Friday, July 20, 2018

Download Emergency App to Help During Weather Emergencies

The American Red Cross urges people to download the free Red Cross Emergency app to help them stay safe and connected during severe weather and other threats.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY The all-inclusive Emergency app combines more than 35 emergency alerts to help keep the user safe. This latest app from the Red Cross provides information about what to do in case of floods, thunderstorms, hot weather, tornadoes, wildfires and more. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to
Some of the many features of the app include:
  • - The emergency alerts are available for the user’s location and to monitor where friends and family live.
  • - Users can turn alerts on and off to fit their situation.
  • - A single map provides shelter locations and weather information.
  • - Users can easily toggle between English and Spanish.
  • - Information is included on emergency first aid for situations such as heat-related emergencies and water safety for lakes and beaches.
  • - The app covers what to do in emergencies that affect a large area, such as mudslides and snow storms.
  • - Pre-loaded content ensures guidance from Red Cross experts is available even without mobile connectivity.
  • - The home fires section provides information on how to prevent fires, protect loved ones and what to do after a fire occurs.
  • - The make-a-plan feature helps households draw up their individual disaster plans.
“Family Safe” is another unique feature that allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay, even if that person hasn’t downloaded the Emergency App. Using “Family Safe,” the user can send someone a message and their response of either “I’m safe” or “I’m not safe” will come to the user. If they are not safe, the user can call them or see their location on a map. The app also has an “I’m Safe” button which allows users to let loved ones know they are out of harm’s way.
Users who have downloaded other Red Cross apps will still be able to use those individual versions if they prefer.
While apps can help prepare someone for disasters, it’s important to remember that downloading any of the Red Cross apps is not a substitute for training. To learn more about or register for Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED courses, visit

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

United We Stand - Northeast Tennessee - July 2018

On June 21, the American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces (SAF) volunteers delivered 36 pairs of shoes to Volunteer Services at the Mountain Home VA Hospital. This group also contributed six Kindles with cases, five portable DVD players, and five Blue-Ray players to the Community Living Center at the VA Hospital. The Hospital’s Diabetes Clinic received roughly $500 in diabetes educational materials for veterans from SAF investment funds. These funds were received through a grant by the Red Cross National Headquarters to support our local VA Facility. The VA Hospital continues to be a strong partner with our SAF arm, and we look forward to working together to better serve our veterans and military families in the future.

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Opportunities and Reminders - July 2018


  • Disaster Action Team (DAT) Volunteers
    Volunteers needed to respond to single-family fires.
  • Clerical Volunteers
    Volunteers needed to assist with administrative tasks; including staffing the front desk, answering phone calls, and assisting with other day to day tasks.
  • Business Operations Volunteer
    Volunteers needed to assist with facility maintenance and operations.
  • Hero Care Network Regional Caseworker/Follow Up Volunteer
    Volunteer needed to ensure military families’ needs are met when faced with an emergency.

*If you or someone you know is interested in any of these opportunities, please contact Angela Morris for more information (


  • Don’t forget to download and log your volunteer hours through the “Volunteer Connection” mobile application. This app is both Android and iOS compatible.
  • Visit our local Johnson City Blood Donation Center to donate blood at your convenience. Appointments can be scheduled online at or can be scheduled through the “Blood Donor American Red Cross” mobile app. Help us fill the #missingtypes.

Northeast Tennessee Important Dates and Events - July 2018

  • All Volunteer Meetings
    DATES:  08/02/2018; 09/06/2018; 10/02/2018; 11/01/2018; 12/02/2018; 01/03/2019; 02/05/2019; 03/07/2019; 04/02/2019; 05/02/2019
    TIME:  5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
    LOCATION: Red Cross NETN Office | 660 Eastern Star Road, Kingsport, TN 37663
    INFORMATION: Formal invitation to all volunteers will be distributed.
  • “Donut Forget”
    DATES:  09/14/2018; 12/14/2018; 03/08/2019; 06/14/2019
    TIME:  7:00 AM – 11:00 AM
    LOCATION:  Red Cross NETN Office | 660 Eastern Star Road, Kingsport, TN 37663
    INFORMATION:  These events are invitation only for all active volunteers. This will be an opportunity for volunteers to enjoy coffee and donuts while logging volunteer hours.

