Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Volunteer With Team Firestopper!

It's getting chilly, which in Red Cross land means home fires are going to start sparking. TEAM FIRESTOPPER is here to help families learn how to stop those fires before they begin. Conducting safety home makeovers and teaching seminars in fire-prone neighborhoods, these volunteers are pretty rad. Yep, that means they're ready and dedicated. Like that? I just made it up.

Really though, the TEAM could use your help as we head to Joliet this weekend, then on to Pislen, Aurora, Roseland and Waukegan in the coming weeks. Learn more here about how to volunteer (ooo it even rhymes!). You can pitch in with a friend or by yourself. See how fun it is: (Scroll over the word "Notes" to read all about it)

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Family Preparation Week.

When I first moved into my very own apartment, I was concerned about what furniture to buy, where to hang posters, learning how to make food, and the most important of all: safety. What would I do during disaster such as a fire in my new apartment?

I remember getting homework in grade school about talking with your family about fire safety in your home and what to do in an emergency. It was easy homework that would always be the most beneficial in the long run. We would sit around the table and discuss simple questions for us all to be on the same page. How to escape our house in the event of a fire? Where was our meeting place? Who to call to let them know we’re all okay? How often will we check fire detectors? Where is the fire extinguisher located in our house? Knowing the answers and devising a plan to the questions would allow us to know how to react in the event of an emergency.

Once I moved into my own apartment, I made sure that all the smoke detectors were working in my place and in the staircase leading up to it. I talked with my roommates about the ways to escape, the location of our fire extinguisher, and where to meet once we left. An emergency can strike at any time so knowing what to do prior is your best bet.

Take our quiz to see how prepared you and your family are!

This week, comment on our blog about your family’s disaster plan and be entered to win a safety prize for your family!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Social Media Day!

It's social media day here at the Red Cross. We hope you enjoy reading our blog. Are you our fan on Facebook or friend on MySpace? Do you follow us on Twitter? These are all great ways to learn about the Red Cross of Greater Chicago's efforts! Just click below to connect with us.


The Red Cross is currently supporting thousands of evacuees across the Gulf States affected by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, as it responds to thousands of disasters across the country every day, from home fires to tornadoes. Here in Chicago, we are aiding all those who have been flooded and evacuated from their homes due to last week's rains.

To donate to the Disaster Relief Fund to help all those affected in Illinois and all across America, click here

We wouldn't be able to help those affected without your help!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Does your pet have a disaster supply kit?

Mine does!

Mr. Maddox is seen here with his disaster supply kit.  Our kit includes: a collar and leash, his vet records, a blanket, some of his toys, food, water and a pet first aid kit.  

In honor of National Preparedness Month we’re giving away one of our Pet First Aid Kits! This functional fanny pack contains all
 the essential first aid items should an emergency arise with your pet. A must have should an emergency arise during that early morning or late night walk!

Just comment on our blog this week, and at 5 p.m. Friday we’ll pick a winner randomly from all the comments we get and send you your kit. 

Tell us if you have a disaster supply kit for your dog or cat, and what is included! 

Make sure you include your email so we know how to contact you!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Is your pet prepared?!

September is Preparedness month - so just checking in to make sure you have a plan for your beloved pet!

Make sure you have a Pet disaster plan:
Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets.  
• Know which hotels or motels outside your immediate area accept pets.
• Keep a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who can shelter animals in an emergency.
Have a Pet disaster supplies kit:
Include medications and medical records, first aid kit, sturdy leash, harness, pet carrier, current photo of pet, food, water, bowls, cat litter pan, can opener, pet bed and toys.
Also include your veterinarian's number. Make sure your pets are weraing secure collars with up-to-date identification.

For more information visit: 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We're Opening Shelters Due to Local Flooding

You might have thought this weekend's storm story would be about Ike. Turns out, lots of local folks are being flooded out of their homes as steady, heavy rains douse Chicagoland. As of this afternoon, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has opened two shelters to help people displaced by local floods. These shelters are available to anyone who has been displaced by the flooding are are located at: the DesPlaines Park District, 515 E. Thacker and St. Stevens Lutheran Church, 14700 S. Kildare in Midlothian.

We're mobilizing our local mass care volunteers--the people who know how logistics work in a Red Cross shelter. They're going to feed people. They're going to set up cots and blankets. These volunteers will be ready with comfort kits (a toothbrush, soap and other little things that help people feel better during a tough time). People who stay at the shelter will get hot coffee and filling food and a safe place to spend the night. When the flooding subsides and they can return home, the Red Cross will make sure they know how to clean up their homes safely.

