Red Cross enjoys dinner and evening cruise around Resurrection Bay

By Ashley Dodds

The American Red Cross of Alaska cruised out of the small boat harbor in Seward last Saturday evening, June 15. Donors, staff members, board members, volunteers, partners and the public all joined in for the annual event, which has taken place for over a decade, thanks to the support of Major Marine Tours and Premier Alaska Tours. All proceeds from the evening benefit American Red Cross Disaster Relief, which is a specific fund supporting the needs of communities affected by all types of disasters, with the most common disaster in Alaska being home fires. Donations to this fund are used to provide immediate financial and lodging assistance, comfort items, emergency supplies and other resources to families affected by home fires, earthquakes or other disasters.

Photo Credit: Ralph Radford/American Red Cross

The evening included a loop around the scenic Resurrection Bay in Seward and a dinner of prime rib and fresh Alaskan salmon graciously provided by Major Marine Tours, as well as live and silent auctions and a raffle. Transportation for those leaving from the Anchorage and Girdwood areas was provided by Premier Alaska Tours.

Photo Credit: Ralph Radford/American Red Cross

The silent auction portion included items such as classes, get-aways and other goodies for participants to bid on throughout the evening.

The live auction took place after dinner and included items such as a two-night stay and four passes to the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, two round trip tickets to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies, and two round-trip tickets on Ravn Air. Over $3,000 was raised during the live auction alone!

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Photo Credit: Ralph Radford/American Red Cross

Thank you to the following organizations and individuals who donated auction items:

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Rock Gym

Alyeska Resort

Alaska Sealife Center

Anchorage Trolley Tours

GCI, Mossy’s Fly Shop gift bag

Homer Beachside Cabins

Kenai River Drifter’s Lodge

Bracelet and iPhone case, donated by Maria Rangel

Premier Alaska Tours

Prospector John’s

Ravn Alaska

Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa

Sweet Caribou

Seward B&B, donated by Tanguy Libbrecht

The Alaska Zoo

The Hotel Captain Cook

This event occurs around the same time every year, and members of the public are encouraged to attend. The event is advertised through social media, email invitations to Red Cross stakeholders and radio advertisements. If you’re interested in joining the Red Cross of Alaska next June, keep an eye out for event details in early May.

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Photo Credit: Ralph Radford/American Red Cross

Thank you to Major Marine Tours, Premier Alaska Tours, and all attendees and auction participants for a great evening and the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of our great state together!

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To see all photos from the evening event, please visit https://flic.kr/s/aHsmEpUE6g

Wildfire Safety Tips

Wildfire season in Alaska runs from April 1 to August 31 and to date, there are have been 227 wildfires in the state this season that have burned over 111,227 acres. The Red Cross of Alaska offers tips to help you and your family before, during and after a wildfire in your area.

BEFORE A FIRE OCCURS Remove anything that can catch fire from around your home, garage and/or outdoor shed, including firewood and propane tanks. If it’s flammable, keep it away from your house, deck or porch. Obey outside burning bans when issued by community, municipality or borough officials.

Other things you can do to be prepared include:

  • Keep your gutters and roof clean. Remove dead vegetation and brush from your yard. Keep your lawn hydrated.
  • Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
  • Make sure driveway entrances and your house number or address are clearly marked.
  • Set aside items that can be used as fire tools – a rake, axe, hand or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
  • Identify and maintain a good water source outside your home. Examples include a small pond, well or swimming pool.
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Prepare an emergency kit full of supplies you may need in the event that your neighborhood is asked to evacuate.

IF A FIRE OCCURS Listen to your local media for updates on the fire and be ready to leave quickly. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape. You should also:

  • Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.
  • Arrange for a temporary place to stay outside the threatened area.
  • Keep your indoor air clean – close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.
  • If smoke levels are high, don’t use anything that burns and adds to air pollution inside such as candles, fireplaces and wood or gas stoves.

If you’re trapped outdoors, crouch in a pond, river or stream.

  • Don’t put wet clothing or bandanas over your mouth or nose, as moist air can cause more damage to your airway than dry air at the same temperature.
  • If there is no body of water, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Lie flat, face down, and cover your body with soil. Breathe the air close to the ground to avoid scorching your lungs or inhaling smoke.

