The One Where Phoebe Disregards Fire Safety

The 90’s TV show, Friends, has been on Netflix for a little over a month now, and I’m not sure I want to confess exactly how many hours I have spent binge watching… *hangs head in shame* …I’m through all 10 seasons….

I’m so happy that the show is as good as I remember it, which I can’t say for a lot of the things I have been nostalgic over from my childhood (I’m looking at you, MTV). But this show is STILL hilarious to me.

However, there was one episode that really wasn’t funny to me anymore. In fact, it was downright scary.

In the episode, The One Where They’re Up All Night, Phoebe gets woken up to the sound of her smoke alarm and instead of checking for a fire and replacing the batteries- SHE TAKES THE BATTERIES OUT OF THE DETECTOR AND TRIES TO GO BACK TO BED!! I know Phoebe’s a bit ditzy, but seriously?? Doesn’t she know that smoke alarms save lives?

7 people die every day from home fires in the United States. It’s a sad fact, but there is some good news- having a working smoke alarm in your house cuts your risk of dying in a fire in half! Smoke alarms need to be installed on every level of your house and inside bedrooms and sleeping areas.  It’s important to keep your smoke alarms in working condition, but it’s pretty easy:

  • Make sure your smoke alarm isn’t expired (they expire after around 10 years). Replace the smoke alarm if it’s expired.
  • Check your smoke alarm once a month to make sure that it is still working properly. Just push the test button and listen for it to beep- checking your smoke alarm is that easy! If it’s not working, change the batteries and try again.

False alarms can be annoying- you might have been tempted in the past to treat the situation like Phoebe did (but now that you know how important smoke alarms are, I’m sure you’ll never be tempted again!) If you should find yourself in Phoebe’s shoes and your smoke alarm starts to make noise when you are positive there is no fire or smoke:

  • The alarm may be connected to other parts of the house or building. There may be smoke or fire in a place that you can’t see. Make sure there is no fire in another part of the building before you assume that there is not a reason for the smoke alarm to be going off.
  • Make sure that it’s the smoke alarm that is going off and not a carbon monoxide detector. If your carbon monoxide detector is going off, go outside and call for the fire department. There is no way for you to detect if there really is carbon monoxide, so it’s time to bring in the professionals. Don’t worry about bothering them- they will be glad you put your safety first!
  • Listen to hear if the smoke alarm is actually going off (loud, repeating sounds) or chirping (it just makes a little beep once and then stops for a while). If it is chirping, most likely the alarm is alerting you that the battery needs changing.
  • Are you cooking, is someone taking a shower, or did you just turn on your furnace for the first time this year? Sometimes the smoke from the stove or the steam from a shower can set the smoke alarm off. Use a fan or open a window to help clear the air. Push the hush button. Be sure to keep an eye on whatever you’re cooking. You don’t want the smoke alarm to start going off for a real fire! If it keeps being an issue, think about moving where your smoke alarm is located. It should be 20 feet away from appliances like stoves and furnaces, and 10 feet away from high humidity areas like showers.
  • The smoke alarm may have collected dust or insects inside it. Push the hush button to save your own sanity. Then, use the crevice or brush attachment on a vacuum to clean your smoke alarm. This can also be done when you are changing the batteries, so you don’t have to deal with it later.
  • Like what ended up being the issue with Phoebe’s, the smoke alarm may just need to be reset. Remove the battery and hold down the reset button for 15 seconds. Then reinstall the battery. It may chirp once as it gets connected but then it should stop. Hang it back up on the wall or ceiling where it belongs. If the smoke alarm is hard wired into the house, flip the circuit breaker switch that controls the electrical power to the smoke alarm. Then remove the alarm from the mounting bracket and disconnect the power, remove the battery and press and hold the test button for at least 15 seconds.

Most importantly, before you walk away from a smoke alarm that is giving a false alarm, fix the issue and put the smoke alarm back in working order. It just may save your life!

Ice Dancing – A Good Reminder of Winter Driving Tips

Watching the local news this morning, the meteorologist mentioned that there was the potential for some black ice early this morning. He also reminded drivers to use extra care, since we haven’t had a lot of winter driving practice this year.

I glanced at the TV one final time as I headed for the door, 34 degrees – no problem. Problem. I confidently walked out of the garage headed to grab my newspaper – what happened next could only compare to Elaine’s dance moves on Seinfeld. My feet went one way, then the other – I am sure my arms were flailing – there may have even been a high-pitched squeal in there somewhere. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to stop the ice dance and cautiously continue my journey to grab the newspaper. My pride hopes that no neighbors witnessed my busting an early morning move in the driveway.

As I anticipate my sore muscles, I thought it was a good time to review some winter driving tips – and remember getting to your vehicle can be hazardous too! Read up and be safe out there!

WINTER DRIVING SAFETY TIPS – While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm or what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:

  • Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.
  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Find out what disasters may occur where you are traveling and pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
  • Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
  • If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.

