Chapter to host class on International Humanitarian Law

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is everyone’s concern. In a world where warfare and civil strife are a daily reality for millions, IHL provides a framework for protection for civilians and combatants alike.

The conduct for warfare as embodied by IHL is laid out in the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The American Red Cross has a unique mandate to educate the American public about the guiding principles and IHL framework as it applies to the protection of members of the armed forces including prisoners of war and civilians.

In October, the Santa Cruz County Chapter of the American Red Cross will host a class about the tenants of International Humanitarian Law. The course will employ a variety of tools and strategies to help one view war through the eyes of victims, witnesses and combatants. Photographs, video clips and first-person accounts will show both the horrors of war and the possibilities for relieving suffering. Presented by Red Cross volunteers Diane Bridgeman, Ph.D and Phyllis Cole, this free event will be held Thursday, October 30, 6:00-9:00 PM, at the American Red Cross of Santa Cruz County, 8960 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz CA 95062. Please RSVP by calling 831-462-2881 x10.

Hurricanes are Haters

You know what?  Hurricanes ARE Haters.  That’s why Cloth Moth has designed this T-Shirt to spread the word:

At least $5.00 of every t-shirt sale will go to benefit the American Red Cross Relief Funds for Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.  Stylish activism, my friend;  And what is Santa Cruz about if not stylish activism?

National Preparedness Month

As holidays go, National Preparedness Month is probably not one of the most enticing holidays on your calendar, but around here… the staff does loose a little sleep over it.

Getting people motivated to be prepared for the next emergency is not the easiest thing in the world.  After all, we all have busy lives; things to do, places to go, kids to drop off and so on.  But during this one special time of year, we ask you to consider how prepared your family would be if a major disaster such as a wildfire or earthquake struck your area.  Do you have enough water to sustain your family for a day?  Two days?  Do you have nonparishable food in the house?  How long will it last?  What happens if you’re not home when the disaster strikes?  How will you get a hold of your family?

Phew.  That’s some heavy stuff.

Fortunately, here at the chapter, we’ve been hard at work helping make preparedness painless.  Your family can simply take the following three steps to be prepared for the next emergency in Santa Cruz County:

1. Get a Kit

Purchasing or building a disaster preparedness kit might be the most important thing you can do for your family before an emergency.  We sell various sized kits at our chapter (call 831-462-2881), but you may also choose to build your own kit (can be a great family activity!).  A proper disaster preparedness kit should have:

·     Water – You and your family may be without water for days in the aftermath of a disaster. The Red Cross recommends that each person store one gallon of water per day for at least three days. This supply will provide water for drinking as well as limited cleaning and cooking.

·     Food – When preparing for a disaster, store at least three days of non-perishable, nutritious food that requires little or no water or cooking to prepare. Don’t forget to store a manual can opener with non-perishable food items. When assembling items, remember that you and your family may be without water, gas, or electricity for an unknown period of time.

·     Medications – When assembling a preparedness kit for you and your family, remember that pharmacies may be closed in the wake of a disaster. Be sure to include a week’s supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Also keep a list of all medications and dosages, allergies, doctors’ names, and nearby hospitals.

·     Radio – Your home, or even neighborhood, may lose power in the aftermath of a disaster. Keep a battery-powered or hand-crank radio in your kit. Don’t forget to include extra batteries in your kit to ensure you and your family stay informed throughout the course or aftermath of a disaster.

·     First Aid Kit – Injuries are a common occurrence in a disaster. Be prepared to treat yourself, your loved ones, and others who need help.

·     Personal Documents – You and your family may be displaced after a disaster. Be prepared, ensuring you have all necessary records with you – ID, passport, birth certificate, and insurance policies. Also keep an extra set of eye glasses, contact lenses, a cane, hearing aid batteries, or any other personal items you may need.

·     Contact Info – Keep a list of family phone numbers and addresses as well as a copy of your out-of-area emergency contact card in your preparedness kit. Note that it is often easier to make a long-distance call rather than a local call after a disaster strikes.

·     Map – Include a detailed map of the surrounding areas with highlighted evacuation routes. Following a disaster, roads may be closed and travel out of the affected area may not be possible. Become familiar with alternate routes to and from your home.