AFTER THE FIRE Don’t go home until fire officials say it is safe to do so. Be cautious entering a burned area – hazards could still exist. Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires. Other things to do include:

  • Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
  • Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
  • Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
  • Recheck for smoke or sparks throughout your home for several hours after the fire, including in your attic. Wildfire winds can blow burning embers anywhere so check for embers that could cause a fire.

For a full list of resources to help you and your family prepare for wildfires this summer, you can visit the Red Cross Wildfire Preparedness page on our website. To stay up to date on current wildfire information for the State of Alaska, visit the Alaska Wildland Fire Information site, which is an interagency website developed by federal and state agencies in Alaska to provide timely and accurate wildfire information for the entire state.

You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which allows you to monitor 35 different types of severe weather and emergency alerts. To download, text GETEMERGENCY to 90999, visit redcross.org/apps or search for “American Red Cross” in your mobile phone app store.

Emergency Apps

2019 Sound the Alarm Highlight: Talkeetna

By Connie Black/American Red Cross of Alaska

Teams made up of Red Cross volunteers and community partners participated in Sound the Alarm, a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event, on May 4 in the Talkeetna area.

The event was a huge success! Volunteers from the Red Cross of Alaska with our partners from the Talkeetna Fire Department and Talkeetna CERT installed over 50 smoke alarms in homes that lacked working alarms in the area, and also sat down with residents to review home fire safety tips and create fire escape plans.

 

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Denali Brewing Company and Twister Creek Restaurant graciously provided excellent lunches for our hungry crews during a quick midday break!

 

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A very big thank you is also in order for all of the participating volunteers. Their help canvassing neighborhoods and dedicating their time to saving lives made a tremendous impact: Chief Eric Chappel and Lieutenant Dan, and Red Crossers Ron, Jessica, Bill, Mabel, Jim, Deb, Tommy, Ken, Paul, Connie and Bill.

“Because of the strong relationship the Red Cross has with our community partners like the Talkeetna Fire Department and Talkeetna CERT, we were able to reach more homes and touch more lives during this event,” said Bill Morrow, Red Cross of Alaska disaster program manager for the Mat-Su Valley and Kodiak. “We’re looking forward to continuing to build on this partnership.”

 

If you were not home or missed the installation event in Talkeetna and you’d like to sign up for free smoke alarms and home installation, contact the Talkeetna Fire Department at 907-733-2443. Please leave your name and number. If you have questions or would like to schedule a smoke alarm install in another area of the Mat-Su Borough, please contact the Mat-Su Red Cross office at 907-357-6060.

Thank you to our Alaska Region 2019 Sound the Alarm sponsors: Alaska Airlines, Alaska Commercial Company, BP Alaska, Denali Brewing Company, Doyon Limited, Joanna L. Moss, Kinross Fort Knox Gold Mine, Matson, Midnight Sun Brewing Company and TOTE Maritime Alaska.

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Home fires can happen anywhere and to any family! Please test your smoke alarms monthly and practice home fire escape as a family. Smoke alarms save lives!

 

2019 Sound the Alarm Highlight: Prince of Wales & Ketchikan

By Michael Wanzenried/American Red Cross of Alaska

Red Cross of Alaska volunteers participated in the annual Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events between April 27 and May 18, 2019. To help reach the national goal of 100,000 smoke alarm installations, volunteers canvased communities across Alaska to install smoke alarms and talk with families about disaster preparedness and home fire safety.

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From May 5-9, Red Cross of Alaska volunteers from Anchorage and Juneau combined forces with local Red Cross of Alaska volunteers from Prince of Wales (POW) to install smoke alarms in homes across the island and conduct The Pillowcase Project presentations at three schools. This was the first time that the Red Cross of Alaska has held installation events for Sound the Alarm on POW. Volunteers traveled to homes in Craig, Klawock, Whale Pass, Coffman Cove, Naukati Bay, Thorne Bay, Kasaan, Hollis, and Hydaburg. Sound the Alarm also went to Ketchikan to install smoke alarms and participate in a volunteer meet-and-greet.

The Red Cross of Alaska shipped over 500 smoke alarms to POW with the modest goal of installing 300. Volunteer fire chiefs that participated with the installation events also received spare smoke alarms to install in the homes of people who were unavailable when volunteers came to their community.

