Thursday, July 30, 2015

Red Cross Issues Back to School Safety Tips


As summer winds down, the American Red Cross urges parents to consider safety as their children head back to school. While your family settles back into its school-year routine, take a minute to review the following safety tips to prepare for the school year ahead.

Emergencies can happen anytime

• Make sure your child knows his or her home phone number and address, parents’ work contact information, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1.

• Talk to your child’s teacher or school principal about the school’s emergency plan and how you will be notified if an emergency happens at the school.

• Remind your child that the most important thing they can do if an emergency happens at school is to stay calm and listen to the direction of their teachers or principal.

• Tape a copy of your family’s contact numbers and meeting place(s) to the inside of your child’s binder or homework notebook and in their book bag.

Bus Safety

If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb. Other safety steps for students include:

• Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop.

• Only board your bus and never an alternate one.

• Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.

• Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.


• If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.

• All drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones.

Biking and Walking

Students who ride their bike to school should always wear a helmet, obey all traffic signs and ride on the right in the same direction as traffic.

Those who walk to school should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children and children taking new routes or attending new schools at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely.

Sports Safety

The return to school means many student athletes will be outside for practice. But during a heat wave, athletes should avoid workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day—these should be scheduled for early in the day or later in the evening. Other ways to stay safe include:

·  Get acclimated to the heat by reducing the intensity of your workouts or exercise until you are more accustomed to the heat.

·  Take frequent, longer breaks. Stop about every 20 minutes for fluids and try to stay in the shade.

·  Those in charge of student practices should reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in extremely hot weather.

·  Dress athletes in net-type jerseys or light-weight, light-colored cotton tee shirts and shorts.

·  Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely.

·  Athletes should inform those in charge if they are not feeling well.

Be Prepared at Home and School

The start of a new school year is also a good time to assess how prepared you are at home. Being prepared for possible emergencies is crucial at home, school and work, and could save a life.

·  Get a kit: Families that have an emergency kit will feel empowered to not only help themselves in a disaster or emergency, but may also be prepared to help a friend, family member or neighbor in need. The Red Cross recommends that your kit contain supplies such as bottled water, nonperishable food, first aid supplies and medications to last your family for three days.

·  Make a plan: The Red Cross recommends developing and practicing an evacuation and communications plan. Each person should know how to reach family members and where to meet if you can’t go home. Families should also choose an out-of-state relative or friend as an emergency contact.

·  Be informed: The Red Cross suggests that families learn about what types of disasters or emergencies are most likely to occur where you live, work and play. Download our First Aid App, packed with great information and tools to help you prepare and respond to emergencies.

·  Get Trained: First aid and CPR courses are a vital component of disaster preparedness, and could help you save a life in an emergency. Babysitter Training is a great way to help children safely care for themselves or younger siblings after school or to launch a high school job opportunity. To learn more or register for a class, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stay Safe During Extreme Heat

As temperatures rise, the American Red Cross offers these tips to help you stay safe in the heat:
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

Caregiving – How to Treat Heat-Related Illnesses

During heat waves people are susceptible to three heat-related conditions. Here’s how to recognize and respond to them.
Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

  • Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and gently massage the area.
  • Give an electrolyte-containing fluid, such as a commercial sports drink, fruit juice or milk. Water may also be given. Do not give the person salt tablets.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. Heat exhaustion often affects athletes, firefighters, construction workers and factory workers. It also affects those wearing heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment.

  • Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
  • Move the person to a cooler environment with circulating air. Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid such as a commercial sports drink or fruit juice to restore fluids and electrolytes. Milk or water may also be given. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes.
  • If the person’s condition does not improve or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning.

  • Signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.
  • Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
  • Preferred method: Rapidly cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible OR douse or spray the person with cold water.
  • Sponge the person with ice water-doused towels over the entire body, frequently rotating the cold, wet towels.
  • Cover the person with bags of ice.
  • If you are not able to measure and monitor the person’s temperature, apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person’s condition improves.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Regional Executive Corner with Joel R. Sullivan - July 2015

Anyone who’s lived in Tennessee knows our summer months can be very hot and humid, and that means trips to the pool are an absolute.  Before you suit up, remember to make pool and sun safety a priority for you and your loved ones. The Red Cross has some tips that will help to ensure you can have a fun and SAFE summer.

