Have a Safe and Fun Fourth of July!

This weekend many of you will be celebrating the Fourth of July with family and friends. Whether its a cookout in the backyard, going to the beach with the family, or enjoying the local fireworks display, the Red Cross wants you to have a fun and safe weekend. Please follow these tips from the American Red Cross and have a great weekend!


HIGHWAY SAFETY Millions of people will be on the highways over the Fourth of July weekend. The Red Cross offers these five things everyone should do to stay safe while traveling:

  1. Buckle seat belts, observe speed limits.
  2. Do not drink and drive.
  3. Pay full attention to the road – don’t use a cell phone to call or text.
  4. Use caution in work zones.
  5. Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night. Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.


FIREWORKS SAFETY The best way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Here are five safety steps for people setting fireworks off at home:

  1. Never give fireworks to small children, and always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  5. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.


GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.


Swimming Safety Many of you will head to the beach or a pool this weekend. Here are some swimming tips to keep you and your family safe.

  1.  Learn to swim and only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  2. Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  3. Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacketsaround water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  4. Provide close and constant attention to children and inexperienced swimmers you are supervising in or near the water. Avoid distractions while supervising.
  5. Limit the amount of direct sunlight received between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply often.
  6. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water regularly, even if not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
  7. For a backyard pool, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  8. Secure the backyard pool with appropriate barriers including four-sided fencing.
  9. Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  10. Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child.Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.If a child is missing, check the water first.

Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross Swim and First Aid Apps. Swim App users can learn water safety and drowning prevention information for a variety of aquatic environments. Children can have fun learning water safety tips with the child-friendly videos and quizzes in the app. The First Aid App puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. The apps are available for smart phones and tablets and can be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play.


Disaster Assessment Volunteer assesses damage in Verona

Severe Storms hit Wisconsin, Red Cross Responds

June 18, 2014

Severe weather has affected families across Southwestern Wisconsin with six confirmed tornadoes, leaving a path of damaged homes and power outages. The Red Cross has been providing comfort and support to thousands.  Verona and Platteville were the hardest hit communities. In Verona, trained Red Cross responders have assessed home damages and continue to provide water and relief items.

In Platteville, our emergency response vehicles continue to drive through affected neighborhoods to distribute food, snacks and water. Another team is assessing home damages so we can begin the one-on-one process to assist with recovery. In addition, the Platteville High School Shelter is open for overnight guests or you can stop in during the day for water, snacks, recharge electronics, emotional support and more. Distribution of relief items such as tarps, trash bags, shovels, rakes and gloves will continue through neighborhoods via our Emergency Response Vehicles. In the coming days, we will participate in a Multi-Agency-Resource-Center (MARC) which brings many nonprofit organizations and government agencies together in one convenient location to provide community support.

 After the storm, people should return to their neighborhood only when officials say it is safe to do so. They should stay out of damaged buildings, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sturdy shoes. Residents should avoid fallen power lines or broken gas lines – immediately report them to the utility companies. If you smells gas or hears a hissing noise, you should open a window, get everyone out of the building immediately and call the gas company or fire department. Please use flashlights, not candles, when examining buildings.

With the potential for severe weather expected in parts of Wisconsin over the next several days, the Red Cross is encouraging everyone to download the free tornado app. The app features a siren and warning alert that signals when a tornado warning has been issued, as well as an all-clear alert that lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or been cancelled. People can use the app’s “I’m Safe’ button to let loved ones know they are okay and find the location of Red Cross shelters.

 Important Safety Tips!

  • Listen to our Tornado App, local news and/or a NOAA weather radio to stay informed about any severe weather watches and warnings in their area.
  • Pick a place where family members can gatherthe basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs – dark, greenish clouds, a cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or roaring noise.
  • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or severe winds. If there is access to a sturdy shelter or vehicle, abandon the mobile home immediately and go to that facility. Do not wait until the tornado is in view.
  • If someone is caught outdoors, they should seek shelter in a basement or sturdy building. If they can’t do that, they should get into a vehicle, buckle their seat belt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs, they should pull over and park, stay in the vehicle with their head down below the windows, covering their head.

 People all across the affected areas need your help now.Please make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

  • Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. This includes the recent severe weather and nearly 70,000 other disasters we handle every year around the country.

