12 Safety Tips for a Booooo-ti-ful Halloween!

Halloween is approaching and it’s safest to plan well in advance. It’s fun to dress up and collect candy, but there’s nothing fun about getting hurt! Children are twice as likely to be struck by a car on Halloween than any other night of the year. By following these simple tips, everyone can enjoy the holiday without injury.

  1. Use only flame-resistant costumes.
  2. Plan the trick-or-treat route – make sure adults know where children are going. Set a time when older children must return home. Children under 12 years old should not trick-or-treat unsupervised.
  3. Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen. Give them a flashlight to light their way. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to help be seen.
  4. Use face paint instead of masks that can potentially obstruct vision.
  5. Swords and wands should be short and flexible.
  6. The FDA recommends consulting an eye doctor before using colored contact lenses. Non-prescription contact lenses can cause permanent vision impairment.
  7. Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
  8. Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  9. Make sure an adult checks the treats before eating. Remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards. Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.
  10. Drivers – use extra caution. Excited kids may forget to look both ways before crossing.
  11. People distributing candy should turn lights on to provide visibility and remove any tripping hazards, such as a garden hose. If snow is on the ground, shovel a path.
  12. Download the American Red Cross Emergency App for free. It provides immediate access to weather updates and information on treating common first aid emergencies.

Post by Caroline Nelson/American Red Cross Minnesota Region 

Minnesota nurse receives highest international Red Cross award

This year, our own Janice Springer is among the selected recipients of the prestigious Florence Nightingale Medal. This honor from the International Committee of the Red Cross is the highest international distinction a nurse can receive.

Janice Springer, DNP, RN, PHN, received this prestigious recognition for extraordinary service in disaster situations and in public health and nursing education.

Dr. Springer co-authored the American Red Cross Disaster Health and Sheltering course, used to teach more than 18,000 nursing students nationwide how to serve as Disaster Health Services volunteers. Students who complete the course may go on to become official Red Cross nurses after graduation, expanding the pool of prepared Disaster Health Services volunteers. She also created the evidence-based Cot-to-Cot© model to assist clients with functional and access needs in American Red Cross shelters.

Dr. Springer is a Red Cross volunteer who has deployed to 15 disaster relief operations since 2005, often as a leader. Having held several Red Cross leadership roles within Disaster Cycle Services and the International Services Department, she is currently serving as Volunteer Partner for International Recovery, expanding her public health nursing expertise internationally.

Dr. Springer serves as a disaster public health and disability integration subject matter expert for the North American Humanitarian Response Summit, a coalition of U.S. and international government and humanitarian response organizations, helping plan for international cross-border catastrophic disasters. She has published extensively in nursing textbooks and professional journals and has presented papers and posters on her research and best practices throughout the world.

Dr. Springer’s contributions to public health nursing, disaster nursing and the Red Cross are exceptional. The effects of her dedication, leadership and work will continue to spread their positive impact on Red Cross nursing and support individuals affected by disasters around the world.

Click here for more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer.

Five years on, Home Fire Campaign continues to save lives: 11 to date in Minnesota

Smoke alarm installation day, Federal Dam, August 17, 2016. Photo: Mike Auger

For five years, we’ve been working with our partners to install free smoke alarms in high-risk communities and help families create escape plans through our Home Fire Campaign.

Every day, seven people die in home fires in the U.S., most in homes that don’t have working smoke alarms. That’s why the Red Cross launched our national Home Fire Campaign in 2014. We would like to thank everyone for their support to help prevent these needless tragedies.

So far, the campaign has saved 11 lives (details below) in Minnesota. Across the country, the national campaign efforts have saved at least 638 lives.

Our local impact includes:

Local Lives Saved

  • In Two Harbors, two lives were saved in January, 2019.  Thanks to Red Cross volunteers Tim and John who had installed the smoke alarms before the fire as part of Home Fire Campaign activities a couple years ago.
  • In Virginia, three lives were saved on May 20, 2019. The family received notification of a fire through a Lifetone bed-shaker smoke alarm installed just three months prior. The special alarm helps alert people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Thanks to the entire Virginia Fire Department for supporting this effort.  For more, see this story by WDIO ABC News in Duluth.
  • In Federal Dam, six lives were saved on January 2, 2019. Special thanks to Red Cross volunteer Mike Auger who responded to the fire to help the family and also installed the smoke alarm in August, 2016.  Thanks to partners Federal Dam Fire Department and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. For more, see this story by KBJR NBC News in Duluth.

You Can Help
Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster, and while we can’t always stop them from happening, we can help ensure families are prepared. Please help us to sound the alarm about home fire safety and save lives. Visit soundthealarm.org/mn to learn how you can join us by becoming a volunteer or making a donation to support our lifesaving services.

Now accepting nominations for 2020 Heroes Awards

Every year, our Minnesota Red Cross region recognizes courageous people who have performed acts of bravery and service helping people in local communities. We’re now accepting nominations for our 2020 Heroes Awards. Selected honorees will be recognized during our annual Heroes Breakfast, which will be held on May 29, 2020, at the Radisson Blu – Mall of America.

Heroes will be honored in six categories:

  • Community Hero: Presented to an individual who displays leadership and commitment to his or her community by making a positive and significant impact.
  •  Give Life Hero: Presented to an individual whose commitment to blood and platelet donation plays a significant role in ensuring the health of patients in our local communities and throughout the country.
  • Good Samaritan Hero: Presented to an individual who displays courage and compassion upon encountering an unusual, significant or unexpected incident.
  • First Responder Hero: Presented to an individual or group of the public service community, such as EMS, firefighter or law enforcement) who went above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Military Hero: Presented to an active, reserve or retired member of the U.S. Armed Forces of ROTC or civilian that has made a significant impact on the military community.
  • Youth Good Samaritan Hero (under 21): Presented to an outstanding young person who displays courage and compassion upon encountering an unusual, significant or unexpected incident .

