Council Connection

  • Red Cross SAC Blog A Spot

Commentary you can trust from the voluntary committee of professionals who provide the science behind Red Cross programs, products and public guidance. We offer expertise and advice in first aid, aquatics, nursing/caregiving, resuscitation (CPR/AED) and disaster health and emergency preparedness


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Rip Currents – What Lies Beneath

As Hurricane Crisobal moves slowly up the Atlantic and Hurricane Marie tears through the Pacific, they are bringing high surf to vacation spots along both coasts and tempting surfers and adventurous swimmers to run headlong into the beckoning waves.  


Rip Currents – What Lies Beneath

By Dr. Peter G. Wernicki

As Hurricane Crisobal moves slowly up the Atlantic and Hurricane Marie tears through the Pacific, they are bringing high surf to vacation spots along both coasts and tempting surfers and adventurous swimmers to run headlong into the beckoning waves.

 

But it’s easy to forget that beneath those breakers there may be a danger that doesn’t advertise: deadly rip currents that can pull surfers and swimmers too far out to sea. Unfortunately, every year, even strong swimmers drown due to rip currents they either didn’t expect or didn’t respect.

So before you head to the shore, remember safety tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Keep Clear. Swim at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties which often have permanent rip currents. A break or gap in waves, churned up sand and clusters of seaweed being pulled out to sea can also signal a rip current.
  • Stay Calm. If you are caught in a rip current, keep calm – you’ll think more clearly.
  • Don’t Fight It. Don’t try to swim against the current. Swim parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the current. Then swim at an angle away from the current toward the shore.
  • Ride It. If you can’t swim out of the current, float or calmly tread water. When you float out of the current, swim toward the shore.
  • Make Waves. If you are still unable to reach the shore, draw attention to yourself by waving an arm and yelling for help.
  • Help, Don’t Hinder. If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats – a lifejacket, cooler or an inflatable ball. Yell instructions on how to escape the current. Don’t try to swim out to help them -- many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
  • Swim Smart. Remember to avoid stormy seas, always swim sober, never swim alone and swim only at a lifeguard-protected beaches. Even confident swimmers should be sure they have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  • Get current on rip currents and make your dash into the waves a safe one!

    Dr. Wernicki is Chair of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council Subcouncil on Aquatics. The Council is a panel of nationally recognized experts drawn from a wide variety of scientific, medical, and academic disciplines. The Council guides the Red Cross on preparedness and emergency procedures and practices that align with the latest evidence-based scientific and medical knowledge.


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Six Ways to Stay Safe on Spring Break

As an orthopedic surgeon, I see plenty of people who injure themselves in and around water on their vacations. There are the typical slips and falls around pools and the joint and muscle tears from water injuries.


Six Ways to Stay Safe on Spring Break

By Peter Wernicki, MD, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council

As an orthopedic surgeon, I see plenty of people who injure themselves in and around water on their vacations. There are the typical slips and falls around pools and the joint and muscle tears from water injuries. I know that when good times aren’t safe times, it can take all the fun out of a poolside getaway. So here are a few tips to make sure Spring break doesn’t include a trip to t he emergency room:

  1. Don’t drink and dive. I know day drinking at the pool or beach drink is tempting. But nearly 70% of water - related deaths among teens and adults involve alcohol, especially diving injuries. Save the toasts until after the pool, beach or water park. Remember: alcohol affects your judgment and coordination. High temperatures and a hot sun up the ante. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and remember the sunscreen too – skin cancer is a real killer.
  2. Buddy Up. Even at supervised pools and parks, go with a friend and keep an eye on each other. If you have kids make sure they are using the buddy system in the water – and if they are not good swimmers, make sure you have “arms’ reach” supervision. If possible, always sw im where a lifeguard is present.
  3. Enroll Before You Go . Take a Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED class now and be ready for fun as well as the unexpected. Make sure kids and adults know how to swim.
  4. Remember to pack tools not toys . Most people mistakenly believe that items like foam pool noodles, water wings and inflatable rings make children safer in the water. But the reality is that air and foam - filled flotation toys are no substitute for life jackets or other water safety devices; don’t expect them to be a lif esaving device. Make sure that Coast Guard - approved life vests are available and worn, especially on boats and jet skis.
  5. Steer clear of breath - holding games . This goes for hyper - ventilation (fast shallow breathing) games while swimming too. It doesn’t take much to go black and go under.
  6. If the Thunder Roars, Get Indoors . If you’re at an outdoor pool, keep an eye on the weather and head to dry shelter before lightning strikes.

