Do You Know How to Respond to Typical California Disasters?

By: Kyana Nguyen
Eleanor Roosevelt High School Red Cross Club
Riverside Y.A.C.

 By now you have heard numerous ways to get prepared for disasters; however I want to share with you a bit about what to expect from the three most common natural disasters we face living in Californians.


Living in an environment that is prone to dry weather, fires are a prominent hazard. Fires range in size; however the effects of its flames may be felt near and far and could impact firemany surrounding areas. If you live in an area that is prone to fires be sure you have a pre-identified escape route and 2 safe meeting places – one outside your home and one outside your neighborhood should you need to evacuate. Be sure to practice this route with your family to ensure everyone knows where to go.

Although California is currently experiencing a drought, floods can easily happen and many areas of the state are at an increased risk due to wildfires. After a wildfire, the charred ground where vegetation hasflooded sign burned away cannot easily absorb rainwater, which increases the risk of flooding and mudflows. Floods are often severe and hard to control. During a flood, you can expect the water to be dirty, and depending on the severity of the flood, the higher the water raises and the longer it stands there is a possibility for disease to spread. Preparing for a flood includes having an evacuation plan, knowing where to go and what to bring. When evacuating your home remember to turn-off the utilities and be cautious of objects that require electricity. If you are in a vehicle abandon the car and move to higher ground, and always remember that running water has the ability to disrupt any movement at six inches.

Since the San Andreas Fault runs throughout California, earthquakes are a reality and something everyone needs to be prepared to experience. During an earthquake it is earthquakeimportant to drop, cover and hold-on as items that hang from the ceiling, or furniture not secured to walls are likely to move or fall. It is also possible for trees to become uprooted from the ground and wires to drop, so if you are outside find a clear space to drop to the ground, cover your head and neck with your hands and hold-on. Earthquakes happen all the time, some are so small they are not felt, while others can be large enough to collapse buildings. Like fire and flood preparedness, earthquake preparedness requires a plan, supply kit and an out of area emergency contact.

To find more information about preparing, responding and recovering from disasters please go to or download Red Cross mobile apps at and prepare yourself today.


Everyone should know how to save a life


By Christopher Riley
American Red Cross of Orange County, Youth Public Relations Liaison

 Do you know how to perform CPR or even know what CPR stands for? Can you swim or are you prepared to help someone who may not? Do you know the various opportunities that the American Red Cross can provide you?  If your answer is no to one or all of the above statements, then the American Red Cross has got some amazing opportunities for you!

The American Red Cross serving Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties offers trainings in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), AED (automated external defibrillation) and First Aid, as well as many other classes like basic caregiving and babysitting skills, Lifeguard and swimming certifications and even Pet First Aid. We encourage both youth and adults to learn these life-saving skills and become prepared to help save a life.

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Perhaps you’re wondering how you will find the time to be trained in these skills or think you don’t need to know basic lifesaving skills. Our response is that you need to make the time to learn how to save a life. These skills are simple to learn and one class won’t take too long, especially when you realize how easy it is to help others in time of need. Classes are easy to sign-up for and you can always find one offered in a central location to where you live, work and play. Go to to get started.

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Setting aside a few hours to train yourself in a lifesaving skill is more than worth your time. These skills will stay with you for a lifetime and can help you save a loved one or a complete stranger; whether it is the need for resuscitation or helping someone who isn’t comfortable in the water, being trained will allow you to help when someone needs it most.

So, we ask you to spread the word and bring your friends and family to a Red Cross lifesaving skills class near you. You never know what to expect during a disaster or when someone will need your help, so learn how to be prepared for any disaster that comes your way.

If you are already certified, we would like to extend a friendly reminder to update your certification every two years, as some methods may have changed. Feel free to contact us with any questions or go to for more information.

Red Cross Partner Helps Promote Preparedness and Deliver Holiday Cheer to Local Children

On Saturday December 14, nearly 300 American Red Cross youth volunteers donned elves hats, readied activity booths and prepared to greet 800+ children and their families who eagerly awaited the Red Cross Annual Children’s Safety Festival.  The festival has become a signature community event that brings holiday cheer and safety and preparedness lessons to many Orange County families.