For free guides on how to clean up safely after a flood, visit the Greater Chicago Red Cross web site.

Friday, September 12, 2008

We’re Teaming Up with the NFL this Weekend!

Do you want an easy way to help support disaster victims? You can donate $5 to American Red Cross disaster relief efforts simply by text messaging the keyword “GIVE” to “2HELP” (24357). Depending on your carrier, you can donate multiple times. Donations will appear on your monthly bills or be debited from a prepaid account balance and standard text messaging rates apply. If you are a football fan, be on the look out this weekend as the National Football League will be helping to promote Text 2HELP.

Thanks for all your support!

Understanding the Effects of Disasters and People

Within the past two weeks, individuals across America have remembered the tragic disasters of both Hurricane Katrina and September 11th, 2001. Many southern states are currently experiencing a sequence of hurricanes with Hurricane Ike expected to arrive in the next 24 hours.

Amanda Ripley, a senior writer at TIME Magazine has traveled throughout the world studying all types of disasters. Amanda was in both New York City and New Orleans studying natural and man made disasters. Amanda has written a book titled, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why which explains why people do what they do in a disaster and how we can do better in response to disasters. In order to better understand how individuals respond in a disaster and after disasters, check Amanda Ripley’s book out either on the web or your local book store.

In order to be better prepared for when a disaster happens either at home or at the office, make sure you have a plan, get a kit and be informed!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later, a Relief Worker Reflects on 9/11

Kat Hindmand works for the Greater Chicago chapter today as director of readiness and response. Seven years ago, she woke up in Brooklyn to the sound of her neighbor screaming. From the rooftop of her apartment building, Kat watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center. That morning, Kat was on-call as a disaster mental health worker with the Red Cross in New York. She knew that the Red Cross would need her, but first she tried to comfort her neighbor.

Watch the video above to hear Kat's compelling story of how she worked with the Red Cross in the months after Sept 11 to help residents recover.

Today, on September 11, we reflect on the trauma and courage of the American people who faced terrorism that morning seven years ago. The Red Cross urges you to honor those people, and yourself, by preparing for the unexpected. It’s a lot simpler than you might think: Get a kit, make a plan and be informed. Visit www.chicagoredcross.org/ready.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

City of Chicago Is Offering Notices Via Text

The Red Cross is always on the lookout for ways that you and your family can be better prepared for emergencies. One popped up this morning, maybe you saw it in the paper: Do you work, play or live in the city of Chicago? The city announced a program that could be really helpful to anyone who happens to be in the city during an emergency. By signing up, you'll receive emergency information on your cell phone or handheld device. From the release:

Anyone who registers for the program here would receive messages from the city in weather emergencies, terrorist attacks and hazardous material situations, the mayor said.

"It is very critical for public safety agencies do their part to stay in tune with the latest tools to keep the residents safe," Daley said.

Will you sign up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. To learn more about preparedness during and September, National Preparedness Month, visit www.chicagoredcross.org/ready.

-Kristin Claes is a writer with the Greater Chicago Red Cross. She luvs 2 txt.

Thanks to SheepGuarding Llama for the Flickr pic.

Monday, September 08, 2008

What's in your bag?

I was cursing a little to myself this morning as I dragged my bag of essentials with me on my walk to work. It’s so heavy, but I need everything in there because you just never know. In my bag I have a cell phone charger, umbrella, snacks, water, a book, bottle, ipod, shoes, lunch and of course my safety tube. It weighs practically nothing and includes water, a light source, dusk mask and whistle. Why the whistle? In case you find yourself stuck somewhere experts say it’s better to blow a whistle rather than yelling to conserve energy.

In honor of National Preparedness Month we’re giving away two safety tubes-one for you and one for a friend!

Just comment on our blog this week, and at 5 p.m. Friday we’ll pick a winner randomly from all the comments we get and send you two safety tubes. These are great things to have with you at the office, in your car and on the train.

Tell us your story about when you might have used a safety tube, or tell us when you might need one: Have you been stuck on a train? Have you ever had to evacuate your office? What’s in the bag that you drag to and from work each day?

Make sure you include your email so we know how to contact you!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Loyola Red Cross Club Geared Up for Getting Students Prepared!