 The Red Cross is currently mobilizing registered, trained, disaster response volunteers from local communities.  To become a trained disaster responder for future events, visit redcross.org to begin the volunteer application process.


World Blood Donor Day!

Today is World Blood Donor Day! When you think of Red Cross, blood donation is one of the first things that comes to mind. The American Red Cross started its blood donor program in 1941 with the onset of WWII. Since then, many techniques and technologies in our blood program  have changed, but we still rely on volunteers to meet our blood donation needs. People donate blood for many reasons, and each blood donor and blood recipient have their own stories.  During our 100 Days of Summer campaign, we are asking you to give blood!

One pint of blood can save 3 lives. With summer in full swing, blood donations drop due to summer vacations and decrease in blood drive participation.  The demand for blood does not slow down for summer. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. On World Blood Donor Day especially, we are asking you to help meet this need. You can save a life.

There are many ways you can help the American Red Cross Blood Program. The straight forward way is to schedule an appointment to give blood or find a blood drive going on in your community to give blood at. Use http://www.redcrossblood.org/make-donation-v6 to find out blood drives going on in your community. Another way to get involved is to host or volunteer at a blood drive. Hosting a blood drive with the Red Cross is a partnership. A Red Cross representative will work with you every step of the way to help make your drive is a success. Check out http://www.redcrossblood.org/hosting-blood-drive for more information.  By volunteering time with your local Red Cross, you will contribute to your community’s blood supply and change lives, starting with your own. The American Red Cross provides the fabric that enables ordinary individuals to perform extraordinary services.

We could not support those who need blood without the support of our blood services staff, volunteers, and donors. On World Blood Donor Day, we would like to thank you all for your help. You have made a difference. If you are not involved with American Red Cross Blood Services, take the initiative today to become a part of this great organization. Today is the perfect day to make your move.



June Volunteer of the Month: Rachel Goodrich

We are pleased to announce Rachel Goodrich, of Madison WI, as June Volunteer of the Month at the American Red Cross.

Rachel has been a volunteer since July 2013 when she signed up after moving to Madison with her two daughters. Because Rachel has been blessed with a strong support system throughout her life, she is drawn to helping others, even strangers. Rachel insists on creating that same motivation to help others into her children. On a daily basis she instills a message about giving your time and being engaged in the community. “No matter what situation we may be in, we can always offer others a helping hand, a smile, hug, support, laughter and friendship. It only takes a second to make someone smile and show them you care” she says.

With 3 of her own loved ones deployed with the military, Rachel was drawn to the Red Cross ’Services to the Armed Forces’ program. As a Red Cross volunteer Rachel works with veterans, military members and their families. She attends troop send-offs, family support night, organizes Holiday Mail for Heroes and so much more. “Rachel’s passion and empathy for the military community is contagious. Because she has personal experience, she is committed to working on providing resources and thinking of ways to better support our community” said Katie Gaynor, Red Cross Communications Director.

Rachel’s favorite part about volunteering is, “meeting so many amazing people! It is the look on others faces when you are helping, the little moments you give someone mean the world to them and make their lives easier”.  Her most memorable experience was at a troop-send off at Volk Field. “I witnessed raw emotions that day. Pure joy, happiness, laughter, tears, sorrow.  You name it, I witnessed it. I watched a father feed his baby girl a bottle, knowing that when he gets back his baby would not need bottles anymore. I spoke with a Commander who was going to miss seeing his daughter graduate high school. Those moments make you really appreciate their sacrifice and feel honored to be a part of their day”.

When asked what she would say to someone who is considering becoming a Red Cross volunteer she responds, “Red Cross is the most rewarding agency you could ever get involved in. Being a part of Red Cross is the best thing that I have done for myself and my kids.” The Red Cross is thrilled to have Rachel serving with us!

Right now, the American Red Cross has many volunteer opportunities, including becoming a disaster responder, supporting military troops, teaching life-saving first aid and CPR, and many more. Red Cross volunteers are united by their service and the feeling that in changing others’ lives, their lives are also changed. To learn more, visit http://www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the office of Volunteer Resources at volunteerwestern.wi@redcross.org.

