Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Red Cross Shares 20 Ways to Be Safe This Summer

Summer is finally on the way and many of us will travel, grill delicious food and cool off in the pool or at the beach. The American Red Cross wants everyone to enjoy the summer, and offers 20 things you can do to be safe all summer long.


1. Be well rested and alert, use seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. Clean your headlights and turn them on as dusk approaches or in inclement weather.
2. Don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver available.
3. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
4. Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways.
5. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.


1. Ensure that everyone in the family becomes water competent. That is, learn to swim well, know your limitations and how to recognize and avoid hazards, and understand how to help prevent and respond to emergencies around water.
2. Adults should actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. Kids should follow the rules.
3. Fence your pool in with four-sided fencing that is at least four-feet in height and use self-closing, self-latching gates.
4. Wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level.
5. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair – everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. If in a location with no lifeguards, such as a residential pool, designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on children in and around the water.

1. If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool. Be sure you have the skills for these environments.
2. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.
3. Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. Know your limitations and make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
4. Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
5. If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, 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.


1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
2. Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
3. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.


The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills ( so you can help save a life.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

How to Stay Safe During Severe Weather

Thunderstorms produce lightning, which unfortunately kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Their heavy rains can cause flash flooding and their strong winds can damage homes and cause power outages. The American Red Cross is issuing steps people can take to remain safe when severe weather threatens.


  • If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.
  • If someone has been struck by lightning, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Anyone who has sustained a lightning strike requires professional medical care. Check the person for burns and other injuries. If the person has stopped breathing, call 9-1-1 and begin CPR. If the person is breathing normally, look for other possible injuries and care for them as necessary. People who have been struck by lightning do not retain an electrical charge and can be handled safely.


  • Turn around, don’t drown. If driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • People living in communities threatened by flooding should keep informed about weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials.
  • Follow evacuation orders. Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
  • Keep children and pets out of the water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to see flood danger.


  • Use flash lights in the dark, not candles.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
  • If you are using a generator be sure you understand the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to use generators safely.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep covered at all times.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.


Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding, as well as locations of open Red Cross shelters. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, texting GETEMERGENCY to 90999 for a link to download the app or going to

You can find safety information about all different kinds of emergencies in the Red Cross preparedness section of this web site. Information is available on what to do before, during and after the storm or other emergency.

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - May 2018

Did you know that tornado season is still upon us?  According to a study by the National Weather Service,  March, April, and May are peak months for tornadoes in Tennessee.  Nearly two-thirds of Middle Tennessee's tornadoes have occurred during these three months. If you haven’t already, now is the time to build a kit and make a plan so that you are prepared in case a tornado strikes.

Here are some Red Cross tips to keep you safe this tornado season:
  • ·         Identify a safe place in your home where household members and pets will gather during a tornado: a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • ·         In a high-rise building, pick a hallway in the center of the building. You may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.
  • ·         In a mobile home, choose a safe place in a nearby sturdy building. If your mobile home park has a designated shelter, make it your safe place. No mobile home, however it is configured, is safe in a tornado.

Know the Difference!

Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately underground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).  Be sure to take your communication devices with you to your safe place if possible and readily available.

If you have a smartphone, download the free Red Cross Emergency app for the latest weather alerts and information on Red Cross shelters.  There are great educational tools and checklists there as well. 

Be sure to share this information with family and friends so they too are prepared!


Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Kathy Ferrell - May 2018

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  - Margaret Mead

Thank you for sharing your time and for changing our corner of the world by serving one family at a time.  We are always happy to connect you with additional opportunities to serve, as well as connecting your friends with opportunities to serve.

We are experiencing positive change in our office as well!  Keith Hickerson is joining our team as the Business Operations Coordinator, effective May 21st.  Keith serves as a Lt. with the City of Dickson Fire Department, beginning as a volunteer and moving into a full-time position 25 years ago.  As many firefighters do, he has worked a second job, serving for the past 12 years with Saint Thomas Health and Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in their Event Medicine and Mobile Health Departments.  He comes to us with the skill set to be an exceptional employee, but also with a deep understanding of our Mission as he has experienced the work we do firsthand throughout his career with the Fire Department.  Please join me in welcoming him to the Red Cross family.

Our inaugural Sound the Alarm campaign event was a great example of the partnership we have with local Fire Departments, local churches, and local non-profits.  Over 100 volunteers shared their time to make 127 homes in our community safer.

As always, our office is open and we are happy to have you join us in service.  Looking forward to seeing you at our all-volunteer meeting later this month!

With gratitude,
Kathy Ferrell
Executive Director, Heart of Tennessee Chapter

Change and Opportunity - Northeast Tennessee - May 2018

The symbols for change and opportunity are identical in the Chinese language.  Here at the Northeast Tennessee Chapter as we experience new leadership we know change will come and with the change also great opportunity.  Since 1917 when the Red Cross Chapters were chartered in this area we have seen many changes in leadership.  There have been new Chapter Chairmen every few years but the Executives have traditionally stayed for longer periods.    

Glenda Bobalik, who retired last month after working at the Chapter here in northeast TN since 1987, will be missed by many individuals she has touched over the past 31 years.  Glenda started her career with the Red Cross as a swimming and canoeing instructor in Texas.  When she moved to Kingsport she soon began volunteering with the Red Cross again.  First as a hospital volunteer, next as a school health volunteer, and then as a First Aid and CPR Instructor.  It was her volunteer leadership in the School Health Program that led her to employment with the Red Cross.  In 1987, she became the Director of Volunteers, then transitioned to Disaster Services and Emergency Services before finally assuming the role of Executive Director.  She has filled many beyond the Chapter roles, especially in Disaster Response.

