Flu season is among us and has hit full force this season. The flu virus is always changing, but that doesn’t mean your healthy habits should be. Several people are affected every year due to the flu, but there are simple ways to prevent it from spreading and keep yourself from getting sick.
Hard to do if you’re a people person, but keep your distance from those around you that are sick.
Wash your hands! Germs are everywhere and in almost everything we touch. Keeping hand sanitizer and wipes are also super helpful for on the go.
Keep your hands away from your face. It’s a habit many of us have without knowing it, but germs can easily spread this way.
Clean those smart devices! Your phone, laptop, Fitbit… We touch these items too many times to count throughout the day. Clean off those surface germs to help prevent getting sick.
Nutrition! Eat healthy and drink plenty of water.
Relieve your stress, in whichever way works best for you.
If we all commit to following these simple steps, we might be able to keep our neighbors, loved ones, and community a little bit safer this flu season.
Get more health and safety tips and tricks in the palm of your hand. Download the Red Cross First Aid App for smartphones and tablets. With videos, interactive quizzes, and simple step-by-step advice it’s never been easier to learn first aid!
Gayle Labrana, a teacher and former Peace Corps volunteer, felt inspired to lend a hand after recent fires and an unprecedented mudslide devastated her hometown.
After her daughter was evacuated from her home during the Thomas Fire in early December, Gayle sought a way to give back to the community. She reached out to the Red Cross after watching a call for help on the local news.
“Seeing there was something I can do got me away from the TV and on my way to being part of the solution,” Gayle said during a break from a weekend-long training session in Santa Barbara.
Gayle jumped into volunteering wherever she was needed. Just days after becoming a volunteer, she helped at an evacuee shelter for three days. She then took training to become a Red Cross caseworker, an instrumental member of the recovery team, and Home Fire Campaign volunteer.
In just a few weeks, she has given over 40 hours of her time and is excited to get more involved.
“Meeting people from all aspects of life balances us all out [in this time of need],” she shares. “I am more thankful after this experience.”
Gayle is particularly interested in learning about community planning and preparedness.
“I feel protected and prepared to help out. As a community, we can endure anything that comes up.”
Over the last three weeks, the Pacific Coast Chapter has seen a tremendous outpouring of volunteer support. Nearly 300 new volunteers have participated in orientation, training and/or completed a shift.
The Red Cross is continuing to provide supplies at multiple sites through the day with updated times, 9am-3pm daily.
Distribution points include 1) US Post Office, 2245 Lillie Ave., Summerland, CA 93067 and 2) Montecito Fire Station #2, 2300 Sycamore Canyon Rd., Montecito, CA 93108.
Updated January 27, 2018
If impacted by the Montecito Mudslide, call 805.669.6638 for an appointment with a Red Cross caseworker who can help you navigate the road to recovery.
Si fue afectado por el deslizamiento de tierra, llame 805.669.6638 para una cita con un trabajador de la #CruzRoja.
Santa Barbara, Calif., January 24, 2018 — The American Red Cross of the Pacific Coast is continuing to provide support to hundreds of residents impacted by the Montecito mudslide. The Red Cross, working with its partner agencies, is committed to making sure that everyone impacted by this disaster is offered resources and a plan for long-term recovery.
Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Red Cross is providing financial assistance to qualified residents impacted by the mudslide. Those who live in the evacuation zones are encouraged to meet with the Red Cross at the Local Assistance Center to determine if they qualify for financial assistance. Those who have already met with a caseworker should return to the Local Assistance Center for updated information. Those who do not qualify for financial assistance will receive other Red Cross services including access to referrals, snacks and water, clothing vouchers, and health, mental health and spiritual care services.
Caseworkers are available to meet with the public at the Local Assistance Center at Calvary Chapel of Santa Barbara, 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. The center is open weekdays 11 am-6:30 pm and Saturday 10 am-2 pm. The center is expected to be open until February 3.
Additionally, Red Cross nurses and crisis counselors are available to meet the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of those feeling the impacts of this disaster.
As repopulation continues, the Red Cross will visit neighborhoods to distribute relief supplies, including drinking water and clean up supplies.
Residents may also pick up supplies at multiple sites daily from 8 am-8 pm. Distribution points include 1) US Post Office, 2245 Lillie Ave., Summerland, CA 93067 and 2) Montecito Fire Station #2, 2300 Sycamore Canyon Rd., Montecito, CA 93108.
As of Wednesday, January 24, 2018, the Red Cross has served more than 7,250 meals and snacks, distributed nearly 3,400 comfort and clean up items and provided more than 1,400 health- and mental health-related contacts.
As Jeff Harms speaks about his home renovations, his face lights up.
“It was an ugly peach color,” he laughs. “People would ask me about it.”
Jeff has spent the last few years making his charming two-bedroom house a home with his husband, Joel, and cat, Jackson.
As a local landscape architect, Jeff has an eye for natural beauty. The tremendous joy he has for his home pales in comparison to his pride for the beautiful Coastal California landscape.
“[It was] tucked away in a wooded oasis along a creek, surrounded by indigenous trees,” he explains with passion. ”The creek created a soothing melody of sounds in the night and the rhythmic croaking of the frogs calmed me to sleep.”
But now the place he once called home is destroyed. His beautiful landscape now a memory.
