It’s Winter – Travel & Home Safety

Flooding-4-miles-w-of-Ava-at-noon-06-18-2015-Debbie-WrayA week of chaotic weather continued throughout the United States as a storm system that created deadly tornadoes in the Midwest and Southwest pushed north. More than 40 people have died of weather-related causes during the Christmas holidays in the past week.

Video taken from helicopters by local media showed homes in Missouri with water almost to roof level.

Here in California, we have had some rain, but we know the best is yet to come. What El Niño could bring is almost like a ticking bomb.

We celebrate the New Year in the next few days as many parts of the country brace for severe weather.  Please share the following messages Be Safe with the following precautions.

  1. Download the Red Cross free Emergency App (winter storms preparedness module) and the First Aid App (hypothermia preparedness module), or other emergencies, as applicable.
  1. Take the Appropriate Steps to Stay Safe on the Road with these steps:  Highway Safety | Car & Road Travel Safety Tips | American Red Cross

And Most Importantly: Prepare for the Unexpected

  • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.
  • Pack high protein snacks, water, First Aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications and important documents or information you may need.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Find out what disasters may occur in the place where you are traveling, especially if they are disasters you have never experienced before. Find out how you would get information in the event of a disaster (local radio systems, emergency alert systems).
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast for your destination. Travel and weather web sites can help you avoid storms and other regional challenges that could impact your safety.
  • Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank get too low.
  1. Regardless of the severity of a winter storm, you should be prepared in order to remain safe during these events:  Winter Storm Preparedness | Winter Safety Tips | Red Cross

Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Best Wishes to all of you and as always stay safe.

Fire Safety Tip from Tori: Blow Out Candles at Bedtime

I love the holidays! Every night at our house candles glow, the Christmas tree sparkles, and I dream of my first white Christmas. But, a forgotten burning candle can cause a devastating fire. So at bedtime, my mom and I make sure every candle is out. Because even though candles are beautiful,  they can also be dangerous.

Candle fires are four times as likely to occur during the winter holidays. Make sure no candles are burning when you go to bed.

Be safe this holiday season.


From our family to yours

With the holidays just around the corner, I want to take a moment to celebrate you.
Because of you, we helped more than 93,000 families this year in the wake of home fires and ther emergencies.

Disaster response

Because of you, we served more than 893,000 meals and snacks in the U.S.

Meals and snack

Because of you, we installed more than 125,700 smoke alarms through our home fire campaign.hfpc1

Because of you, the Red Cross is always ready to respond to disasters big and small with care and comfort for those who need it most. See how people like YOU helped make a difference in this video of Red Cross disaster response efforts in 2015.


I’m so grateful to count you as one of our dedicated supporters. Without you, our work would simply not be possible.

Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season, from the staff and volunteers at the American Red Cross Gold Country Region. 


Red Cross Responded to 176 Large U.S. Disasters in 2015

At home and around the world, the Red Cross reached out to help those in need.

Friday, December 18, 2015 (Sacramento, CA) — In an unusually busy year, the American Red Cross helped hundreds of thousands of people impacted by disasters in 2015, both here at home and around the globe. Red Cross disaster workers responded to 176 large U.S. disasters – more than each of the past three years.

The cost of just the four largest of these disasters is more than $30 million – this includes flooding in Texas and South Carolina, wildfires in California and Typhoon Soudelor, which battered the island of Saipan in August; (Saipan is part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific).

Here in the Gold Country Region, the Red Cross launched relief operations after more than eleven major wildfires stuck our region including the Hayfork Complex fires, the Wragg fire, Rocky fire, Lowell fire and of course the Butte and Valley fires which are considered the top ten most destructive wildfires in state’s history. Volunteers from across the country deployed to the area and helped to provide emergency essentials such as food, shelter, health services and emotional support for hundreds of people who lost everything.

“These disaster affected many people’s lives here in the Gold Country Region,” said Robin Friedman, Regional Disaster Manager. “Red Cross workers from both here at home and across the country worked tirelessly to make sure people had a safe place to stay, food to eat, and help planning their next steps.”

131003-Year-End-Graphics_1024x512_FINAL-USAcross the country, the Red Cross provided more than 34,000 overnight shelter stays to people forced from their homes because of disasters, served more than 1.1 million meals and snacks and distributed more than 800,000 relief items this year (as of December 8). Red Cross caseworkers provided recovery support to more than 19,000 households, and health and mental health workers provided more than 65,000 consultations after disasters.

As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross also worked alongside other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to support families in Nepal after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake there in April. Across the world, the Red Cross continues  to address the needs of displaced families from Burundi, people facing food insecurity in Senegal, and is assisting with the ongoing migration crisis in Europe.

Flooding, Wildfires Devastated Communities Across U.S.

