Thursday, January 28, 2016

Helping his Home

Just a few months ago, South Carolina was in a state of emergency when historic flooding affected thousands of families across the state. During the first few days of the storm, as the Red Cross was sheltering those who were evacuated from the rising waters, Rhett Reeves knew that he wanted to help. Although not personally impacted by the flooding, he saw fellow South Carolinians in need of shelter, food, and water being helped by the Red Cross. Reeves, the owner of RJR Enterprises, a marketing, design and consulting company, decided to take action.  

Reeves worked with the American Red Cross to launch the "South Carolina Home" campaign where he designed and sold t-shirts with an image of South Carolina and the word, “home.” 

“People that were not in trouble with the flood wanted to help, and buying a shirt was a simple way to do that,” says Reeves.   

The “South Carolina Home” campaign was a huge success. Over 6,800 shirts were sold raising more than $100,000 for the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. 

Reeves credits social media sharing for the publicity. “Sharing a post on social media makes such a huge difference,” says Reeves, “and because of that, the South Carolina Home campaign went viral.”  

Reeves is continuing his support of the Red Cross, launching campaigns for the recent flooding in Missouri and tornadoes in Texas. His shirts are available at

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Red Cross Issues Emergency Need for Blood Donors

While thousands of people from across the country have responded to the call for blood and platelet donations issued by the American Red Cross earlier this month, recent severe winter weather has further impacted donations, creating an emergency need.

Your help is needed now! Blood products are currently being distributed to hospitals as quickly as donations are coming in to the Red Cross. Donors of all types are needed.

If you live in an area unaffected by recent winter weather or if conditions allow for safe travel, you are urged to make an appointment to help restock the shelves. The Red Cross must collect approximately 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.

Please make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Red Cross Gets Ready as Winter Storm Threatens; Urges People to Prepare for Severe Winter Weather

Download free Red Cross Emergency App for winter weather alerts, warnings

The American Red Cross is preparing to respond in South Carolina, as well as along the entire East Coast, as a massive winter storm threatens.

In South Carolina, the Red Cross is on alert, carefully monitoring weather forecasts, and coordinating closely with local and state partners. Red Cross volunteers, relief supplies, emergency vehicles and shelters are always ready to provide help when needed. The winter storm is expected to bring snow and ice to parts of the state and possible power outages. The Red Cross has safety steps people should follow during this massive storm which will affect people through the weekend.

“This storm has the potential to cause power outages, unsafe driving conditions and home fires. We encourage everyone to take precautions now and stay informed on the changing conditions,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross in South Carolina.

GET PREPARED NOW Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for winter weather alerts and warnings. The app’s Winter Storm section contains expert advice for what to do before, during and after winter storms. Get an emergency kit ready now - details about what should be included are on the Red Cross web site.

DRIVING If possible, avoid driving in this storm. If someone has to drive, they should have a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case their vehicle gets stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk. Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help see. Full details are available here.

POWER OUTAGE In the event of a power outage, please take the following precautions:
·         Use flashlights, not candles.
·         To avoid an electrical surge, when power returns, turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics
·         Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible
·         Report downed power lines to your electric company and keep children and pets away from the area
·         Don’t use generator indoors or in other enclosed areas such as garages or basements
·         Place generators away from doors, windows and vents
·         Connect appliances directly to outlets on the generator – not your home’s electrical system

HOME FIRE DANGER Storms like this can result in a high number of home fires.
·      People should never use a stove or oven to heat their home. If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs
·      Place space heaters on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.

WINTER WEATHER AFFECTS BLOOD AND PLATELET DONATIONS The Red Cross has an emergency need for blood and platelet donors. Since January 1, more than 60 blood drives in a dozen states were cancelled because of inclement weather, resulting in more than 2,300 uncollected blood and platelet donations. With the approaching winter storm predicted to affect multiple states along the East Coast, more blood drives will likely be cancelled.

Despite the weather, hospital patients across the country still need blood. Eligible blood and platelet donors who live in areas where it is safe to travel are encouraged to make an appointment to give now, and those in areas affected by severe weather are asked to make and keep appointments when it is safe to do so. To make an appointment to donate, download the Blood Donor App, visit or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Full details on how to stay safe are available in the Red Cross Winter Storm preparedness section of

HOW TO HELP You can help people affected by disasters like winter storms or countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Donate by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Follow @RedCrossSC on Twitter and Instagram for the latest information from the Red Cross in South Carolina. 