Celebrating 105 Years

Badger Chapter Celebrates 105 Years of Service

On this day in 1909, the Red Cross Badger Chapter was formed. Today, we celebrate 105 years of serving our community. It is not possible to sum up into one post the commitment, hard work and compassion of the community over the last 105 years but we can shed some light into how it all began.

In 1905, a physician and UW professor, Dr. J.C. Elsom was teaching first aid classes to summer school students. A local committee interested in formalizing volunteer activities in Dane County began to take notice of Dr. Elsom’s classes. The committee approached Dr. Elsom, applied to the national Red Cross office and by 1909 the Dane County Red Cross Chapter was chartered. Until 1915, no other Red Cross chapters existed in the Midwest. Over the next 105 years, we have expanded our territory area from a single county to serving 13 counties in South Central Wisconsin, which we now know as the Badger Chapter. In addition to expanding the number of communities we serve, we have also developed and expanded our programs – safety education classes, blood collection, the support of our military families and disaster relief.

When the Badger Chapter was originally founded the only program available was first aid classes. The Badger Chapter established itself as a leader in the development and implementation of safety education and expanded its programs to include aquatics, CPR/AED training, childcare, and many more.   In 1980, the Badger Chapter developed and implemented curriculum for Babysitting training to promote the teaching of infant and child care skills. In 2008, Badger Chapter partnered with Dane County medical Services and the Madison Fire Department to teach the lifesaving technique, Compression Only CPR. The curriculum developed for Babysitter’s Training and Compression Only CPR have been embraced as national programs.

CPR Training, 1980
CPR Training, 1980

In 1950, the Badger Regional Blood Center organized their first Madison blood mobile. This first blood drive collected almost 50 units of blood. Over the next five decades, the Madison center grew to support four states, protects the blood needs of millions of people and now has a staff that specializes in blood pathology, technology, immunology and research.

Madison Blood Supply, 1950


University of Wisconsin Madison Blood Drive, 1964
University of Wisconsin Madison Blood Drive, 1964

World War I was a large motivator for growth of the Badger Chapter as the community turned to the Red Cross as a trusted source to support our military families. During this time the Badger Chapter set up a fund campaign and community drive for relief supplies. The Badger Chapter has continued to support military families over the last century by providing emergency communications abroad, setting up holiday card drives to be sent to active military men, women and veterans, providing support to families in need of comfort, partnering with VA hospitals on veteran programs and supporting troop deployments and returns.

World War II Troop Canteen
World War II Troop Canteen
World War II Fund, 1943
World War II Fund, 1943

True to the mission of the Red Cross to alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies, the disaster relief program has been at the forefront of Badger Chapter services. We were there during the Madison polio epidemic of 1949 and 1953, the 1976 severe winter storm, the Stoughton tornadoes of 2005, the Wisconsin floods of 2008, and countless home fires. We have also provided support to disasters across the country and across the world through fundraising efforts and the dedication of volunteers who give up weeks at a time to a disaster relief operation.

Disaster Relief Shelter Check In Registration
Disaster Relief Shelter Check In Registration

The work in our community over the past 105 years would not have been achieved without acknowledging the work of the Badger Chapter volunteer workforce and its leadership. It is the unexpected incidents that require quick action and flexibility; this is exactly what our volunteer workforce continues to provide to our community today.

As we look back on 105 years of services, we also look forward to continuing the work of the Red Cross mission today. We provide assistance to individuals and families after they have experienced a disaster. We support our active military men and women, our veterans and their families. We support blood needs in our community and across the country. We provide opportunities to educate our communities on safety and give them the skills needed to act in an emergency situation. We cannot foresee what may come in the next 105 years but we know the people of South Central Wisconsin have always come together to give their Red Cross the strength it needs to meet hundreds of challenges and will continue to do so.


American Red Cross Hug-A-Hero Project

 Wisconsin’s own Barbara Behling traveled to San Diego, California to support the American Red Cross Hug-A-Hero Project. The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross works in partnership with Walmart and Camp Pendleton to distribute “Daddy Dolls” (or Hug-A-Hero dolls) to children whose father or mother is overseas. The dolls feature a picture of dad or mom, and provides each child a pillow-like doll to hug while dad or mom is away.