HOME POOL SAFETY The American Red Cross suggests owners make pool safety their priority by following these guidelines:

•    Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool.
•    Keep children under active supervision at all times. Stay in arm’s reach of young kids. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool—never allow anyone to swim alone. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
•    Ensure everyone in the home knows how to swim well by enrolling them in age-appropriate water orientation and learn-to-swim courses from the Red Cross.
•    Keep your pool or hot tub water clean and clear. Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regularly test and adjust the chemical levels to minimize the risk of earaches, rashes or more serious diseases.
•    Establish and enforce rules and safe behaviors, such as “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” “swim with a buddy” and “walk please.”
•    Ensure everyone in the home knows how to respond to aquatic emergencies by having appropriate safety equipment and taking water safety, first aid and CPR courses from the Red Cross.
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 you can do is download the free Red Cross First Aid App which provides expert advice for everyday emergencies. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to

I encourage everyone to download the Swim app as it is fun for kids and adults alike.  And of course the First Aid app is a must.  You will find yourself using it sooner than you think…especially with summer here. 

Have a safe and fun summer!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, Debra Roberson - July 2015

Everyone looks forward to having fun during the summer, and the Red Cross wants to make sure people know how to stay safe while enjoying the warmer months.

HIGHWAY SAFETY  Millions of people will be on the highways over the summer. The Red Cross offers these five tips everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:
1. Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
2. Do not drink and drive.
3. Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
4. Use caution in work zones.
5. Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.

GRILLING SAFETY  Every year people are injured while using grills. Here are steps for safe grilling:
1. Always supervise a barbeque grill when in use.
2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the 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.

DOWNLOAD FIRST AID APP  The Red Cross has a free Red Cross First Aid App to put expert advice for everyday emergencies at their fingertips. The app is available for smart phones and tablets and can be downloaded at

Remember to check your email for information on the July monthly volunteer meeting which will be held in Crockett County.

Debra Roberson
Executive Director

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Letter from Tennessee River Executive Director, Faye Anderson - July 2015

Keeping our Neighbors Safe

The Red Cross continues to serve our communities through our preparedness mission.  Resources like the Red Cross Apps that are available for free download as well as initiatives like the Home Fire Campaign are ways that we can make a difference in how well your family is prepared in case of an emergency.

With technology at an all time high, the addition of the Red Cross Apps has been a huge hit.  The First Aid app alone has 2.6 million downloads. There are apps to alert you of impending whether, apps to help your pet, apps to find a local blood drive, just to name a few.  In this age of technology it is good to know that the American Red Cross has stepped up to the plate to find a way to offer us preparedness and safety tips at a touch of a button. 

The Home Fire Campaign is going strong across our nation.  We partner with organizations for a day of preparedness in which we install smoke detectors, replace batteries and help make an escape plan in case of a fire.  The latest stats are staggering…83,000 alarms installed, 12,000 batteries replaced, 35,000 escape plans completed and a confirmation that these efforts have saved at least 13 people during the year.  This campaign will continue locally in our counties over the next year as we continue our efforts to cut down on fire related deaths.

The Tennessee River Chapter is continuing our mission in our counties to get people prepared for when a disaster strikes.  Our main focus is to make sure each community is equipped with trained volunteers that will show up to help those in their community and beyond when a disaster strikes.   These are people who give their time, talent and treasure and have a love to help those in need.  They “pay it forward” every time they put on that distinctive Red Cross vest.

Take advantage of the lifesaving technology that we have available for you and your family.  Reach out to us if you need a smoke detector or know of someone who needs our help. Play a part in keeping your neighbors safe and help this chapter continue to carry out our preparedness mission. Get involved; make a plan today to start “paying it forward.”

Here is a picture of some of our new volunteers in the Wayne, Lawrence, Giles and Maury county areas!  Welcome aboard…building and continuing our mission one volunteer at a time!

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - July 2015

Summer is here and many of you are planning those annual trips to the beach, lake or the local park to celebrate with families and friends.  Nothing says summer like a hot dog, cheeseburger or corn on the cob fresh off the grill; and with all the fun and excitement it is easy to overlook some of the basic safety precautions you need to consider while grilling out. Whether in your back yard or at a local park here are 5 safety tips to keep you and your family safe this barbecuing season.

1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.  You don’t want to burn that cheeseburger that’s waiting for you!
2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area. Take advantage of the beautiful weather and cook outside.
3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill. Your guests might be hungry but they still have to wait until the food is off the grill to get their hands on it!
4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the 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. Provide the chef with the right tools to keep their hands safe so they can participate in the post-barbecue volleyball game. 

By using these 5 tips, you are well on your way to a safe and fun outing.  Accidents, even with the best intentions, can happen- so make sure you also download the Red Cross First Aid App. This free app provides expert advice for everyday emergencies. The app is available for smart phones and tablets.

Letter from Heart of Tennessee Executive Director, Mike Cowles - July 2015

Greetings, Heart of Tennessee Red Cross-

We just wrapped up our fiscal year 2015, and WOW, what a year it was!  In October 2014, the Heart of Tennessee Chapter and the Caney Fork Chapter based in McMinnville became one chapter, and with it came a lot of new challenges.  We had a larger territory to cover, our volunteers were concerned as to how we would function as a larger team, county officials were concerned about our response time, and our staff was concerned, well, about everything.

