Top 5 ways to beat the heat – Red Cross style

m8540173_167x82-heatwave-31)     Jump in the water! Swimming is a great way to cool off on a hot day. Remember to always swim with a buddy, “reach, throw, don’t go” if you spot someone in trouble, and always wear sunscreen. Download our free Red Cross swim app for water safety tips, quizzes, badges and more.

2)     Be neighborly. Extreme heat pushes bodies to the limit – check on your neighbors, especially ones without air conditioning or with special needs. Be even more neighborly and bring them ice cream.

3)     Heat stroke or heat exhaustion? Do you know the difference and what to do? If not, download our free Red Cross First Aid app for the answers to this and other summer challenges like insect stings.

4)     Take a class. When you feel like you’re melting like the Wicked Witch of the West, be smart and stay inside. Then, grab a cool beverage and check out Red Cross online courses, like Babysitting Basics.

5)     Prepare. While you’re inside, check those smoke detector batteries, restock your emergency supplies kit, and go over your family’s emergency plan. But don’t, be this guy.

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Celebrating Volunteer Service

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The 2014 American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Volunteer Awards at the ceremony in June. Photo credit: Andy King.

This past June 24 was a special night during our 2014 Volunteer Recognition event. That night 21 volunteers from our Red Cross region were honored for their outstanding service.

These volunteers were recognized for their generous dedication of fulfilling the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

These volunteers take time to teach, prepare and help their neighbors. They are among 1,100 volunteers giving time and expertise in a Red Cross region that serves more than 4.3 million people in 43 counties in northern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

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Audrey Waage, center. Photo credit: Andy King.

They are moms and dads, high school and college students, and friends and family members who care about their communities and are ready to serve every day. Some of the words that describe these individuals include: “humble, compassionate, fearless, enthusiastic, creative thinkers, engagers, teachers, and mentors.”

The Red Cross thanks this year’s volunteer honorees and all of those who give time to help others often in their greatest time of need.

The 2014 volunteer recipients and their award categories:

Red Cross volunteer award recipient Sara Schomburg (c). Photo credit: Andy King.

Sara Schomburg, center. Photo credit: Andy King.

Diane Dunder: Distinguished Volunteer Leader of the Year Award

Outstanding Volunteer Group Award: St. Croix Valley Disaster Health Nurses Anne Headrick, Mary Menter, Patricia Bell, Maria Saterbak, Millie Jones, Nancy Mortwedt, Jane Norbin, Cheryl Blythe, Flora Holmberg, Roger Jacobson, Dianne Polasik, Iona Holsten and Vonnie Thomas

Tami Jensen: “Behind-the-Scenes” Volunteer Award

Sara Schomburg: Youth Volunteer Award

Audrey Waage: Disaster Volunteer Award

St. Croix Valley Disaster Health Nurses. Photo credit: Andy King.

St. Croix Valley Disaster Health Nurses. Photo credit: Andy King.

Dave Adriansen: Health and Safety Recognition Award

Pj Doyle and Kathryn Schmidt: Outreach Volunteer Award

Randi De Mel: Rookie Volunteer-of-the-Year Award

A region-wide committee comprised of staff and volunteers reviewed the nominees in each category and voted on a winner.

Post by Eduardo Sanchez Beltran/American Red Cross. Click here to learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities. 

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Sparklers, Sunscreen and Safety

So, you’re getting ready for the big holiday weekend. Making a list and checking it twice – wait, wrong holiday. You hit the store:

  • hot dogs and hamburgers – check.
  • s’mores and cherry pie fixings – check.
  • uber bug repellent and sunscreen – check.
  • completely, absolutely legal fireworks (a.k.a. sparklers) – check.

…something I’m forgetting…

Before all the excitement begins this 4th of July weekend, take two minutes and brush up on these Red Cross safety tips. The best and safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. But if you do celebrate at home, here are five safety steps:

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  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.

