Do What You Oughta, Be Safe Around Water

Did you know swimming is the most popular summer activity? Did you also know that a recent Red Cross survey revealed that many Americans lack basic water safety skills? Since swimming is the most popular summer activity, wouldn’t it make sense for more people to know how to stay safe while around water? Especially when almost half of those polled said they had an experience where they were afraid they might drown? (Click here for more from the safety poll: Safety Poll Info Graphic)

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Reading this post is a great start to being safer around water.

Quiz Time!

1. Do you believe that “water wings” are enough to keep children safe in the water when an adult is not nearby?

If you answered yes, you share the same misconception as 67% of the people polled. “Water wings” aren’t life saving devices. Children or inexperienced swimmers should wear Coast-Guard approved life jackets, and children should never be left unattended around water. As someone who works closely with children, I can tell you they need constant supervision!

2. True of False: It’s okay to swim without a lifeguard as long as you are with a buddy.

False! Buddies alone are not enough, but are a good start.

3. Should you enter the water to help a distressed swimmer?

The answer is actually no. But, three out of five people believed this was correct. Entering the water can put the rescuer at risk, so read on for the best way to handle the situation.

4. Do you know the correct steps to take if you believe a swimmer is distressed?

If you don’t, it’s okay; 93% of those surveyed didn’t know either. But it is important to know -this could save someone’s life! So take notes as this will be on the final exam (a.k.a. REAL LIFE)!  If a swimmer is in distress:

  • Shout for help
  • Reach or throw the person a rescue of flotation device and tell them to grab it.
  • Call 9-1-1, if needed
  • For a more detailed break down, click here (see Reach and Throw, Don’t Go)

5. Do you know how to identify a swimmer in distress?

It’s common for people to believe that a person would scream or splash, but often they can not or do not call for help. They may be too busy trying to keep their head above water to call out.

Some signs a swimmer may be in trouble include:

  • Treading water or floating on their back while waving an arm
  • Doggie paddling with no forward progress
  • Positioned vertically in the water, but not kicking legs
  • Underwater for more than 30 seconds
  • Floating at surface, face-down, for more than 30 seconds

This only scratches the surface of water safety, but the Red Cross has a lot of literature and print-outs of tips.  Here are some good ones:

Test yourself to see if you remember what you’ve just read with the Red Cross Water Safety Quiz!

Remember, this is not a replacement for water safety courses and swimming lessons. For Red Cross classes in you area, visit



Volunteers Honored at Seniors Making a Difference Awards

Red Cross Volunteers Thuan Tran and Cam Nguyen show off their Seniors Making a Difference Award.

Red Cross Volunteers Thuan Tran and Cam Nguyen show off their award.

State Senator Lou Correa’s Seniors Making A Difference Awards honored two Red Cross volunteers at the recognition event June 28.

The awards went to outstanding senior citizens who volunteered their time, energy and talents to make a difference in Central Orange County.

Red Cross Community Ambassadors Cam Nguyen and Thuan Tran were recognized for their outstanding commitment to the Red Cross and their outreach efforts to the Vietnamese Community.

Honored Red Cross volunteers (left) stand beside State Senator Lou Correa (middle) at the Seniors Making a Difference Awards.

Honored Red Cross volunteers (left) stand beside State Senator Lou Correa (middle) at the Seniors Making a Difference Awards.

More than 300 people attended the awards celebration which included legislative updates, music and a tribute.

Go Go Gadget Preparedness Kit

Are you a lover of technology and gadgets? Do you wish you were more prepared for disaster? You may think these are totally unrelated questions, but they do overlap in the field of… PREPAREDNESS GADGETS (cue Mr. Moviefone and an over-dramatic echo).

What would you do if the power went out? If it was out for days? If your cell phone was out of charge and you were unable to contact your family or call for help? If you were prepared, then you probably had extra batteries on hand, but now they’ve run out. Whatever will you do? Easy peezy lemon squeezy. That scenario never happened because you were super prepared for that disaster and never had to deal with batteries running out because you had solar powered gadgets!!

It’s so simple and brilliant I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! Stores are selling all sorts of solar powered stuff nowadays. Many of these handy little gizmos have multiple power options too; they can run on regular batteries and their solar chargeable counterparts -so no matter what they’ve got you covered.

Some of you may be thinking that solar powered stuff is too expensive. To that I say nuh uh! Solar power is becoming a lot cheaper and more accessible. Okay, some of the stuff is a little pricey, but you can find a lot of gear in the $20 and under range. Plus, some retailers may offer better deals, so shop around. Don’t you just love technological advancement?

