Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Connecting With Family: Our Favorite Stories

For many people, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones. The Red Cross recognizes the importance of family, and our programs and services aim to ease the stress, fear and uncertainty people experience when they can't connect with their loved ones during -- or because of -- emergencies.

In honor of family time and the holidays, we'd like to share some of our favorite local stories of families our volunteers have helped to bring together - some are sad circumstances such as the illness or death of a parent, others are joyful reconnections after years apart. 

We hope these stories will inspire #gratitude during this time of thanks-giving, and that you will be moved to share them with others and support our mission.

1. Yowali was reconnected with her family after FOURTEEN years apart with no contact!

2. Marine PFC Garcia stopped by to say thanks after we helped get him home for his grandfather's funeral:

3. This Denver resident received the first communication from her husband in six years after being separated by conflict - it came in the form of a hand-written letter: 

4. Desire was having a tough time. Her husband had just deployed to Korea, they were struggling, and his father died. She turned to the Red Cross to bring her husband home:

5. George Kantor fled his homeland of Hungary as a youth during the anti-Communist revolution. He went home in hopes of reconnecting with his long-lost family, but was unable to reconnect until the Red Cross was contacted.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Colorado Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Story by Leila Roche, American Red Cross

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year. And this year,  Colorado is expecting a wintry mix of weather. So, whether you’re traveling by car, plane or train, we have a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe on your way.

TRAVELING BY CAR | 91 percent of holiday travel is by personal vehicle

  • Winterize your vehicle. Climate change affects your car, too. Make sure it’s ready by ensuring your battery is in good condition, you have the right oil for cold temperatures and more. Read more: DMV
  • Keep your gas tank above half full. When temperatures are extremely cold, condensation can build up in a near-empty gas tank, potentially freezing fuel lines and leaving you stranded. 
  • Know the conditions. Check the weather and roads before leaving has  travel alerts; route information; interactive maps with road conditions, speeds and road work; and cameras of roads. NOAA has nationwide weather information Read more: COTrip and 
  • Take your time. Allow yourself additional time if traveling on Thanksgiving Day due to traffic and weather. 
  • Map your route. Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads, road work and existing accidents. Read more: COTrip 
  • Have an emergency kit handy. Carry an emergency kit that includes an ice scraper/snow brush; cat litter or traction sand; blankets, food and water; flares; first aid kit; extra warm clothing; snow shovel; and alternate traction devices or chains. Red Cross Emergency Preparedness kits are available in the Red Cross Store.
  • Obey the law: Code 15. When Code 15 of the chain law is in effect, all vehicles must have one of the following in order to proceed: 
    • Snow tires with a minimum of 1/8” of tread
    • All weather tires with mud and snow (M/S) mark with 1/8” of tread
    • Four-wheel drive with 1/8” of tread
    • Traction devices (chains, auto-sock, etc.) for two drive tires
    • If Code 15 of the chain law is put into effect, you could face fines as high as $650 if you don’t have the proper equipment. Read more: CDOT
  • Check your tread. Insert a quarter upside down into your tire tread (with George Washington’s head first). If the top of the head is covered by tread, you’re good to go. If the top of his head is visible at any point around the tire (test multiple points), you can’t drive when Code 15 of the chain law is in effect. You also likely need new tires. 
  • Stay informed. Call 511 for traveler information. Or text CDOT to 25827 or search CDOT mobile in your app store to download the app.
  • Move it. Colorado’s “Move It” law requires motorists involved in minor accidents to move your vehicle immediately out of traffic to a safe location: when the vehicle is driveable, when no drugs or alcohol are involved, and when there are no injuries.
  • Bow to the plow. Don’t tailgate snow plows. Avoid driving alongside them – the driver’s view is limited due to the vehicle’s height and length. And never pass them on the right unless you want a window shield full of ice, snow and rock.
  • Stay safe. If you get stuck in the snow or on the side of the road: 
    • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
    • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see.
    •  Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour.
    •  Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
    •   Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
    •   Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.
  • Keep your technology charged. A portable charger for your phone will let you phone for help.
  • Download the Emergency App. If roads are closed it will help you find the nearest Red Cross shelter. Visit 
PLANE, TRAIN, BUS | 9 percent of holiday travel is by commercial vehicle
  •  Keep it on the down low. Don’t post news that you’re out of town, particularly not on social networks that are open to the public. And lower the volume on your telephone ringer; no need to imply you’re away with the chiming of repeated rings.
  •  Protect your identity. Think about how much information a thief would get his hands on if your wallet or purse was stolen. Avoid carrying Social Security cards, birth certificates or passports unless absolutely necessary. 
  • Stay healthy. Flu season started in October. Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes and use them to wash hands or wipe down surfaces and wash hands with soap and water often.
NOAA/NWS forecast for Thanksgiving Day Visit for updates

Couple Recovers From Home Fire with Help From Red Cross

Story and Photo By Thea Skinner, American Red Cross

Tragedy struck again September 11, forever imprinted in the minds of Sabrina Fiorella and Dan Zuckerman. The couple awoke abruptly at 4:30 a.m. to a fire inside the residence on 4th street in Colorado Springs. The fire at the neighbor’s mobile home next door, at the end of the lot, had spread to their mobile home.