It was a good thing that POW volunteers were on hand to help those from off island as they adjusted to daily POW realities: the lack of street addresses in some places, unreliable cell reception, and knowing which neighbors would be more likely to open their doors to outsiders. Having people on hand with local knowledge really made a big difference in how many homes had new smoke alarms installed.

Red Cross of Alaska volunteer Jeri Rosenthal put it this way, “POW is best thought of as a small community of a little over 5,000 people spread over the fourth largest island in the United States. Even with our newly paved roads, it takes time to get between villages. And even when you get to a town like Whale Pass, it can still take an extra step or two to get to your destination.”

Over the course of five days, Red Cross of Alaska and other POW volunteers made this year’s Sound the Alarm event extremely successful. Sound the Alarm events in POW and Ketchikan resulted in 102 homes visited, 19 volunteers engaged, 365 smoke alarms installed, and 152 smoke alarms given to volunteer fire chiefs for additional installs in the near future. Donations from across the country allowed the Red Cross of Alaska to do this all free of charge. That’s right, free.

Due to the success of this project, more smoke alarms will be shipped to Ketchikan and POW. These will be distributed to Red Cross of Alaska volunteers and volunteer fire chiefs to help protect more families.

A topic of conversation that came up more than once during this particular Sound the Alarm event was whether someone really needed a smoke alarm because of how much rain POW gets. Some people felt that lots of rain made their houses less vulnerable to fire. However, as Joshua Hills, volunteer fire chief for Naukati Bay pointed out, home fires still occur despite the amount of precipitation his community gets. Many home fires on POW are caused by problems with electrical wiring or creosote buildup in a chimney.

In POW communities where emergency services are limited or would have trouble reaching remote locations, a working smoke alarm could mean all the difference between a life lost or saved.

Some people that had new smoke alarms installed said they had taken their old ones down because they had become a nuisance. A running joke in kitchens across POW was that smoke alarms did their job exceptionally well in letting the cook know when something on the stove was smoking. Volunteers relocated smoke alarms to places where smoke from a burning hamburger would have trouble reaching it, like adjacent rooms or hallways.  Although we know this intuitively, smoke alarms work best on the ceiling where smoke goes first, not on a shelf.

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One thing every person learned during these Sound the Alarm events was that smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years or so. This means that just because the alarm beeps when you press the button does not mean that it is actually capable of detecting smoke and sounding the alarm when you need it most. New smoke alarms were installed in situations where people could not remember the last time they had changed their smoke alarms. To help avoid this situation in the future, volunteers wrote the install and replace-by dates on the new alarms.

In addition to smoke alarm installations, Red Cross of Alaska volunteers Bridget Thomson and Stacy Mank conducted The Pillowcase Project presentations at schools in Naukati Bay and Whale Pass. The presenters talked to students about local hazards, disaster preparedness, and the importance of discussing emergency plans with their families. Each student received a pillowcase that they can use to fill with items they would need during an emergency.

When asked what they would keep in their pillowcase, students listed such things as flashlights, stuffed animals, water bottles, comic books, Twinkies, canned food (with opener), socks, shoes and emergency blankets—a good mix of practical and comforting things.

The Pillowcase Project presentations also allowed a chance for our POW students to reveal their awareness of local threats. One Naukati Bay fifth grader recalled the unnerving experience of having to evacuate her house in Port Alexander at 1 a.m. and take a boat across the bay to reach higher ground. Other students easily listed what they would do during an earthquake. It is a credit to the families and teachers across POW for helping the upcoming generation be disaster ready at such an early age.

The success of the POW Sound the Alarm events and The Pillowcase Project presentations were made possible by our generous and patient volunteers who either made time to help with logistics, lodging and communications or otherwise passed the word along via social media. Every bit of effort in support of this year’s Sound the Alarm events made our communities that much safer.

The people who came out to help the Red Cross of Alaska included some POW people you might know: Jan Stevens, Gary Lawton, Les Bovee, Brian Templin, Jeri Rosenthal, Karen Peterson, Stacey Mank, Dick Stubee and Colleen Watson. Ketchikan volunteers included Pam Roth, Paulette Laberge and Ken Kemmerer. Rick Janelle and Bridget Thomson came down from Juneau while Michael Wanzenried joined from Anchorage. The four volunteer fire chiefs who came out to help and will have some smoke alarms on hand for future community installs include Joshua Hills from Naukati Bay, Tom and Tamara Weaver from Whale Pass, Tom Harden from Hollis, and Ted Peele from Hydaburg. Next year, we hope to have even more POW community members join us!