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Seven Solid Ways to Stay Safe When the Temperature Drops

Winter has arrived with freezing temperatures and snowstorms in many parts of the nation. Now is the time to ensure you and your family are prepared for the next round of sub - zero temperatures and possible power outages. Here are the American Red Cross top tips for keeping safe when the snow flies and the deep freeze is on:


Seven Solid Ways to Stay Safe When the Temperature Drops

By Dom Tolli

Winter has arrived with freezing temperatures and snowstorms in many parts of the nation. Now is the time to ensure you and your family are prepared for the next round of sub - zero temperatures and possible power outages. Here are the American Red Cross top tips for keeping safe when the snow flies and the deep freeze is on:

  1. Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm . Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing your body he at. Wear water - proof and insulated boots to keep feet dry and maintain footing in icy conditions. Pay close attention to children as they may not always indicate that they are cold.
  2. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enou gh shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water. Ensure that livestock has shelter and access to unfrozen water.
  3. Protect your pipes. Run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent pipes from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom ca binet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
  4. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night . Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid the costly repair of pipes that freeze and burst.
  5. If you are using a space heater , do it safely . Place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at l east three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters before going to bed.
  6. If you use a wood - burning fireplace do it safely . Use a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks or rolling logs. Nev er leave children alone in the room when a fire is lit. Keep all flammable items at least three feet away from the fireplace. Always make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  7. Never use a stove, oven or a gas grill to he at your home. Enough said. It’s just not safe.

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Love Means Keeping Your Pets Healthy

Hi! I’m Dr. Deborah Mandell. I helped develop the new American Red Cross Pet First Aid App, and also the Dog and Cat First Aid guides and Pet First Aid course. Loving your furry friends means knowing what to do in an emergency.


Love Means Keeping Your Pets Healthy

By Deborah Mandell, VMD
Member, American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council


Pop Quiz*

  • Your dog tipped over a bottle of antifreeze in the garage and is standing in a puddle of liquid. Is there anything to worry about?
  • Your cat jumps onto the counter, knocks over the Valentine’s Day roses and lands in the broken glass. Her paw starts bleeding. What do you do?
  • Your dog won’t stop licking his paws after playing in the snow. What should you do?

Hi! I’m Dr. Deborah Mandell. I helped develop the new American Red Cross Pet First Aid App, and also the Dog and Cat First Aid guides and Pet First Aid course.

Loving your furry friends means knowing what to do in an emergency. Today is Love Your Pet Day. I’m celebrating with Sonewmana (we call her Mana), Polly and Ranger (Power Ranger Gio, the brown ranger!) and it’s the perfect time to make sure you know how to recognize and handle a pet emergency.

Whether it’s a common injury or contact with a pet-poisonous substance, the American Red Cross Pet First Aid course will give you key first aid guidance and need-to-know information. The course is available in some areas and allows owners to practice treating a cardiac or breathing emergency.

The Red Cross Pet First Aid app is a great go-to source for important pet care information too. The app walks you through more than 25 common emergency medical situations for cats and dogs and includes how to perform CPR with the newest guidelines and how to care for choking. It covers how to include your pet in your emergency and disaster preparedness planning and is loaded with useful information on routine pet care, too.

You can get the app in the Apple iTunes or Google Play Store or go to the Red Cross mobile apps page.

Don’t let Love Your Pet Day go by without making sure your love includes pet first aid.

*Answers

  • Antifreeze can be deadly if your dog licked it. Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately. An antidote can be started if caught early, if not, antifreeze can be fatal.
  • Remove any embedded objects. Clean the wound with a warm water/Epson salt solution. Apply gauze and direct pressure until bleeding stops. If blood soaks through the first gauze, place another gauze on top, do not remove first gauze. You can place a light bandage on the paw and take your cat to the vet.
  • Puppy’s paws might be irritated from ice balls or de-icing chemicals. Gently wash his paws, including in between the toes, with warm water. Check for any cuts or wounds. Always clean your dog’s paws when he comes inside. Use pet friendly salt or de-icing products.