In the process of fleeing, their dog Mocha, a Boston terrier, ran back into the mobile home to a kennel. Zuckerman went back into mobile home and brought the dog outside to safety. “When the fire first happened, the smell was bad. I got used to it,” Zuckerman said. “The Red Cross really helped.”

Dan Zuckerman and Sabrina Fiorella discuss the night of
September 11, 2015 when their residence (left) was burned
by a fire that started by the neighboring mobile home (right).
The couple returned to the site to gather salvageable
 items during the recovery process.
The couple in crisis fled to a neighbor’s home with few items in hand. A friend directed Fiorella to the American Red Cross. A disaster action team, on call volunteers, met the couple at a local park and provided funds for a hotel and food, along with clothing vouchers through the Discover Goodwill Emergency Partnership.

By 1 p.m. the couple checked into a hotel and stayed in the hotel for three days. Their  journey toward recovery commenced taking approximately three weeks to gather resources and find a new apartment. The couple temporarily lived at a family member’s mobile home where they arranged with the neighbor for use of nearby electricity. A suitable permanent shelter with running water and electricity became a priority. Fiorella’s fellowship through a local church gathered donations. Red Cross connected her with The George W. Trimble Charity Fund to aid in replacing dentures lost in the fire.

“Be wise with your compassion,” said Fiorella. “Red Cross handled things so well. Dan I both have lost in our life and we learned to start over.”

The combined mutual aid from the Red Cross and community partners of several hundred dollars resulted in paying the deposit and first month’s rent for an apartment. In addition, the Salvation Army of El Paso County delivered household items to the apartment.

The couple had lived at the residence for 13 months with plans to purchase. Unfortunately the mobile home was declared uninhabitable. Fiorella later returned to the mobile home to pluck buds from hibernating flowers in the yard. She will plant the buds at the couple’s present home - A symbol of growth and active recovery.

GET INVOLVED People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved ones from fire or to find out about smoke alarm installation events in their community. They can also help by volunteering their time or making a donation today to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to hurricanes and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Saving Lives in Leadville and Salida

By Bill Fortune

If we all had the choice most of us would prefer to never have to go through a tragedy like losing a loved one. Every day someone in America experiences a home fire and in many cases the fire results in a fatality that could have been avoided if the home had working smoke alarms.
Firefighters install a smoke alarm in a home. Photo courtesy
Catholic Charities of Central Colorado

The American Red Cross is working hard to reduce the number of fatalities that are caused by home fires. On November 7, our teams of Red Cross volunteers and partners under the direction of Dana Goldsmith, the Prepare Colorado Program Development Specialist with the Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado, went to Leadville and Salida to install smoke alarms as part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. In a four hour period, the teams installed 91 smoke alarms. “We hit the ground running along with our partners,” Goldsmith said. “It truly was a team effort to help save lives.”

At the home of Sarah Woodcock in Leadville the installation of smoke alarms was a welcome sight.
Sara Woodcock and her sons talk home fire safety
with fireman  Leo Schmitt. Photo courtesy Catholic
Charities of Central Colorado.
She and her family were in the midst of renovations when she saw a news release from the Red Cross about free smoke alarms. After reading the article in the newspaper she quickly called for an appointment. "It was just something we didn't think of during our renovations," she said. "I am so grateful that the Red Cross provided the smoke alarms and that the fire department came and installed them. I feel better knowing my sons and I will be a little safer."

Woodcock is like so many others that have benefited from the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign that has installed over 100,000 alarms since the program started in 2014.

The Red Cross teamed up with several partner organizations to make that happen:
Red Cross volunteers and partners get last minute
instructions from Dana Goldsmith. Photo courtesy
Catholic Charities of Central Colorado

Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, Leadville Fire Department, Lake County Emergency Management, Leadville First Response,the Holy Family Parish, the Salida Fire Department. City of Salida, and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Red Cross would also like to thank Domino’s Pizza Buena Vista and Moonlight Pizza in Salida for their generous donation and support.