“Will my children remember me?”

That’s just one of the concerns military fathers have as they leave their young children for extended periods of time. Thanks to a partnership with the American Red Cross, children of the deployed 5th Marines Divisions, have a resounding “yes” to this question.

After two California wildfire evacuations for Camp Pendleton in California, the flames were extinguished and the families returned home to a very special gift from the Red Cross.  Bobby Ellison-Peck, Services to Armed Forces program manager, coordinates the Hug-A-Hero program with the support of military Family Readiness Coordinators. A full-length photograph is taken of each Mom or Dad and reproduced on a custom-made doll. The foot-high stuffed dolls also have words of encouragement such as “I Love You!” Tears of joy ran down the cheeks of moms after their child received the dolls. Many of the kids squealed with delight, “Daddy! Daddy!”

“It’s not just for the kids, it’s also for ‘me’” stated Melissa Rooks, who is also the Family Resilience Coordinator. “To be honest, I give him a squeeze and kiss too.” Melissa’s son Zachary received a Hug-A-Hero Dollfive-years ago.  He still keeps it close to him day and night. “Through facial recognition, he remains physically and emotionally attached. It’s so much more powerful than a doll,” concludes Melissa.

The program is spearheaded by the Red Cross with funding from a Walmart grant. This is one program to help families and military members before, during and after deployments. To learn more about our support of military members and Veterans, please visit www.redcross.org/SAF

American Red Cross volunteer Mar Tobiason presents Hug-A-Hero dolls to the Blankenship family.  Lillie (3 ½) and Hallie (2) along with their mother Katherine Blankenship were delighted with tears of joy.
American Red Cross volunteer Mar Tobiason presents Hug-A-Hero dolls to the Blankenship family. Lillie (3 ½) and Hallie (2) along with their mother Katherine Blankenship were delighted with tears of joy.
American Red Cross Services to Armed Forces Coordinator Bob Ellison-Peck, was supported at the Camp Pendleton, San Diego, California Hug-A-Hero distribution by Barbara Behling (left) and Mar Tobiason (right)
American Red Cross Services to Armed Forces Coordinator Bob Ellison-Peck, was supported at the Camp Pendleton, San Diego, California Hug-A-Hero distribution by Barbara Behling (left) and Mar Tobiason (right)

Looking Back As We Move Forward: Oklahoma Tornadoes 1 Year Anniversary

This spring has been a busy disaster relief season for the American Red Cross all across the country. American Red Cross staff and volunteers have responded to the wildfires out West, tornadoes and flooding across the Plains and the Midwest, and severe weather all across the country.  While we are busy preparing and planning for the next disaster, it is important for us to reflect on past disasters while continuing our support to those who were affected.

May 20th is the 1 year anniversary of the deadly tornadoes that struck Oklahoma. Today, the Red Cross continues to help people and communities recover in Oklahoma. While Oklahoma and its residents have come a long way, there is still a lot of work to be done. Many homes and businesses still haven’t been rebuilt, and the tornadoes mental scars still have an impact on people.

In the immediate aftermath of the tornadoes, more than 2,500 Red
Cross workers—91 percent of them volunteers— provided people affected by the storms with shelter from the elements, nourishing meals and snacks, water, hygiene and cleanup supplies, and hope and comfort for survivors. The Western Wisconsin Region Red Cross sent 29 staff and volunteers to help with the response. Many left their families and jobs to help complete strangers in a time of need.

As time passes, those who were affected by the disaster have many changing needs. With our partner agencies, we are now operating long-term recovery centers. Storm survivors turn to these recovery centers for a wide range of assistance, which could include support with housing, such as repairs, rent, security deposits and utility deposits; furniture and appliances; transportation; health and mental health services; and other needs identified by the survivors or disaster case managers. Working with our partners, the Red Cross has helped almost 2,700 families and individuals—an estimated 8,000 people—with recovery needs since the Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Project was launched in September.

Responding to disaster in the immediate aftermath is a very important part of the Red Cross mission, but long term commitments to victims and areas affected by disasters is also essential. We are proud to continue our work in Oklahoma, as well as continuing to respond to new disasters.




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