2008-04-18 / Columnists

Cross Currents

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

Ahhhhh, warm weather. Outdoor fun and baseball! It's time to watch our kids play T-ball and little league. For those of you trying to hang on to your younger days, I can hear the groans as you bend to field ground balls in a weekend softball league. Then, there is my favorite time - sitting in front of the television with family and friends to cheer on the Mets.

With outdoor fun, expect more cuts, bruises and other injuries. Do you know what to do if you or someone else is injured?

I suggest that you take a first aid class. We have them in English and Spanish. Periodically, we also offer classes in sports first aid. Also, don't forget the very important classes in CPR with a component to learn how to use an automated external defibrillator. Once you take these classes, you will know how to stop bleeding, care for a scrape and even possibly save a life. Queens Emergencies and Responses

The first three months of the year have been very busy for us, with staff and volunteers responding to help Queens residents every day and at all times. Through March, we have responded to 174 fires and other emergencies in our borough. We have assisted 573 adults and children with food, shelter and/ or counseling.

Most recently, our chapter was involved with helping Manhattan residents affected by the construction crane collapse. That accident had an interesting Queens - and Mets - connection.

One resident who was forced to temporarily relocate was Jane Jarvis. A well-known jazz musician, Ms. Jarvis also entertained many baseball fans for about 30 years at Shea Stadium, where she played the organ. Lucky for Jarvis and many others, we were on the scene soon after the accident to help with meals, housing and counseling.

For Jarvis, our volunteers and staff were able to work with the New York City Office of Emergency Management to locate and verify friends and family who could be of assistance. We brought her to a reception center we opened in a nearby school and made her comfortable.

Our mental health director Diane Ryan and health services director Chris Mercado coordinated efforts with a social worker to ensure that Mrs. Jarvis' health needs were met. We also arranged for temporary housing for her, and the Red Cross along with members of her church (St. Peter's Lutheran Church in the neighborhood) transported her to a comfortable temporary location until she was able to return home. Our health services people visited regularly to check on her and determine if she had any special needs.

The Red Cross also took care of the many other people affected by this accident. Our services were provided on a case-by-case basis determined by household need, as is done during every emergency and disaster in Queens and elsewhere within our chapter.

The Red Cross, however, can't do all of this without help from the public. Think about becoming a volunteer to help us respond during emergencies. If that is a bit too much for you, learn how to teach some of our classes. We also can use financial support. We can't provide housing, counseling and the means to help people purchase clothing or food without your assistance. To make a donation, call 1-877-RED CROSS (1- 877-733-2767), or visit www.nyred cross.org .

Upcoming Classes

Here are some of the upcoming classes offered at the Red Cross office in Queens (138-02 Queens Boulevard in Briarwood). Dates and times of classes, which include sessions in Spanish and for lifeguard training, are subject to change. Class costs reflect online registration. For phone reservations, add $10 per class. For more information and to register, call 1-800-514-5103, or visit www.nyredcross.org . Friday, May 2, CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) - Adult, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Cost $65 online registration. Sunday, May 4, first aid for cats and dogs, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Cost $70 online registration. Saturday, May 31, babysitter's training, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Cost $60 online registration.

Bicycle Safety Tips for Children

Despite our many parks and other greenways, many areas of Queens aren't bicycle-friendly. Bikes compete with people, cars, delivery trucks, buses and raised sidewalks and potholes. The best way to keep our children safe is to talk to them about riding safely and responsibly. Here are some tips to help you make each ride an enjoyable one.

Always make sure your child wears a helmet- one that fits correctly- when riding a bike. Even children riding tricycles or bikes with training wheels need to wear helmets.

Never ride at dusk or in the dark. This is extremely risky for children and adults. Night riding requires special skills and equipment. Children should call home to be picked up by a parent in a car rather than ride a bike home.

Choose a bike for your child that is the correct fit for his/her size, not one your child must "grow into." Oversized bikes are especially dangerous. Shop for a bike with your child, so that you can test it for a proper fit. Here's how:

A child should be able to place the balls of both feet on the ground when sitting on the seat of the bike with hands on the handlebars. Straddling the center bar, a child should be able to comfortably stand with both feet flat on the ground and about a 1" clearance between crotch and bar.

An older child should be able to comfortably grasp hand brakes and apply enough pressure to stop the bike. Don't push a child to ride a two-wheel bike until age five or six, when he or she has better coordination. Stick with foot brakes until your child is older and ready for hand brakes.

Have your child get training in riding and safety rules. Withhold bike privileges if a child ignores safety rules or doesn't wear a helmet.

Teach your child how to keep his or her bike in good repair. Parents and children should check the tires, brakes, and seat and handlebar height annually.

Always supervise young children when they ride.

Have young children ride only on the sidewalk. Allow older children to ride in the street based on traffic density, maturity, and the knowledge and ability to follow the rules of the road.

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