Is that… rain??

Hey everybody, its raining!  You know what that means… somewhere there are a bunch of very jubilant UCSC students.

I guess it also means your power might go out (due to the wind advisory currently in affect for our county). So, here is our most popular blog post, ever… What to do when your power goes out.  Read it quick.

If your power goes out, here are some steps you can take to keep your family safe.

  • Use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles.
  • Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out.
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer to keep your food as fresh as possible.
  • Do not run a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as your home, garage, basement, or crawlspace. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your gas range, oven, or dryer as a source of heat.
  • If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system.
  • Use a portable radio for updated news and weather forecasts.
  • Leave one light on so you know when the power returns.

Everyone can prepare ahead of time for disasters like a power outage by taking the following actions:

  • Build a disaster supplies kit. Your kit should include at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food items and water (one gallon per person per day), a flashlight, a battery-powered or crank radio, as well as batteries, can opener and special items such as medications, diapers, and infant formula.
  • Have a communication plan ready. If you have a telephone that requires electricity to work (such as a cordless phone or answering machine), plan for alternate communication, including having a cellular telephone, radio, or pager.
  • Keep your car fuel tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  • Be sure to keep a key to your house with you, in case the garage door does not open. If you have an electric garage door opener, find out where the manual release lever is located and learn how to operate it.
  • Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible.

How to keep food safe during a power outage

Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they are prolonged. Perishable foods should not be held above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours. If a power outage is 2 hours or less, you need not be concerned, but how do you save your food when the refrigerator is out for longer times? Being prepared can help. By planning ahead, you can save your perishables.

What do I need?

  • One or more coolers. Inexpensive styrofoam coolers can do an excellent job as well.
  • Shelf-stable foods, such as canned goods and powdered or boxed milk. These can be eaten cold or heated on the grill.
  • A digital quick-response thermometer. A digital thermometer should be a necessity in your kitchen anyway. With these thermometers you can quickly check the internal temperatures of food for doneness and safety.

What to do…

  • Do not open the refrigerator or freezer. Tell your little ones not to open the door. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a couple of hours at least. A freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours.
  • If it looks like the power outage will be for more than 2-4 hours, pack refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, gravy, stuffing and left-overs into your cooler surrounded by ice.
  • If it looks like the power outage will be prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.See “Power is Out” download guidelines (PDF file)

Q’s and A’s
What should be discarded after a power outage? As soon as the power returns, check temperatures. If the food in the freezer has ice crystals and is not above 40 degrees you can refreeze. Perishable foods in the refrigerator should not be above 40 degrees F. for more than two hours. Use this chart to see what has to be discarded and what can be kept.

What if I go to bed and the power is still not on? Before you go to bed, pack your perishables into your coolers if you haven’t already done so and put in as much ice as you can. Also, when you go to bed, leave a bedroom light switched on. When the power goes back on, it will wake you, so you can check the condition of your foods in the freezer.

What if the power goes out while I’m at work or out of the house and it has been more than a few hours before I get home? Try to determine how long the power has been out. Check the internal temperature of the food in your refrigerator with your quick-response thermometer. A liquid such as milk or juice is easy to check. Spot check other items like steaks or left-overs also. If the internal temperature is above 40 degrees, it is best to throw it out.

What if the power goes out and comes back on while I am out? If your freezer is fairly full and you know it was not longer than 24 hours, the food should be OK. There will be loss of quality with refreezing, but the food will be safe. If the refrigerator was out for more than 2-4 hours, you are best to discard the perishables.

Prepared by Giant Food, Inc., Landover, Maryland, June 1999. Used with permission. Original content adapted from “Help, Power Outage!” Food News for Consumers, Summer 1989, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. ARC 1098 September 1999