Additional thanks to the Alaska Commercial Company and AK49 for their generous donations of lunch on several days and to BP Alaska for their sponsorship of all Southeast installs during Sound the Alarm.

Additional sponsors of Sound the Alarm events in Alaska include Alaska Airlines, Denali Brewing Company, Doyon Limited, Joanna L. Moss, Kinross Fort Knox Gold Mine, Matson, Midnight Sun Brewing Company and TOTE Maritime Alaska. Partnerships with these companies help keep the costs down, which makes more funds available for providing assistance to individuals and families after home fires or other large-scale disasters.

If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross of Alaska volunteer and making a difference in your community and/or developing new skills, you can check out opportunities online and find the Red Cross office nearest you at redcross.org/Alaska.

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2019 Sound the Alarm Highlight: Kotzebue

By Trina Landlord/American Red Cross of Alaska

“Thank you for coming to Kotzebue!” “We are so grateful!” “Let me give you maktak!” – a few examples of statements made by community members after installing smoke alarms in their homes in the Northwest Arctic community of Kotzebue, Alaska.

An American Red Cross team of five arrived on a brilliantly sunny afternoon. The Inupiat name for Kotzebue is Kikkitagruk, which translated to English means “almost an island.” Kotzebue is located on a three-mile long spit in the Kotzebue Sound, an arm of the Chukchi Sea in the Seward Peninsula of Alaska. It is about 550 air miles from Anchorage.

Kotzebue is an Inupiat community, which translated into English means “real people.” The community, which lies about 26 miles above Arctic Circle, welcomed Red Cross volunteers into their homes as part of Sound the Alarm, a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event with a goal to install over 200 smoke alarms in homes over two days across the community.

Our greeter at the airport, Michelle – a Yupik woman originally from St. Lawrence Island – is with the Alaska State Defense Force and was our tour guide and liaison on-the-ground. She was joined by members of the City Fire Department–Chloe, Nick and Richard–a transplant from the island of Grenada in the Caribbean. The local village corporation, Kikkiktagrak Inupiat Corporation, also provided two enthusiastic volunteers, Nikki and Kelly.

The team hit the ground running and deployed into three teams to canvass across Kotzebue, connecting with the community through announcements on the VHF radio, the local radio station KOTZ Broadcast Inc., by word of mouth, or by calling individual homes to meet the ambitious goal. The Sound the Alarm initiative is to spread home fire safety and prevention tips and ultimately, to save lives.

This trip was the first the Red Cross of Alaska made to Kotzebue, which is a truly unique place. The ice on the water was melting day-by-day and people were ice fishing for sheefish using handmade poles just below the main Front Street and flying above, the seagulls had just returned. In May, the days are long with just over 19 hours of sunlight that will continue into the summer months ahead.

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The smoke alarm installations were appreciated, necessary and people expressed their gratitude and thanks. Many homes had either expired or no existing smoke alarms, or batteries that had been removed due to the alarms being consistently activated from cooking or simply from dying batteries. The newly installed smoke alarms will last for ten years and it’s suggested that residents test them monthly. In addition to the installations, the Red Cross reviewed a fire safety checklist and together with the homeowners drew an escape plan outlining a safety spot for their families to meet outside in the event of a fire and never go back inside.

Red Cross installed smoke alarms and also got to learn a bit about each resident in the process. In one Elder’s home, Darlene promised gifts—handmade sea otter and polar bear fur key chains. Another Elder, Lydia, displayed her fur parkas with beautiful kupak, the detailed trim in beautiful designs and vibrant colors with Arctic fox fur ruffs and cuffs. The maktak that was shared is whale blubber from the bowhead whale harvested recently in nearby communities like Point Hope to the north or Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, located 200 miles off the coast of Nome.

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This trip was made possible by our Red Cross volunteers, the City of Kotzebue Fire Department, the Kikkiktagrak Inupiat Corporation, the Alaska State Defense Force, and our Alaska Region Sound the Alarm sponsors: Alaska Airlines, Alaska Commercial Company, BP Alaska, Denali Brewing Company, Doyon Limited, Joanna L. Moss, Kinross Fort Knox Gold Mine, Matson, Midnight Sun Brewing Company and TOTE Maritime Alaska.