In May and June, the Red Cross responded across multiple states to help people impacted by flooding and wildfires. Residents of Texas, Alaska, California, Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma and Illinois turned to the Red Cross for help. In July and August, the Red Cross responded as raging wildfires burned out of control in Washington and California. In September, Red Cross workers helped after several massive fires in California destroyed hundreds of homes, forcing thousands of people to evacuate. As the Red Cross continued to assist people in California, catastrophic flooding hit South Carolina in early October and again, hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers responded. Then in early November, Texas was hit by a second round of relentless storms and floods just months after flash flooding wreaked havoc on much of the state in May. The Red Cross opened numerous shelters, provided food, health and mental health services and helped people plan their next steps.

Home Fires Continued to be Largest U.S. Disaster Threat

Amidst all of these devastating events, home fires continued to be the largest disaster threat in the United States. During 2015, the Red Cross provided casework assistance to help 214,000 people whose lives were affected by a home fire. The Red Cross also helped prevent home fires and related injuries and deaths by working with thousands of local partners across the country to install 195,000 smoke alarms and teach 268,000 youth about fire safety.

Here in the Gold Country Region, the Red Cross responded to 439 home fires, and installed 1,684 smoke alarms with the help of community partners.

131003-Year-End-Graphics_1024x512_FINAL-GLOBALNepal Earthquake and Migration Crisis
In late April, a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, causing significant destruction and loss of life. Working with Red Cross and Red Crescent societies from 33 countries, the American Red Cross helped provide 4.6 million liters of clean water and 70,000 cash grants to support 350,000 people. Cash grants empower families to buy the items they deem most urgent in their time of greatest need.

Currently, families are searching for safety across the Middle East and Europe and the global Red Cross network is providing vital humanitarian assistance to those in need. More than 49,000 Red Cross volunteers are helping tens of thousands of migrants and refugees in 28 countries throughout Europe, providing help such as food, water, healthcare, hygiene kits, baby supplies, clothing and first aid kits.. The American Red Cross deployed eight disaster specialists to support the effort, along with 10,000 cots to help families in Germany.

HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to assist people affected by disasters. If you would like to help, please consider making a donation today by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

Fire Safety Tip from Tori in Twain Harte, CA: Keep an Eye on What’s Cookin’

It’s the holidays and for my family that means lots of time in the kitchen making big dinners and baking lots of pies!

Remember, when you’re cooking, check your food regularly, use a timer, and stay close to the kitchen. Don’t let that great food burn, or worse, start a fire in your home.

Did you know that about 40% of home fires start in the kitchen?

Keep an eye on what’s cookin’ in your kitchen. Be safe this holiday season!

Learn more about fire safety at the Red Cross website: Prevent Home Fires.

Water Your Christmas Tree Every Day!

Here’s an important fire safety tip from Tori in Twain Harte, CA:

Water your Christmas tree every day! A dry tree is dangerous because it can catch on fire easily.
Check out more important tips on the Red Cross website:
Seven Fire Safety Tips for Holiday Decorating and Entertaining.


Today only – Gifts matched!


Dearest Supporters,

Today is your chance to DOUBLE the difference you can make to help save a life, and to be there when a family has nowhere else to turn.

We’re thrilled to announce a special limited-time offer. Thanks to a generous $50,000 gift from a donor in Cincinnati, every donation made to the Red Cross by midnight will be MATCHED dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000! Please renew your support now and your lifesaving gift will go twice as far >>

It’s not just about this one special day. It’s about people who live just down the street from you and others you might never meet. Distraught families, injured service members and children in need of help from the Red Cross. These are the kinds of people you’ll help with just one gift to the Red Cross.

Thanks to this generous matching gift offer, this is your chance to DOUBLE the difference you can make to help save a life and to be there when a family has nowhere else to turn.

Help make a difference in someone’s life today. Please renew your support BY MIDNIGHT – and your gift today will be MATCHED dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000!


A Day in the Life of a Disaster Action Team Member

Heath Wakelee

At 12:30 am early Wednesday  morning the phone rang and the cheerful but very dreary voice of Debbie Calcote was saying hello.  I recognized her voice immediately and knew that Debbie would only be calling me if she had exhausted all other options.  Sure nuff – that was the case.

OK I said, I’ll go to Woodland…..Woodland??  Michael Reeves from Sacramento was my partner and he arrived about 1:05 am, 10 minutes before me.  He had called me and said that the location had no fire equipment and no clients.  “Holed on” I said, I’ll be there in 10 minutes and I was.

The street was wet and outside both the front and back doors there was evidence of burned debris being thrown out.  The smell of smoke was fresh but no clients and no fire department… I called Debbie.  No contact info for the clients who said that they would stick around and wait for us.  Which they did not.