  • 07/24/2018 | 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM
    Covenant Presbyterian Church - 603 Sunset Drive, Johnson City, TN 37604
  • 08/05/2018 | 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM
    Notre Dame Catholic Church - 212 Mt. Bethel Road, Greeneville, TN 37745
  • 08/16/2018 | 11:45 AM – 4:15 PM
    University School - 68 Martha Culp Avenue, Johnson City, TN 37614

*If you or anyone you know is interested in hosting a blood drive, please visit for additional information.

Letter from Northeast Tennessee Executive Director, Kalen Collins - July 2018

Kalen Collins

On June 21, staff and volunteers had the pleasure of hosting a Day of Caring with the United Way of Greater Kingsport. Volunteers from Eastman and Salesforce offered a day of their time to assist the Northeast Tennessee Red Cross Chapter. Thanks to their generosity and kindness, we now have freshly painted walls and chairs, new light bulbs, clean vehicles, and safer homes with our smoke alarm installations! We appreciate the continued support from the United Way of Greater Kingsport, and those volunteering from Eastman and Salesforce! We are already looking forward to next year!

Photos from Day of Caring:



The Northeast Tennessee Chapter’s Annual Board of Directors Meeting was held on June 26th. During this time, we were able to celebrate goals that were achieved throughout FY18; this includes meeting all volunteer hour requirements, Pillowcase Project preparedness presentations, fire escape plans that were completed, and smoke alarm installations through the Sound The Alarm, Savel A Life (STASAL) campaign. Not only did we have the opportunity to celebrate the Chapter’s achievements, we also got to celebrate some amazing volunteers! These volunteers were acknowledged for their continued service to the Red Cross; Chair Daniel Blair presented the awards. (Pictured below: Deb Reynolds, Teresa Rhoton, Sarah Sluss; Art Hammarlund; Sandra Vaughn; Stewart Chapman; Don Davis; Jim Brice)



We were also able to celebrate the service of Jason Cody, who has served on the board of directors for the past three years, as well as Daniel Blair, serving as the FY18 Board Chair. The FY19-20 Executive Board was elected and includes Clark Parker, Chair; Kenrick Vidale, Vice Chair; and Jackie Hewitt, Secretary.

The Northeast Tennessee Chapter is aiming to engage the youth, volunteers and the communities that we serve. We are looking forward to an energized and prosperous 2019!

Northeast Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: Don Davis - July 2018

After 32 years working for the Eastman Chemical Company, Don Davis decided to retire and move to volunteerism at the American Red Cross. He has spent nearly 20 years bringing hope and comfort to individuals and families affected by disaster. Don says his Red Cross experiences over the years have been very enjoyable. When asked what he has liked best, he said, “I have enjoyed helping people in need – but helping in a controlled way where I can see results. By working along with others as part of a team and always working towards a goal.”

Don says he has deployed on more than 40 Disaster Relief Operations all over the country, usually working in Damage Assessment or Mass Feeding. He has experience in Public Affairs and Sheltering as well, but prefers the first two assignments. He says he saw the worst destruction in Katrina and the most wonderful people in the West Virginia Floods. When asked about any experiences that stood out in his mind, he related to two:

·         A family he met doing mass feeding while deployed to Hurricane Frances in Florida.  A mother, father, and two teens were in significant need. The father recently laid off from a long-term job experienced a detached retina and with no insurance was in a difficult position – medically and financially.  The Red Cross could provide immediate financial support; but were not a long-term plan for this family.  Don was able to match the family with a local church that found employment for the mother and both teens. The father found a program to provide the surgery he needed, and the family was on the road to recovery. 

·         When doing mass feeding in Nashville following a tornado several years ago, he worked with local volunteers from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In conversation with these volunteers, he learned of a weekly program where children get to experiment with various musical instruments. He discovered they did not have any dulcimers and found a way to help outside the Red Cross.  One of Don’s hobbies is making dulcimers – so he made them two, and the instruments are still in use at the museum today!