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Alaska Shield 2019: Red Cross of Alaska Statewide Recap

By Connie Black, Celia Jackson, Andrew Bogar & Cari Dighton/American Red Cross

Over the past week, the American Red Cross of Alaska participated in Alaska Shield 2019 exercises in communities across the state – including Cordova, Juneau, Kodiak and Matanuska-Susitna – alongside multiple agency, nonprofit and private sector partners. 

AK Shield 2019 Map 2

Alaska Shield 2019 took place from April 10-13 and was a statewide, large-scale preparedness exercise designed to test state and local agencies and private sector and nonprofit organizations’ preparedness for real world events, including our emergency response and recovery capabilities following multiple disaster scenarios. 

We would like to thank all of the Red Cross volunteers and staff, agency employees and partners, and dozens of character actors for giving their time to help our communities build capacity to handle natural disasters, cyber attacks and the possible impact of pandemic events.

CORDOVA

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Photo Credit: Celia Jackson/American Red Cross

Pictured above are Red Crossers Molly, Chip and Celia staffing a Safe and Well station at the “Cordova Plague” point of dispensing (POD) exercise. Red Cross volunteers were there to help participants practice using the Red Cross Safe and Well function by listing themselves as safe and also enabling exercise actors to search for family members. 

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Photo Credit: Celia Jackson/American Red Cross

Pictured above, Cordova Red Cross volunteer Chip discussed mass care options with Jenni and John from the Salvation Army during the “Cordova Plague” event. 

A special thank you to our partners the City of Cordova and the Cordova Fire Department!

JUNEAU

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Photo Credit: Andrew Bogar/American Red Cross

Pictured above, Red Crossers Chip, Trish, Andrew and Carolyn supported agencies participating in search and rescue exercises throughout the Juneau area.

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Photo Credit: Andrew Bogar/American Red Cross

Pictured above, volunteers Chip, Trish and Carolyn staffed our local Emergency Operation Center, practicing the skills required to be liaisons between the Red Cross of Alaska and other response organizations.

A special thank you to our partners the City and Borough of Juneau and Capital City Fire Rescue!

KODIAK

Photo Credits: Branson Wallace/American Red Cross

Pictured above, Red Cross volunteers, staff and partners practiced operating a shelter in the Kodiak community, successfully testing our capability to provide comfort and hope to the Kodiak community during a large-scale disaster. 

A special thank you to our partners Kodiak Fire Chief Jim Mullican and the Kodiak Island Borough School District!

MAT-SU

Photo Credits: Connie Black/American Red Cross

Pictured above, Red Cross volunteers, staff and partners practiced operating an overnight shelter in the Mat-Su community, delivered food to multiple locations, quickly responded to the possibility of a pandemic event with our health services staff at Colony Middle School and supported the point of dispensing (POD) exercise at Cottonwood Creek Elementary School. Also pictured above, representatives from the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center set up an Alternate Care Center at Colony Middle School, housed right next door to the Red Cross overnight shelter. 

A special thank you to our partner The Salvation Army Alaska Division for providing food for the shelter and partner agencies such as Mat-Su Emergency Management, Mat-Su Emergency Services, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District and the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and the State of Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management!

RC View & RC Collect: Red Cross Disaster Response Technology

By Michael Wanzenried/American Red Cross of Alaska

Over the last year, the American Red Cross of Alaska has moved towards streamlining some of its procedures with new technology in the form of mobile apps. RC View is used by volunteers to help dispatch Disaster Action Teams (DAT) to emergencies while RC Collect is used to collect information during damage assessments on homes and property following disasters. Although volunteers are still working some of the kinks out, RC View and RC Collect are already decreasing response times and streamlining data collection and case management following large scale disasters like the November 2018 earthquake.

RC VIEW

Like its name suggests, RC View provides an overview of the information for those volunteers scheduled to be on-call for their Disaster Action Team. Southcentral DAT Duty Officer Laurel Daniel appreciates how RC View has streamlined her role in responding to an emergency. When Laurel receives an alert from the fire department, she can instantly send a message to on-call DAT responders to see who is available. Then, volunteers on the other end can respond with the simple press of a button. The dispatcher can then send logistical information – like where the fire is located – to the response team.

