Press Release: Red Cross Provides Tips to Stay Safe When Returning to Flooded Homes

July 10, 2012

Tampa Bay, Florida Tuesday July 10, 2012 - The American Red Cross urges residents to take extra precautions when returning to flood damaged homes, apartments or businesses to avoid accidents or injury. Emergency officials caution that all danger has not passed simply because the water is receding. Flood and high winds leave behind exposed electrical wires, contaminated floodwater and weakened structures and infrastructures. These are not always obvious, but can be life-threatening.


The Red Cross offers the following tips for those in the affected area to stay safer:

  • Continue listening to local radio or television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. If you are away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damages.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
  • When it is safe to return home, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes when examining your walls, doors, staircases and windows for damage.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
  • Some cleaning solutions can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if mixed together. If you smell a strong odor or your eyes water from the fumes or mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys).
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters
  • Clean hard surfaces (flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.

While traveling to and from home following a disaster:

  • Beware of water on the road. Water covering the road could hide potholes or washed-away sections of road.  Never drive around barriers. Cars are buoyant and can begin to float in less than 24” of water. Turn around. Also, water can rise very quickly. You don’t want be caught half way to the other side.
  • Sightseeing can be hazardous following a disaster. Consider all downed power lines “live.” Broken water lines could undermine roads. Even pulling off the road onto soggy road shoulders or medians could lead to an unnecessary tow truck rescue.

To date, Florida’s West Coast Region has served over 13,000 meals and snacks, distributed 423 clean-up kits and more than 350 personal hygiene kits. Statewide, over 450 Red Cross workers from around the country have come to assist those affected by Debby.

Photos: New York Hurricane Preparedness

September 1, 2010

New York Hurricane Preparedness

New York Hurricane Preparedness New York Hurricane Preparedness New York Hurricane Preparedness

View entire “2010 Hurricane Season” set on Flickr >>

Videos: Red Cross Warehouse in Hattiesburg, MS

July 26, 2010

Brett Montague, director of disaster services for the South Central Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross, talks about the importance of having supplies staged and ready during hurricane season.

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Video: George Washington University Students Talk About H1N1

October 29, 2009

Preparedness Alert: Tsunami Advisory for the West Coast

September 29, 2009

Preparedness Alert

Persons in low-lying coastal areas should be alert to instructions from their local emergency officials and the National Weather Service. Evacuations are only ordered by emergency response agencies. Persons in Tsunami Advisory areas should move out of the water, off the beach and out of harbors and marinas. Currents may be hazardous to swimmers, boats and coastal structures and may continue for several hours after the initial wave arrival.

Here are some actions you can take to prepare:

Build a Kit: Pack three days of food, water and supplies in a bag. Also include medications, important documents, contact information, radio, first aid kit, map, money, tools, personal supplies, pet supplies.

Make a Plan: Establish responsibilities to each member of your family and work together as a team. Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept. Develop a family communication plan.

Be Informed: Identify how local authorities will notify you during a disaster and how you will get information, whether through local radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio stations or channels.

Press Release: Red Cross Launches Ready Rating Program

September 22, 2009


American Red Cross Launches Ready Rating Program to Prepare Businesses and Schools for Emergencies in 16 U.S. Cities from Coast to Coast
Generous $2.1 Million Donation from Anheuser-Busch Foundation Expands Program Across the Nation

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Red Cross today launched a new one-of-a-kind Ready Rating program to help both schools and businesses in 16 U.S. cities with their emergency planning and preparedness efforts.

Schools and businesses can face a number of emergencies that threaten to disrupt their operations, ranging from natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, floods and wildfires to the possible widespread H1N1 flu virus that looms this fall and winter. In fact, one in four businesses that are forced to close because of a disaster never reopen, and Ready Rating can help businesses from becoming part of those statistics.

The Red Cross Ready Rating program offers free memberships to businesses and schools, which can use an online checklist to measure their current preparedness. Ready Rating members score themselves annually with the checklist and maintain their membership by developing and implementing an emergency response plan and improving their overall score each year.

“Business leaders and school officials know how important it is to be ready for an emergency, but they often don’t take the right steps to prepare because they don’t know where to start or they do not have the time,” said Joe White, Red Cross senior vice president for chapter services. “This program was created to give businesses and schools an easy starting point so they can feel more confident about the safety of employees and students. Ready Rating is good for businesses and schools, good for employees and students, and good for the local communities.”

Ready Rating first began as a project of the American Red Cross of Greater St. Louis, where it now has nearly 150 members, including major businesses, schools and organizations of all sizes. Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., was the founding sponsor of the program and the first company to implement it.

The Red Cross is now rolling out Ready Rating to 16 other cities as a result of a $2.1 million grant from Anheuser-Busch. The program is starting in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Raleigh, N.C., and Chicago. Eight additional cities will be added early next year—Hartford, Portland, Denver, Houston, Columbus, OH, Boston, and San Jose.