North Dakota and Minnesota Floods


Become More Prepared with Your New Year’s Resolutions

I always get excited for the start of a new year. As I hold my new calendar with the blank, clean pages, I can start to envision my hopes for this next year will bring. The mistakes I made last year seem a little smaller. It’s no wonder why so many people set New Year’s resolutions to kick it off.

Becoming more prepared is something that every household should strive to work on in 2015. Emergencies, small or large, where preparedness could have helped occur to the majority of Americans at some point in their life. The best way to minimize the loss of life, personally injuries, and suffering from a natural or man-made disaster is education and preparedness.

I know that preparedness has a lot of competition with the more common New Year’s resolutions. But becoming more prepared can be included in the resolutions you have already set. Here are a list of the most common New Year’s resolutions and how you can use them to increase your preparedness against disaster:


  1. Get Organized/ De-clutter

One of the key activities that the Red Cross recommends is building an emergency disaster kit. Most of the items you already have in your home, so when going through your clutter grab up the extra flash lights, blankets, and old tennis shoes along with some canned food and water to start your own emergency kit. If you need to know what else to put in there, check out this list:

Another task you can complete  while in de-clutter mode: while you are opening all those boxes and drawers, take some pictures or videos of what you own as an inventory if you should ever have to make an insurance claim.

  1. Get healthier

Being healthy is a great asset for any emergency and lowers your risk of several emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes. So this resolution is a great start to being more prepared already! Now take it to the next level: Grab some cardio by walking around your neighborhood and take note of what routes you would use if you had to evacuate from your neighborhood in a disaster. The next day, take a different potential evacuation route.

  1. Quit Smoking

This is another resolution that can lower your risk of some emergencies such as a heart attack or stroke. Even if you choose not to quit this year, resolve to prevent deadly fires that are associated with smoking by never smoking in bed and being sure that your cigarette is fully out before discarding it. Dousing the cigarette in water or sand is the best way to do that.

  1. Learn something new

The Red Cross offers a number of different classes that can help you be more prepared for an emergency. Sign up for a CPR or first aid class at

  1. Become more financially stable

As you are going through your financial documents, make copies of any you think you might need in an emergency and place them in a Ziploc bag in your emergency kit. These financial documents may include insurance policies, wills, insurance and prescription cards, property deeds, tax returns, and information on any benefits or assistance you receive. Having these on hand after a disaster will make recovering afterwards a bit easier.

Speaking of recovering financially from a disaster… if you don’t already have insurance for your possessions, consider getting it. Renters insurance can be bought for only a few dollars a month, but can be a huge help with replacing items lost after a fire or other disaster.

  1. Spend more time with family

Have a fire drill with your family. If there is ever a fire, you may have as little as 2 minutes to get out, so keep practicing until your family can evacuate under that 2 minute mark. You can also take time with your family to discuss your family’s emergency plan. Here are some more tips on what to include in that conversation:

  1. Help Others

Did you know you can save up to 3 lives in less than an hour, multiple times a year? A stable blood supply is critical to making sure patient’s needs are met during an emergency. Because blood takes up to three days to be tested, processed, and made available, it’s the blood that is already on the shelves that helps save lives when a disaster strikes. Help make sure your community is prepared by setting up an appointment to donate at

Good luck on those resolutions- You can Do It!

T’was the Holiday Season- A Thank You to Volunteers

T’was the holiday season and all through the land

Red Cross volunteers were lending a hand


Knowing the extra busyness that is on everyone’s plate this time of year- I am once again blown away by the dedication of Red Cross volunteers. The needs of the community don’t take a holiday break and their commitment ensures that Red Cross services don’t either.

Holiday mail hung by the chimney with care

knowing that veterans soon would be there


Volunteers have been sending out thousands of holiday cards made by members of the community to brighten up the season for members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans, and military families.

The donors were nestled all snug in their beds

Giving their blood, platelets, double reds


Holiday blood drives have been in full swing, some of them lasting up to 12 hours, in order to keep blood on the shelves during a time when donations typically decrease. In addition to helping with the blood drives, a lot of our volunteers roll up their sleeves as well!

When what to the phone, a call should occur

A disaster, a fire, so many would stir

Responders spring forward with compassion so clear

I know in a heartbeat they are volunteers

They speak a kind word and go straight to assist

Fill everyone’s needs; provide comfort amidst

The number of home fires that occur increase around the holidays. Last week, volunteers assisted the families from over 16 different fires by making sure all their immediate needs were met.  One fire on December 12th affected an apartment building in Quincy, IL. The Red Cross opened a shelter nearby for the many displaced residents,  providing 130 overnight stays and 545 meals over a week's time

The number of home fires that occur increase around the holidays. Last week, volunteers assisted the families from over 16 different fires by making sure all their immediate needs were met.
One fire on December 12th affected an apartment building in Quincy, IL. The Red Cross opened a shelter nearby for the many displaced residents, providing 130 overnight stays and 545 meals over a week’s time

Many different people, with all one condition

Everyone here believes in the mission

So as this year’s end is becoming in sight

Thank you to all, and to all a good-night

Signing off

After nine years of wearing my Red Cross gear, I will be leaving the organization for a new career adventure.  It is hard to leave a place like the Red Cross with a mission that I believe in and people I love, but, oddly enough, it is really hard to leave this blog. Five years ago, we decided to start it, and hundreds of posts and one redesign later, we are reaching thousands with our quirky take on Red Cross services and safety.  Not too shabby for a little blog out of central Illinois.

