Emotional Health After A Disaster

Many things need to be addressed and taken care of after a disaster has stricken you and/or your loved ones.  American Red Cross teams go into the community after a disaster and asses the immediate needs in the community such as: shelter, food, and clothing.  In addition, the teams asses the need for emotional coping and the state of emotional health. The Red Cross Mental Health Teams Help People Cope During Disaster.

mental health

A disaster can and very well may bring on significant stress. There are stages of dealing with and handling the stress and emotions that come with disaster. The feelings you may be experiencing immediately after an event:

  • the feeling of being physically and emotional drained
  • difficultly making decisions
  • maintaing focus
  • become frustrated easily or become irritated more frequently
  • arguing more than normal with family and friends
  • feeling tired, sad, numb, lonely or anxious
  • changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns

Although most of these reactions are temporary, they are still something to take notice of and acknowledge.

After acknowledging these emotions, take these steps to get yourself and your life back on track:

  • safety: this not only involves your mental health but also your physical health. seek medical attention if required
  • eat: it is important to maintain a healthy intake of water and food when stress is at an all time high
  • rest: with all of the stress and things to worry about, it may be hard to find time for proper rest but it is incredibly important to give your brain and body a break
  • stay connected: receiving support from friends and family is one of the most important and rewarding things you can give yourself during a time that is incredibly stressful
  • be patient with yourself and others: acknowledge the fact that everyone will handle a disaster differently, each person will go at their own speed in putting their thoughts and emotions in order
  • set priorities: tackle tasks in small steps; do not overwhelm yourself
  • gather information: assistance and resources are available for you regarding your disaster-related needs
  • stay positive: recognize that you went through a difficult event and that you can and will get through this. Reach out to family, friends, or to professionals if needed

Typically, people that experience a stressful life event eventually feel better within two weeks or so. However, if you find yourself or a loved one still experiencing any of the following feelings or reactions after a few weeks, it may be time to seek further assistance:

  • crying spells
  • outbursts of anger
  • difficulty sleeping/eating
  • loss in interest to things that were previously enjoyed
  • increase in physically pain such as headaches and/or stomach aches
  • fatigue
  • feeling irritable or anxious
  • the feeling of guilt, helplessness, or hopelessness
  • avoiding friends and family

The good news is that you are not alone with these feelings or reactions; Many people have experienced and are successfully coping with stressful and traumatic events.

If you are need of help or assistance, The Red Cross is there for you. Please visit http://www.redcross.org/find-help for more information and resources.


If you or someone you know is feeling that their life is not worth living or if thoughts of harming yourself or others are occurring please seek immediate help. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or SuicidePreventionLifeline.org

Wishful thinking, Riskful Swimming

Megan Ball, Communications Intern

Drowning rates have decreased between 2005 and 2009. Great news! However, nearly 4,000 people still die from unintentional drowning every year and on average ten people a day die from unintentional drowning. So, who is at risk? Everyone!

  • Males have a significantly higher drowning rate than females
  • Children are at the greatest risk for unintentional drowning
  • Drowning in natural water settings (lakes, ponds, and oceans) increase with age, while children are at greatest risk while swimming in pools
  • Consuming alcohol while in water increase your risks. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) close to 70% of adult drowning deaths were associated with alcohol.

Although, we associate drowning with death, it is important to remember there is non-fatal drowning. Drowning is the suffocation resulting from filling of the lungs with water or other fluids. Non-fatal drowning can result in brain damage, disabilities, memory problems, learning disabilities, or loss of basic functions according to the CDC.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?

  • Stay alert. Keep distractions to a minimum and know which swimmers are weaker and need the extra attention.
  • Sign up for Swim lessons.
  • Have a plan. Make sure you educate everyone on water safety devices and their location along with the plan in case of emergency.
  • Swim where you are comfortable. Make sure others do the same! If you feel uneasy, move to a different area or take a break from the waves and catch some rays on the shore for a bit! Your gut is giving you a sign!

Download our Swim App!  Text “SWIM” to 90999 or search “Red Cross Swim” in your app store


Before you wish for your next opportunity to jump into the backyard pool or the lake up north, know your risks!

Double Delight, Double de-life

By: Megan Ball, Communications Intern

Joe and Jess have been donating blood through the American Red Cross together since 2008. It all started at a lunch, in which Joe walked-up to Jess and informed her they were donating blood together.   Jess shrugged at him and it was really that simple. Since 2008 they both donate blood four to five times a year, always planning their donations around the blood drive at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Joe donates “doubles” or more formally known as double red cell donation. It takes a little bit longer than a normal blood donation, but it provides double the red cell donation. Red Blood cells are most frequently needed component of blood for transfusions. In a “doubles” donation, the blood is filtered and two units of red blood cells are removed for donation and the plasma and platelets are returned to the donor. Although requirements are a little stricter for donating doubles, you may actually feel better after donating doubles! In addition to the fact that you were able to give a little more, you have also received portions of your blood back, and therefore may not feel slightly more hydrated after donation!

No matter the donation, blood donation, or doubles, you are making a difference. A big shout-out to Joe and Jess who have been making a difference for six years! And it hasn’t gone unnoticed!   I was drawn to Joe and Jess because when they walked in, it seemed as if everyone was delighted to see them! Many of the volunteers turned and waved. The conversation they held with the nurses was about what they had been up to since their last donation, and of course, how cool to walk in to a blood drive and have so many people know your name, and want to be the one to draw your blood?!