Winter Weather Looms—Red Cross Safety Tips for Staying Safe & Warm

American Red Cross encourages cold weather safety and smoke alarm testing

As parts of South Carolina are preparing for their first potential winter weather of the year, the American Red Cross is stressing winter weather and home fire safety.

“Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths, and the risk of home fires increases in colder weather,” said Ann Wright, executive director, American Red Cross of Upstate SC. “With the onset of winter in the Upstate, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant when it comes to personal safety and staying warm this winter.” 

Safely Heat Your Home

Here are six ways you can stay safe from home fires during this winter season:

·          Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
·          Test the batteries in your smoke alarms once a month, and change them if they’re not working.
·          Create an escape plan that includes two exits from each room and practice it until everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes.
·          Follow the three feet rule and keep children, pets and flammable items at least three feet from heating equipment. Turn off portable space heaters when you leave the room and when you go to sleep.
·          Use gas wisely and never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home. Four percent of Americans admit to having used a gas stove to heat their home.
·          Use flashlights, not candles because battery-operated flashlights or lanterns are safer than candles during power outages

Protect Yourself from Freezing Temperatures

Avoid unnecessary exposure to the cold. Be aware of both the temperature and the wind chill when planning outdoor activities. When you prepare to go outside in severe cold weather, please remember the following:
  • Wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears, as most heat is lost through your head
  • Dress in layers to help retain heat; remove layers as needed if you become too warm.
  • Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to help avoid hypothermia or frostbite by keeping your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.
  • Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia that can be a serious medical condition: confusion, dizziness, exhaustion, and severe shivering. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
  • Recognize frostbite warning signs: gray, white or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, waxy feeling skin. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
  • Create a disaster supplies kit — Get together lifesaving items in both your home and vehicle. Visit for more information on disaster preparedness.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Many homeowners may not be ready for frigid weather either. Now is the time to protect your house pipes from freezing and bursting. With the cold weather upon us, preventive action may make all the difference.
  • Let the cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes or pipes in exterior walls. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage or in walls adjacent to the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
  • More information on preventing and thawing frozen pipes is available here.

Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.

Visit for more information on preparing for cold weather.

For more information about home fire preparedness, to become a Red Cross volunteer, or to make a financial contribution to Red Cross, call 864-271-8222 or visit  

Monday, January 18, 2016

Behind the Scenes of a Smoke Alarm Blitz

Photos and story by Julie Chapman

The early morning sun began to warm the air on this cold Saturday in January. Groups of Goose Creek Rural Fire department (GCRFD) personnel, seamen from the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC), and volunteers from Red Cross canvased the area of Beverly Hills, checking smoke detectors, changing batteries and placing detectors where there were none. Teams of four were created to include two installers, a recorder, and an educator.  Fire prevention was an important aspect of the education; encouraging the residents to develop an escape plan and a meeting place once they got out of the house. The recorder gathered information that could be vital for the fire department if they had to respond to a fire at the residence.

In one group, there were two fire personnel, Matt Stephen, an experienced part-timer with the GCRFD who also worked for the city of North Charleston and the other, Kendall Whitfield, an enthusiastic recent high school graduate from Dallas, Texas, who had worked for Goose Creek and North Charleston fire departments for over a year.  The two Red Cross volunteers were John McCombs, a seasoned volunteer, who had organized the event, and a College of Charleston junior, Maggie Panetta, who is interning with the Red Cross for a semester.

Knocking on doors, sometimes this group of four was greeted with enthusiasm and gratefulness, other times, the door remained closed with no answer. The residents had been notified the day before with a door hanger of the upcoming Smoke Detector Blitz. When the door opened, this group of two men and two women, would check present detectors and recommend if additional were needed. Residents who expressed concern about the cost were assured that the service was free, funded by the Red Cross’s National Drive to place detectors in homes throughout the United States. The fire department also supplied smoke detectors. 

For the houses where the residents did not answer, a door hanger with the fire department’s phone number was hung so they could follow up later with a request to place a smoke detector.

