Bill Bell: Disaster Action Team Update from the Field

January 7, 2009

Report from Bill Bell American Red Cross – Rock River Chapter Disaster Services:

The American Red Cross – Rock River Chapter Disaster Action Team responded early Tuesday Morning to a fire on Kenmore in Rockford. Red Cross provided assistance to a family of four for food, clothing, and temporary shelter.

Click here to see a story about it on WREX


Bill Bell: Disaster Action Team Update from the Field

January 5, 2009

Report from Bill Bell American Red Cross – Rock River Chapter Disaster Services:

There were two fire calls this weekend both in Ogle County, Illinois:

  1. The first was on Jan. 1, 2009 we were contacted by the Byron Fire Department. The Disaster Action Team (DAT) contacted owner who indicated that the family had a place to stay and had no other immediate needs.
  2. The second call was on Saturday Jan. 3, 2009 from the Dixon Fire Department a fire on South Lost Nation Road in Ogle County. Insurance adjuster was already on scene when DAT member arrived and no assistance was requested.

In both cases the Families were advised to contact the Chapter if they were in need of further assistance.

American Red Cross urges Preparedness for “Deceptive Killers” – Offers Wicked Winter Weather Safety Tips for Your Home and Vehicle

January 5, 2009

As temperatures drop across the country and we head full steam ahead into the winter season, American Red Cross is urging families to take the following actions now to prepare for hazardous winter weather.

“Winter storms can be ‘deceptive killers’ since the majority of winter-related deaths are caused by events related to the heavy snowfall, high winds, and freezing rain that often accompanies them,” said David Pattengale Emergency Services Director. “People can become trapped at home without utilities or other services. Motorists can become stranded in their vehicles. Walking and driving can become hazardous. But people can stay safer if they listen to the advice of local authorities and take action to get prepared ahead of time.”

The Red Cross recommends everyone prepare for severe weather conditions in the following ways:

Get a Disaster Supplies Kit For Your Home:

  • Three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and hygiene).
  • Three-day supply of non perishable, high-energy food and a manual can opener.
  • First aid kit and essential medications.
  • Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio.
  • Flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Extra warm clothing, including boots, mittens, and a hat.
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificate, title/deed to home, insurance policies, etc) in a water-proof container.
  • Get a Disaster Supplies Kit For Your Vehicle: (all of the above plus)
  • Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type).
  • Compass and road maps.
  • Shovel.
  • Tire repair kit and pump.
  • Flares.
  • Extra clothing to keep dry.
  • Sack of sand or cat litter (for tire traction).
  • Tow rope.

Make a Winter Storm Plan:

  • Be prepared to shelter at home in case of severe weather. Have additional food and water stored to last seven to fourteen days.
  • Have extra blankets on hand.
  • Ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, a hat, and water-resistant boots.
  • Assemble a disaster supplies kit for your home and vehicle.
  • Have your vehicle winterized before the weather gets severe.
  • Decide how you would communicate with your family members should you be separated and unable to travel when a winter storm hits.

Be Informed:

  • Learn how you would receive information from local officials should hazardous winter weather affect your neighborhood.
  • Know the difference between a winter storm WATCH (a winter storm is possible in your area) and a winter storm WARNING (a winter storm is headed for your area).
  • Consider getting first aid and CPR training in case you need to respond in an emergency before professionals arrive on the scene.

If the Power Goes Out:

  • Do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.
  • Use items in the refrigerator first, then freezer, then non-perishable foods.
  • Use generators correctly If you have a portable generator and the power goes out, always plan to keep the generator outdoors. Never operate it inside, including the basement, garage, and carport or near any open windows. Connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Do not hook up a generator directly to your home’s wiring.

Hazardous Winter Travel:

The American Red Cross strongly urges everyone to monitor weather reports and follow the directions of local authorities. If travel is absolutely necessary during potentially dangerous winter weather, inform someone of your travel route, destination and expected arrival time. Store a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle and remember to keep the gas tank near full to avoid ice building up in the gas tank and fuel lines.

In Case of Snow or Black Ice:

  • Stay with your vehicle. Do not try to walk to safety as you risk developing hypothermia and/or frostbite.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the vehicle and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the vehicle.
  • As you sit, move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to help you stay warm.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
  • Leave the overhead light on inside the vehicle when the engine is running so you can be seen.
  • After the snow has stopped falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

In Case of a Flood:

Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks, and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades . . . they are there for your safety.

If your vehicle stalls in rapidly rising waters, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

For more information about how you can prepare for a variety of winter weather-related disasters including winter and ice storms, power outages and floods contact your local American Red Cross office at: (815) 963-8471 or visit:

The Red Cross Offers Holiday Travel Tips for a Safer Trip to Grandma’s

December 18, 2008

The American Red Cross Helps Winter Drivers Stay on Track

With thousands of people in Rockford hitting the road for holiday travel in the coming weeks, the Rock River Chapter urges families and individuals to take precautions against the deceptive dangers of wintry weather and prepare for winter travel. According to the US Department of Commerce, almost 70 percent of winter injuries related to snow and ice take place as a result of vehicle accidents. But there are steps people can take to stay safer while traveling this winter.

“The American Red Cross recommends that people prepare for disasters and other weather emergencies wherever they spend a lot of time, and for many of us that includes our vehicles,” says Cedric Johnson, Community Relations Coordinator at the Rock River Chapter. “As we gear up for holiday travel, it’s even more important that we all take simple steps to help keep ourselves and our loved ones safer while on the road.”