Frozen Foods
Meat and Mixed Dishes: Still Contains Ice Crystals. Not Above 40° F Thawed, Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Beef, veal, lamb, pork, poultry, ground meat and poultry Refreeze Discard
Casseroles with meat, pasta, rice, egg or cheese base, stews, soups, convenience foods, pizza Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products Refreeze Discard
Dairy: Still Contains Ice Crystals. Not Above 40° F Thawed, Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Milk Refreeze Discard
Eggs (out of shell) egg products Refreeze Discard
Ice cream, frozen yogurt Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and semi soft) cream cheese ricotta Refreeze Discard
Hard cheese (cheddar Swiss parmesan) Refreeze Refreeze
Fruits and Vegetables: Still Contains Ice Crystals. Not Above 40° F Thawed, Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Fruit Juices Refreeze Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops.
Home or commercially packaged fruit Refreeze Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell or sliminess develops.
Vegetable Juices Refreeze Discard if above 50° for over 8 hours.
Home or commercially packaged or blanched vegetables Refreeze Discard if above 50° for over 8 hours.
Baked Goods Baking Ingredients: Still Contains Ice Crystals. Not Above 40° F Thawed, Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Fruit Juices Refreeze Refreeze
Flour, cornmeal, nuts Refreeze Refreeze
Pie Crusts, Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (no custard fillings) Refreeze Discard if above 50° for over 8 hours.
Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling, cheesecake Refreeze Discard
Commercial and homemade bread dough Refreeze Refreeze
Refrigerator Foods
Dairy/Eggs/Cheese: Food Still Cold, Held At 40° F Or Above Under 2 Hours Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Milk, cream, sour cream buttermilk evaporated milk yogurt Keep Discard
Butter, margarine Keep Keep
Baby Formula, opened Keep Discard
Eggs, egg dishes, custards puddings Keep Discard
Hard & processed cheeses Keep Keep
Soft cheeses, cottage cheese Keep Discard
Fruits & Vegetables: Food Still Cold, Held At 40° F Or Above Under 2 Hours Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Fruit juices, opened; Canned fruits, opened; Fresh fruits Keep Keep
Vegetables, cooked; Vegetable juice opened Keep Discard after 6 hours
Baked potatoes Keep Discard
Fresh mushrooms, herbs spices Keep Keep
Garlic, chopped in oil or buffer Keep Discard
Meat, Poultry, Seafood: Food Still Cold, Held At 40° F Or Above Under 2 Hours Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Fresh or leftover meat, poultry, fish, or seafood Keep Discard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef Keep Discard
Canned meats NOT labeled “Keep Refrigerated” but refrigerated after opening Keep Discard
Canned hams labeled “Keep Refrigerated” Keep Discard
Mixed Dishes, Side Dishes: Food Still Cold, Held At 40° F Or Above Under 2 Hours Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Casseroles, soups, stews, pizza with meat Keep Discard
Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad Keep Discard
Cooked pasta Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinegar base Keep Discard
Gravy stuffing Keep Discard
Pies, Breads: Food Still Cold, Held At 40° F Or Above Under 2 Hours Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Cream or cheese filled pastries and pies Keep Discard
Fruit pies Keep Keep
Breads, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads Keep Keep
Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough Keep Discard
Sauces, Spreads, Jams: Food Still Cold, Held At 40° F Or Above Under 2 Hours Held Above 40° F For Over 2 Hours
Mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish Keep Discard
Opened salad dressing, jelly, relish, taco and barbeque sauce, mustard, catsup olives Keep Keep

Prepared by Giant Food, Inc., Landover, Maryland, June 1999. Used with permission. Original content adapted from “Help, Power Outage!” Food News for Consumers, Summer 1989, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. ARC 1098 September 1999

Happy Halloween, Santa Cruz County!

Well, here we are – only a few more days until that fabulous holiday of excess, Halloween. Jane Sullivan, a good friend of mine and Santa Cruz Film Festival Goddess, calls Halloween Santa Cruz’s “High Holiday” (referring, of course, to the loft at which Halloween is held in local esteem).  Even the grown ups get involved, as anyone who’s ever seen their 60 year old neighbor dress up like a smurf and go out in public can tell you.

Maybe we have a slight tendency to over do it around these parts. For instance, I spent a good deal of my monthly salary on my costume last year… and wore it to my best friend’s Halloween night wedding at the famously haunted Brookdale Lodge. Some might say I was safer up there in that haunted hotel than at my house in Downtown Santa Cruz.

Halloween in Downtown Santa Cruz can get a little bit too scary, and I’m not just talking about those guys with the chainsaws from they year before last (although, they did make me feel plenty uncomfortable).  In the spirit of inclusion, here are some safety tips for both kids AND adults this Halloween – and, of course, the obligatory picture of some adorable children in costumes (care of Rodoni Farms).



Red Cross Halloween Safety Tips for Kids

With witches, goblins, and super-heroes descending on neighborhoods across America, the American Red Cross offers parents some safety tips to help prepare their children for a safe and enjoyable trick-or-treat holiday. Halloween should be filled with surprise and enjoyment, and following some common sense practices can keep events safer and more fun.

  • Walk, slither, and sneak on sidewalks, not in the street.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars, trucks, and low-flying brooms.
  • Cross the street only at corners.
  • Don’t hide or cross the street between parked cars.
  • Wear light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are more visible. (And remember to put reflective tape on bikes, skateboards, and brooms, too!)
  • Plan your route and share it with your family. If possible, have an adult go with you.
  • Carry a flashlight to light your way.
  • Keep away from open fires and candles. (Costumes can be extremely flammable.)
  • Visit homes that have the porch light on.
  • Accept your treats at the door and never go into a stranger’s house.
  • Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes.
  • Be cautious of animals and strangers.
  • Have a grown-up inspect your treats before eating. And don’t eat candy if the package is already opened. Small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children.