·     Money – Following a disaster, banks and ATMs may be closed. Keep small bills and change on hand to buy necessary supplies like water.

·     Clothing – You and your family may be forced to evacuate your home in a hurry without time to pack accordingly. Keep an extra set of warm clothes and sturdy shoes in your preparedness kit to ensure you’re equipped to evacuate if needed.

·     Sanitary Supplies – Include extra toilet paper, feminine supplies, personal hygiene products, bleach, and any other personal products you may need in your preparedness kit.

·     Pet Supplies – Remember to include your pets in the plan. Make sure to assemble things your pets will need during a disaster, like food, leashes, medicine, etc.

·     Tools – Keep an adjustable wrench in your preparedness kit to turn off your gas if necessary. Other tools may include a manual can opener, plastic sheeting, garbage bags with ties, and duct tape.

I bet you didn’t even think about half of those things (if you did – I’m impressed).  Looking for more information on keeping your pets prepared?  We can do that!  Give us a call at 831-462-2881.  Pet CPR and First Aid books are also available through our chapter.

2. Make a Plan

Ah, the ever-important plan.  If your kids are like I was as a child growing up in Wisconsin, even a documentary on Tornadoes is enough to put them into a raging panic.  You may be wondering how I ended up in my current position.  Well, it turns out making a plan with your family, office or friends really knocks out the stress level of dealing with an emergency.  If you know what to do, you’re far less likely to panic.  Here are some steps to make planning easier:


·     Discuss with your family the disasters that can happen where you live. Establish responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team. Designate alternates in case someone is absent. If a family member is in the military, also plan for how you would respond if they are deployed. Include the local military base resources that may be available.

2. Plan

·     Choose two places to meet after a disaster:

·     Right outside your home, in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.

·     Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate your neighborhood.

·     Choose an out-of-area contact for all members of the family to call in case of disaster. The selected contact person should live far enough away that they would be unaffected by the same event, and they should know they are the chosen contact. Remember that during a disaster, it may be easier to make along distance phone call than to call across town.

·     Having predetermined meeting places will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or if the area is evacuated.

3. Learn

·     Each adult in your household should learn how and when to turn off utilities such as electricity, water and gas. Ask your local fire department to show you how to use a fire extinguisher.

4. Tell

·     Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept. Make copies of the information for everyone to carry with them. Keep the information updated.

5. Practice

·     Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable or gridlocked.

6. Include your pets

·     If you must evacuate, take your animals with you. If it is not safe for you to remain, it is not safe for them.

 3. Be Informed

Santa Cruz County is a pretty eclectic place to live.  The number of possible disasters that can happen in the county are pretty eclectic, too.  Floods, mudslides, earthquakes, wildfires… we can’t even rule out the possibility of a random tornado.  Staying informed about the types of disasters that are possible in your area is pretty important to being prepared.  Getting information once those disasters strike is just as important.

There are three key parts to becoming informed:

1.    Get Info – Learn the ways you would get information during a disaster or an emergency.

During a disaster, it’s important to understand the different ways through which you can obtain information. Make sure your kids are familiar with the following ways to get information. 

·     Television

·     Radio

·     NOAA Weather Station

·     Printed Notices

·     Telephone/Text Messaging

·     Local Emergency Warning Systems

2. Know Your Region – Learn about the disasters that may occur in your area.

Pretty much anything can happen in Santa Cruz County.  For information on specific disasters, call us at 831-462-2881 or visit our website at

For even more information on disasters in Santa Cruz County, visit the SC County Office of Emergency Services (OES) at

3. Action Steps – Learn First Aid from your local Red Cross chapter. 

I know, I know… you don’t want to.  The class is too loooong, its booooring…. blah, blah, blah.  Trust me, nothing will keep you calm in an emergency like First Aid and CPR training.  You’ll feel empowered to help, instead of panicked and helpless.  And the classes are not boring!  There is a lot of hands on practice – and our instructors are all pretty entertaining gentlemen and ladies.  Promise.


For more information on American Red Cross classes in Santa Cruz, call 831-462-2881.




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