Staying safe in our bitter Wisconsin winters

Courtney McIntosh, Communications Intern

Frigid air is predicted for Wisconsin, are you ready for the long battle against the cold?

Here are nine ways to stay safe during the harsh Wisconsin winters:

  1. As my mother always told me: You can always take a layer off but once you’re gone, you’re outta luck! Pile on those extra layers of clothing to help maintain body heat.
  2. Know the signs of hypothermia – confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. If someone has these symptoms, they should get immediate medical attention.
  3. Symptoms of frostbite include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness or waxy feeling skin. Gloves keep fingers from the harsh, bitter winds as hats protect our ears.
  4. Keep your fur babies inside as much as possible. If your dogs cannot be kept inside, make sure they have a safe, dry environment that provides shelter from the wind and snow. A source of unfrozen water is also very important to maintain for pets that stay outside.
  5. Frozen pipes are a reality for many of us. Avoid this nuisance by letting a trickle of water run through the pipes. Maintaining the thermostat throughout the day and night also helps to prevent pipes from freezing.
  6. Its an old-school remedy, but using an oven to warm the home is unsafe – especially when children and pets are around.
  7. Space heaters are a great way to heat an area of the home that is less than comfortable, not to mention they are more cost-friendly for those on a budget. Just make sure to keep these heaters on a flat, leveled surface and away from anything flammable.
  8. A roaring fire during the winter is amazing, but those flying sparks and occasional rolling log pose dangers for those enjoying the warmth. Use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch such hazards
  9. As I’ve mentioned, those space heaters and fires are amazing but they pose possible dangers. Make sure to turn off space heaters and that all embers are out before calling it a night.


Winter is pretty darn long here in Wisconsin; Keep yourself and your family safe by following these few tips so that time is spent making snowmen and having snowball fights rather than dealing with the less enjoyable (such as frostbiten toes)!!



Be prepared for the unexpected! Download the Red Cross First Aid App for all your weather related emergencies


Originally posted on American Red Cross Northeast Wisconsin:


On Tuesday, December 2, a national day of giving – #GivingTuesday– will kick off the holiday season.  In the same way that retail stores take part in Black Friday, #GivingTuesday celebrates and encourages businesses, individuals and families to support charitable activities.

At the American Red Cross, we will celebrate #GivingTuesday within the umbrella of our annual Holiday Campaign.  Now in its sixth year, our campaign taps people’s desire to Give Something that Means Something, inspiring acts of goodness and emphasizing that the holidays are about giving back.

By partnering with the Red Cross on #GivingTuesday and beyond, you can help make the holidays more meaningful. 

Click HERE to see how you can make a difference!


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Getting to the Turkey

Megan Ball, Communications Intern

Turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and apple pie:  all parts of Thanksgiving Dinner that many of us look forward to.   Are you cooking?  Make sure you practice safe cooking skills!  Maybe you are driving to dinner, to sit around the table with your family.  Be sure to get you and your family to the turkey safely, by following these safe-driving tips!



  • Buckle up! Your first step to safety.
  • Obey speed limits. It seems winter may have joined us early this year. Follow speed limits and proceed with caution. Ice often develops on bridges first. Slow and steady wins the race.
  • Proceed with caution in construction zones! (We know- there are quite a few of them!)
  • Deer Crossing! When there is one deer, there may be another. Keep an eye out for deer and other animals who may hop onto the road. Your passenger can help keep an eye on this as well!
  • If you are traveling for the weekend, pack the car smart. Ensure that you can still see out of all windows.
  • Pay attention. Keep cell phones put away and have your passenger help navigate! Plan some games for the kids or pack their favorite toys.
  • Before you head on your way, clean the windows and lights to help the drivers view. Turn car lights on when dusk hits!
  • Lastly, don’t drink and drive. Designate a driver or crash on your family member’s couch. Keep you, your family, and the rest of the drivers safe!

Family get-togethers are a great time for laughs, hugs, and fun.  Be sure to follow driving safety tips so you reach your destination safely and quickly so the relaxation and celebration can begin!



Cooking Safety

Courtney McIntosh, Communications Intern

Did you know cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and related injuries? Many of these fires start in the kitchen and can be prevented. With the upcoming holiday festivities, it is important to be mindful of possible hazards while creating those delicious meals!

Friendly reminders to keep in mind while cooking for the holidays

  • Do not leave the kitchen while food is being prepared and/or cooking
  • Move items that can burn away from the stove such as dishtowels, bags and boxes
  • Keep children away from stoves
    • children should stay at least 3 feet away from an active stove or oven
  • Keep the kitchen floor clean of clutter, this includes children, toys and pets that may pose a tripping hazard
  • Turn pot handles towards the back of the stoves to prevent stoves
  • Keep knives out of reach from children
  • Make sure to keep electrical cords from appliances from dangling over counter tops in reach of little hands that like to grab and pull
  • Unplug appliances such as a mixer, hot plate or blender after usage
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of reach of children
  • Never leave children unattended in a kitchen
  • Make sure smoke detectors are in good working order
    • they can be tested by pressing the test button located on them

If a cooking fire occurs within a pan, do not attempt to move pan. Slide a pan lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to eliminate oxygen from fueling the fire. With the oxygen depleted, the fire should go out. Turn off the heat to the stove. Keep the lid on the pan until the pan is cool. NEVER attempt to stop a grease fire with water – water will fuel and spread this type of fire.