The American Red Cross offers the following preparedness tips before hitting the road:

Winter-proof your vehicle:

  • Get your vehicle checked by a mechanic and pay extra attention to the battery, tire pressure, heater, defroster, wiper blades and washer fluid.
  • Carry a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle at all times with basics like non-perishable food, water, a battery-operated radio, flashlight, first aid kit, emergency flares, and jumper cables.
  • Make sure your kit includes winter items like a shovel, windshield scraper, blankets, and sand or cat litter for tire traction.
  • Try to keep your gas tank as close to full as possible in case of an emergency and to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

Before you travel:

  • Let your family or friends know your destination, your primary and alternate route, when you plan on leaving and when you expect to arrive. If your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Your local TV and radio stations can provide updated storm information that can help you avoid treacherous weather.
  • Motorists should also be cautious about animals on the highway.

If you are stranded:

  • Stay with your vehicle and don’t attempt to walk to safety. It’s easy to become disoriented in wind-driven snow and exposure increases your risk of developing hypothermia and frostbite.
  • As you sit, exercise your arms and legs to maintain body heat.
  • Use the heater for 10 minutes every hour and leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so you can be seen. Open the window a crack for fresh air and to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep the exhaust pipe clear from snow and ice so fumes won’t back up in the vehicle.
  • Make it easier for rescuers to find you by tying a brightly colored cloth to the antennae.
  • After the snow has subsided, raise your vehicle hood to indicate you need help.

For additional winter safety tips and information on building a disaster supplies kit for your vehicle, contact: (815) 963-8471 or visit

American Red Cross Releases Top 5 Disasters of 2008

December 15, 2008

The American Red Cross today announced the top five disasters of 2008, based on the number of people needing shelter, food, and comfort. They are:

  1. Hurricane Dolly
  2. Hurricane Gustav
  3. Hurricane Ike
  4. Midwest Flooding
  5. Indiana Tornadoes

Weather played a disastrous part in many people’s lives in 2008. A record number of tornadoes destroyed homes and memories. The worst flooding in more than a decade inundated the Midwest. Hurricanes followed each other, leaving devastation in their wake. And wildfires sparked by severe dry conditions and high winds blazed several times in the west.

The American Red Cross was there through it all.

“No matter where our help was needed, we were there,” said Joe Becker, Senior Vice President of Disaster Services for the American Red Cross, “But helping those affected by all of these disasters has been costly. We’ve spent all funds contributed for Red Cross Disaster Relief.”

The Red Cross set up almost 900 shelters; served more than 16.5 million meals and snacks; distributed close to 275,000 comfort and clean-up kits, and deployed more than 27,000 Red Cross workers to respond to these five disasters. These numbers do not include the many other disasters which struck across the country, large and small.

Earlier this year, Red Cross launched a $100 million nationwide fundraising campaign — the Campaign for Disaster Relief. As the year draws to a close, Red Cross is asking the public to remember those whose lives are changed in an instant by disaster and make a contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund, which allows us to mobilize volunteers and resources to help communities throughout the United States.

You can make a donation by visiting or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Spanish speakers can call 1-800-257-7575. You can also use your cell phone to donate $5 by text messaging the keyword “GIVE” to “2HELP” (24357). If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, you should call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).

“We thank all those who have supported our disaster relief efforts,” Becker said, “and ask those who have not yet made a donation to please give whatever they can to help us continue to be there with food, shelter, and comfort when disaster strikes.”

For more information on those disasters please visit the Red Cross Online Newsroom.

Red Cross Invites America to Join “National Day of Giving” December 13

December 12, 2008

The Red Cross is designating December 13 the “National Day of Giving for the American Red Cross” as part of its efforts to reach the $100 million fundraising goal for its Campaign for Disaster Relief, which the organization launched in September.

“We’ve made some incredible progress toward our goal in a short period of time,” said Jeffrey Towers, chief development officer of the Red Cross, “and we’re confident that the National Day of Giving for the American Red Cross will bring us that much closer.”

Red Cross volunteers and employees will reach out on December 13 to their friends and neighbors to help raise money for the Campaign for Disaster Relief, which aims to replenish the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. The fund was depleted as a result of a very busy year of disasters, including a record number of tornadoes, severe flooding in the central United States and an active hurricane season. From January through October 2008, the Red Cross had already responded to more than 70 large-scale disasters.

The Red Cross relies on the Disaster Relief Fund to provide food, shelter and counseling for disaster victims in the United States. Red Cross volunteers respond not only during large events like hurricanes or earthquakes, but also in thousands of “silent” disasters-most commonly house fires-that happen in communities every day, all across the country.

There are several ways the public can help the Red Cross meet its $100 million goal, which will go toward helping the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year:

  • Look for Red Cross volunteers in your community on December 13. They will be available to take donations on the spot. Share what you can with your neighbors.
  • Donate to the Red Cross by going to or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (for Spanish-speakers, 1-800-257-7575).
  • Send contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
  • Use your cell phone to donate $5 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by text messaging the keyword “GIVE” (4483) to “2HELP” (24357).
  • Shop the Red Cross online store at

St. Bridget’s School in Rockford, Illinois Donates to the Red Cross Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation

December 12, 2008

We’d like to thank St. Bridget’s for their generous donation to our Emergency Overnight Shelter!

St. Bridget's School Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation 12.11.2008

St. Bridget's School Emergency Overnight Shelter Donation 12.11.2008