Tag Archives: American Red Cross

How to Save a Life

I was privileged to recently to be the headliner for the February SPARKS Talk in Indianapolis.  They give you free-reign for your topic and 10 minutes in which to present it.  Nerve-wracking to say the least!

If you are in the area, check out the SPARKS Talks which happen the 2nd Wednesday of every month (http://sparkstalk.com).

And let me know in the comments below if you’ve used any of these techniques to Save a Life.

PS–For some reason the slides don’t line up with the video, ignore them.

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Filed under Disaster, Life Hacks

Surviving A Week Without Water

My front yard is being re-landscaped so I can have running water!

My front yard is being re-landscaped so I can have running water!

After more than a week without running water, I appreciate even more the privilege of living in a first world country.  I never expected to be without running water for such a long period, but the unusually low temps in our area have prevented outside repairs.  We’re lucky though, even though our water main is broken, it has just enough pressure to allow us to turn it on for a few minutes each day to “restock” our water supply.

All this time without working faucets has got me to thinking about disasters in much greater detail.  I also have a much better understanding of how much water you HAVE to have each day to get by.

It turns out that the recommended 1 gal per person per day is actually a bare minimum.  We have found that, even if you aren’t taking showers or flushing toilets, you will need closer to 2-3 gallons per person per day.  Add toilets and basic personal hygiene (but still no showers) into the equation and you need more like 5-10 gallons per person.

Wow, what an eye opener.  Think about it, do you even have enough room or containers in your house to store 10 gallons of water per person for one day, let alone a week?  Puts things into perspective doesn’t it?

Of course, not all water is created equal.  The quality of the water coming through our broken pipe in not drinkable, so we’ve had to use a purification system to make sure we don’t create a “secondary emergency” by getting sick.  We’re fortunate to already own a system that will make our water potable, but it certainly isn’t something I would have thought about having in place for this type of situation.

My Red Cross disaster training has been really helpful in coping with this situation; it gave me some basic guidelines to follow and some ideas of how to be creative with our resources.  But nothing short of going through a situation can really make you challenge your underlying assumptions—many you may not even realize you have.

I had never considered how much water it takes to brush my teeth or how to wash my hands one at a time with one hand pouring from the pitcher and the other trying to wash itself. These are only two small things, but there are dozens of small challenges to be overcome without running water, everything from laundry to cooking.  I have always thought I would do OK during a zombie apocalypse, but I have definitely reconsidered some of my bravado after this past week.

While we’ve done great, we’ve also not been 100% without access to water or other resources.  At any time we can get in our car (which has plenty of gas) and drive to the store or go to a friend’s house for water.  We have more than enough food and haven’t lost power or heat, all things that can become scarce or nonexistent for weeks on end during disasters (think Hurricanes Sandy or Katrina).

So my message to all of you who are enjoying a cozy snow day, is to take a few minutes today to consider what you might do if you lost even one of these precious utilities that we take for granted.

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Outside a Disaster Looking In

For me, it is always an odd feeling to watch a disaster from the outside.  I am more typically in the middle of things focused on helping to deliver the Red Cross mission to people who desperately need help.

Red Cross volunteers Jill Bode and Ana De La Garza during Hurricane Isaac.

When you are on the outside, with the media and social media as your primary sources of information, it looks a little different.  But there are some universal truths about disasters regardless of location, duration or frustration.  Here are a few:

1)     Someone will always need help.

2)      Someone will always give help.

3)      There will always be sorrow.

4)      There will always be laughter.

5)      Help can = a Hug.

6)      You can’t make it go away.

7)      Sometimes you can only choose your attitude.

8)      People are incredibly generous.

9)      People are amazingly resilient.

10)    Everyone wants to know what they can do to help.

Disasters are the worst of times, but seem to bring out the very essence of who we are.  They are frequently unexpected, unwelcome and unnerving, but they are always a learning experience for the families, volunteers and communities impacted.

Have you ever had a disaster?  What did you learn?

If you’d like to support the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org to learn how.

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Filed under Disaster, Non-Profits

The Disaster that is my Twitter Account: Twitter Rules

Over the past two posts I’ve shared some of my “rules” for how I connect to others via social media. I’ve saved Twitter for last because I use it in a very specific way–for disasters. No, not of my making.

As a Red Cross public information volunteer, I primarily use my @RedCrossPRChick Twitter handle for sharing disaster preparedness and response information. Besides the obvious use of Red Cross in my Twitter handle and the care and attention to the brand that implies, I’ve found that I can only really manage about two types of social media at a time. Although I could tie all my accounts together, because of my varied rules for each type of social media, my audiences are very different and don’t necessarily want or need to know the same pieces of info or even have the need for the same frequency of interaction. So I save @RedCrossPRChick for sharing information when a disaster hits–whether I am deployed OR re-tweeting information from colleagues in the thick of things on the ground.

I try to stay engaged just enough between disasters to provide some value and stay front of mind, but reserve most of my interactions for times of disaster. Because of this, I tend to follow others on Twitter who are in the disaster response arena and can help me amplify my message when a disaster strikes.

As  for who follows me, because I want to push out disaster related messages, my profile is open and anyone can follow me. My followers are a bit varied and fall into international business professionals, communications/marketing/PR folks and then all the disaster related professionals.  However, I’ve noticed that the Twitter lists that I am on are mostly for Red Cross, disasters and non-profits.  Although I’d like to thank Nicole Underwood for naming her list “Commgurus” even if it is primarily for Red Cross Peeps (another of her lists that I am on), it’s a nice change of pace and very flattering.

That’s it, the last of my rules for the social media that I use regularly! Hope this made you think a little about how you use social media and your place in the SM world.

Before the next disaster strikes, be sure to follow me @RedCrossPRChick and be prepared!

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