Release: National 9.14.08

RED CROSS URGES SAFETY IN WAKE OF HURRICANE IKE

Sheltering and relief efforts underway in affected areas

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2008 – One day after Hurricane Ike crashed into the Texas coast as a Category 2 hurricane, the American Red Cross is providing shelter, food and emotional support to the tens of thousands of residents affected by the powerful storm. Although it has weakened in strength, the storm is still delivering tropical storm rain and high winds throughout Arkansas as it heads toward the Midwest.

With more than 150 shelters opened across the affected areas, in coordination with their partners, the Red Cross has helped nearly 20,000 residents find a safe place to wait out the storm but also the subsequent flooding that is occurring.

Many areas are open only to emergency responders, but once officials determine it is safe to enter storm ravaged areas, the Red Cross will work with partners to establish more than 25 kitchens that are capable of producing up to 500,000 meals per day. In those areas where residents are allowed to return home, safety is a primary concern. The American Red Cross encourages residents to follow all public safety and law enforcement directives.

Tips for post-hurricane safety:

  • Listen to the authorities – A battery-operated radio will help you stay on top of the local situation. Broadcasts will carry important news from public officials and utilities.
  • Take basic supplies – You are likely to need a flashlight (no candles!), trash bags, gloves and cleaning supplies. Don’t expect to find stores stocked with these essentials, so bring them with you. You may need cash for unexpected expenses, so be prepared.
  • Perimeter check – Check the home by walking around outside before entering. Look for loose power lines or gas leaks from the outside first and report them. If there are cracks around the foundation, contact a home construction professional to inspect the home.
  • As you enter a home, check for sagging ceilings, weak floors and other structural damage.
  • Air out – Open windows and doors to air out a home for at least 30 minutes before entering. Mold, which grows quickly after flooding, often smells musty or has a stench. If inhaled, mold can cause an asthma attack, stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing or skin irritation. Flood waters can also carry contaminants which decay and release odors.
  • Check for gas – Use a flashlight. Do not use an open flame, candles or lighter. If you smell gas, leave the building immediately and call the fire department or utility company.
  • Electricity – Turn off the power or circuit breaker with a dry stick to prevent shock while inspecting for damage. Wait until appliances are thoroughly dry before turning them on.
  • Sewer and water – If sewers have overflowed or water supplies have been contaminated, do not run water faucets or flush toilets. Assume that anything touched by floodwaters is contaminated. Wear gloves and wash hands or use antiseptic gel frequently. Disinfect everything floodwaters have touched.

For those directly affected by the disaster, registering on the Safe and Well Web site allows them to let loved ones to know that they are safe. The site is accessible at http://www.redcross.org. If internet access is not possible, they can call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register and follow the prompts for disaster information.

As the Red Cross continues helping individuals and families battered by the 2008 storms and hurricanes, a national fundraising campaign has been launched to raise an initial $100 million to fill a Disaster Relief Fund depleted after an active year of disasters. The Disaster Relief Fund allows the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance to help victims of disasters meet their immediate needs for food, shelter, counseling and other critical services.

You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Hurricanes of 2008, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. You can log-on to http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) to make a donation. You can also use your cell phone to donate $5 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by text messaging the keyword “GIVE” to “2HELP” (24357). You can send multiple donations depending on your carrier. Contributions will appear on monthly bills or be debited from a prepaid account balance. All applicable text rates apply.

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