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.
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:
- 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: http://ow.ly/GHERs
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 redcross.org/take-a-class
- 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.
- 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: http://ow.ly/Gsz58
- 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 redcross.org/blood
Good luck on those resolutions- You can Do It!
T’was the holiday season and all through the land
Red Cross volunteers were lending a hand
Holiday mail hung by the chimney with care
knowing that veterans soon would be there
The donors were nestled all snug in their beds
Giving their blood, platelets, double reds
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
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
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!
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
I believe that this is true…
So when I saw the following on redcross.org, 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”, 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.
It is downright cold today, and our extended forecast doesn’t look much better…
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
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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This post comes from Shannon Vance, Bradley University student and Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign Team Member.
If you ever want to have your art skills tested, apply to present at a conference. Suddenly all those years of coloring outside the lines and avoiding the art studio are coming back to haunt you. I’m only kidding of course, but this is house I felt when I realized two months later I would be presenting on Child Soldiers at the Midwest Regional Conference for Amnesty International.
Let me back up. The International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign (associated with the American Red Cross) on Bradley’s campus started last fall and created a simulation on child soldiers the spring I was in Denmark. This simulation reached hundreds of students and was nationally recognized by National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Bradley students stood among the few schools that were recognized at a conference in early June where they had the chance to present their activity. August comes around and two of my fellow team members and I were approached to present our campaign’s success at this Amnesty International conference. All I was thinking was “This is going to be so cool! An Amnesty International conference!!” In other words, I was geeking out. Read the rest of this entry