Preparing for Winter Weather on Roads and at Home

Winter weather is headed to New Jersey this weekend, bringing snow, rain and possible freezing temps on wet roads. The American Red Cross is sharing some safety reminders.

WINTER DRIVING SAFETY

Stay off the road, if possible, during severe weather. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:

  • Keep the following in your vehicle:
    • A windshield scraper and a small broom. A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats. Matches in a waterproof container. A brightly colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna
    • An emergency supply kit, including warm clothing.
  • Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.
  • If you become stranded:
    • Stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards (91 meters). You can quickly become disoriented and confused in blowing snow.
    • Display a trouble sign to indicate you need help. Hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the radio antenna and raise the hood after snow stops falling.
    • Run the engine occasionally to keep warm. Turn on the engine for about 10 minutes each hour (or five minutes every half hour). Running the engine for only short periods reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and conserves fuel. Use the heater while the engine is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and slightly open a downwind window for ventilation.
    • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.

WINTER SAFETY TIPS

  • Learn what to do if the power goes out and how to heat your home safely
  • Protect pipes from freezing.
  • Winter is also hard on our pets. Visit here to learn how to keep your furry friends safe during this cold, snowy weather.
  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

DOWNLOAD APPS

People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in-app stores or at redcross.org/apps. These apps are also available in Spanish. Search for “American Red Cross” in your mobile app store or go to redcross.org/apps. In the app, go to “settings” and “change your app’s language” to switch your language to Spanish.

Military Spouse Finds Sorting Holiday Mail for Heroes Meaningful

Christine and Matt Harvey

Holidays are often a time when families come together, but for husband and wife, Matt and Christine Harvey, holidays are often spent apart due to Matt’s service in the United States Air Force. With Matt currently on a one-year assignment overseas, Christine will be spending the holidays at home on the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

“I find being a military spouse rewarding, but there are ups and downs,” said Christine. “We are usually not together for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. It’s definitely tough.”

While Christine finds enjoyment from their dog, Hank and spending time with other military spouses, she has found a meaningful position as a volunteer with Service to the Armed Forces at the Red Cross House on base. Lately she’s been spending her Tuesdays at the Red Cross House sorting holiday cards for service members and veterans as part of the Holidays for Heroes campaign.

Military spouse Christine Harvey spends her Tuesdays, as an American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteer, where she has been sorting holiday mail for deployed service members and veterans.

The American Red Cross Holidays for Heroes program delivers cards of thanks and support to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and their families. This holiday season, the Red Cross New Jersey Region is collecting cards and notes of appreciation from anyone willing to send a touch of home to heroes, who are currently deployed overseas and veterans right here in New Jersey.

“It’s really nice to know that service members like my husband will receive these cards,” exclaimed Christine. “As a volunteer, I especially like to read the cards that are from children because they are sometimes hand-made and have cute pictures and even jokes inside.”

Left to Right: Red Cross volunteers (and military spouses) Christine Harvey and Kasey Bury present holiday mail to First Sergeant Hudson of the 87th Security Forces Squadron at the Red Cross House on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The holiday mail will be distributed to 300 Airmen in his unit.

You can participate and send heart-felt sentiments, words of encouragement and thanks to service members through the Holidays for Heroes program. Find helpful tips here.

Cards for Holidays for Heroes should be packaged and mailed to: 
American Red Cross House 
Holidays for Heroes 
6051 Doughboy Loop 
JB MDL, NJ 08640

Cards can also be dropped off at Red Cross locations in New Jersey. Visit redcross.org/NJ.

Red Cross Tips for Preparing You and Your Home This Winter

Temperatures are cooler and many people have already turned the heat back on in their homes. The American Red Cross has steps people should follow as they get ready for cooler weather.

HOME HEATING SAFETY Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves inspected and cleaned before another winter of use. Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Other good steps to take to get one’s home ready for winter include:

  • Make sure flashlights are available throughout the house and they have fresh batteries. Winter storms can lead to power outages.
  • Insulate the home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
  • Winterize one’s vehicle.
  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with everyone who lives in the home.
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit to have ready should winter storms hit. The kit should include a three-day supply of food and water per person, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries. Other things to include for the winter include:
  • Sand, rock salt or kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
  • Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and warm clothing for all household members, along with extra blankets.
  • An alternate way to heat the home, such as a fireplace, or wood or coal stove.

SPACE HEATERS With heating costs rising, many people are using alternate sources of heat to cut down on heating bills. The Red Cross recommends that people look for a model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over. Space heaters should be placed on a level, hard and nonflammable surface in the home. Other safety tips include:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.

Download the free Red Cross Emergency App at redcross.org/apps for heating safety and winter storm tips that are available in English and Spanish.

Red Cross Volunteer Moved by Veteran During Home Fire Campaign Event

Red Cross Volunteer Rich Peloso with
Glassboro homeowner and Vietnam
War Veteran John Campbell during a
Home Fire Campaign event on Saturday
November 2, 2019.