Previously, dispatchers or DAT captains would have to manually call or text each person on their on-call team, wait for a response, and then relay the response information a second time. This sometimes increased response times, especially when those on call failed to respond. In those cases, dispatchers or DAT captains would have to send requests out to members of other Disaster Action Teams. Such frustrations are not entirely a thing of the past, but the app has helped significantly.

For Red Cross of Alaska Disaster Action Team Captain Suzanne Eldridge, the use of RC View has given her more time to wake up, prepare her response supplies, and get out the door at 3 a.m. Those extra minutes it takes to find volunteers, she says, only increases the amount of time a family might have to stand out in a cold, wintry night.

RC COLLECT

RC Collect is a straightforward data collection application built for ArcGIS and ArcGIS portal. It combines a GPS-like interface with built in data collection forms that volunteers can use on a phone or tablet. Volunteers who assessed damaged properties in the Municipality of Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the Kenai Peninsula Borough following the November 2018 earthquake used RC Collect to take pictures, use drop down menus to report the extent of damage and record the address.

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One of the primary benefits of RC Collect is that it centralizes how data is collected. Instead of having to wait until the end of the day to synthesize hundreds of photos with paper forms, volunteers can upload data on the fly. This makes it easier for volunteers on the casework end of things to analyze and assess each case, which improves how quickly the Red Cross can start providing assistance to affected residents where needed.

Although the Red Cross of Alaska is working to automate some of its procedures for responding to emergencies, there is no app that can replace a volunteer. If you are interested in helping your community and/or developing a new set of skills, please contact Kaitlin Donnelly at 907-201-2660 or kaitlin.donnelly@redcross.org to see how you can help.

Winter Pet Safety Tips

Many animals are often seen as indoor/outdoor pets. It can be easy to forget that even though they want to go out, they can suffer through cold winter weather much like we do.

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The American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States recommend following these basic steps to keep your pets safe during Alaska’s long winter months:

  • If possible, bring your pets inside, especially if you’ll be gone for several hours.
  • If pets cannot come indoors, make sure they are protected by a dry, draft-free enclosure. Make it large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in the pet’s body heat.
  • Raise the enclosure floor a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.
  • Make sure your animals have access to non-frozen drinking water. If you keep food and water outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.
  • Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth.
  • If you make shelter space in your garage, shed or other secondary building, check for chemical spills and wipe up any you find before your pet can come in contact with it. Antifreeze (for example) is sweet and attracts pets, but it a deadly poison. Store antifreeze out of reach.

For more tips, visit redcross.org or download the Red Cross Pet First Aid App.
Winter Weather and Cat

Red Cross Earthquake Response and Recovery: One Month Update

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Nov. 30, 2018 – one month ago today – reminds us of the seriousness of where we live, and the importance of being ready when disaster strikes. But, it also reminds us of the resiliency of our communities, and just how quickly we come together in times of crisis.

Within hours of the earthquake, Red Cross of Alaska volunteer disaster workers were on the ground in Southcentral Alaska, offering comfort, relief supplies and support to those affected by the initial quake and ensuing aftershocks.

Emergency Sheltering
Red Cross emergency shelters were open by late afternoon on Nov. 30 in Anchorage, Chugiak and Wasilla. Volunteers were bustling, setting up feeding areas, technology hubs, health services areas and registration desks. Cots were delivered to arrange the overnight sleeping areas and our partners at the Salvation Army had arrived and began serving dinner.

Volunteers were bustling, setting up feeding areas, technology hubs, health services areas and registration desks.”

A total of 230 overnight stays in Red Cross emergency shelters were provided to residents across the affected areas, and more than 2,237 meals and snacks were served alongside nonprofit partners during the first two weeks of the response.

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Distribution of Emergency Supplies

In the days that followed Nov. 30, as people returned to their homes to pick up the pieces, the Red Cross of Alaska distributed relief supplies to those in need. Emergency clean-up kits included items like water, masks, tarps, brooms, and more.

Approximately 160 personal hygiene kits, clean-up kits and cases of water were distributed to affected residents.

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Disaster Mental Health

The earthquake was a very unsettling event for many Alaskans. Red Cross disaster mental health and health services volunteers traveled to disaster sites across the affected area to help evaluate the mental state of disaster victims, provide psychological first aid and offer tips for coping with crisis.