“Whether it’s hurricanes on the coast, tornadoes and floods in the Midwest or wildfires and earthquakes in the west, businesses and individuals need to stand ready,” said Dave Peacock, president of Anheuser-Busch. “No American city is immune to natural disasters, and Anheuser-Busch has a long history of supporting disaster relief and the commendable work of the American Red Cross. We believe preparedness is the first step to keep our employees and businesses safe, and as the founding member of the Ready Rating Program, we are proud to lead the effort to make this available to other communities around the country.”

Ready Rating also encourages businesses and schools to promote personal preparedness efforts among employees, students and families. A recent Red Cross survey* showed that 51 percent of Americans have experienced at least one emergency situation where they lost utilities for at least three days, had to evacuate, could not return home or communicate with family members or had to provide first aid to others. Although 89 percent of those surveyed believe it is important to be prepared for emergencies, far fewer are actually taking the steps necessary to prepare.

More information about the program can be found at

*This research was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Red Cross between July 24 and August 7, 2009 among 1306 U.S. residents aged 18 or older, including an over-sample of 487 mothers of children under 18 weighted appropriately into the general population sample. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

California Wildfire Update

September 1, 2009

California Wildfires: Greater Los Angeles Ready for Wildfires

September 1, 2009

>> View the entire photo set from the Greater Los Angeles Red Cross chapter

Wildfire Season Preparation

 Wildfire Season Preparation

Wildfire Season Preparation

California – After opening a shelter at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School on August 27 to provide a safe place for those under mandatory evacuation in the Palos Verdes area, wild fires in La Canada and Hemet ignited a day later — making it clear to the Greater Los Angeles chapter and it’s volunteers that fire season has arrived.

In anticipation of more wild fires and the call for Red Cross assistance, over 50 volunteers gathered on August 29 to review the readiness level of the chapter’s emergency shelter trailers. The chapter maintains Disaster Action Teams and supplies on standby at each of its district offices so that when the call for a shelter comes from emergency officials it is as simple as hitching a trailer and getting on the road to provide an immediate response. A shelter trailer contains all of the supplies needed to open a Red Cross shelter including cots, blankets, administrative supplies, toys for children, and comfort kits. Seven of our shelter trailers convened from as far as Commerce, Torrance and Canoga Park to chapter headquarters in West Los Angeles. The importance of these activities were underscored by the 95-degree heat and two plumes of smoke which arose from the East.

“We have seven disaster response hubs within our region of 37 cities and we must be prepared to deploy our trailers at a moment’s notice should there be a need to open a shelter,” said Eric Brubaker, manager of logistics at the chapter. That moments notice came three different times on Saturday evening in response to mandatory evacuations due to the growing Station Fire – a shelter was opened at Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga just to the South of La Canada, Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita Valley and Highland High School in Lancaster. Through the dedication of these amazing members of our communities, who recognize the importance of the Red Cross mission of preparedness, all supplies were inspected, reviewed and updated when necessary to maintain the standardization which is critical to an efficient response.

“Our shelter team was put on standby at about 8 pm in the event that there were evacuations in the Santa Clarita area. I felt very confident that our material supplies were ready as earlier in the day we were getting them ready. Our work is very important,” said Ron Ross, volunteer and logistics co-lead. Within four hours, Ron and others had opened a Red Cross shelter at Golden Valley High School checking-in displaced residents and providing a safe place to those displaced by the disaster.

 Help people affected by disasters like the current wildfires, by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for disasters and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

Tropical Storm Felicia: Photos 8.11.09

August 11, 2009

All photos are available for media distribution. Please click the photo for caption and courtesy information.

Red Cross volunteers preparing for storm.

Red Cross volunteers preparing for storm.
Red Cross volunteers preparing for storm.

Press Release: Parents Lack H1N1 Info from Schools

August 7, 2009


Red Cross Poll Shows Parents Still Lack H1N1 Information from Schools

The poll results come on the heels of the federal government’s new H1N1 guidelines for schools

WASHINGTON, August 7, 2009 — A poll conducted by the American Red Cross shows that while a majority of Americans are planning to take precautions against the H1N1 virus, more than a third of parents (39%) have received no flu information from their children’s school or daycare.

“With children going back to school and another flu season on the horizon, parents should talk with their children’s school or daycare about what measures the school is taking to plan for a potential flu outbreak,” said Suzy DeFrancis, Chief Public Affairs Officer for the American Red Cross. “The spring H1N1 outbreak was a clear signal that everyone needs to prepare—and that parents and schools should have plans in case the virus returns in the fall.”

As part of a family’s overall emergency planning, the Red Cross urges parents to seek out information proactively from schools regarding plans for the H1N1 virus and teach children how to lessen the spread of the virus. Teaching children simple things such as good hand washing practices or how to cover their cough or sneeze can go a long way in reducing the spread of seasonal flu and H1N1.

The Red Cross offers information about H1N1 and the seasonal flu at This site contains video resources, preparedness tips and information about how to lessen the spread of the flu virus.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

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