And just to be safe, download our free First Aid App.
It puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at your fingertips – even if they’re covered in melted marshmallows.

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You’ve heard about the flooding, right?

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Red Cross relief workers on the US-Canadian border. Photo credit: Jenn Hamrick/American Red Cross

While most of us had our summer attention turned to beach towels and BBQ’s, others in our Red Cross region donned their disaster work clothes and supported the flooding response on the US-Canadian border. Most of the relief work focused on assisting residents and local government officials as they prepared for high waters along several lakes and rivers in Koochiching and northern St. Louis counties.

More than 50 Red Cross volunteers served during the response. Some people responded virtually — working from their home base (wherever that is in Minnesota or Wisconsin) — organizing food donations, coordinating workers or arranging technology support for the operation. Others had their high-water boots on-the-ground in and around Loman, Ranier or other flood-affected areas in northern Minnesota. There, they handed out cold beverages, bandaged cuts or surveyed threatened neighborhoods where residents worked hours and hours placing sandbags in advance of the flooding.

Most would agree that it’s a privilege to work with people who put aside their lives for a time when others –generally strangers – need them. Thank you to everyone, especially the volunteers, who served during this flooding response.

It’s time now to get some rest before you’re needed again.

Click here to see photos from the response.
Click here to learn about becoming a Red Cross volunteer.

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The Greatest Gift

The 2014 Run for Blood is only weeks away. Proceeds from this annual event benefit American Red Cross North Central Blood Services. In other words, your participation, whether you run or walk, helps the Red Cross provide life-saving blood to someone like our own Jacqueline “Jacks” Michaud, who needed blood to save her life after childbirth. 

Jacks Michaud and her family.

Jacks Michaud and her family.

I was 17 years old the first time I gave blood in the gymnasium of my high school.  I never questioned the choice of giving, I gave because I could (and it got me out of 5th period).  After that initial experience, I have continued to give. I give because I can; I have never expected anything in return.

Fast-forward years later as my husband and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first child.  I am nine months pregnant, round and happy despite the morning sickness lasting all nine months.  My husband and I had read every book, taken every class, and planned, planned, planned for baby.  Our daughter arrived on June 3rd at 3:33 a.m.  We were instantly in love and in awe of this seven-pounds nineteen-inch little person who came into the world with a smile on her adorable face. However, with all my planning I was not prepared for what happened next.

Our joy was soon cut short as I began to experience medical complications after my labor and delivery.  The post-delivery complications caused me to hemorrhage.  I remained confident and euphoric in my post-delivery baby bliss, but soon began to feel ill and faint.  I only remember truly becoming disturbed when I witnessed the nurses exchanging glances of worry when documenting the continued blood loss.  At that moment it became real, my life was no longer about myself, just a few moments prior my entire existence changed, and now I was responsible for a little baby and her entire existence.  Fear set in.

Jack's infant daughter.

Jack’s infant daughter.

The next memory I have is of my nurse hanging a lovely red bag of blood on my I.V. stand. I remember thinking to myself that some generous person, whoever they are, will be forever tied to me, giving me a part of them so that I can be a mom, thankful that they gave because they could.

On that joyous day, I was thankful that I was able to receive the needed transfusions my body needed.  I was able to be with my baby and my husband, and enjoy the precious newness and beauty of parenthood while putting aside the fears of hours past.

That day I made a commitment to myself the moment I received that first pint of beautiful red life.  I promised that I would be a better and more consistent blood donor, knowing that just maybe one day my donation could help another.

Every year around the time of my daughter’s birthday, my son’s birthday and my own birthday I donate blood because I can.  It is the greatest gift I can give.

Story by Jacqueline Michaud
Mom, Blood Donor, and Red Crosser

Click here to register for the 2014 Run for Blood, which will be held July 26 on Thomas Beach at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. Not a runner? You can donate blood on race day.