Locally, Don has taken the Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to schools and has spoken with children about disaster and emergency preparedness. He does many “odd jobs” when needed, and helps with various fundraising and chapter programs. In recent years, Don has been very involved with the Home Fire Campaign, currently serving as the coordinator. The Chapter goal for this year was to install 1,000 alarms in our counties.  Remarkably, the chapter has installed double the goal and has installed 2,200 alarms. 

In addition to his work with the Red Cross, Don also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and the YMCA. After so many years of sharing his talent with the community, he has decided it is time to retire from his volunteer jobs and focus on more personal pursuits such as enjoying his grandchildren!

When asked what advice he would give to a new Red Cross volunteer, Don responded – “I would advise any new volunteer to look at and experiment with several volunteer positions. Then pick the one you really enjoy and give it 100%.”   

At the Annual Meeting on June 26th, Don was presented the Golden Smoke Alarm Award and the Clara Barton Coin for all his contributions throughout his volunteer career. Congratulations Don, for a job well done!  You will be greatly missed by the Northeast Tennessee family!

East Tennessee Volunteer Spotlight: David Duweltz - July 2018

A French native, David Duweltz and his family temporarily relocated to Knoxville, TN for his wife, Caroline’s job. At home, David works in customer interface for a paper manufacturer. At the Red Cross of East TN, he has jumped in with both feet volunteering nearly every day since joining the chapter in April. He has assisted with Sound the Alarm, disaster preparedness exercises, fire safety house programs to students, volunteer services and a host of administrative and community outreach projects.

In addition to enthusiasm, David has brought a creative perspective to his volunteerism. East TN wants to celebrate David’s drive and his gift for out-of-the-box thinking. Learn a bit more about him below:

What is your favorite word? 

What sound or noise do you love? 
My daughter, Juliette, calling me Papa

If you could try a profession that isn't a current or past job, what would that be? 

Other than your current home, where would you like to live?
By the ocean or in the mountains in the snow, southeast of France 

What natural gift or talent do you wish you had?
Being an artist, creative person or musician

Who is your favorite musician? 
Pearl Jam

What historical figure would you most like to meet and why? 
Emperor Napoleon because he is keystone to France

What is your favorite color? 

What are you reading/what books are on your bedside table?
Science Fiction & Fantasy

What do you love about volunteering at the Red Cross of East Tennessee?
Meeting new people, helping where ever the need is

Letter from East Tennessee Executive Director, Sharon Hudson - July 2018

The American Red Cross of East Tennessee, awarded Phillips & Jordan, Inc. as their 2018 Humanitarian of the Year during a special ceremony at the USA Cycling Pro Road, Time Trial & Criterium National Championship, June 21, 2018. The award was accepted by William T. “Teddy” Phillips, Jr., Chief Executive Officer for Phillips & Jordan (P&J).

Bestowed annually, the Humanitarian of the Year award recognizes local people, groups, or organizations whose efforts and accomplishments have made our community a better place to live and work. Past award recipients include Governor Bill Haslam and Phillip Fulmer.

“Phillips & Jordan has handled some of the nation’s worst disaster cleanups, including hurricanes, floods, toxic spills, and land and rock slides. We are pleased to honor their work with this award,” said Sharon Hudson, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of East Tenn.

P&J is a privately held company that specializes in heavy civil construction. In addition to the disaster recovery work, P&J has also completed projects related to industrial, commercial, and residential construction; transportation (highway, rail, air); dams, levees, and reservoirs; power generation and delivery; oil and gas; and landfills.

"It is with great honor that I humbly accept the Humanitarian of the Year award on behalf of the Phillips & Jordan family. It is with our employees that we can share a common sense of purpose and conviction, which leads to the betterment of our community – and, ultimately, our society,” said Teddy Phillips, CEO of Phillips & Jordan. "For more than 65 years, we have provided response and recovery efforts for nearly every major federally declared disaster. We deliver these services with the unwavering commitment of our employees because we care and we are family."