Make sure to have an all purpose fire

extinguisher within reach during cooking. 

fire extinguisher

If something catches on fire in the oven, keep the door closed. Call 9-1-1 so that trained professionals can deal with and prevent the fire from spreading.

If the fire occurs in the microwave, keep the door closed and unplug the microwave. Do not use again until a repairman can assess the microwave.

It the kitchen catches fire, make sure everyone gets out and call 9-1-1 when safely outside. NEVER go back into a burning building.



Two Minutes

62% of people believe they have at least five minutes to escape a home fire.  In fact- that is over twice as long as you and your family may have!  Fire experts have agreed- some people have as little as TWO minutes to escape a burning building.

The facts are scary!  But knowing the facts, having a plan, and ensuring you and your family have the right plans in place, can prepare you to survive the biggest disaster threat to American Families.



What do you need to do?

  • Have a plan and practice it!  Everyone in your family needs to know and understand the plan.  82% of families report they have not practiced a home fire drill.  Have you?
  • Check your smoke alarms regularly.  Daylight savings occurs twice a year!  The perfect reminder- change your clocks and check your alarms.
  • Know the fire risks!  Cooking is the number one cause of home fires, but there are many safety tips on candles, heaters, and much more!
  • Stick to your plan!  Every room needs two exits, you should check your smoke alarms regularly, and practice your escape routes twice a year.  Time yourselves.  Remember, you want to be out in two minutes or less!

Two minutes- the time it takes to make popcorn, to water the plants, to respond to an email, to make a pot of coffee- the time you have to get out.

Stroke of Time- A Life Saving Visit

Even from a deathbed, a mother can save a child. This was the case for Neil Starke, serving in the US Coast Guard during WWII. Thanks to the American Red Cross Services to Armed Forces program he was able to share her last breaths, a visit which also saved his own life.

rco_blog_img_Patty and Neil

Happy Veteran’s Day to all who served & especially Neil Starke shown here with Patty Flowers.


In the heart of WWII, the USS El Paso was situated at 114° North & 120° East. From these decks air & sea rescues off the Philippines coasts were conducted. It was in the heart of the fighting, he received a cablegram from the Red Cross which explained his father had fallen while riding a bus, with trauma to his head, he was sent to a mental institution. Meanwhile, in another hospital, his dying mother yearned to see her son one last time. His superior officers granted permission for a 38-day leave of absence. It was this stroke of timing that saved his life.

Neil was taken off one ship, sailed to land on another and then boarded a military plane to fly back to the states. Altogether, the journey took two weeks. While at his mother’s bedside, he shared stories, a smile, and the unmistakable touch of a mother’s hand until her passing. Even today, when sharing his story, he remains visibly shaken.

Now with tears in his eyes, it was time to return to duty. “It was the first time I heard my father’s voice falter when saying good-bye.” Neil explains. By military plane, he flew back to the base and was ready to rejoin his ship. He waited a week, then two.  He was eager to join his team. “It was ironic and a blessing, I was pulled off that ship as it was declared lost in the Yellow Sea Typhoon. While I never saw any man I served with again; the vessel was found two-weeks later. The boilers had been destroyed, so it must have been tossing around like a toy in a washing machine,” Neil concluded.

A short-time thereafter, an international peace agreement was signed. The war was over. “Until that cable gram, I had been mad at the Red Cross about $.15 lemonade that tasted awful. Then I learned the greater meaning of their work. It allowed me to be with my mother in those final days and it also saved my life.”

The Service to the Armed Forces division of the American Red Cross helps our military members and their families across the world with one primary function being Emergency Communications. If family needs to get in touch with a service member while they are on active duty, they can call the Red Cross Emergency Communication line for the military at 877-272-7337. The Red Cross will get family in touch, and provide vital verification services so that commanding officers can make informed decisions about emergency leave. The Red Cross is the only organization entrusted with this responsibility because of our longstanding history with the military, as well as our Fundamental Principles of Neutrality and Impartiality.


Brrrrr…It’s Time to Prepare For Those Winter Blues!

A few weeks ago, we had the awesome opportunity to be a part of a winter weather preparedness kit build at Mayfair Mall. The event was hosted by the Allstate Foundation and Points of Light to raise awareness about preparing for disasters. At the end of the day, volunteers had given out 500 preparedness kits and great advice!

If you haven’t taken a pause to check your kit this new season, here are a few items you should have:


It’s also important to prepare your vehicle with items like gloves, boots, an ice scraper, a shovel and an emergency blanket should you get stuck in a blizzard! You can learn even more about Winter Weather Preparedness here!


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