At a Home Fire Campaign canvassing event in Glassboro on Saturday, November 2, Red Cross volunteer Rich Peloso and the other members of a smoke alarm installation team were welcomed into the home of John Campbell and his wife of 50 years to provide a fire safety visit and install free smoke alarms as needed. 

When John was asked if anyone in the home was ever in the military he told them about his military service in the Vietnam War. He added, “I even wrote a book about the military members who were killed in action from Gloucester County, as a way to pay tribute to the 43 men who didn’t make it home. It took me seven years to write it.” 

Rich and the other volunteers were impressed with John’s service in the military and the dedication he demonstrated to fallen military members by carefully writing a book about the men.  John went to a small table drawer and took out a copy of his book, personally signed it, and gave it to Rich. 

Rich finished the day with his team and 9 other teams installing more than 230 smoke alarms while making 87 homes safer; another successful event! 

When Rich went home and shared this story with his wife Sandy, she was so moved she had tears in her eyes. She wanted to do something nice for the veteran.  Sandy called a friend who makes wreaths and asked her to create a veteran’s wreath.  Two days later, Rich drove over to John’s house and presented the wreath to be hung on John’s door.  The veteran was so pleased when he saw the wreath. He said, “You really made my day, thank you so much!” 

Positive volunteer experiences happen every day at American Red Cross.  You never know who you will meet or help within our communities.  If you would like to become a part of American Red Cross, we welcome you to join us.  BECOME A VOLUNTEER  It is through the time and care of ordinary people that we can do extraordinary things.  The Red Cross is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels.  For more information or to find a volunteer orientation near you, visit redcross.org/volunteer.

Holidays for Heroes

Send a Touch of Home to Deployed Service Members

LaTanya Adams helps her 5-year-old daughter McKenzie write a note of appreciation to a soldier during a Comforts of Home packing event last year. McKenzie’s card was shipped with others to deployed service members, bringing a touch of home for the holidays.

A simple card can have a profound impact. Show your support with an encouraging note for the holidays to the brave men and women who serve our country.

The American Red Cross New Jersey Region invites you or your group to send cards of thanks and holiday cheer to military members, veterans and their families.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Address cards to “service member” or “veteran.”
  2. Write a note! Keep your message positive and upbeat.
  3. Avoid cards containing glitter.
  4. Do not enclose any items with your holiday cards. Any items enclosed will be removed.
  5. Include your name and where you’re from, but do not include additional personal information such as email, phone number or address.
  6. Do not put cards in envelopes. Individual cards in envelopes cannot be accepted.

Cards for Holidays for Heroes should be packaged and mailed to:
American Red Cross House
Holidays for Heroes
6051 Doughboy Loop
JB MDL, NJ 08640

Cards can also be dropped off at Red Cross locations in New Jersey. Visit redcross.org/NJ.

Give something that means something. Send some holiday cheer to the
servicemen and women who help defend our freedom.

For more information about Holidays for Heroes call: 609-562-2258.

How to Become Red Cross Ready for an Emergency

Everyone knows the Red Cross helps people during emergencies. But you may not know that it’s also part of our mission to help you help yourself! Becoming “Red Cross Ready” for an emergency means following our simple steps in advance to ensure you can weather a crisis safely and comfortably. Being prepared may not prevent a disaster, but it will give you confidence to meet the challenge.

Be Red Cross Ready

It’s as easy as 1-2-3! Getting prepared may sound difficult or time consuming but – with a little help from the Red Cross – its actually very doable. Click on the links below for helpful tips in this three-step process for becoming Red Cross Ready.

1

Get a Kit – Learn the essential supplies to put in your family’s survival kit.

2

Make a Plan – Plan effectively for you and your family in case of an emergency.

3

Be Informed – Understand which disasters are likely to occur in your area and what you must know to stay safe.

Ten Ways to Keep Trick or Treaters Safe This Halloween

Even with children dressed up as ghosts, goblins and ghouls, Halloween doesn’t have to be so scary. The American Red Cross has ten tips parents can follow to help keep the kids safe while enjoying the festivities.

  1. Trick-or-treaters need to see and be seen.
    – Use face makeup instead of masks which make seeing difficult.
    – Give trick-or-treaters a flashlight to light their way.
    – Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
    – Have everyone wear light-colored clothing.
  2. Use flame-resistant costumes.
  3. Make sure adults know where the kids are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door.
  4. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
  5. Walk, don’t run.
  6. Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
  7. 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.
    – Drivers – use extra caution. The youngsters may forget to look both ways before crossing.
  8. A grown-up should check the goodies before eating.
    – Make sure to remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards.
    – Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.
    If you are planning to welcome trick-or-treaters to your home, follow these safety steps:
  9. Light the area well so young visitors can see.
  10. Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.

Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert first aid advice right at your fingertips. Use the free app Emergency for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.