Halloween Safety Tips for Adults

    During Trick-or-Treating

    • When driving, slow down in residential neighborhoods.
    • Watch for Children walking along roadways and curbs.
    • Enter and exit driveways carefully
    • Use your headlights, even during the day

    The Witching Hour

    • Don’t drive if you have been drinking
    • Use common sense and stay alert.  If you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, remove yourself from it.
    • Bring your pets inside – for the safety of Trick-or-Treaters as well as the safety of your pet.
    • Respect the law enforcement.  It is their job to keep you safe.
    • Just because you’re familiar with Downtown, doesn’t mean you’re familiar with Downtown on Halloween. Stick to the populated, well-lit areas.

      Have a Facebook Account? Help the Red Cross with a click.

      Do you have a facebook account? Vote for the American Red Cross on the Western Union “Our World Gives” page. The charity that receives the most votes will receive $50,000 from the Western Union Foundation.

      You can access “Our World Gives” by clicking here:

      Hello, my name is Lindsay, and I live in Earthquake Country.

      Last year around this time, I was at the Santa Cruz Film Festival’s screening of “Nosferatu”.  The Red Cross had partnered with the festival for the screening to promote blood donations (1 donation can help save up to 3 lives!).  So, there I was at the Del Mar, minding my own business, enjoying the movie, when out of nowhere I got that strange feeling of, “Did a truck just hit the building?”

      I have to admit, the earthquake last October 30th was my first earthquake – and I experienced my first earthquake while sitting in a theater as the lone American Red Cross representative (Good times). What really surprised me about that earthquake (besides the fact that the live music never stopped playing – New Music Works has nerves of steel) was the number of people that got up and ran out the front doors.  Now, that may have been my first earthquake, but I knew that during an earthquake you’re supposed to stay put – and never, ever, ever run outside.  Why wouldn’t people in California, in the “circle of fire” as they call it, know what and what not to do during an earthquake?

      I saw an interesting article this morning on the Wired blog about the catastrophic earthquake that many scientists say is just around the corner in our area.  Betsy Mason writes,

      “So how do people in the Bay Area cope with this hazard? Though awareness of the potential for earthquakes is relatively high in the area, the USGS estimates only 10 percent of residents have a disaster plan and less than half have set aside supplies such as water, food and first aid. A quick survey of the office found that the staff is behind even that modest curve — just a third have done anything at all to prepare, and less than 10 percent have something resembling a comprehensive plan.

      This may be because for some, it takes a certain amount of denial to live in earthquake country. And many residents who lived through the 1989 quake, [sic] think they have already survived a major Bay Area earthquake.”

      Denial?  Seriously?

      Say it with me, everybody, “Hello, my name is (insert name of SC County Resident Here), and I live in Earthquake Country.”

      Doesn’t it feel good to get it out there?  Isn’t it freeing?  Well, good.  Now let’s come to terms with what the responsibility of living in earthquake country means for us and our families.

      1.  Make a PLAN.   How would you reach your family if you were at work during an Earthquake? How would you get water?  Think about these things and put them on paper.  Find a meeting place where your family can go to reconnect.  When the earthquake does happen, won’t you feel better knowing you have a plan?

      2. Get a Kit.  You can build your own kit (we’ll even help you!), or you can buy a pre-made kit from us.  When the water lines are out, food supplies are limited and the electricity is gone for an unknown length of time, you’ll be happy you put together a kit for your family!

      3. Stay Informed.  Know what to do during and after a disaster!  Knowledge is the best way to help keep you and your family safe.

      Still in denial?

      USGS geologist Tom Brocher told

      “Move the epicenter of that [1989] quake, or a larger one, to the Hayward fault in the heart of the Bay Area, and it will make Loma Prieta look like a bad hair day.”

      Learn more about preparing for all types of disasters on our website: or give the chapter a call: 831-462-2881.

      You can read the entirety of the blog here:

      Iz u praktisin yer CPR?

      I’ll be the first to admit it… I have a weakness for funny pictures of cats.  Luckily, this funny picture of cats is relevant to what’s happening here at the chapter, so I had an excellent excuse to share it with you all.

      Our Health and Safety department is really starting to ramp up the number of classes that they are offering.  We have more than tripled the number of Babysitters Training classes in our schedule.  In addition, we are currently seeking instructors to teach Wilderness First Aid (also known as Mountaineering First Aid) as well as Pet First Aid.

      “Pet First Aid?” you ask.  “What is that… like… with bandages and stuff?”

      Well, there’s that.  Did you know that there is also a correct way to perform CPR on your cat or dog?  There is!  There are even cat and dog CPR manikins.

      You don’t need to be a medical professional to be an American Red Cross Health and Safety Instructor.  Give us a call here at the chapter, and we’ll clue you in on the process:  831-462-2881.

      College Students: Did I mention that teaching CPR and First Aid classes looks amazing on a resume?