We asked Joe and Jess why they have decided to donate regularly, and again came the shrug that started it all. Joe shrugged, grinned, and replied, “To be good humans.” Well, Joe and Jess, we think you are more than good humans! Thank you for being continuous generous donors, and thanks for making a difference in so many people’s lives!


rco_blog_img_Joe & Jess Blood donors (241x181)


Find your buddy to donate with and then visit to find the next Blood Drive near you!
You can make an appointment, or just drop in. Either way, we will be delighted to see you!

DAT: Disaster Action Team

By: Courtney McIntosh, Communications Intern

The American Red Cross helps all kinds of people and situations. One of the groups within the Red Cross is the DAT: Disaster Action Team. This team specializes in deploying volunteers to local residential emergencies and disasters.


I recently was able to take the Diaster Action Team orientation at the Racine, WI office. This orienation briefed the volunteers about how a DAT operates and what they do for victims of disaters such a tornadoes, fires, and floods. A DAT member is trained to administer basic need of victims; These needs might include:

  • temporary emergency shelter
  • financial assistance
    • food, clothing replacement, medication replacement
  • emotional support 

The DAT team is a direct help to the community that offers instant relief in several different ways for the victim. This team unites and helps our neighbors in the time of disaster and crisis.

Volunteers are always needed and welcome! If interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, please visit http://www.redcross.org/wi/milwaukee/volunteer/apply

Knee-Deep in #WaterSafety

Megan Ball, Communications Intern

For the first time this year, I was able to hang out in the swimming pool. The weather has finally warmed up enough so the water is enjoyable and fun to be in! With our summer rolling around (although a little late!) it is important we remember those swimming lessons we took so many years ago, or drove our little ones to not so long ago!

In a recent survey, 80% of Americans reported they can swim; but, less than half of Americans reported they could perform all five basic skills which could save their lives in water.
Those five skills:
1. Step or jump into water deep enough to cover your head
2. Return to the surface and float or tread water for 60 seconds
3. Swim in a full circle and find an exit
4. Swim 25 yards to the exit, without stopping.
5. Exit from the water, if in a pool, without using a ladder.

Only 46% of Americans reported they could successfully complete all five of those tasks. So imagine you or your child taking this test. Could you or your child successfully complete all five tasks?

On average, every day in the United States ten people die from unintentional drowning.
What can you do to minimize your risk?
-Sign you and/or your children up for swim lessons
-Wear approved safety devices, but do not rely on those devices alone
-Swim with a buddy, never swim alone and never let children swim unattended
– If supervising swimmers, do not allow distractions
-Limit the amount of direct sunlight and keep hydrated
-Have a cell phone ready to dial 9-1-1 in case of emergencies
-Download our Swim App! Text “SWIM” to 90999 or search “Red Cross Swim” in your app store


Intern Day of Action with Rockwell Automation

This past Tuesday, a group of Interns from Rockwell Automation joined us for United Way’s Intern Day of Action.

 United Way’s annual Intern Day of Action provides an opportunity for organization’s college student interns and seasonal staff to participate in a wide variety of meaningful volunteer projects that make an immediate, visible impact on nonprofit organizations within our community.

Rockwell Automation’s Interns and Seasonal Staff worked with our Disaster Services Staff and Volunteers to clean, organize and inventory our disaster vehicles, shelter trailer and supply room. We are in the midst of a very busy week – over 10 fires our team has responded to since the 4th of July alone. Because our Disaster Action Team is so busy providing comfort, shelter & resources to disaster victims, it’s vital that we stay organized and up to date – so we are prepared for the next disaster. We cannot thank the interns & staff from Rockwell Automation – longtime American Red Cross supporter – enough for choosing us for their Intern Day of Action through the United Way of Greater Milwaukee!


If you are interested in volunteering for the American Red Cross, click here to get started!


Help Provide Swimming Lessons to those in Need!

CLICK HERE to participate in this GROUPON DEAL: $10 Donation to the American Red Cross



The Issue: Lack of Swimming Skills

Every day, an average of 10 people die from unintentional drowning in the U.S.—two of those being children aged 14 or younger. For every child who dies from drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another five received emergency care from water-related incidents. A 2014 Red Cross survey found that while 80 percent of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent are self-described swimmers and 33 percent of African American respondents can perform all of the five basic swimming skills that are needed to be competent in the water.

The Campaign: Teaching Children to Swim

All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by the American Red Cross to support the Aquatics Centennial Campaign, a new initiative to cut the drowning rate by 50% in 50 cities in the next 3 to 5 years. For every $10 raised, the organization can help provide a swimming lessons for one child or adult from an at-risk community.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Red Cross’s water safety education program. To celebrate, through its Centennial Campaign, the organization aims to teach 50,000 more people in these cities how to swim and respond to emergency situations. The program targets families in high-risk areas, and includes teaching parents how to perform CPR as well as equipping older teens and young adults with the skills to become lifeguards and swim instructors. People are also encouraged to download the free Red Cross Swim App to track their or their children’s swim progress and learn about water safety with videos and quizzes.

In A Nutshell: 

Donations help prevent drowning accidents during the summer by providing swimming lessons for children in underserved communities

The Fine Print

100% of donations go directly to American Red Cross. Donations are automatically applied. See Grassroots FAQs that apply to this campaign. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.


Download the Red Cross Swim App!


red cross swim app

Learn more about water safety, including simple steps you can take to help ensure the safety of your family in a variety of environments, such as home pools and the ocean.

TEXT ‘SWIM’ to 90999 or download from the Apple App StoreGoogle Play or Amazon Marketplace.


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