The Loyola University Red Cross Club is only a year old but it is one of the most active student organizations on Loyola’s campus. From holding Karaoke Fundraisers to aid people who have been displaced from their homes during the California Wildfires, to distributing HIV/AIDS awareness information on campus, these Loyola students are passionate about fulfilling the mission of the Red Cross.

Club members have the opportunity to health and safety training such as CPR/First Aid, Disaster Preparedness, and Terrorism Preparedness. This school year, the students are looking to increase visibility and to prepare more Loyola students and the Rogers Park Community for emergencies through various services projects such visiting elementary schools to teach fire safety, hosting campus blood drives and CPR Trainings on campus and more. What a great way to start off National Preparedness Month!

What are you doing to be prepared for an emergency on campus? How are you helping others get prepared? Tell us your story in the comments!

Check out the Loyola University Red Cross Club Facebook page here. If you’re interested in starting a Red Cross Club in the Chicago area at your school, contact Eboni Prince: PrinceE at usa dot redcross dot org.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Comfort Among the Rubble: Louisiana Needs You

The tornado that hit the small town of White Castle, Louisiana destroyed Mandy Jumonville's home and possessions--but it didn't touch her sense of humor.

Read Mandy's story here.

As more hurricanes approach the United States, thousands of families like Mandy’s will need your help. The Red Cross will be there to provide comfort, aid and shelter to the people displaced by these storms. All of this aid is a gift from the American people—the Red Cross is quite simply a conduit for your compassion—translating your dollars into the supplies and support people like Mandy need in the days following a disaster. Please give now to our Disaster Relief Fund.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ross Family Seeks Refuge in Chicago

Fleeing in the wake of Gustav, the Ross family sought help from the Greater Chicago Red Cross. Willie, Maria and their two sons found a place to stay, volunteers to care for them and maybe even a place to start over. They're also Hurricane Katrina survivors! Read their story here.

More hurricanes are on their way, and our Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund is critically low. We rely on the generosity of the American people to give during times of disaster, and it seems like more and more people are going to need help from the Red Cross during this hurricane season.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Chicago Aids Gustav Evacuees

Daeshawn Lewis, Kalib and Arthur Martin share a moment with Jana Sweeny of the Red Cross in the shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as Hurricane Gustav rages outside. Photo by Gene Dailey.

Hurricane Gustav has subsided, but Red Cross disaster services are in full swing. Volunteers from throughout Chicagoland deployed to the Gulf region—20 volunteers from our chapter alone—to make sure that people who evacuated are taken care of. And though our shelter at Northeastern University is currently only hosting a few evacuees, we’re prepared to take in more. Local volunteers are staffing the shelter here, and it has been set up in a donated space. When Katrina hit, we helped more than 7,000 people. It pays to be prepared.

As you might imagine, we have had a surge of inquiries about volunteering for the Red Cross in the wake of Gustav. We are grateful for this outpouring of generosity. Though we’re not accepting untrained volunteers to assist with the disaster relief efforts in the Gulf, we always welcome new volunteers. Those interested in helping in future disasters should start by filling out our volunteer application.

Check out some of the coverage we’re getting in the local news, including a video with our disaster volunteer, Mary Hunter on ABC 7:

Mary Hunter is watching news reports from the hurricane-stricken Gulf region with more than a passing interest. By Tuesday, the Libertyville grandmother will be on the ground in Mississippi helping victims. She remembers doing the same work three years ago in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.

"Once I got down there they assigned me to client case work, which we meet with the people impacted by the hurricane and help them financially get back on their feet," said Hunter.

Thanks to Mary, and to every one of our Red Cross volunteers. Thanks for going out to help when others can’t, and for taking the time to take care of people who need you. Check out more photos at the Red Cross Flickr Set.
-Kristin Claes is a writer for the Greater Chicago chapter of the Red Cross.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Shelter for Gustav Evacuees in Chicago

We've been receiving calls from people who either evacuated the Gulf Coast in advance of Hurricane Gustav or are unable to return home because of it. We're opening a shelter on the campus of Northeastern Illinois University at 7 p.m. today so those people have a place to stay. The Greater Chicago Red Cross will provide a safe place to sleep, meals and emotional support to anyone who evacuated from the Gulf Coast or is unable to return home due to this disaster. To date, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago has deployed 17 disaster relief workers to the affected area to help with relief efforts. Visit www.chicagoredcross.org for more information.