2008-02-15 / Columnists

Cross Currents

March Is Red Cross Month - Celebrate With Us
CommentaryBy Joan Foley Director, American Red Cross Of Greater New York - Queens

JOAN A.FOLEY JOAN A.FOLEY On cold days, we wrap blankets around people and get them into our vehicles or into a nearby school or church when fire has forced them from their apartments. On hot days, we make sure they have something cold to drink and a decent meal when the power goes out. After a storm, we provide residents with clean-up kits to help them wipe away the dirt and mold that have soiled their homes.

The American Red Cross in Greater New York arrives when disaster strikes to help Queens residents respond to emergencies. We also conduct programs to help people prevent and prepare in advance to cope with emergencies. This is what the Red Cross is all about. We honor our mission and thank our many volunteers every day. We do celebrate a little more than usual during March, though, since it is Red Cross Month.

To accomplish all that we do, including training New Yorkers in first aid and CPR and teaching others how to swim and serve as lifeguards, we rely on committed and compassionate trained volunteers who are the heart and soul of the Red Cross. So, during March, consider helping yourselves, your families and neighbors. Enroll in our classes, support us with a financial contribution to help us provide preparedness programs and humanitarian care to New Yorkers, and consider donating your time to become trained as an instructor or an emergency responder. Upcoming Classes and Programs

The following are just several of the planned March events at our Briarwood office. Dates and times are subject to change. If you have any questions, or if would like more information on these and other classes, including Spanishlanguage sessions, call 718-558-0053, or visit www.nyredcross.org .

Monday, March 3, first aid for cats and dogs, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Cost $70.

Thursday, March 6, Red Cross Here and Now, a one hour presentation about the mission and services of the organization, 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 12, CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) - adult, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Cost $65.

Tuesday, March 18, standard first aid, 2:30 - 6:30 p.m. Cost $60.

Be Red Cross Ready

What better time to become prepared, or, as we say, BE RED CROSS READY, than during Red Cross Month.

The three key essentials are Get a Kit, Make a Plan and Be Informed. You can learn much more about these three steps by contacting our office, attending one of our regularly scheduled community programs, or by visiting our web site. However, until you do this, follow a few simple guidelines to get you started.

Assemble a home disaster supplies kit with enough supplies to meet the needs of each household member, including pets, for least three days. Store supplies in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container such as a backpack, duffle bag or plastic bin. Have a separate "go bag" for each household member in case you must evacuate. Supplies include water, non-perishable food, battery-powered or crank radio and flashlight, first aid kit, extra clothing that includes rainwear, personal items such as extra glasses and prescriptions, and important medical and insurance documents along with some cash.

Make a plan by discussing with family the kinds of emergencies that could occur in your area. Establish responsibilities for each household member. Pick two places to meet if you have to evacuate your home. Designate an outof area friend or relative as a "family contact" for everyone to call in case you become separated. Plan in advance to care for pets. Make sure you know essential phone numbers. Practice your plan at least twice a year.

Be informed by knowing what may happen and how you can help. Learn which disasters may occur where you live, work and play. Attend a Red Cross preparedness presentation in Queens and learn how local authorities will notify you about emergencies and what you will need to do. Don't forget to take a first aid class and learn CPR. This may help you save a life.

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