2007-05-11 / Columnists

Cross Currents

Preparing For Summer Fun And The Hurricane Season
CommentaryBy Joan Foley Director, American Red Cross Of Greater New York - Queens

CommentaryBy Joan Foley Director, American Red Cross Of Greater New York - Queens

JOAN A.FOLEY 
JOAN A.FOLEY So many great things occur in June. When school lets out, students can begin their summer fun. For grads, it's the thought of starting high school or college in a few months, or possibly entering the workforce to earn (FINALLY!!!) a fulltime paycheck.

While having fun during the great weather should be on everyone's mind, please don't forget about keeping safe wherever you are - at work, splashing in the water, grilling dinner, or just running around the Rockaways as you enjoy these long and warm days and nights.

Remember to remain cool (that's body temp and your temper), use caution during the hot months and take a little extra time to look in on others who may require assistance. Hot weather affects all age groups, from toddlers to seniors. It is important that we take the time to care for ourselves, watch out for our children, care for those who are older and remember that our pets need our attention, too.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe this summer.

Preventing heat-related illness Drink plenty of water , wear clothing that is loose, lightweight and light-colored, and use sunscreen.

Swimming and water sports Maintain constant supervision of children in and around any water environment - pool, stream, lake, tub, bucket of water- no matter what skills your child has acquired and no matter how shallow the water. Children must wear only U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vests, also known as personal flotation devices (PFDs), on boats, docks and around deep or swift water.

Protection during a thunderstorm

Find shelter, avoid using electrical appliances and cell phones and avoid all water, including baths and showers.

What to do during a blackout

Assemble essential supplies in advance (flashlight, batteries, portable radio, at least one gallon of water, small supply of food), refrigerator and freezer doors must remain closed to keep food fresh, turn off or disconnect appliances.

Keeping safe on bikes, blades and boards

Always wear a helmet that fits correctly along with other necessary protective gear for blades and boards, never ride at dusk or in the dark unless you have the skills to do so and proper reflective clothing, mind the rules of the road and watch for vehicles and people around you.

What to know along the hiking trail and at the camp site

Never go alone, learn the regulations about campfires and warnings about wildlife, pack emergency signaling devices and know the locations of ranger stations, leave a copy of your itinerary with someone and include travel information and cell phone number.

Protect pets

Monitor animal behavior, provide plenty of water and shade, don't leave a pet outside or in a vehicle unattended, limit exercise to cooler times of the day, hose down a dog to cool it off, keep animals well groomed, use sunscreen on a dog's nose and ears, and keep a pet away from crowded and noisy summer events.

UPCOMING CLASSES

June safety and preparedness classes are offered at the Queens office at 138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood. Dates and times are subject to change. For more information about these and other Red Cross classes in Queens, including classes available in Spanish, call ARC/GNY - Queens at 718-558-0053, or visit www.nyredcr oss.org .

Sunday, June 10, CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) - Adult, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Thursday, June 14, first aid for cats and dogs, 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Tuesday, June 19, CPR/AED - Adult, 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Monday, June 25, standard first aid, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Monday, June 25, CPR/AED - Adult, 1:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Upcoming classes for professional rescuers (nurse, lifeguard, flight attendant, firefighter, law enforcement, EMS) include:

Monday, June 18, CPR/AED for the professional rescuer, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday, June 28, CPR/AED for the professional rescuer, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE

Sorry to dampen your summer fun before it begins, but please remember that June 1 is the official start of hurricane season. While hurricanes usually don't travel up the cost until late August, preparation now is the best defense against injury and damage to property. The Rockaways are specifically vulnerable to hurricanes and other coastal storms that produce heavy winds, continuous rain and flash flooding.

Here are a few things you need to know to get you started. To learn more, visit the safety tips section on our web site ( www.nyredcross.org ). On the home page, click on "tips," which appears immediately below the Get Prepared section.

1. Develop a personal evacuation plan - Listen to local radio and television broadcasts. Follow official recommendations provided by local governments and emergency personnel.

Check your homeowner or renter's insurance policy and speak with your agent in advance to determine if your policy covers flood damage. If not, ask about the National Flood Insurance Program.

Identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several options - the home of a relative or friend in a community far from the storm, a motel, or a designated shelter.

Have an updated map of your community and become familiar with local evacuation routes.

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Make advance preparations for your pets. Not all shelters can accept pets.

Fill your automobile's gas tank.

2. Assemble emergency supplies for the home and to take with you -

The following supplies should be set aside for all members of the household:

-Essential medications;

-Non-perishable food, non-electric can opener, bottled water (at least three gallons per day per person);

-Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, flashlight and extra batteries for both;

-Pillows and blankets;

-Hygiene and comfort supplies;

-Extra clothes and footwear;

-Copies of important documents;

-Cash, credit cards, or traveler's checks;

First aid kit and other special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members and pets.

3. Prepare for high winds -

If there are trees outside your home, either you or your landlord should make them more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs. This will allow wind to blow through the trees and possibly minimize falling branches.

Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and un-reinforced masonry.

Move indoors, or secure, lawn furniture, outdoor decorations/ornaments, trashcans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.

Do not bring propane gas barbecue tanks indoors. Only if instructed, turn off your electricity at the main switch and gas appliances.

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