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Heroes Breakfast Highlights

Thank you to everyone who supported our 2014 Heroes Breakfast! More than 450 guests shared a wonderful, inspiring morning while meeting this year’s Heroes and learning more about their extraordinary acts of courage, resiliency and generosity. Below, we share photo highlights of the event. Click here to see the Heroes videos. 

Give Life Hero Kate Ross (l) with Red Cross board member Tom Meyer. Photo credit: Andy King

Give Life Hero Kate Ross (l) with Red Cross board member Tom Meyer. Photo credit: Andy King

Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern. Photo credit: Andy King

National American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern. Photo credit: Andy King

Military Hero Dennis Davis (l) and Red Cross Social Advocate Kevin Schreifels. Photo credit: Andy King

Military Hero Dennis Davis (l) and Red Cross Social Advocate Kevin Schreifels. Photo credit: Andy King

Local Red Cross CEOs Geoff Kaufmann and Phil Hansen. Photo credit: Andy King

Local Red Cross CEOs Geoff Kaufmann and Phil Hansen. Photo credit: Andy King

USBank CEO Richard Davis. Photo credit: Andy King

USBank CEO Richard Davis. Photo credit: Andy King

Around 450 people attended our 2014 Heroes Breakfast in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Andy King

Around 450 people attended our 2014 Heroes Breakfast in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Andy King

The 2014 Heroes (l-r): Zoran Pedisic, Shane Linehan, Kate Ross, Sydney Book, Dennis Davis and Pat Harris. Photo credit: Andy King

The 2014 Heroes (l-r): Zoran Pedisic, Shane Linehan, Kate Ross, Sydney Book, Dennis Davis and Pat Harris. Photo credit: Andy King

Local Red Cross board co-chair Lori McDougal. Photo credit: Andy King

Local Red Cross board vice-chair Lori McDougal. Photo credit: Andy King

Red Cross President & CEO Gail McGovern takes a group "selfie" with the Social Advocates. Photo credit: Carrie Carlson-Guest

Red Cross President & CEO Gail McGovern takes a group “selfie” with the Social Advocates. Photo credit: Carrie Carlson-Guest

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Learning Preparedness in Spanish

On May 29, our Red Cross region hosted its first Latino Leadership Summit. Held at Urban Ventures in Minneapolis, the summit brought together local Red Cross leaders and Latino community representatives for a conversation about emergency preparedness. Eleven people representing Latino groups, businesses or service organizations attended. They learned more about the importance of being prepared before disasters happen as well as Red Cross services and programs. They offered, in return, insights into how the Red Cross can do a better job sharing its preparedness message with Spanish-speaking communities and helping them become more disaster resilient in Minnesota.

Here are some highlights:

Victoria Krook, a K-12 educator in Brooklyn Center, says that reaching families one-on-one is best. Winter, she says, is a major emergency issue to address: "Parents don't know frostbite, how quickly it can happen."

Victoria Krook (above), a K-12 educator in Brooklyn Center, says that reaching Latino families one-on-one is best. Winter, she says, is a major emergency issue to address in Latino communities: “Parents don’t know frostbite, how quickly it can happen.”

Maria Arboleda, a program coordinator in higher education, says that many people have resources to be prepared, but that "if we want get this education out to communities, then we need more Spanish speakers and more people from the communities."

Maria Arboleda (above center), a program coordinator in higher education, says that many Latino families have resources to be prepared for disasters, but that “if we want to get this education out to communities, then we need more Spanish speakers and more people from the communities.”

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“Every mom is a first responder,” says Arturo Lopez (above left), a cadet in law enforcement training. Lopez says that building trust, reaching children and training women are keys to sharing preparedness messages with Latino families.

Our Latino community partners left the summit with fresh enthusiasm and concrete action steps for preparing and preventing emergencies at home and work. Our Red Cross action plan includes helping them reach their goals and building on our new shared energy.

Story and photos by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

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