Jeff is one of over 100 Montecito residents whose home was destroyed in the torrential rain and mudslide earlier this month. Jeff was out of town when the storm hit and was devastated when he heard the news. His top concern was the safety of his community, an integrated town of friends and family. He wanted to make sure his friends knew he was safe, and that they too were accounted for.
The first thing Jeff did was list himself as safe on American Red Cross’ Safe and Well, a site for people in disaster areas to register their status and let their loved ones know they’re all right.
“You never know who is worried for you,” Jeff says, as he shares his condolences for those who had been affected.
With an unremitting feeling of lost connection, Jeff made a visit to the Local Assistance Center in Santa Barbara. Connecting over 30 agencies, including the Red Cross, the center serves as a hub for information and resources for those affected.
Jeff came looking for an answer to the question on everyone’s mind – what now?
As Jeff shares photos of his home, you can see the devastation in his face. His once beautiful home and landscape has been swept away in the mudslide. It’s unrecognizable. But still, he’s not concerned about himself. He wants to know that others are safe – the coffee shop barista he saw in the morning, the regular server at his favorite restaurant to name a few.
In the aftermath of this historic storm, Jeff and so many simply miss their sense of home, their sense of community. The Red Cross is doing our part to provide support to people like Jeff and his neighbors. Those who have been affected can go to the Local Assistance Center to work with a multitude of agencies that are ready to help the community get on the road to recovery.
The Local Assistance Center is open until February 3, 2018 at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, 1 N Calle Cesar Chavez, Santa Barbara, 93103 during the hours of 11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday. The center will be closed on Sunday.
Mary Hartberg is one of many answering the call to get involved after a string of disasters has left her community reeling.
Her goal in doing so is to demonstrate the gratitude she has for coming through wildfires and the mudslide unharmed and to “bring normalcy and stability in times of chaos”
The January 9 Montecito mudslide is one of the biggest disasters in Santa Barbara County history and followed several wildfires last month.
Mary is one of hundreds of new Red Cross volunteers who have come forward to help. Along with about 100 others, she attended a Disaster Worker Institute hosted by the American Red Cross Pacific Coast chapter.
The weekend training, held January 19-21 at the Santa Barbara Community Church, featured a variety of classes for new Red Cross workers and those looking to hone their skills.
“Recent wildfires and the mudslide have impacted so much of our community and we remain vulnerable to landslides and flooding,” said Executive Director Kimberly Coley. “We continue to stay on alert after the December wildfires created instability in the landscape of the region.”
Volunteers from Santa Barbara and surrounding areas learned about shelter operations, logistics, casework, disaster assessment, psychological first aid and more.
“What you are doing is awesome,” said Jim Caesar, campus emergency manager for the University of California Santa Barbara, in a short address to the volunteers. “The power of a hug, the power of friendship, the work you’re doing for our community is really appreciated. You are plugged into a great organization that works with a lot of great partners. To do the mission of the Red Cross, we need you to be here. ”
Mary lives in an area that was under mandatory evacuation during the Thomas Fire, the largest in California history. During the Montecito mudslide, her area was under voluntary evacuation.
“The fire was scary but with the mud we were so exhausted from the previous evacuation that we decided not to evacuate,” she said.
Mary assured us that she and her home are all right and that she feels a sense of gratitude.
“I’m fine, and I want to do what I can to help the community and that’s why I’m here.”
Hannah Troy of Montecito has stayed in two Red Cross shelters during two separate natural disasters that struck over a five-week period. She was evacuated twice during the Thomas Fire, the largest in California’s history. During her first mandatory evacuation she spent two days at the Red Cross shelter on the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus, and later stayed with a friend for 12 days over the holidays.
Her return home proved to be brief when she woke up to the sound of heavy rain and a mudslide evacuation alert on her phone at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, January 9. She ran out to where her minivan had been parked, but it was no longer there. Her brother-in-law’s car was also swept away. The road clearly wasn’t safe to drive, so she went back inside her home and waited with her sister and brother-in-law, with whom she lives.
When they had learned the day before that their home was in a voluntary evacuation area, Hannah had packed her car with a bag with clothes and supplies for a few days in case they needed to evacuate again. Those belongings were gone in a wave of mud.
After being rescued from her home, Hannah was relieved to see the Red Cross shelter open at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). Having trudged through thick mud with her family and dogs, she was glad to have a hot shower and fresh clothes because she couldn’t carry many belongings with her through the mud.
“You won’t find a bigger fan of the Red Cross than me,” she said.
The Red Cross has been providing shelter and other services for people impacted by the mudslides.
The area of mandatory evacuation expanded to clear the area for recovery efforts and more than 29,000 people were ordered to leave for what might be another week. People who arrived at the shelter were offered food, a place to sleep, mental health services, help reaching loved ones and access to hot showers and clean clothes.
Hannah stayed at the SBCC Red Cross Shelter with her dogs Lulu and Gabriel for a week, while she planned her next steps for a long-term recovery. She praised the Red Cross volunteers as giving her a sense of security after going through two natural disasters.
“There are all these amazing people and I feel safe,” said Hannah with her arms extended pointing toward Red Cross volunteers. “I just feel like this is the smartest place for me to be right now.”
Earlier this week, Hannah decided to stay with her aunt, but she promised to keep in touch with people she had gotten to know at the shelter.
If you’re interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org. You can also donate to the Red Cross at the same website, by calling 1-800-REDCROSS or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Byline: Jennifer Haake, American Red Cross Pacific Coast Chapter