Nearly 350 disaster health and mental health contacts have been made to assist affected residents in the past month.

Damage Assessment and Recovery Casework

Using cutting-edge technology that deploys advanced mapping and detailed demographics, damage assessment teams set to work, locating and surveying heavily damaged homes in the affected areas.

Red Cross damage assessments have been conducted in more than 650 homes affected by the earthquake and the thousands of aftershocks that followed.

Once damage is assessed, the Red Cross then may be able to provide residents with additional resources through recovery casework, by providing immediate financial assistance where possible and creating the right plans to meet each need.

To date, more than 160 cases have been opened to provide assistance to more than 430 affected residents through the Red Cross recovery casework process.

Disaster Workforce

As a result of the earthquake, the Red Cross has mobilized a total of 144 disaster workers since Nov. 30.

During the last month, 13 training sessions have also been conducted for both new and existing Red Cross volunteers on a variety of subjects, ranging from basic Red Cross orientation courses to damage assessment courses and refreshers on shelter operations.

When earthquake victims turned to us in their darkest hours, Red Cross volunteers provided relief and comfort, thanks to generous supporters in Alaska and around the country. In a year of unprecedented events, your support has enabled us to remain nimble in our response, and to prepare for the next big disaster.

Please visit redcross.org/Alaska to learn more about our programs and services.

 

Red Cross Earthquake Preparedness Tips

Earthquake Preparedness and Safety

How to Prepare for an Earthquake 

Protecting your family:

  • Talk about earthquakes with your family so that everyone knows what to do in case of an earthquake. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.
  • Check at your workplace and your children’s schools and day care centers to learn about their earthquake emergency plans.
  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Practice DROP, COVER and HOLD ON in each safe place.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts:

o   Find an online NOAA radio station

o   Search for a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store or Google Play

o   Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio in the Red Cross Store

  • Keep a flashlight and any low-heeled shoes by each person’s bed.

Protecting your pets & animals:

Protecting your home:

  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Have a professional install flexible fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Do not hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, near beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Place large and heavy objects and breakable items (bottled foods, glass or china) on lower shelves.
  • Anchor overhead lighting fixtures to joists.
  • Anchor top-heavy, tall and freestanding furniture such as bookcases, china cabinets to wall studs to keep these from toppling over.
  • Ask about home repair and strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.
  • Have a professional make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation, as well as strengthening tips for exterior features, such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports and garage doors.

During an Earthquake

Staying Safe Indoors:

  • DROP, COVER and HOLD ON!

o   Move as little as possible – most injuries during earthquakes occur because of people moving around, falling and suffering sprains, fractures and head injuries.

o   Try to protect your head and torso.

  • If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on, and cover your head.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit.

o   If you must leave a building after the shaking stops, use stairs rather than an elevator in case of aftershocks, power outages or other damage.

  • Be aware that smoke alarms and sprinkler systems frequently go off in buildings during an earthquake, even if there is no fire.
  • If you smell gas, get out of the house and move as far away as possible.
  • Before you leave any building check to make sure that there is no debris from the building that could fall on you.

Staying Safe Outdoors:

  • Find a clear spot and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.
  • Try to get as far away from buildings, power lines, trees, and streetlights as possible.
  • If you’re in a vehicle, pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible.

o   Stay inside with your seat belt fastened until the shaking stops.

o   After the shaking has stopped, drive on carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.

o   If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.

  • If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling rocks and other debris as well as landslides.

After an Earthquake

Staying Safe After an Earthquake

If you do nothing else:

  • If away from home, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Check yourself for injuries and get first aid, if necessary, before helping injured or trapped persons.
  • After an earthquake, the disaster may continue. Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami if you live on a coast.
  • Each time you feel an aftershock, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
  • Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.

Caring for yourself & loved ones:

  • If you are at home, look quickly for damage in and around your home and get everyone out if your home is unsafe.
  • Listen to a portable, battery-operated or hand-­crank radio for updated emergency information and instructions.
  • Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Promote emotional recovery by following these tips.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Help people who require additional assistance – infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.

Returning home safely:

  • Stay out of damaged buildings.
  • Use extreme caution and examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to check for damage.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them to the utility company immediately.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • Open closet and cabinet doors carefully as contents may have shifted.
  • Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after an earthquake. Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.

 

Featured Image: UAF Alaska Earthquake Center