Swine Flu information and resources

Don’t be afraid of the Swine Flu!  Be prepared!

Everyone at the Red Cross knows that the best way to keep your anxiety in check about emergencies is to be prepared for an emergency.  And with all of the media-hype surrounding the outbreak of Swine Flu, you might need something to bring your nerves back to ground level.  This morning, I actually saw a blog that said, “If there’s a Swine Flu case near you, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!”

Don’t do that.  That’s lame.  Just take the steps to be prepared and protect your family.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross on preparing for an epidemic, should the Swine Flu spread. Local information can be found at the Santa Cruz County Public Health Website.

The Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are offering the following tips to ensure you stay healthy.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
  • If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

This is a good reminder to prepare for life’s emergencies. The Red Cross recommends you take this opportunity to prepare your family for any disaster by getting a kit, making a plan and being informed. More information is available on the kits are available at your red cross chapter, or on this website.

Up to the minute updates on the swine flu can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.  People seeking information on human swine flu should visit the CDC web site or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.

Your pet would give YOU CPR…


When we say “Pet CPR,” we’re not suggesting you let your dog nosh on your face.  Dogs probably couldn’t perform effective CPR on a human anyway… but I bet your dog or cat loves you so much they’d try!

People often laugh the first time they hear about Pet First Aid – but it’s awesome!  Just think – if your cat or dog gets injured, stops breathing, or gets hit by a car, you could have the skills to get them to the vet safely, more comfortably, and possibly in better shape.  The class includes pet CPR, which can help your fuzzy family members should they have a cardiac arrest or stop breathing.

Mr. Whiskers has to stay at home for the class- but you can share the book and DVD with your pet when you get home.

For more information, or to sign up, visit www.sccredcross.org.

Hooray Comic Books!

As a kid, and later as an English major, I never really embraced the inherent charm of the comic book.

Then, something terrible happened.  Sarah Michelle Gellar decided to leave Buffy the Vampire Slayer and they had to end the TV series.  My desperate need to fill the Buffy-shaped hole in my heart lead me to Buffy Season 8 – available only in comic book.  Now comic books and I respect each other.

Like so many things, comic books were so much cooler back in the day.  In fact, the American Red Cross was featured in a few old strips.  Here is my favorite example:

Superman #34

Released during WWII, this iconic book is one of the most sought-after editions of the Superman books.  It goes for about $900.00 if you’re looking to get your very own!


98 year old survives Earthquake in Italy

For those of you who have been watching and reading the news coverage of the Earthquake in Italy, you probably need some hopeful news.  I saw this on MSNBC this morning.  Its always amazing what people can endure.

One 98-year-old survivor, rescued by firemen in the hamlet of Tempera, 30 hours after quake, impressed Italy with her fortitude.

Maria D’Antuono said in an interview on private Italia Uno TV network, that while she lay in her bed, surrounded by pieces of fallen plaster, she passed the time by crocheting.

When firefighters arrived to help her out of her home, she ate some crackers, and then told her rescuers, “At least let me comb my hair” before she was brought outside.

from MSNBC.com

Are you SURE you don’t know a Hero?

This Friday, April 10, is the deadline to nominate your hero for the 4th Annual Heroes Breakfast Awards (May 20).

Of course we have traditional heroes on our list – Medical Heroes, Rescue Professional Heroes, Military Heroes, Law Enforcement Heroes – heroes who touch (and in some cases Save) our lives every day.  The Heroes Breakfast is about honoring not only these brave men and women, but also the heroes you might not hear about.  They babysitter who saves a child from choking because a parrot came to warn her… for…instance…

Yes, animals can be nominated in the Animal Rescue category – but it would have to be as good as little Willie.

You can also nominate groups for any of our award categories.  For instance, if a certain fire company saved your home last summer, you could nominate the whole group.  We’re aware that it is a hard thing to find one hero to represent all of the professional heroes in Santa Cruz County!

Also, heroes do not need to have saved a life!  Heroes can be individuals that put a little extra into the community each year, or work hard to give others the things they need.

So, are you sure you don’t know a hero?

Nominate your hero at sccredcross.org.

Earthquake in Italy, Italian Red Cross responds

With more than 100 dead and around 50,000 homeless, today’s earthquake in Italy was a tragedy.  The earthquake was about a 6.3 magnitude, and reduced the city of L’Aquila to rubble.