One former military veteran, who had repeatedly, over a three year period, asked his landlord to place detectors in the house, was grateful when the team placed two detectors, one in the hallway leading to the bedrooms and the other in one of the bedrooms. The other bedrooms were occupied so the GCRFD’s phone number was given in case they wanted to add additional detectors later.

Another home had only one detector, so several more were added. The room above the garage, which sometimes housed a younger family member was also recommended for a detector placement. The resident asked about carbon monoxide detectors. A fire personal determined that the house did not have any gas appliances so this type of detector was not needed. The resident was happy to understand what the carbon monoxide detector was testing for and that her house did not need one.

Maggie, the C of C intern remarked as they left one of the homes, “I need to call my mother and make sure my grandmother’s house has smoke alarms.” Thinking about escape routes and meeting places, each of the group made a mental note to review their home later. Kendall and Maggie bonded during their time together, exchanging phone numbers at the end. A special friendship was beginning.

Many streets over, Navy seamen with their crew cuts and Navy sweatshirts, were volunteering for the first time. Their commander had recommended this event and 14 men came out to help the community.

When everyone who had participated gathered back at the Goose Creek Rural Fire Department, two of the seamen showed detectors they had discovered in one house. One of the detectors had a bell that rang when the temperature reached over 170 degrees. It was not a smoke detector, but a fire detector and had been popular in the 50s. The resident gladly exchanged the detectors for the modern, more reliable ones that were made to last ten years without needing to change batteries. Checking the detectors monthly by pushing the button to make sure it was still operating was the only recommendation.

On January 16, 2016, 314 doors were knocked on, 104 smoke alarms were installed, and 41 batteries were replaced. As cars left the fire station, these volunteers felt camaraderie and goodwill as they reflected on the lives they had touched that day, and how their own lives had been expanded. It had been a good day.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Red Cross Issues Urgent Call for Blood and Platelet Donations

The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donations to help prevent a shortage of blood products this January. Hectic holiday schedules in November and December contributed to about 1,700 fewer blood drives held, and 50,000 less donations collected, than the two previous months. 

Blood and platelet donors of all types in South Carolina are needed to reverse the declining supply and help ensure blood products continue to be available. A shortage can be averted if at least two more donors – above what’s currently expected – come to donate at every Red Cross blood drive in January.

On average, the Red Cross must collect 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for patients at about 2,600 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Blood and platelets are often needed to respond to emergencies large and small, including the personal ones that occur in communities across the country every day involving accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

Eligible blood donors with types O, B negative and A negative blood are encouraged to donate double red cells where available. During a double red cell donation, two units of red blood cells are collected while most of the plasma and platelets are returned to the donor.

Make an appointment now to help replenish the blood supply by downloading the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Giving Back in the New Year

Volunteer with the Red Cross and bring care, comfort and hope to your community

Every day, around the clock, Red Cross volunteers help families affected by disasters down the street, across the country, and around the globe. For people resolving to give back to their community in the New Year, the Red Cross has opportunities for you to help your friends and neighbors when it is needed most. 

The American Red Cross is inviting the community to attend a short “Introduction to Your Local Red Cross” orientation to learn about opportunities to help their friends and neighbors in disaster preparation, response, and recovery in South Carolina.

In 2015, the Red Cross assisted more than 12,000 people after disasters in South Carolina, primarily home fires and flooding, helping families with their immediate needs, such as temporary lodging, food, and clothing.

“We are able to quickly respond to home fires and help a family back on its feet simply because of the power of our everyday heroes—our volunteers." said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross in South Carolina.

The Red Cross is especially in need of volunteers that can be trained to be part of the Disaster Action Team to help families after disasters, such as home fires.  These volunteers respond to the scene of disasters and help provide resources, referrals to further assistance, and emotional support to those affected, ensuring they have food, shelter, and a sense of hope. 

“Red Cross volunteers are essential to being able to help our community,” explained Welch Williams. “Each volunteer has something to offer, and without volunteers, the Red Cross wouldn't be the strong organization that it is today.” 

Volunteers make up more than 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce. These volunteers represent a variety of backgrounds and receive free training. Volunteers with the Red Cross can set flexible schedules in volunteer positions that appeal to their specific skills or interests

VOLUNTEERING WITH THE RED CROSS Those interested in volunteering should visit to start their volunteer application and register to attend one of the upcoming “Introduction to Your Local Red Cross” classes.