Friday, July 30, 2010

Red Cross Prepares Everyone with First Aid and CPR Classes

I never thought being a teacher’s aide could be so amazing. This week, I observed a Red Cross CPR/First Aid class, and it was amazing. Liz was a great instructor. She was funny, friendly, and knew the answer to any question asked of her by the 11 students who attended. I not only got to observe the class, but I also became a demonstrator and translator for a Spanish-speaking student. It was such a life changing experience to not only observe the training but also be able to speak with some of the students and get their input on why it’s so important to take these classes. Gregory Elkey of Chicago says, “I’m a parent, and I think all parents should take advantage of these classes because you never know when something could happen, especially when it comes to kids.” You can learn how to be prepared and save a life by joining a class. To sign up go to

Monday, July 26, 2010

Time to Perform CPR on Mad Men…

In preparation for last night’s Season 4 opener, I took some time to recap the past few seasons of Mad Men. I realized that more often than not, Red Cross training could have helped these intriguing characters as they found themselves in unusual and sometimes ridiculous situations. (BEWARE: If you aren’t caught up on Mad Men there are SPOILERS in this!)

Let’s begin with Season 1 - audiences are introduced to Helen Bishop, a divorcee with two children who is new to the Ossining neighborhood. Betty Draper, being the good neighbor that she is, kindly agrees to help Helen by babysitting her young son. Unfortunately for Betty, things went terribly wrong. I’m sure Betty wishes she would have enrolled in our Babysitter's Bootcamp before taking on this endeavor where she would have learned about the importance of leadership and professionalism; safety and safe play; and first aid.
Still looking at Season 1, Roger Sterling, a partner and known womanizer at Sterling and Cooper, is up late partying with his co-worker Don Draper and suffers a massive heart attack. Don Draper must have been kicking himself and thinking, "If only I had taken a CPR/AED training course, I would have the lifesaving skills needed to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and use an automated external defibrillator (AED)."

You don’t even want to get me started on last season, when Lois decided to take a John Deere tractor around the office for a joy ride. If Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce had provided First Aid training to their employees, they all would have been prepared to provide emergency assistance to the poor guy who lost his foot.
This really got me thinking - although accidents like these are far and few between, they may occur and I know that when they do, I have the training necessary to respond.

posted by: Rachael Garcia, Resource Development

Thursday, July 22, 2010

After a Fire in Rogers Park, Rich is on the Scene

Yesterday, our disaster action team volunteer Rich Arons responded to a fire in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Pictured here, he’s assessing the damage from the fire. Soggy, torn-out insides from a Chicagoan’s home lay at his feet. You can tell from his gear that Rich knows what to expect at a fire. A truly dedicated volunteer, Rich recently received a pin recognizing 50 years of service to the Red Cross. In the past year alone, Rich responded to 48 local disasters with the Red Cross. He goes to help. He is there to stand by people as they go through what could be the worst day of their lives. At this fire, Rich helped give two people immediate Red Cross relief for food and clothing. Thank you, Rich, for all you do!

To learn more about how you can help local disaster victims, visit

Sidewalks with a Side of Eggs Please

Believe it or not, Tom Skilling says Friday might be the hottest day of the year so far. Get ready, Chitown!

Have you ever heard the saying that "its hot enough to cook an egg on the sidewalk?” Of course you have, who hasn’t? “How many kids, hearing it, actually try? Most likely they end up with a mess resembling scrambled eggs more than one sunny-side up. So what’s the problem? An egg needs a temperature of 158°F to become firm. In order to cook, proteins in the egg must denature (modify), then coagulate, and that won’t happen until the temperature rises enough to start and maintain the process.” Temperatures on the sidewalk only get to around 145°F. The experts say a car hood would be the best conductor of heat—but we certainly wouldn’t recommend it!

Well Chicagoans will get the opportunity to test that theory by the end of the week as forecasters predict some scorchers in the upper nineties. Regardless, if you plan to go out and buy a dozen eggs or stay inside, here are some tips that will keep you safe.

  • Drink plenty of water. And avoid caffeine and alcohol which will dehydrate you.
  • Stay in the shade when possible, and avoid prolonged sun exposure during the hottest part of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must engage in strenuous activity, do so during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit (F) within minutes. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill in minutes.

Other cool tips can be found at

For those who want omelets, visit

-Erica Liss is an intern with the American Red Cross. She has a culinary background but has never fried an egg on a sidewalk. Yet.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Show your dog how much you REALLY love them...

Chicago loves their dogs. We're undoubtedly one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world. Along with our dog bakeries, dog beaches, dog boutiques, dog daycare - I read today that O'Hare and Midway now have doggie restrooms!

Well, it should be no surprise to you that in a city that is filled with so many dogs, that the Red Cross is there to share the love. We offer Pet First Aid and CPR courses so you can be prepared when you need to be. Topics covered include: How and when to call for emergency assistance for an injured pet; understanding what is 'normal' for a pet; identifying signals of breathing emergencies, such as choking, and how to provide care….and more! As a dog owner myself, this was definitely a “must-do” on my list – I learned a lot, and rarely head out on long-walks without our first aid kit!

