on what to do before, during and after a flood. Download it directly from the iTunes and Google Play app stores.

You can receive more safety/preparedness information by visiting

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kenneth Brown: Plough Foundation Volunteer of the Month - Mid-South Chapter

The volunteer of the month is no stranger to the American Red Cross.  He has been extremely active in Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) for over a decade.  He has been with the Memphis Fire Department since 1998 and with the Mid-South American Red Cross since 2000.

Nominated by DCS, this volunteer continues to perform double-duty to support the chapter.  Through his professional connections, he has assisted the chapter in preparing and responding.  He is responsible for engaging members of the community, including seventeen Red Crossers, in becoming part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and ensuring all are trained and ready to answer the call in times of disaster.  To find out more about this training and see pictures of the Mid-South Chapter in action, visit
In 2000, after experiencing first-hand the comfort the Red Cross provides, our Volunteer of the Month decided he needed to be part of the organization that showed up to offer a helping hand. At first, he directed all of his United Way contributions to the Red Cross. But before long, he was down at the Mid-South Red Cross building on his days off taking disaster preparedness courses.

He began driving an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to emergency sites, spending many of his days off offering assistance to his fire-department colleagues, and other workers and persons affected by emergency situations. He became a member of the Disaster Action Team (DAT), which responds to assist people who have been displaced from their homes when disaster strikes. Soon, he was tapped to be a DAT Captain, a role that he still fills. He is also a Disaster Assessment specialist, a function that is essential after a disaster strikes to determine exactly where and how much assistance is needed from the Red Cross.

In addition to his work in the local community, this dedicated individual also deploys with the Red Cross to assist with national emergencies. He has been deployed over a dozen times since 2005, including deployments to assist with Hurricane Gustav and Katrina recovery efforts.

When not busy with the Red Cross, he serves as a Chaplin for the Memphis Fire Department. He is also a member of Tennessee Task Force One, an emergency response agency sponsored by the Memphis Emergency Management Agency and co-coordinated through the Memphis Fire Department; he teaches Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) courses; and he is also a liaison to the City of Memphis Office of Emergency Management that helped to establish a partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation to identify and survey shelter facilities that can be utilized by the American Red Cross.  He was instrumental throughout the summer, especially during the severe flash flooding that occurred in late June.  He worked to identify shelters, set them up, manage the sites while opened, and many more vital functions during the month of July. 

We are excited to announce that our Plough Foundation Volunteer of the Month is Kenneth Brown. We are honored to have him serve in numerous capacities and represent the organization.  Brown has been instrumental during the recent disaster operation and continues to be an integral part of the Mid-South Chapter through his dedicated service as a DAT captain.  We are grateful for Kenneth’s service and thankful that we can honor him as the August volunteer winner for his commitment to the Red Cross. 

How to Keep People and Pets Safe during the Last of the Summer Heat

Although we have had a mild summer, temperatures are increasing as we head into September.  Excessively hot and humid weather has killed more Americans than any other weather-related disaster. Heat waves are defined as extended periods of hot, humid weather that is 10 degrees higher than average for the time of year. Elderly populations are much at risk during hot weather, particularly if they lack access to air condition. Companion animals are also under much threat, as they become overheated easily and cannot ask for help.

Keep your family safe:
Never leave children in vehicles, even for short amounts of time. A few minutes of intense heat can kill children and infants.
Stay hydrated by drinking copious amounts of cold water. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks, including soda. Keep drinking water hourly, even if you do not feel thirsty.
Wear weather-appropriate clothing that is loose, lightweight and light-colored.
Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, typically late morning to early evening.
If you must work outside, always work with a friend and take frequent breaks.
If experiencing a heat wave, postpone outdoor activities and exercise until temperatures cool.
Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air-conditioning, particularly elderly individuals and anyone who lives alone. Seniors have the greatest risk of heat stroke.
Listen to local weather forecasts and be aware of heat watches, warnings and advisories.
Prepare for the possibility of power outages and always have an emergency kit on hand.
If you see someone experience a heat cramp, move the person to a cooler place and have him or her lie back and massage the muscle. Give an electrolyte-containing drink or water.
Beware of heat exhaustion signs, such as flushed, pale or moist skin, headache, nausea, dizziness and weakness. Move the person to a cooler environment, remove or loosen clothing, apply cool, wet cloths to skin and offer water. Call 911 if the person vomits or does not improve.
Notice heat stroke signs, including high body temperatures, red skin, rapid or weak pulse, shallow breathing, confusion, vomiting and seizures. Call 911 immediately and try to cool off the person through immersion in cold water, sponging with ice-water or covering in bags of ice.

Keep animal companions safe:
Never leave animals in the car, even for a few minutes with the windows cracked. The temperature inside of vehicles can easily reach over 120 degrees in a short period of time.
Know the risk factors: Dogs with short snouts such as bulldogs, boxers and pugs are at a particularly high risk for heat stroke. Animals that are overweight, elderly, have thick or long coats or are prone to upper respiratory problems should be monitored in hot or humid weather.
Know the signs: Animals developing heat stroke may engage in heavy panting, may appear frantic or are unable to stand up, and may be experiencing brick-red gums and a high pulse rate.
Act quickly: If possible, take the animal’s temperature and beware of a body temperature of 105 or higher. Quickly cool the animal off with a hose or other source of cold water and then rush him or her to the nearest animal hospital. Heat stroke damage acts quickly and can harm organs.
Prepare: Bring animals indoors during excessive heat and always provide fresh, cold water. Know what is normal for your companion – his or her body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and gum color – so you can stay on the lookout for warning signs.

Stay prepared for all possible emergencies by keeping up to date with CPR, AED and First Aid training. Certifications must be updated every two years and classes can be taken at any time. For those who live with or work with animals, pet CPR and First Aid are particularly useful. Finally, download the First Aid app to your smartphone. You never know when you need life-saving information at your fingertips!

Red Cross Tips for a Safe Labor Day Weekend


Many people will be taking road trips, spending time at the beach and having cook outs this weekend. The American Red Cross offers safety tips to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable time.

Everyone should take a few simple, safety steps when spending time on the road, at the beach or lake, and at cook outs.  Start by downloading the free Red Cross mobile First Aid and Swim apps.

People should also follow these safety tips:

Tips for Safe Travel
• Take emergency supplies such as food and water, a flashlight and a first aid kit.
• Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive.
• Buckle up and obey traffic signs.
• Avoid texting and talking on the phone while driving.
• Don’t drink and drive.

Tips for Safe Swimming
• Check weather and beach conditions throughout the day.
• Always swim in an area supervised by a lifeguard and obey all warnings.
• Provide close and constant attention to children in or near the water.
• Stay within arm’s reach of young children and inexperienced swimmers while they are in the water.
• Young children, inexperienced swimmers and boaters should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

Tips for Safe Grilling
• Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Keep children and pets away from the grill.
• Never add charcoal starter fluid after coals have been ignited.
• Use long-handled utensils.
• Don’t leave the grill unattended while in use.

The Red Cross has a series of mobile apps in case people run into severe weather or need expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. People can go to for information.