The American Red Cross has not been tapped by the Italian Red Cross to help with the relief efforts as of yet.  Foreign Red Cross Societies must be invited to help in other countries.

Many Red Cross Societies overseas work a little differently than your hometown American Red Cross.  For instance, the International Red Cross employs rescue workers, while the American Red Cross depends on civilian volunteers to carry out our relief efforts during a disaster.  Thereby, the American Red Cross does not provide rescue services, but relief services (we cannot put our volunteers in undue amounts of danger). Many international Red Cross Societies provide rescue services, the Italian Red Cross being among them.

Here is what the Italian Red Cross is doing now:

The Italian Red Cross rescue teams were on the scene of the disaster within an hour after the earthquake struck. It is presently scaling up personnel and equipment in the affected area to reinforce capacity for search and rescue, as well as meals and blankets for the survivors.

The Italian Red Cross is on full alert and active in health, first aid, logistics and humanitarian relief. It also established a field hospital to relieve the burden on local health facilities which are under an enormous strain due to the sudden upsurge in demand. Italian Red Cross has also quickly set up mobile kitchens with the capacity to provide 10,000 meals a day run by a team of 16 Italian Red Cross staff and 30 volunteers. Two soup kitchens providing 200-400 meals a day have been set up to respond to the needs of L’Aquila Hospital which is being evacuated.

Thirty six ambulances from the Italian Red Cross are on rotation to evacuate injured people from L’Aquila to the Hospitals in Tagliacozzo, Pescina and Avezzano and it is also evacuating an orphanage in San Gregorio and will ensure care is provided for all the children. Additionally, five psychological support teams from the Italian Red Cross are now operational on the ground.

Additional means and resources are ready to be sent, depending on needs, including 30 search and rescue dog units, five psychological support teams and three veterinary teams.

With up to 10,000 buildings in the city expected to be badly damaged if not destroyed, the Italian Red Cross foresees growing problems with shelter, warm clothes and food provisions for the survivors. “Once we have addressed the need to reinforce emergency health care in the region, the next major challenge, apart from urgent search and rescue, is to find a solution for the thousands of homeless survivors” according to Tommasso Della Longa, head of Communication for the Italian Red Cross who is on the spot.

Further mobilization of resources is being organized. A national appeal calling for solidarity with the population hit by the earthquake is going to be issued on the Italian Red Cross website.

Working in close co-ordination with the Italian Civil Protection, the Italian Red Cross has activated its national operations center, as well as four regional ones, bringing the considerable capacity of the organization to effectively address the needs of the population.

Europe: Making disaster preparedness classy

Europe has a special way of doing things. I’ve been to several European countries and I’m always amazed by their classy-conservation.  Small but efficient hotel rooms, small but efficient cars that can somehow hold a family of 5 and their bicycles, low priced efficient furniture that’s only missing one or two important parts (shout-out to my fellow Ikea Nesting Instinct victims).  Its pretty refreshing to be in a place that isn’t all about size, and is much more about quality and efficiency.

So what do our European friends have to teach us about disaster preparedness?  Plenty.

A Swiss company called Katadyn has come up with a line of MREs that are far from the normal plain cardboard packaging and boring, clinical descriptions that we’re used to seeing on emergency food.  Check this out:

Meat Dishes

  • Beef and Potato Stew06fce7c261
  • Hunter’s stew with beef and noodles
  • Hungarian stew with beef and noodles
  • Chicken in curried rice
  • Chili con Carne
  • Elk meat gourmet pot
  • Balkan Rice Pot
  • Creamy Pasta with chicken and spinach

Desert options include Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Rice Pudding.

To top off your meal, they also have wine.  Powdered wine.  No I’m not kidding.

The Swiss are also looking out for us Americans, by providing one of our favorite comfort foods:

Canned Cheeseburgers!


Again, not kidding.  You can read up on these little beauties here.

And then, there’s this:

Canned Bacon!

If you’re thinking to yourself that only an American company would be capable of Canned Bacon, you’d be right.canbaconcase

These little babies are made right here in the USA.  The can is even camouflaged, just in case you want to take a can hunting.

These are just a few examples of the interesting array of MREs and Canned Emergency food out there.  I encourage you to do your own Google search – it’s an adventure.