Consider these nifty contraptions to include in your preparedness kit:

Note: These are not required to be prepared, but could be useful (and awesome) to have.

Disclaimer: Examples are meant to give you an idea of the items available on the market, not to endorse any specific products/retailers.

  • Solar powered lanterns– Perfect for lighting up a room during a power outage. 
  • Solar powered or hand crank radio– A great way to stay informed during a disaster without having to worry about batteries.
    • The Red Cross Store actually sells one similar to this by Eton. It’s a radio, flashlight, and smart phone charger. There are multiple ways to power this puppy and it’s super portable. Check it out here. For the more high-tech one, click here.
  • Solar powered cell phone charger– Your cell phone will always be useful with this genius device. Crank ones are also available here and here (see description). Many solar radios have a cell charge option so keep that in mind before buying something extra.
  • Hand crank/ solar flashlights– Great for little ones (or anyone) to have during disaster. Tip: If you want to go the extra mile, many stores also offer waterproof hand crank/solar flashlights. (Example of hand crank only here.)
  • A solar powered battery charger-This baby puts the oomph back into your rechargeable batteries, with just a little sunlight. How awesome is that? So, if you already have preparedness gear that runs on AA or AAA batteries, this tiny machine can make sure they run for a long time in an emergency. 

If you really want to get crazy with the solar powered stuff (mostly for fun):

-Did you know they make solar powered fans? In the event of a blackout and a simultaneous heat wave, this green gadget can keep you cool. (Many have a removable solar panel that can be adjusted to get the best light.)

-A solar powered wireless sound system? That is the coolest thing I have ever heard! You can charge your phone on it-that is reason enough for me to buy, connect to it via Bluetooth, and listen to your tunes for up to 8 hours on a full charge. It’s water resistant so it would be great to take to the beach or pool (not to mention during a blackout when I need my music).

-Okay, this I just had to share-solar powered toys! I saw this little ‘solar frightened grasshopper kit’ –it moved when in the sun. It would be a great way to keep your kids entertained any day, but could be especially fun for them when the power’s out and TV, video games and computers are not an option. (You have to build the little guy, so it could provide lots of entertainment. Plus, it’s really cute.) Something similar here.

BONUS: All of this awesome solar powered stuff is great in a disaster, but can also be used for camping. (Hello, solar powered fan; you are my new best friend for a summer camping trip.)

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

Are you ‘Ready to Rumble’? Well, are you ready for when the earth decides to rumble? Yes, I’m talking about earthquakes. The tough thing about them is they can strike at any moment, day or night, in any season. They are so unpredictable-we never know if it will be a little one or a destructive one. What we do know is that being prepared is really, really, really important (Did you get my emphasis on how important it is?). So in honor of Red Cross month (and the little earthquake I felt this morning), I decided to do a little post on earthquake safety.

The Science Behind an Earthquake (just a quick summary):

Are you having 6th grade flashbacks to when you learned all about geology and how the earth is made of plates? Well, why is it important that the earth is made of tectonic plates? Because earthquakes tend to happen near the boundaries of these plates. As the plates move and shift against one another, it can create mountains, volcanoes, and earthquakes. I can get into the science a whole lot more, but I’ll leave it to the USGS (it’s really interesting, so check it out).

Why Be Prepared?:

According to the Red Cross earthquake page, 45 states and territories in the U.S. are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes. So it’s not just part of living in California. If strong enough, an earthquake can damage buildings, roads, and disrupt power lines. This is why everyone should be prepared. Because if any of this stuff happens it will be hard for help to reach you/responders will be dealing with helping a lot of people at the same time.

Don’t be afraid though! It may sound really serious, but if you are prepared and know what to do it can make dealing with a big quake a lot less scary. The Red Cross page for earthquakes has a checklist to print (in several languages) and info on what to do during and after. Also, now would be a good time to update your safety kit. If you don’t already have one, you can put one together or buy one (link to Red Cross store-if you want to put your own together the store is a good place to get ideas of what to include). At the minimum, you should have a first-aid kit (one for home, car, and office). Click here for a list of what to include (recommened by the Red Cross, of course).

Some Cool Quake Related Sites:

You can check out real-time updates of earthquakes all over the world here (provided by USGS). This site also has lots of info about earthquakes and how to prepare. There is even a kids section that has games and puzzles, pictures and ‘ask a geologist’ section (Bonus: it also has science fair ideas for your kids.). They also have a ‘Did You Feel It?‘ page where people can post when they feel the earth move.