Watch below a call for nominations from our regional CEO Phil Hansen. See the stories of our 2019 Heroes, and then nominate a hero today. Thanks!

The heroic event must have taken place during the past year. All nominations must be submitted by January 6, 2020.

For one woman seeking refuge from Hurricane Dorian, a Red Cross vest evokes memories of Minnesota childhood

Pretty in purple:  Virginia Marciniak chats with Bob Wallace.

Among the more than 9,000 people seeking refuge from Hurricane Dorian is Virginia Marciniak, a shelter resident at the St. Cloud Senior Center in Florida.

Virginia offers a hand and takes great delight in sharing that she grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and attended Clara Barton Elementary School (now Open School) that was named after the founder of the American Red Cross.

“Her picture was everywhere,” says Virginia. “They told us all about her … she was really a remarkable woman … I bet no one else in here can tell you a story like that,” she says with a smile.

Although she is residing in the shelter to escape the expected wind and water wrath of Hurricane Dorian, Virginia retains an insuppressible sense of humor.

“One of the nurses here, one named Jane, has a vest with ‘Nurse Jane’ on the back followed by ‘Disaster Relief.’ I think that could be a great TV serial,” she says with a chuckle.

The shelter at the senior center is for residents of Good Samaritan Retirement Village. It’s operated by the Osceola County Health Department and supported by the American Red Cross.

Shelter resident Virginia Marciniak and Red Cross volunteer Bob Wallace.

Story by Bob Wallace with photos by Daniel Cima for the American Red Cross. Click here for more stories and photos. Click here to make a financial gift helping people affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Our Annual Blood Drive at the Minnesota State Fair

Every day a Red Cross blood donation bus will be at the “Great Minnesota Get-Together”

Our blood drive at the Minnesota State Fair comes as we continue to experience a blood emergency. Blood products are being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in to help patients in need of lifesaving treatments.

Help by donating during our daily blood drive at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Find us Aug. 22 – Sept. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. just outside the Agriculture Horticulture Building, west of the Space Tower (see map below).

Click here to schedule your donation appointment on your day at the fair.

See you at the fair!

Supporting Service Members: What is a Stand Down?

Starting this August and continuing through fall, the Minnesota Red Cross will be among many organizations providing services for military veterans at Stand Down events. Below, we explain.

Minneapolis Stand Down for veterans, 2016. Photo by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

What is a Stand Down?

In times of war, exhausted combat units, requiring time to rest and recover, were removed from the battlefields to a place of relative security and safety. At secure base camp areas, troops were able to take care of personal hygiene, get clean uniforms, enjoy warm meals, receive medical and dental care, mail and receive letters, and enjoy the camaraderie of friends in a safe environment. Stand Down afforded battle-weary soldiers the opportunity to renew their spirit, health and overall sense of well-being.

Today, Stand Down refers to a grassroots, community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 200,000 homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets. Homeless veterans are brought together in a single location and are provided access to the community resources needed to begin addressing their individual problems and rebuilding their lives. A Stand Down also affords the same respite and renewal to all veterans in an atmosphere conducive to change and recovery.

December 1970. Firebase Tomahawk, Vietnam. Grunts just in from the field open Red Cross ditty bags on Christmas morning. “This lonely outpost is  located in northern South Vietnam about 30 miles northwest of DaNang.” Photo by American Red Cross

What happens at a Stand Down?

Hundreds of homeless and at-risk veterans are provided with a broad range of necessities including food, clothing, medical, legal and mental health assistance, job counseling and referral, and most importantly, companionship and camaraderie. It is a time for the community to connect with the homeless veteran population and address this crisis that affects each and every town, city and state in this country. The hand up, not a handout philosophy of Stand Down is carried out through the work of hundreds of volunteers and organizations throughout the nation.

Who organizes and delivers theses services?

Hundreds of caring volunteers and professionals give of their time and expertise to address the unique needs of homeless veterans. Most Minnesota Stand Downs are organized by Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MAC-V), a non-profit focused on ending veteran homelessness in our state.

What does the Red Cross do at Stand Downs?

The Minnesota Red Cross, led by the Service to the Armed Forces team, comprised mostly of volunteers, has a booth at every Stand Down. We provide comfort kits containing items, such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, comb, and other personal hygiene items. Many of these kits are generously donated to us by supportive members of our community. We might also provide other support items, such as socks, emergency blankets, and first aid kits. We also help to connect veterans to other resources the Red Cross and our community partner’s provide.

At Stand Down events, the Red Cross provides comfort kits containing items, such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, comb, and other personal hygiene items. Minneapolis Stand Down, 2016. Photo by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross.

Where are the Minnesota Stand Downs held?

This year’s upcoming Minnesota Stand Downs are taking place at the following locations:

  • Minneapolis: Target Field, Aug. 16
  • International Falls: Backus Community Center,  Aug. 22
  • Duluth: Bayfront Festival Park, Aug. 23
  • Bemidji: National Guard Armory, Sept. 25
  • Grand Rapids: IRA Civic Center, Sept. 26
  • St. Cloud: River’s Edge Convention Center, Oct. 18
  • Mankato: Civic Center, Oct. 26

Want to Learn More?

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about becoming a Red Cross volunteer supporting service members, feel free to contact Alex Smith at alexis.smith3@redcross.org — author of this post. Thanks Alex!

Click here to learn more about our history providing relief to the wounded during times of war. And watch the video below.