-Erica Barraca, Graphic Designer, Marketing & Communications

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lessons From a Fire

Photo by H. Tillis.

This past weekend Chicago Tribune reporter William Hageman published a story documenting his life after an electrical fire destroyed his home. You can check out his story here.

While I hope you never have to go through the trauma of a fire in your home like the Hageman family, preparing can ease your mind. But, how do you prepare for a fire? Learn to Be Red Cross Ready!

What were the first things that Bill and his family needed after the fire? Food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene items, important documents, and emotional support all made his list.

Getting a KIT is a great way to account for a good number of these needs - and happens to be Step 1 in becoming Red Cross Ready. Just take a simple backpack and start packing it with emergency supplies. Add some non-perishable foods, a few bottles of water, an extra toothbrush and hair comb, a few days worth of clothes, and a copy of your home insurance policy. You can even add a list of emergency contacts so you know how to get a hold of friends and family who can provide you with some emotional support. Check out our entire list of kit items at

Step 2 is to Make a Plan. Talk to everyone in your household. Choose a place to go in the event of a fire, and make sure everyone knows it. Practice makes perfect – so try testing out the plan every 6 months. Oh, and don’t forget to include your pets in the plan!

Finally, Be Informed. Find out what disasters can occur in your community, and how local authorities will let you know a disaster is happening. The more you know, the more prepared you will be!

And remember, the American Red Cross is here to help! If you are affected by a disaster like a fire, give us a call at 312.729.6100. We can provide you with your immediate needs – food, shelter, clothing, and emotional support - to get you through the first 48 hours.

These safety tips are brought to you by the local Red Cross program, Team Firestopper! We’re working to stop fires before they start in your community! For more information or fire tips, visit

Friday, July 16, 2010

How the Red Cross Can Prepare You for Evil Robot Attacks

Photo of Transformers filming in Chicago by Ifmuth.

I must admit that, even though I realize consciously that it’s fake, I was jolted into disaster mode just by looking at the pictures of the Transformers' movie sets on Michigan Avenue today. Piles of destroyed cars and upturned asphalt—all that wreckage would certainly make for a big humanitarian disaster! If that were to happen, the Greater Chicago Red Cross would be on the scene. Whether it’s a natural disaster or an act of terrorism (by giant robots), the Red Cross is there to help. So, in case of an attack of killer robots, here’s how I think we might pitch in, and how you could help, too:

Learn First Aid: When you get hit by a laser or your car is crushed by a giant robot fist, injuries are going to happen. Be ready to help by learning first aid! Learning how to distinguish minor injuries from major ones can save a life. You’ll learn how to put a splint on a broken bone, treat cuts and burns and prevent further injury.

Become a Volunteer: The Transformers would certainly throw our city into chaos. But Red Cross volunteers are trained to deal with highly stressful situations and to help people cope with disasters. Your condo building is set on fire by evil robots? Our volunteers will be there to make sure you have food, clothing and shelter. We do the same for regular people in Chicagoland every day.

Make a Disaster Supply Kit: If you need to leave town because, well, the Transformers are wreaking havoc, it’s good to have a kit to grab and go. Put important items in there, and a little cash, since the Transformers have knocked out the power and the ATMs aren’t going to work. Check out more items you should put in your kit here.

So what do you think? How would you react if the Transformers REALLY came to town?

-Kristin Claes is a writer with the American Red Cross. Though she grew up in the 80s and watched Transformers, she was way more into She-Ra and He-Man. So forgive any gaps in her understanding about how the Transformers work or what they want. All she knows is that they’re big and scary.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Clara Barton Was One Brave Lady

Clara Barton was the humanitarian rock star of the 19th century. A compassionate, hard-working, visionary woman, she was a pioneer in serving members of the military and their families.

Until last night, I knew way too little about her. Like many third graders who have studied her for book reports, I knew that Barton founded the American Red Cross and cared for wounded soldiers on the battlefields of the Civil War. But while watching History Detectives on PBS, I learned that Barton was a pioneer in serving members of the military and their families during times of conflict.

Historians explained the depth of Barton’s commitment: She assisted battlefield doctors in the most gruesome conditions, bravely helping with amputations when no one else could stomach it. Single handedly, she began collecting supplies like socks and bandages for soldiers—one of her first relief efforts. She watched in horror as thousands of soldiers were buried in unmarked graves, and their families were simply left to wonder. Inspired to help, Barton began administering a list of missing soldiers, which helped families locate their loved ones or find closure. She received more than 150 letters each day from families of missing soldiers, or those who had answers.

The History Detectives episode centers on one of these letters and a single soldier and his fate. Today, local volunteers in Chicagoland educate members of the military and their spouses and parents about Red Cross services during deployment. Today, if a soldier’s family needs to alert her about a death, birth or other important news, they make a single call to the American Red Cross.