Joe Thompson, Christy and Teddy Phillips

Thank you,

Sharon Hudson

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

The American Red Cross operates on a fiscal year cycle from July 1 through June 30. This means we are currently kicking off a new year, and what better way to celebrate than to share accomplishments from the previous year and goals for the coming months.

In Fiscal year 2018, the Tennessee River Chapter provided more services to more people and expanded our reach across the twelve counties we serve. In-kind donations from community businesses, which were facilitated through the Red Cross and back to first responders and clients, nearly tripled in the 2018 Fiscal year, meaning more first responders could effectively accomplish their mission. And of course, we couldn’t have achieved this without our growing volunteer base.  In FY18, volunteers of the Tennessee River Chapter dedicated over 40,000 hours to the mission and educating themselves on how to respond when needed.

Moving into Fiscal year 2019, we have set lofty goals to continue serving our chapter coverage area. Dates have been set for upcoming Home Fire Preparedness Campaigns in Montgomery County on July 21, Stewart County on August 18, and Lawrence County on September 8. The Tennessee River Chapter Board of Directors is working diligently to facilitate blood drives in the community and increase awareness of the five lines of service the American Red Cross provides; disaster, biomedical, services to the armed forces, health and safety, and international services.  As always, we will continue to train and stand ready for when we are needed most.

On behalf of the Tennessee River Chapter, we look forward to to working with you in the 2019 Fiscal Year!

Letter from Southeast Tennessee Executive Director, Julia Wright - July 2018

It is already time to begin preparation for all things back-to-school. The safety precautions our mothers instructed us to use going to and from school are still the wisest ones and common sense is always the best guide.

Living in the digital age though, adds a totally new dimension to back-to-school safety. Here are some tips to keep top of mind as your kids head to school with their electronic devices this year.

Never leave your cell phones, tablets or laptops unattended
Use password protection on all devices
Don't ever share passwords with anyone
Change your passwords every month at least
Be mindful of the personal information you share on social networks
Avoid sending “selfies” that are provocative.
When you use public networks or another person’s computer always sign off to accounts before you leave.
Install a tracking app on your devices and report lost or stolen ones to the police.
It is always best to install a proxy network VPN if your use public WIFI
Set the automatic 911 function on your phone
Always use a lock screen

Smart phones, laptops and tablets have become indispensable tools in the classroom, but convenience tools with so many capabilities can also present high risks if the operator ignores simple precautions.

Your child's devices contain personal information that is important to keep secure at all times. Have a discussion with your children about this list before they leave for school and it can never be impressed enough that whatever you put on the world wide web may stay there somewhere for an eternity.

Letter from Mid-West Tennessee Executive Director, David Hicks - July 2018

Hello Mid- West TN Team! I hope that each of you had wonderful 4th of July holidays with your families. It’s hard to imagine we’re already in the middle of the month and quickly heading toward August and the beginning of a new school year.

I want to take a quick look back at the tail end of June as our chapter enjoyed a fantastic Volunteer Appreciation and Family Fun Day luncheon at the Milan Park. Special thanks to Tyler and Dawn Duke for spearheading the event, along with Meaghan Smith for giving her usual “above and beyond” effort for us in the planning and preparation. It was well attended- especially for taking place in the heart (and heat) of the summer months! We took time to reflect back on a meaningful and eventful FY 2018 fiscal year and celebrated strong achievements in our Home Fire campaign events, the “Sound the Alarm” goal being met, our Pillowcase Projects and the record # of volunteer hours recorded – just to name a few. There was some great grilling and eating- and some “hot and heavy” corn hole competition. Thanks again to all that attended!

The July Volunteer Meeting (back on Monday, July 9th) was also a worthwhile event as we hosted the local ServPro company representatives for the evening. Their Regional Director and Marketing Manager (Jessica and Dustin) did an exemplary job of sharing the ins and outs of their company services. They also highlighted the ways in which our local chapter can partner with them in the immediate future so we can both benefit from each of our respective community circles and networking. We share, for the most part, the same coverage area territory so we can each benefit from a strong partnership.  I’m excited to see where it all goes from here as we enter the new fiscal year.