When asked what her favorite experiences have been in her years with the Red Cross, she quickly says disaster response.  She loves people - helping and giving hope to them whether it be one family in the middle of the night, training volunteers or helping the public prepare for and respond to a disaster.  The numerous Red Crossers she has worked with over the years hold very special places in Glenda’s memories – they are the part of her Red Cross experience she will miss the most.
In these 30 years Glenda has seen significant change in the American Red Cross.  She says while many internal processes and procedures have changed over the years the actual services provided to those in need has not changed significantly.  We still help families after a disaster with their basic needs – our volunteers now provide the help in a different way due to technology. We still provide the same care and support even with the changes.  She notes an organization that does not change with society dies.

What is Glenda’s plan for the future?  She says her options are wide open.  While she is not going to commit to anything specific right now she knows she will do something for the Red Cross in the future. For the immediate future, she has a long list of projects ranging from cleaning her garage to spending lots of time with her granddaughter.  We wish Glenda the very best in her well-deserved retirement!   

Kalen Collins joined the Northeast TN Chapter as Executive Director on April 30.  She is a native of Castlewood , Virginia.  After completing her schooling in Wise, Virginia, Kalen attended King University in Bristol; graduating after 5 years with a bachelor’s Degree in communications and a master’s Degree in Business Administration.

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development in Richmond engaged Kalen to work with the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation.  During her time with them she was Operations Manager for the Foundation based at Heartwood in Abingdon.  Her role there included working with government and community leaders, artists, businesses, farms and others to turn natural and cultural resources and assets into tourism magnets for Southwest Virginia.

Outside of her professional life, Kalen enjoys many sporting activities.  She is a runner, has coached youth basketball, and enjoys football.  This love of football is a joint interest with her fiancĂ©, Quintin Hunter, who works as offensive coordinator with the football program at Emory and Henry College.
Kalen was excited when she saw the opportunity to work with the American Red Cross and stay in this area.  She thought the organization would be a good fit for her professional skills, her desire to help others, and her love of meeting and talking with people.

When asked her first impression after 3 days on the job - Kalen says she is blown away by the collaboration she has observed both locally and across the state.  She also is impressed by how engaged the volunteers are with the work of the Chapter. 

When you are in the Kingsport Office please stop in to welcome Kalen to the Red Cross and our Chapter. 

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Katy Hagstrom - May 2018

On April 28, 2018, the Tennessee River Chapter canvassed 900 homes across three neighborhoods, with a goal of installing 350 smoke alarms as part of the Sound the Alarm campaign. Working together, we installed 371 smoke alarms and 2 bed shaker alarms for the hearing impaired. We achieved this goal with the support of 103 volunteers and community partners like Austin Peay State University, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Clarksville Fire Department, and many more who provided materials, meals, and manpower to support install teams.

Our inaugural Sound the Alarm event proved to be successful because of the dedicated work of our volunteers and community partners!

We kicked off the month of May with a nationwide mass care assessment of our chapter capabilities. The objective was to open and withstand two shelters for 72 hours, capable of housing 100 clients each. Twenty volunteers were engaged in this exercise both at the shelter locations and at the Disaster Operations Center.

Both events were a test of our capabilities and I am proud to announce that we surpassed the expectations with your help. Thank you for continuing to serve your communities and the mission of the American Red Cross.

-Katy Hagstrom

Red Cross Honors Military Children at Annual Nashville Area Military Kids Serve Too Event

In a special military ceremony called, “Military Kids Serve Too,” 64 happy, rambunctious, young kids, accompanied by their parents, stopped laughing and playing long enough to line up quietly at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville to meet Colonel Jason Glass, Asst. Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard. The smiling Col. Glass greeted each child with a handshake---and inside the handshake was a colorful Red Cross coin, a symbol of the appreciation military leaders have for the children of military families.

Col. Glass said, “We’re coining these children today because they’ve served as well. They didn’t sign on the dotted line like their parents did, but they’re nevertheless serving their country. They sacrifice just like their families do…sometimes even more so since they’re often too young to understand. It’s only fitting that we coin them. It’s a military tradition and each unit has its own coin. And these kids are great patriots.  Military kids are very persevering, and they grow up as concerned citizens. They have a great sense of community and involvement because their loved ones are doing something greater than themselves.” 

John Athan, 12, and  his sister,  Anabel Athan, 10, proudly show off their military coins as Col. Glass looks on.

Anderson Fields, 1, high-fives Col Glass.

Austin Howard, son of Maj. Clifford and Tina Howard, examines the Red Cross logo on the back of his military coin

Kamper Vermillian, age 1,  takes a coin from Col. Glass

Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth Vermillion, baby, Kamper, son, Tannon (black shirt), friend, Ryder Jones enjoyed the coining ceremony.

Red Cross staff and volunteers at the coining ceremony: (Back row, L-R) Nathan Suber, Perry Colson, and Brian McIlvaine (Front row, L-R) Denisha White, Katie Schafer, and Danny Stokes.

Article and photos by Marvin Koch, American Red Cross Volunteer