Even though I will be exiting stage left, the blog will continue to live on… Because the remaining bloggers still firmly believe that we need to keep on “Saving the World… For Real”.

Thanks to all of you for your readership, and hey, you can’t say we didn’t have fun!

Stay safe, buckle up

Did you know November is Click It or Ticket Month?  One of the main things you can do to be safe while in your vehicle:  WEAR YOUR SEATBELT – it saves thousands of lives each year!

During the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Illinois, 7 people lost their lives and 723 motorists were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes—3 of those deaths involved alcohol.

Late night hours are the most dangerous driving hours when the highest percentage of motorists die in alcohol-involved crashes and seat belt usage is the lowest.

Surviving your Thanksgiving drive this year – and making it to next Thanksgiving – can be as simple as buckling up.  In the last decade, seat belts saved the lives of more than 100,000 people in the United States.  Those people are thankful they wore their seat belts.  Won’t you wear yours? Read the rest of this entry

A Night in the Life of a Red Cross Volunteer

I believe that this is true…

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So when I saw the following on, I wanted to share it with you.

Every night in America, while most of us are sleeping, American Red Cross disaster volunteers are standing on the lawn of someone who has just lost their home and everything they own in a fire. Our volunteers give them a warm blanket, a hot cup of coffee, a place to stay for the night and a plan to help them get back on their feet.

A Night in the Life of Our Disaster Volunteers

The Red Cross responds to help a family affected by a home fire every 8 minutes. Follow the typical journey of our disaster volunteers as they respond to a home fire:

1:10 a.m. A Red Cross disaster volunteer receives a call from the local Fire Department that there has been a home fire in their community. She quickly gets up, gets dressed and calls another volunteer to meet her at the location of the home fire. Read the rest of this entry

“This doesn’t happen here.”

“This doesn’t happen here”, is a phrase I found myself saying all the time during the latter part of November 2013.  Full disclosure – Before that time, whenever I would hear someone say that on TV, I fought the urge to roll my eyes.  I mean, come on… clearly, “things like that” do happen in your area because it did! But after November 17, 2013, I understood where that phrase came from.  Sometimes when we think we are safe and know what to expect at a certain time of year, Mother Nature can put a damper on your fantasy — and it just puts you in a temporary state of shock.  As a lifelong Central Illinois girl, an EF-4 tornado tearing through here in November definitely did that to me.

I think back on that Sunday, and I have to chuckle at what my concerns were that morning.  My biggest worry was getting to the grocery store and back before it rained.  Silly, right? For the record, I made it, but as I was putting away groceries, my Red Cross tornado app went off.  I looked out the windows of my kitchen in Morton and the sky looked terrible.  A mix of black and green, and the air seemed so thick and still.  My son, boyfriend, cat and I rode out the storm in the basement, and truly I thought, “Well, I am a good Red Crosser. App goes off, you take cover… it won’t be a big deal. It is November in Illinois. It isn’t tornado season”. But we all know now how wrong I was – tornadoes apparently don’t pay attention to the calendar.

You can imagine how scary my view of the sky was

You can imagine how scary my view of the sky was

Read the rest of this entry

I would rather be…

It is downright cold today, and our extended forecast doesn’t look much better…

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Yeah, not a lot of fun. I would rather be in my polar fleece pj pants, under a blanket and nestled up with my cat, but alas I am not.  I asked a few people what they would rather be doing today, and here is what they said… Read the rest of this entry

Visions of Concealer Dancing in My Head


I decided to reshare this today because not only am I feeling very “un-Disney” today, but also because I was surprised at the holiday decorations before Thanksgiving all over again. (You would think I would eventually know it was coming.)

Originally posted on Saving the world… For real!:

Maybe it’s the time change, or maybe I am just sleeping better since I flipped my mattress, but this morning I woke up refreshed and ready to go.  I kinda felt like Cinderella with the birds in the morning, only not so musical. I quickly decided that today would be a perfect day to get to work early before anyone else got there.  Oh the things I could get done!

So after one swig of coffee, I was ready to roll…

  • Shower… Check!
  • Breakfast… Check!
  • Hair… Check!
  • Makeup… NOOOOO!

My concealer was out. Maybe I could just SQUEEZE out a few drops to get me by for the day?


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