As we turn our attention to the official hurricane season in our country, please begin to prepare yourself mentally (and schedule- wise) for deployments. Some of you have been instrumental in the past with responding to disasters literally all over the US and we appreciate all that you’ve done to help other communities. We must ready ourselves for whatever the next few months holds for us and the responses we may be called to make to others in need. Who’s with me?!?

Have a wonderful rest of the month and I look forward to seeing you in the chapter office soon.

Nashville Area Volunteer Spotlight: Arvenia Pillow - July 2018

Our Volunteer Spotlight this month shines brightly on Arvenia Pillow, an upbeat, hard-working 72-year old who, in addition to her volunteer work for other agencies in Nashville, works as a follow-up case worker and all-around volunteer at the American Red Cross. Retired since 2008 from AT&T, Arvenia has three children: Frank, a retired pro football player for the Buccaneers; Beverly, a speech pathologist, and Angela, a civil engineer in Atlanta. She also has a five-year-old “puppy” named Gizmo.

Arvenia is a native Nashvillian, a graduate of the Meharry Hospital maternity department, and a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.  She’s a right-leg amputee, but, she says, with her prosthetic leg, “most people can’t even tell. I live life to the fullest, and my motto is “Never, never, ever, ever give up!”  Her busy schedule includes working at the Red Cross every day from 9-1, going to the gym three or four days a week, playing with Gizmo, keeping up with her children and grandchildren, watching football with her friends and relaxing on the weekends.  In her second year as a septuagenarian, Arvenia says, “Age is just a number! Life is good and it’s just what you make of it!”

The Nashville Chapter congratulates Arvenia Pillow for her good work for the Red Cross, her cheerful attitude, and her ongoing efforts to help others.

By Marvin Koch, American Red Cross Volunteer

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

Heart of Tennessee Volunteers:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.  -Margaret Mead

Thank you for sharing your time at our Annual Meeting!  It was such a great celebration of what we have accomplished together during FY18. 

You shared your thoughts on how to make this chapter better and what matters to you, our volunteers.  We listened.  We are working on a master calendar that will be shared in an email in the next week.  Once the staff’s goals for FY19 are finalized, we will share those with you as well.  I love that you shared your desire to knew what our priorities are and how they are measured so that you can be an even better support system to the staff as we work toward our goals.

I look forward to continuing to move the Mission forward with you in FY2019!

With gratitude,
Kathy Ferrell

Executive Director, Heart of Tennessee Chapter

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Woman in the Purple Bikini

Janet Patterson at Fort Walton Beach, Florida
The following article was written by Janet Patterson, Board Chair of the Heart of Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross.

I am writing this story as I travel home from a rare family vacation down to Fort Walton Beach with my husband, Stephen, and two sons, Brock and Brett. I asked for a family vacation this year to celebrate some significant milestones; my 50th birthday and a double anniversary - Stephen being breast cancer free and our wedding anniversary. Stephen’s mastectomy surgery had been on our 18th anniversary 5 years ago.
Around 2:00 p.m. on our first full day at the beach, Stephen, the boys and I were enjoying the beach and sound of the waves under an umbrella and beach chairs provided by our hotel. I had rented body boards earlier that day for the boys and had also ridden the waves myself. There was a yellow flag flying which meant medium hazard and moderate surf, so, some decent waves to ride into shore, but nothing too difficult to handle. 
Just as we had sat down to relax for a while, Stephen realized he had lost his car keys and started looking frantically, digging in the sand and under our chairs. He made all of us get up and look. He was so bothered that he left us to retrace his steps from his last trip from our car. Brett left, too, but only to go wash the sand and salt off of himself with fresh water. 

Brock and I were finally settled back into our chairs when we saw them – There were people taking pause and looking. What is it...what were they seeing? They were looking at her: The woman in the purple bikini. As soon as I saw her I knew something was very wrong and jumped out of my beach chair. Brock immediately followed. The woman’s body was lifeless. She was floating face down in inches of water. Her body was twisting in the surf as the waves crashed in around her. Where in the world did she come from? Did she just wash up in front of us?! We had been so preoccupied with the keys we didn't notice her until that moment.
A few men pulled her out. I was there as soon as they dropped her onto the sand. Her mouth was open and full of water. Was she breathing? No. I looked up for only a second to yell, “Call for help!” Little did I know Brett was already running down the beach to the red umbrella where he believed a lifeguard would be. He had noticed the people gathering and me on the ground with the woman and knew there was an emergency. After assessing her condition, I flipped her body on her left side. 