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Tips to Keep That Winter Workout Fun

You may not be an Olympic athlete, but like me, you are inspired by them to get moving in our winter wonderland. Do you know all you need to keep safe?



Tips to Keep That Winter Workout Fun

By Andrew MacPherson, MD Member, Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council

The Winter Olympics wrapped up yesterday with many injured athletes sitting on the sidelines. Can you match the Olympian to his/her injury?

1. Figure skater Evgeni Plushenko (Russia) a. Bloody nose
2. Bobsled track worker b. Bruised hip bone
3. Gold medal ski jumper Kamil Stoch (Poland) c. Broken leg
4. Slopestyle skier James Woods (Great Britian) d. Separated shoulder
5. Snowboarder Arielle Gold (U.S.) e. Back injury

(Answers: 1 - E; 2 - C; 3 - A; 4 - B; 5 - D)

You may not be an Olympic athlete, but like me, you are inspired by them to get moving in our winter wonderland. Do you know all you need to keep safe?

Here are my top tips for preventing common winter injuries.

  1. Run ners. You have it extra tough trying to stay warm and dry without getting bogged down. Whether you are a casual jogger or elite marathonerwhen you run in winter weather wear layered lightweight clothing; it keeps you warmer than a single heavy coat. Moist ure - wicking layers can keep you dry and moving when the temperature drops.
  2. Skis and Skates. Winter sports mean skiing, snowboarding, skating or ice hockey, and enthusiasts have a range of proper safety equipment designed for protection. But it only wor ks if you wear it, so never skimp on recommended gear – especially helmets and googles.
  3. Off - road. If you prefer your activities off the beaten track, always think obstacles: snow - covered trees and rocks can really ruin your day. Outdoor ice skaters shoul d be sure their lake is frozen safely solid by consulting local official sources. Most important, let someone know where you’ll be and when to expect you back for that cup of hot chocolate.
  4. Brrrrrr. When you work up that outdoor sweat, it’s easy to for get that Jack Frost is still ready to bite. Know the signs of frostbite – numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration or a waxy feeling – and get inside and get help. If you are feeling confused, dizzy, exhausted or experience severe s hivering, those are signs of hypothermia and it’s time get medical attention pronto.
  5. Sunblock . J ust because it is cold doesn’t mean it isn’t sunny! Sunlight can reflect off the snow and a sunburn can be faster tha n on the beach. Wear a good activity - pro of sunblock whenever you are active outside.

Still have questions? The Red Cross has a great, FREE First Aid app that covers all the basics. Download it from Apple iTunes or Google Play Store or go to the Red Cross mobile apps page .


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How long will food keep during a power outage...and three other vital things to know when your lights are out

We all know power outages are miserable, especially if they drag on for hours or days. While you can take steps to keep yourself comfortable - like having fully charged phones and backup power for your electronic devices - there are some steps you must do that will keep you safe.


How long will food keep during a power outage...and three other vital things to know when your lights are out .

By Dom Tolli

We all know power outages are miserable, especially if they drag on for hours or days. While you can take steps to keep yourself comfortable - like having fully charged phones and backup power for your electronic devices - there are some steps you must do that will keep you safe.

  1. Make sure you have a light source other than candles . Most people don’t think about this but candles are the first thing many of us reach for in a blackout. Resist the urge. Left unattended or misused, they become a fire hazard. Flashlights, LED powered candles, or battery operated lanterns are safer, give off more light and won’t catch the drapes on fire .
  2. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible . Nobody wants to replace the ketchup, mustard and everything else in the fridge. You don’t want to make the blackout worse by getting sick too. You can minimize food loss but it’s import ant to know how long food will keep. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours. Then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door re m ains closed.
  3. Check on your neighbors . Those who are elderly or infirm may not have an easy time getting access to heat . A warm meal, extra bla nkets, some time near your fire place or a ride to a local warming shelter (if available in your area) would certainly be welcome.
  4. Know how to opera te a generator, if you have one . Used improperly, generators can become a source of deadly carbon monoxide flumes. N ever operate a generator inside the home, including in the basemen t or garage. Don’t hook a generator up to your home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

You can find more specifics about staying safe during power outages by going to htt p://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/power - outage