Through all the change, we continued to serve the community by being prepared and serving with our mission in mind. Our chapter was incredibly successful and our volunteers performed marvelously.  Our Chapter now covers 17 counties from the Alabama/Tennessee state line to the Tennessee/Kentucky state line (Bedford, Cannon, Clay, Coffee, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Rutherford, Van Buren, Warren and White Counties).

Below are some stats to show just how big of a difference we made:

•    985 clients affected by house fires/disaster were served

•    Responded/supported a winter ice storm on the Cumberland Plateau that affected over 100,000 residents/supported emergency personnel with food and drink

•    Distributed over 10,000 holiday cards to our military personnel and their families

•    Provided services and information to over 900 military personnel and their families

•    8,756 blood donations were made at our fixed and mobile sites

•    4,200 enrolled in Health and Safety courses

When a disaster strikes our volunteers, look at it as an opportunity to serve.  When blood is needed, a donor says I will give.  When someone’s life is in jeopardy, a trained citizen says let me handle it.  When a Hero needs a helping hand, a patriot reaches out. 

I encourage you to give us a call or stop by our office to find out how you can become a part of the team that strives every day to make a difference in the community, and most of all, to help those in their dire time of need by providing strength, encouragement and a “its going to be alright” smile.


Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director Michelle Hankes, July 2015

Greetings from Texas!

I had the opportunity at the end of June and early July to be deployed to Houston, TX, to help with the flood relief efforts of the American Red Cross. I got to experience first-hand the complexity of a very large disaster that touched millions of people across three states.

You can all be very proud of the efforts of 16 East Tennessee volunteers who took on the roles of caseworker, shelter manager and Emergency Response Vehicle driver, taking cases of water, meals and other needed items into areas where water was lapping at the edges of the roads.

Some of the clients at our shelters have been unable to go home for many weeks, and none are sure if they even have homes to go to. I am reminded of the courage and compassion of our volunteers each day. I am thankful for the generosity of donors from across the nation as they give in support of people they will never meet. I am humbled by the way community organizations and government groups work together to rebuild neighborhoods.

If you wonder, "Is the Red Cross making a difference?" I am here to say, without reserve, "Yes!!" I see it in the faces of the people we serve, and I see it in the faces of my fellow Red Cross volunteers.

Thank you for all YOU do for the East Tennessee Chapter! Thank you for making a difference!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Why I Help (WIH)

By Sharon Alfred and Monique Gooch, Red Cross Volunteer Journalists

Bert Copeland, American Red Cross Nashville Area of Chapter of the Tennessee Region, Nashville, TN
If you’re in the greater Nashville area, and need to be nursed back to health, there is someone special you can call: Bert Copeland, a volunteer with the American Red Cross. He is a long-time volunteer and a licensed registered nurse. He makes sure disaster victims have a quiet place to rest and recover. Copeland works closely with the Gage Cobb, the Red Cross’ regional disaster program manager, to renew shelter agreements and meet with emergency response leaders in the surrounding counties when disaster strikes.

Copeland added that when emergency shelters are opened, he helps to assign health care volunteers to man those shelters. And he knows what needs to be done in emergency situations, because he has personal experience working in intensive care units, as well as Level 1 trauma centers. Additionally, as an on-call Disaster Action Team (DAT) nurse at the Nashville, Tennessee chapter, Copeland “helps victims of disaster get their replacement medications and durable medical equipment that they may have lost.”

He also has an active role in the Red Cross Staff Wellness program. The program makes sure that assigned volunteers are working and staying in a safe place as they fulfill their disaster relief missions. Copeland’s Staff Wellness position involves reviewing health-status records of the local volunteers before they deploy. If he has a few spare minutes, amazingly, he also teaches CPR/First Aid/AED to novice and professional responders.

Copeland has been volunteering with the Red Cross for the past five years. But, Copeland has been a volunteer or a recipient of Red Cross services several times in the distant past too. He recalled that when he was still stationed at an Armed Forces Boot Camp, it was a Red Cross program that allowed him to go back home and be with his family during the trying times brought on by his father’s sudden death and funeral.

Copeland likes to volunteer with the Red Cross organization because he feels that “it is the only national organization that can help people on so many levels.” This type of help is in direct agreement with his personal motto - “When I help you, I am helping myself, and the way I treat you is the way I expect God to treat me.”

Copeland summed it up best when he stated when he volunteers; it seems as though he receives more back than what he initially puts in. He asked rhetorically, “And, what is wrong with that? Who could ask for more?”