That’s when my instincts came in and remembered what I learned many years ago when receiving CPR certification. First things first. Clear her airway!

I had her on her side and I forcefully pat her back. The pats were hard! I didn't hesitate or pause until SHE COUGHED, she gagged. I yelled for someone to give me something to clear her nose and wipe her face. Her eyes were glazed over, likely from the salt water in them. Her eyes rolled around and she clinched her chest and moaned. She was struggling. The first words she said were, "Am I in heaven?".

I continued to gently pat and rub her back and told her help was on the way, that she was going to be okay. I continued to monitor her breathing because she was not very responsive, and I feared she could stop breathing again at any moment. I thought more than once that she wasn't. Please, woman in the purple bikini, just breath.

I continued talking to her as we waited for help to arrive. It seemed an eternity for a life guard to finally show up. He came racing in on a four-wheeler, pulling an oxygen mask from his bag. I quickly explained her condition as he worked and then I got up and backed away. That's when I noticed the really large group of people and the many rescue workers still coming in... emergency vehicles and a fire truck. What a crowd.  Everybody was in shock and their faces showed the trauma they were witnessing. 

My instincts were still firing, though. Where were this woman's friends, family, people? They wouldn’t know this happened to her. That became my next mission.  I asked people in both directions to send a chain message, “A woman, purple bikini, tattoo on shoulder, dark hair, 50ish, nearly drown, send it down.” After talking to multiple bystanders Brett found me and said the life guards were looking for more information. So, I returned to speak with them. It was at that time that I saw Stephen for the first time since he left to find his keys (that were safely in his shorts pocket up in our room!) 

As we talked, a couple of bystanders called to me to get my attention. They thanked me. They told me I did great, they had no idea what to do, and they were so glad I was there. Stephen then stuck out his fist for a fist bump and said, "I guess your life guarding experience kicked in!" OH! He was right! That never entered my mind. I was a substitute life guard at the Lexington, TN city pool in high school! 

As I took time to let things really sink in, I realized that I knew what to do in that situation because I had been trained in multiple ways. I had life guard training, I had taken CPR training, and I am an American Red Cross Volunteer. 

Patterson Family, left to right: Stephen, Brett, Janet, Brock
Brett said to me the next morning, “Mommy, you know what you did yesterday? You saved someone's life. And as soon as the first life guard got there you just walked away and disappeared.” He meant from his view, but I responded that I'd done my part, and it was time to let him take over. Plus, I had moved on to my next mission of locating her people. 

After the area had calmed down one of the life guards drove back on his four-wheeler. He told me her name was Linda, she was a local and regular to this beach, and she had been there alone. He said the sheriff would come and collect her things from the beach. I could imagine her wondering who saved her on the beach that day. 

I believe it was meant for me to have this experience and to tell this story as a firsthand reminder that being prepared for disaster of any type, is so important. I encourage you to sign up for lifesaving classes the American Red Cross and other organizations have to offer – whether CPR training, water safety, or first aid – all are essential to being able to respond at a moment’s notice. Had I not been trained in a variety of ways I may not have jumped into action and responded to help save the woman in the purple bikini.

For more information and to find lifesaving classes offered in your area go to

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Going Swimming? 10 Ways to Safely Enjoy the Water

What better way to enjoy the warm weather than by taking a dip in the pool or visiting the beach. But it’s important for everyone to be safe and the American Red Cross has steps you can take to stay safe while swimming.
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. Always wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your swimming 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.
Whether you’re going to be in or around the water, it’s important to be water competent. The Red Cross offers swim classes for people of all ages and abilities. Find out more here. We also have a Swim App which promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The app has features specifically designed for children, including a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. Download the app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at