Thursday, July 31, 2008

Look for the Red Cross on the CTA buses and Trains!

The next time you board a bus or hop on a train in Chicago, look for the Red Cross new ad campaign! It is entitled, “This is Not a Disaster,” with images of a dog eating a kid’s homework, a broken high heel, and a nerdy guy waiting for his date. The ads also contain calls to action which encourage riders to take a CPR training course to prepare for real disasters or to volunteer their time to assist those in the community already affected by tragedies such as floods and home fires. Check them out on our website!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fires this past weekend

This past weekend was a busy one for the Red Cross and their Disaster Action Team (DAT) here in Chicago. There were a total of 53 individuals, including adults and children affected by home fires in the Cook County area. Since they just lost their homes, we made sure they had a place to stay and food to eat. On a normal day, the Chicago Red Cross responds to three or four home fires. The Red Cross is always looking for new people to help them respond to fires. Visit the Chicago Red Cross website to find out how you can be there to lend a hand to families whose lives have been forever changed because of a fire in their home.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Misuse of Red Cross emblem

Back on July 2, 2008 the Red Cross symbol was misused during the Colombian rescue mission in which 15 hostages were taken to safety. A member of the Colombian military intelligence-led team wore a Red Cross bib, falsely identifying himself as being a volunteer for the organization. It turns out, the rescue team had no official ties to the Red Cross, and they had just used the Red Cross emblem for the operation.

This constitutes a war crime under the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law. This particular incident puts aid workers at a greater risk because now they might be mistrusted. Yves Heller, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Bogota said, “The only protection we have is the Red Cross emblem. That’s why it needs to be respected in all circumstances and at all times.” The Red Cross is a neutral organization and is allowed to have access to hostages, detainees, and POW’s. If the emblem is misrepresented, the lives of those being held might be compromised. This event has not stopped the Red Cross from carrying out their humanitarian mission in Colombia.

Friday, July 25, 2008

When did the Red Cross begin in Chicago?!

I have always wondered when people in Chicago started to count on the Red Cross for help and guidance. I found out that it was on July 24, 1915 when the Eastland Disaster happened on the Chicago River. A boat outing with more than 2,500 Western Electric employees on board, was supposed to be a fun and exciting event for all. But then the adventure took a turn for the worse and the steamer tipped over and immediately sank. Sadly, 844 people lost their lives that day.

The Chicago chapter was founded only six weeks before, the incident, so the steamer’s sinking was a big undertaking for the relatively new organization. But the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago was ready on the scene within one hour of the tragedy! They were there to provide disaster relief, medical aid, and counseling for those whose lives had been forever changed because of that day’s catastrophe out on the river.

From that day on, the Red Cross has become a symbol of prestigious and professional on-scene relief and a stronghold in Chicago.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making Preparedness Attractive and Important

A few weeks ago, The New York Times ran a fascinating article about disaster preparedness. Here are a couple things that stood out to me, from author Eric Klinenberg:

For the poor, scrambling to make it through the small crises of everyday life is far more urgent than planning for a possible emergency, and investing time in preparedness efforts seems relatively unimportant.

I think this is something our volunteers see a lot in the community. The people with the fewest resources are the ones who need the most help. And of course, this:

Participants complained about having to prepare for too many specific disaster possibilities and in turn feeling overwhelmed, if not helpless.

Part of the Red Cross’s job is to make people feel empowered and prepared. How can we do a better job of communicating this message?

(Check out to see what we’re doing now.)

Kristin Claes is a writer for the Greater Chicago Chapter. Email her: claesk at

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tony Gonzalez saves a Life!

Since Tony Gonzalez, tight end football player for the Kansas City Chiefs knew how to do the Heimlich manuever, a California man is alive today. Last Thursday while having dinner aty restauarant, Tony heard a man choking on his meal from across the room. Tony got up from his chair and went behind the man in order to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him. This is an example of one more reason why it is extremely important to know lifesaving skills. Sign up for a Red Cross class and help save a life like Tony did.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Help the Red Cross by Simply Using the Internet

To help the American Red Cross, all I have to do is talk to my friends and coworkers online using Windows Live™ Messenger or Windows Live Hotmail®, or the webmail service. How cool is that?! This is how it works: Microsoft will share a portion of the program’s advertising revenue to an organization of my choice, like the American Red Cross. So I can help out victims of disasters from the recent floods, and help prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies simply by talking and emailing my dad.

You can start chatting it up right now with a guy named Parker who started a 30-day Talkathon blog by using the i’m initiative. Go to start Parker's blog and start talking to him! Help him find out how much Microsoft will give. Remember: the more you talk the more Microsoft donates! He even talked to Jeff Towers, Chief Development Officer of the American Red Cross. Check it out here!

Or you could just start your own blog and help the Red Cross at the same time!

Bid Online for Cool Items!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Grillin With Style. And Safety.

Are you a grillmaster? Do your hotdogs bring the neighborhood out for more? Make sure all that's sizzling this weekend is your food, not your fingers.

Have you ever had a mishap with a grill? Tell us about it in the comments!

-Kristin Claes

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Independence Day Safety Tips

Summer is in full swing and the Fourth of July is just around the corner. It's a time for us to kick back and enjoy ourselves with some friends and family around the grill. While the holiday is a great time to relax, safety should always be the first priority. The Red Cross has a few tips to make sure that your Independence day is as safe and enjoyable as it can be. Visit find out how to stay safe this Fourth!

REMEMBER: Personal Fireworks are illegal in the state of Illinois. Leave it to the professionals!

Lightning Strikes

You are more likely to see lightning strike during the summer months, which is why the Red Cross is giving you the facts on how to protect yourself. Check out the website and see why going under a tree when you see lightning is the second leading cause of lightning casualties, the National Weather Service reports.

If at all possible, take cover under a large, enclosed building. Even though it may not be raining, and clouds aren’t directly overhead, you are not safe from lightning. In the worst case, if you are stuck outside, you do not want to lay your body on the ground and touch the ground as little as possible. Keeping your feet together, squat low, tuck your head and cover your ears.

Although lightning may be neat to look at, stay far away from it.

Summer Holiday Safety Tips

Summer is and full swing and The Fourth of July is right around the corner. It's a time for us to kick back, and enjoy some time with our friends and family around the grill. While the holiday is a great time to relax, safety should still be the first priority.

The Red Cross has a few tips to make sure your Independence day is as fun, and more importantly as safe as it can be.

Safe Grilling:Nothing says summer quite like the smell of barbecue. Make sure safety is a key ingredient in your Fourth of July by reading the following tips for safer grilling:

Use gas and charcoal barbecue grills outside only.
Position grills far from siding, deck railings, overhanging branches and house eaves.
Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using grills.
Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use

Water Safety at the Pool and Beach:The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. The Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability. To find out where lessons are offered or to enroll in a CPR/AED or first aid course, contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Swim in a supervised, marked area with a lifeguard present, and swim with others. Never swim alone.
Enter the water feet first. Enter the water headfirst only when the area is clearly marked for diving and has no obstructions.
Adults should never leave a child unobserved around water. Practice "reach supervision" by staying within an arm's length of young children and weak swimmers while they are in and around the pool, lake or ocean.
Take frequent breaks (about once an hour) where everyone gets out of the water, drinks water, reapplies sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) and rests.
If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and 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.
Watch out for the "dangerous too's" – too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity.
Post CPR instructions and directions to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number in the pool area.
Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children into the pool.
If a child is missing, check the pool first. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom, and surface, as well as the surrounding pool area.