Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Red Cross Issues Safety Tips for Thanksgiving Holiday

Millions of people will travel to spend their Thanksgiving holiday with loved ones and the American Red Cross has steps they can follow to help make sure they have a safe trip.

The holiday is also a time when cooks spend a lot of time in the kitchen and there are tips they can use to avoid a cooking fire while whipping up their Thanksgiving dinner.

TRAVEL SAFETY If plans include driving, travelers should check the weather along their route and plan for travel around any storms that may be coming. Everyone should use their seat belts and no one should drink and drive. Drivers should be well rested and alert and give their full attention to the road – no cell phones. Other driving safety tips include:
·         Follow the rules of the road – observe the speed limit.
·         Use caution in work zones.
·         Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers.
·         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.

COOKING SAFETY Cooks should avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while preparing the holiday meal. Never leave the stove unattended – if the cook has to leave the kitchen even for a short time, they should turn off the stove. More cooking safety steps are:
·         Check food regularly.
·         Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
·         Keep children and pets away from the cooking area.
·         Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
·         Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
·         Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen.
·         Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.

You can also download the Red Cross First Aid App to have information at your fingertips if an emergency occurs. Find out more about all of the Red Cross apps at

How to Heat Your Home Safely

Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a home fire. Heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires in the United States and occur often as cold weather sets in and people turn on their heating system.

Heating one’s home through the winter can be expensive. Because of the cost, almost half of the families in the United States use alternate heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces, or coal or wood stoves to stay warm. These supplemental heating sources can be dangerous if not used properly. The Red Cross offers the following safety tips on how to prevent fires:

• Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
• Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
• If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
• When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.
• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
• Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year. 

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Glenda Bobalik - November 2014

Can you believe the holiday season is so close?  Here we are in November and it is time to think about the safety of our families and homes.  You are the people who respond to help those impacted by emergencies, facilitate sessions on preparedness activities, and provide resources to make it all possible.  I now ask you to lead the way by practicing safe actions during this special time of year.

The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year-one every eight minutes -- and most are home fires. Last year, we responded 319 home fires in Northeast Tennessee.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we encourage families to prevent kitchen fires by taking some basic safety measures. Thanksgiving is the peak day for kitchen fires, and most of those are caused by unattended cooking,  The good news is that home fires can be prevented by following some simple, safety tips.

A recent Red Cross survey revealed that nearly one in five Americans (16 percent) admit to leaving food cooking unattended on the stove -- a major cause of kitchen fires. Tips to avoid cooking fires include:

·         Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

·         Keep young children and pets at least three feet away from the stove.

·         Move items that can burn away from the stove such as dishtowels, bags and boxes.

·         Clean the stove and the area around it before turning on the heat.

·         Don’t leave food on the stove unattended.

·         Turn pot handles to the back of the stove to avoid spills.

If a pan catches fire, don’t move it. Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to put out the fire. Turn off the heat. Keep the lid on the pan until it cools. Never try to stop a grease or oil fire with water – it will fuel the fire.

If something catches fire in the oven, keep the door closed. Call 9-1-1 so firefighters can make sure the fire didn’t spread to the walls. If a fire occurs in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave if you can. Don’t use it again until a repairman checks it.

If the kitchen catches fire, make sure everyone gets out and call 9-1-1 when outside. Once outside, stay out. Never go back inside a burning building.

Download the Red Cross First Aid App at to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns.

You are important to the Red Cross, our community and your friends and family.  Taking time to be safe is critical for each of us.  Together let’s celebrate a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - November 2014

Thanksgiving is all about food and family- turkey, stuffing, pecan pie and football.  I couldn’t be more excited.  However, preparing holiday goodies can lead to disaster.  Despite what my family may think at times, the smoke alarm isn’t a dinner bell.  In fact, the kitchen is the setting of more fires than any other room in the house, and cooking is the leading cause of fires in the home.  

While I can’t give you advice on how to keep that turkey moist (you will need to call Butterball for that); I can provide you with some tips to help prevent your holiday meal from being referred to as “remember that time…”  

Start by making sure you aren’t wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking, and never leave cooking food unattended.  If you must leave, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove. 

Other safety steps include:

  • Check food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking. Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
  • Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher to keep in the kitchen. Contact the local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
  • Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
  • Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.