In addition to receiving a toy, children participated in a scavenger hunt – gathering preparedness and safety information and supplies from various booths hosted by local Red Cross High School clubs.  Participants learned about first aid, compressions-only CPR and what to do in case of a house fire, earthquake or other emergencies.  They also received items such as flashlights and masks to help them begin building an emergency kit and encourage preparedness at home.  Volunteers from community partner El Fenix hosted bike safety presentations and children were entered into a drawing to win two bikes. 

The event also provides an excellent opportunity for corporate partners looking to provide employees a way to give back to their community and to help spread the Red Cross mission of helping people be better prepared. 

Edison International has played a vital role in supporting this event by providing volunteers and interactive activities for children to learn about electrical safety. During this year’s event, children were able to learn about electrical safety through the Edison Hazard Hamlet, an interactive demonstration portraying potential electrical hazards such as flying kites around power lines and electricity near water. The interactive booth taught children how to safely handle each situation and provided information for families to take home with them. 

Connie Kama, an Edison employee was at the event because she feels it is important to give back to her community.  “I have kids and grandkids of my own that are a part of this community and I think it’s important that we help our friends, family and neighbors be better prepared. I am  proud that Edison aligns itself with organizations like the Red Cross and provides me the opportunity to volunteer in areas that are important to me,” said Kama, adding that she has had the opportunity to learn more about the Red Cross mission due to the volunteer work she has done through Edison. Edison International supports the Red Cross mission far beyond the Children’s Safety Festival.  As founding partner of PrepareSoCal, a Red Cross campaign to create more resilient communities that are better equipped to help each other prevent, prepare for and respond to life-threatening disasters, Edison understands the importance of preparedness.

“We recognize the importance of preparing our communities for disasters and other emergencies,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment at Edison International.  “We feel that training our friends and neighbors to be able to respond during times of disaster and emergencies is a shared responsibility and that is why we are proud to support the Red Cross through the PrepareSoCal partnership.”

As part of Edison’s commitment to preparedness, nearly 150 employees have been trained in emergency shelter support under the Red Cross corporate volunteer program, Ready When the Time Comes. Edison volunteers have responded to many disasters, like apartment and house fires in local communities and to larger emergencies across the country like Supertstorm Sandy.

To find out more about corporate partnership and volunteer opportunities, contact David Martinson at (714) 481-5367.

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.

To Reuse? Or Not to Reuse? That is the Question.


ImageI’m a communication intern at the American Red Cross, but my everyday job is a grocery clerk. I work in Long Beach and almost two years ago the city passed an ordinance outlawing grocery stores from providing single-use plastic bags. At first I found it an inconvenience, but soon became accustomed to using reusable bags. I also felt that the city was doing a good thing for the environment by making customers bring their own.

However, this Saturday something made me reconsider.  As I was bagging a customer’s order, I found a nasty little surprise in one of those reusable bags… the kind of surprise that no one wants to find around their groceries, a roach! You can imagine my disgust at finding this unwanted guest at my counter. Trying not to embarrass the customer or gross out anyone else I quickly disposed of the roach and shut down my line to clean the entire checkstand, where all of the remaining customers were completely supportive, even on a busy holiday weekend. In the two years since this ordinance has been in effect, I have never seen anything as gross, and trust me, I’ve seen some really dirty disgusting bags. 

When you don’t wash your bags, they start to grow bacteria, which can make you sick as well as others, not to mention the bugs that will be attracted.  A study done by Arizona and Loma Linda Universities found that Coliform bacteria, which are suggestive of spilled raw meat, can grow on grocery bags.

However don’t go torch all your dirty bags! There is hope, and here are some easy ways to keep from grossing out your cashier and embarrassing yourself at the grocery store.

  • Buy bags that you can put through the washer and drier. The same study found that after washing grocery bags, bacteria levels were reduced to almost nothing.
  • If meat or milk spills in a bag that can’t be washed, throw it away. It can start to grow bacteria that can make you sick, and it may start to smell. Many stores have low-cost reusable bags so it is easy to replace them.
  • If you haven’t used your bags in awhile, go through them to make sure any unwanted pests haven’t made homes out of them.

I know that this customer probably had no clue that a roach had hitched a ride in his bags, and many people aren’t aware that they should be washing their bags.  It just isn’t something that people are used to doing yet.  Reusable grocery bags can be a great way to help the environment. Please be considerate and remember to wash your bags regularly. It’s not only a health concern for you but also for everyone else in the grocery store.

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.