Fortunately (use of that word is debatable) for Debbie – she had just received another request for a DAT response to Knights Landing.  “Where is Knights Landing” I said and Debbie said “I don’t know.”  Great…I’m thinking it is down in the delta somewhere… I punched the address into my navigation system and fortunately it said that the address was only 20 minutes away.  It was now about 1:30 am when Michael and I headed to Knights Landing.

We arrived at about 2:00 am to find a single woman standing near her burned out mobile home.  Temperature about 35°F.  Luckily the trailer park manager allowed us to use her tiny office to do the paperwork.  Our client’s  options were few so we helped her with lodging, food and clothing, comfort kit and well wishes.  We do not carry street sheets for every county nor lists of hotels and perhaps we can put that on the web somewhere so it would be accessible to anyone in need (or perhaps it is already available and I just don’t have the info).

We departed at 3:00 am and I was home at 4:00 am to enter the paperwork and hit the sack by 5:00 am this morning.  Sleep was compromised because the house was very, very cold – turns out the heating system went out and the temperature outside was a cool 34°F.  Fortunately is was only in the low 60s inside.  Long story short – heater repair is now scheduled for tomorrow – Thursday.  Burrrr.

Very glad that we were able to help the one client.  Hopefully She is sleeping somewhere warm tonight.   Our electric blankets will be on high.

My very best to all …. and to all a good night.

Keep Candles Away from Pets and Kids!

Hey, I’m Marigold, but everyone calls me Mari. I know, I look sweet.

But I could start a home fire with my tail. Yup, I could knock a lit candle over and that could do it. So please, keep candles away from me—and all my dog, cat, and little human friends.

We’ll love you more if you do!

Let’s be safe this holiday season!


Red Cross Streamlines Disaster Financial Help Process

m55340101_DisasterCaseworkGraphicWhen disaster strikes, people see their world change in an instant. Whether the emergency situation is a fire in someone’s home or a flood impacting an entire community, the people affected have the same questions.


  • We can’t live in our home. Where will we stay?
  • How will we eat?
  • Our clothes are gone. What will we wear?


Those affected need answers quickly, and the American Red Cross is there.

Every eight minutes in this country, the Red Cross responds to a disaster, providing food, shelter and comfort. In some situations, we also provide direct financial support to people who need food, clothing, or help in securing a place to stay. The Red Cross is there to meet emergency needs for people who may not have anywhere else to turn for help.

To improve Red Cross services and efficiency, the qualifications and process for people receiving disaster financial assistance were recently simplified to center around three core questions – is the family home livable, is there a place for them to stay, and how many people are included in the family.

In as little as 30 minutes, a Red Cross caseworker can determine a family’s needs and provide them with a prepaid card that can be used at all merchants that accept MasterCard. The new system has several benefits for those needing help and is more effective in ensuring a family’s safety and comfort in the immediate hours following a disaster such as a home fire; whereas the previous system involved more questions from caseworkers, more paperwork and assistance only for specific categories.

“After someone experiences a house fire, the last thing they need to do is fill out a lot of forms and answer dozens of questions,” said Corey Eide, director, Disaster Recovery for the Red Cross. “These recent improvements enable our volunteers to quickly identify a family’s needs and provide a meaningful amount of assistance. People can use this assistance to buy food for their children or get a couple of nights stay in a hotel while they figure out what’s next. And they can be confident that a caseworker will follow up with them in 72 hours to see how they’re doing and offer local partner and government referrals.”

Another benefit of the redesigned program is consistency. The current system ensures people receive assistance on a prepaid MasterCard, where previously some of the assistance was provided on vouchers that could only be used at a select number of merchants. The new program ensures that the people who turn to the Red Cross for help receive consistent and standard help for similar events regardless of where they live.


In addition to responding to numerous home fires in 2015, Red Cross disaster workers answered the call to help during more than 170 larger disaster operations across the country.

During 2015, Red Crossers have provided casework support to more than 278,000 people, and given financial assistance to more than 81,000 households (data as of December 1st).

On average, the Red Cross standard program provides about $600 per family. This financial assistance can help with food, shelter, clothing, health services, repairs to their home or repairing or replacing appliances.

For example, this assistance could include $50 per person if they can return home within a day or two; $125 per person if they cannot go home or there will be a significant delay; lodging assistance appropriate to the local market rate; up to $500 per person for health and mental health assistance, and as much as $300 to meet additional recovery needs when there is a significant gap in recovery. In extreme cases, the Red Cross can provide further financial assistance.

Red Cross caseworkers also provide one-on-one support for the disaster victim, refer them to other community partners who can help, help them plan their recovery and advocate for them with an insurance company.

For more information on Red Cross disaster relief and the help provided to hundreds of thousands of people every year, visit

Footnote: During fiscal year 2015 (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015) the Red Cross opened approximately 76,300 cases providing financial assistance to households effected by local disasters, the vast majority of these were home fires.