Preparedness Playlist 2

As you know, part of the mission of the Red Cross is preparedness. Most people immediately think of getting ready for natural disasters, disaster relief, etc. But what about being prepared for a medical emergency? Would you know what to do if one of your loved ones stopped breathing? I recently had to renew my CPR certification as part of my job at a daycare and realized that it is so important that everyone have some kind of training in this life saving skill. You never know if you could end up saving the life of a stranger or a close friend. Maybe even become a hero to someone and their family. So, check out and enroll yourself (and friends) in a CPR class. It could be something fun you do together. While you’re at it, check out the songs that inspired this blog post:

  1. How to Save a Life-The Fray
  2. Savin’ Me-Nickelback
  3. Save You-Simple Plan
  4. Someone Saved My Life Tonight-Elton John
  5. Hold On-Good Charlotte
  6. Bring Me to Life-Evanescence
  7. My Hero– Foo Fighters
  8. Your Guardian Angel-Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
  9. Hero-Superchick
  10. Stayin’ Alive-Bee Gees (Bonus: You can keep beat to this song as you do chest compressions.)
  11. I Will Survive -Gloria Gaynor
  12. Hero Heroine-Boys Like Girls
  13. Just Breathe-Pearl Jam

Hey SoCal, Are You Ready?

Are you ready for any disaster? And I’m talking completely prepared for anything Mother Nature decides to throw at you. According to, only 6% of households in L.A. are truly prepared. So chances are you need a little help getting your family ready for a disaster. Well, lucky for you, the Red Cross is here to help you out. The Red Cross, partnered with Edison International, has created this incredibly informative website called Prepare SoCal. Yes, the one I mentioned above-a little foreshadowing anyone?

This site breaks down getting prepared into 3 steps:
1. Get a Kit : Maybe you are thinking where do I start? This website offers tips on what to include for whatever your needs are-from mini-kits and basic kits to the ultimate preparedness kit. If you don’t have the time or energy to put together your own kit, the Red Cross has got you covered there, too. Their online store offers kits in different sizes and levels-from basic 1 person to deluxe family kits.

2. Make a Plan: Knowing exaclty what to do in the event of a disaster can take the panic out of a situation, not to mention potentially save lives. Your family disaster plan should include a communication plan, disaster supplies kit, and an evacuation plan. Only four steps to a disaster ready plan:

  • Find out what could happen to you
  • Make a disaster plan
  • Complete the checklist (click the link and scroll down to see it)
  • Practice your plan

3. Be Informed: From earthquakes and wildfires to pandemic and terrorism, whatever it is, this site has got you covered. Use this resource to learn what disasters can affect you. Topics covered include how to prepare, what to do during a disaster and other related information. There are even first-aid tips on common injuries that may happen during that particular disaster.

Not a fan of reading? No problem. This site also has PrepareTV-short videos on different topics related to preparedness. So you can watch and inform yourself that way. (Psst… It’s a great tool if you’re teaching your kids about preparedness.)

Wanna go the extra mile and take a class? A little CPR training perhaps? You can find out more about that on this website, too.

No Cell Phone? No Thank You!

Imagine this: A disaster strikes. Cell phone towers are down. There is no access to the internet. This, to me, sounds like the end of the world. What am I supposed to do without my cell phone? Better yet, how will the Red Cross be able to do their job effectively without the help of modern communication?

Enter Disaster Services Technology, or DST, the unsung heroes of the Red Cross. This team of tech savvy volunteers is able to bring back communication through satellites; enabling the Red Cross to do what they do best-help people get through disaster.

Here, students from the DST training are seen setting up satellites.

Here, students from the DST training are seen setting up satellites.

Currently, there are 25 volunteers from our region (as well as L.A., San Diego and Sacramento) participating in a 3 day training. One of the ten trainings Red Cross National Headquarters is putting on. The best part: no background is required. That means any Red Cross volunteer can become part of DST.

Ed Finley, Customer Service Officer for DST with National Headquarters, said of the training, “They’re taking it from cradle to grave.” During a DST training, students experience what it would be like doing this job during an actual disaster (minus the actual disaster, of course).

Inspired to become a volunteer yourself? Visit for more information.

A Red Cross volunteer is learning about satellite use and maintenence.

A Red Cross volunteer is learning about satellite use and maintenence.