The episode is available here online. To learn more about our Red Cross services to members of the military today, and to learn how you can help, visit

Has the Red Cross ever helped your family? We'd love to hear about it in the comments! Or, tell us which famous lady you did book reports on as a kid :)

-Kristin Claes is a writer for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. She also doesn't have cable, so finding something worth watching on PBS made her day.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sizzling Weather is Taking Over Chicago

The sweltering sun has been beaming on Chicagoans lately, with the past three days each being over 90 degrees. Today Chicago got a “break” (or a sad excuse for a break) with temperatures in the upper eighties. The hot weather was even too much for our streets as the pavement on Lake Shore Drive deteriorated due to the extreme heat! If our solid pavement is crumbling, how are we supposed to stay standing? These extremely hot weather conditions can be dangerous to your health if you’re not taking the right precautions and measures to remain healthy and maintain cool body temperatures. Hot-weather-hater Matthew Maloney stated, “I can’t handle this extreme heat. The best way I stay out of it is staying indoors during the hottest part of the day, and venturing out after 4:00pm when the sun starts going down. If I have to be outside during that prime time I enjoy complaining how hot it is.” Another Chicagoan, JoAnn Neenan, stated “I nanny every day, and yesterday I told the kids we can’t go to the park because if is over 90 degrees out people start melting. Alright, I’ll tell them tomorrow I was kidding… but I can’t take them to the park when it is like this out!” Don’t worry JoAnn and Matt, we have tips to get you through this!
We all have heard about drinking plenty of water and wearing light colored and light weight clothing, but there are more safety tips that will help you keep cool on these scorching hot days. Be sure to wear sunscreen on days that are cloudy, because the sun may be even stronger when it’s pushing through the clouds. Eating small meals of carbohydrates, salads, and fruit and eating more often is a way to prevent heat-related illnesses and keep your body fueled. So before you look into moving to Moscow to escape this heat, do your best to try and stay cool in our wonderful Chicago. For a heat safety checklist or for more safety tips concerning our unwanted heat wave, visit

-By Jeannie Andresen, Marketing and Communications Intern at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Evanston Fire Displaces Dozens of Men

When the American Red Cross was told that dozens of men were displaced by a fire at the YMCA where they lived late in the evening on July 3rd; volunteers quickly opened a shelter. We made sure that these men had a cool place to sleep, special needs were met (those in wheelchairs needed certain accommodations to be comfortable overnight) and that they had the comforts they needed to make their time away from home bearable.

What level of importance would you assign to things like having a cool place to sleep on a hot summer day and being able to brush your teeth, see kind faces and eat nutritious meals-when you're forced to be away from home?

I’m not sure what I expected when I arrived at the shelter but I can tell you it wasn’t what I found. I’m often surprised by the people I meet on disasters and this group was no different.

They were all colors, shapes, sizes and ages-in all manner of dress from business suits to workout clothes. Some sat quietly reading books or working on laptops, others slept on Red Cross cots in the gym and many gathered in small groups, talking and waiting for news about their home.

Muhammed, an entrepreneur, told me he was launching a new business; although he was evacuated from his residence he grabbed his briefcase, coffee samples and brochures about his product on the way out; he shared these things with me when he found out I was a coffee lover. Then there was Joseph, he had worked in telecom in D.C. for several years; in fact he was there during 9-11 and we talked about the Red Cross and how we helped and how surreal that whole day was; he told me about having to walk 8 miles home that day because all public transportation had been closed. He relocated to Chicago, moved into a 3-bedroom home and worked for a large business development and consulting firm-until recently when the economy started to tumble. He lost his job and home and ultimately moved into the YMCA while searching for new employment. Joseph said, “this fire, it’s just a temporary setback. I’m glad it’s July 4th and not January 4th; the cold would be a whole different story. It’s a beautiful day, we had a place to sleep, friendly people to care for us and good food. We’re doing just fine.”

Martha Carlos is the Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications at the American
Red Cross of Greater Chicago,

Friday, July 02, 2010

Heat Island!

Have you ever heard of "Urban Heat Island"? When the term was first introduced to me, I thought it was a new reality show... turns out, it's an actual side effect of living in a city, like Chicago!
Heat Island effect is the result of high concentrations of asphalt parking lots, buildings, and roads. These areas absorb more daytime heat and radiate more nighttime heat than rural areas, becoming gigantic slow-burning furnaces. This phenomenon means there's a lot less cooling at night and it can be hotter during the day.

So, if you've got outdoor plans this summer in the city, like visiting the Taste of Chicago, be prepared! When Heat Island effect happens, it can increase the risk of heat-related medical emergencies. Drink plenty of water and get out of the heat when you can.
Another fun fact: Men are more likely to develop heat-related illnesses than women!
This is because, on average, men sweat more than women and so, loose water faster.
To learn more about how to stay safe in the summer heat, sign up for a Community Disaster Education "Heat Wave" class with the American Red Cross and have a great, safe summer!