Even with the best of plans, accidents happen.  I have downloaded the Red Cross First Aid app on my smartphone so that I can have instant access to the information I need to handle the most common first aid emergencies.

Hoping everyone has a fun, safe and thankful holiday season.


Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, November 2014

As we enter into the season of thanksgiving, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the gifts and joys the American Red Cross of East Tennessee has received over the last year.

I am grateful for:
  • The volunteers who deliver our mission to those who have lost their homes. They take the time to advocate for our soldiers and their families during active deployment. They sit and listen to the stories of veterans in the nursing homes. These are the people who raise their hands high when called to serve. They take hours of training, respond to calls in the middle of the night, and are there for people who are having one of the worst days of their lives.
  • The donors to the American Red Cross of East Tennessee who make it possible for us to provide hundreds of nights of shelter, thousands of meals, support for veterans and their families, and health and safety training for local individuals. Without their generosity, we couldn’t provide the safety our clients need.
  • The community partners who stand with us at disaster scenes or in preparedness activities give us the ability to be more than the sum of our parts. Working together, we are able to reach so many more clients and in more meaningful, long-term ways. Our partners come in many forms: churches, businesses, firefighters, United Ways, student and civic groups, and other social services.
  • The Red Cross staff who work long hours because they believe in the mission. I want to thank them for pulling together, willing to stretch their limits and learn new skills, all so that they may support their volunteers better in delivering the mission.
Success does not come easily, but hard work pays off. Can you imagine what the world would be like without the Red Cross? If we dropped our burden of service, how many people would be without shelter, food and care in a time of crisis? What we do matters, even if no one ever says “thank you.”

But for all of the thousands of people you have helped, whatever your role, I will say to you, with deepest appreciation, thank you!

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Mike Cowles - November 2014

As we wind down the year 2014, we must remember that we are very fortunate to have men and women who stand by waiting for the call to protect our freedom at any cost and at their own will.  When military personnel are dispatched, they leave behind a sense of normalcy as well as a family.  This year I encourage you to follow the steps below to show your support of our men, women and their families by participating in the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes.  

Q:  What is the Holiday for Heroes Program?
A:  The Red Cross Holiday for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season.  We are inviting the public to send cards of thanks, encouragement and holiday cheer to members of our U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families many of whom will be far away from home this holiday season.

Q:  What is the address of the P.O. Box for the program?
A:  We no longer have a national P.O. Box for the program.  Instead, Holiday Mail for Heroes is being conducted at the Red Cross office in your local community.  Check with your local Red Cross office for times and locations for opportunities to get involved.

Q:  Why is the Red Cross changing the format of the program?
A:  We have made this change for several reasons, a reduction in U.S. Armed Forces overseas, particularly in the Middle East and Europe and increased cost of conducting the program.

Q:  Is my local Red Cross Chapter participating in the Holiday for Heroes program?
A:  Yes, the Heart of Tennessee Chapter is participating.  We invite you to stop by our office at 501 Memorial Blvd here in Murfreesboro or visit to find out about opportunities to support this program.

Q:  Cards are not addressed to anyone specific, so who gets these cards?
A:  Participating Red Cross chapters will determine how best to distribute cards to service members, veterans and family members in their local communities, across the nation and around the world.  Cards may be delivered individually, included in care packages or displayed at common venues at military installations and hospitals.

Q:  Can I drop off cards at my local Red Cross office?
A:  Yes, The Heart of Tennessee Chapter office is accepting cards.

Q:  Are there restrictions and guidelines for cards?
A:  In order to make cards as meaningful as possible to a wide audience we recommend that the public use generic titles such as “Dear Service Member, Veteran or Military Family Member “ , when writing the cards.  Cards should not contain glitter because some cards may end up at the bedside of a wounded service member and glitter could aggravate existing health issues.

Q:  Can I include calling and gift cards, money or other items in the cards?
A:  We ask that people NOT enclose any items with the holiday cards.  Any items enclosed with the holiday cards will be removed including photos and other gifts.  If you wish to provide financial support for the Red Cross services to the military to please visit your local chapter.

Once again I want to “Thank You” for what you do for our community and our country and without your support we could not fulfill the mission of helping others.  Please feel free to stop by our office and see where you can find a place amongst the greatest volunteers on earth!