HARRISBURG – The American Red Cross is on alert as millions of people, including many from central Pennsylvania, head to the Atlantic shore points for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, just as Tropical Storm Arthur heads toward the East Coast.
The American Red Cross is preparing to respond if necessary and urges individuals and families who may be in the path of the storm to do the same and get ready now.
Arthur has sustained winds of 60 miles per hour and is expected to strengthen today. Hurricane and tropical storm watches are already up as far as North Carolina. Heavy rain, dangerous surf conditions and rip currents also pose a threat along the seaboard.
Red Cross chapters along the coast are working with local officials and have shelters, workers and relief supplies on standby in case they are needed. The National Hurricane Center says people north of the current watch areas should keep an eye on the storm as it moves north.
“We urge folks who may be in the path of this storm to get prepared – to check their emergency supplies, finalize their hurricane plans and listen closely to local officials for updates on the storm,” said Ellen Kyzer, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Serving central Pennsylvania. “Those heading to the beach should be especially careful and heed lifeguard warnings about rip currents.”
The Red Cross offers these safety tips:
Rip Current Safety
Arthur could cause dangerous surf and rip currents for a large stretch of the East Coast over the holiday and the Red Cross urges beachgoers to be aware of what they should do to be safe while enjoying the sand and surf.
- Swim on lifeguard-protected beaches within the designated swimming areas. Obey all instructions and orders from the lifeguard.
- If you are caught in a rip current, remain calm and never fight against the current. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
- If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself by waving your arm and yelling for help.
- Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.
- If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 9-1-1. Throw the victim something that floats such as a lifejacket, cooler or inflatable ball. Yell instructions on how to escape the current. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.
The Red Cross urges everyone to take preparedness steps now to keep their loved ones and property safe as Arthur nears. People should stay informed – look for critical information on the storm’s progress from the National Weather Service and leave the area if authorities direct them to do so.
Before the storm hits, people should:
- Check and restock or replace disaster supplies – keep at least a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food per person on hand.
- Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If someone does not have hurricane shutters, they should close and board up their windows and doors with plywood.
- Fill their vehicle’s gas tank.
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind, like outdoor furniture.
- Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.
If power outages occur, people should:
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator and freezer.
- For possible prolonged power outages, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and appliances.
- Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home or any partially enclosed space.
If flood occurs, people should:
- Be prepared to evacuate quickly.
- If a flood or flash flood warning is issued, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Stay away from floodwaters and flooded roads. Be especially cautious at night.
Red Cross Hurricane App
People should also download the free Red Cross Hurricane App for mobile devices for real time safety information, to know where shelters are located and have access to the “I’m Safe” button to use social media outlets to tell family and friends they are okay. People planning to travel to areas that could get hit with the storm can use the app to receive weather alerts.
First Aid App
Users can also download the free Red Cross first aid app which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at someone’s fingertips. Both apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross
More information on what to do before, during and after the storm is available in the preparedness section of this Web site.
Help people affected by disasters by donating to the American Red Cross. A financial gift supports the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross in the community, across the country and around the world.
Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions may be sent to the American Red Cross, 430 W. Orange St., Lancaster, PA 17603 or any one of the local Red Cross offices. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting redcross.org or www.redcross-scpa.org.
The American Red Cross is a humanitarian organization led by volunteers that provides relief to victims of disasters and helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from caring individuals and, in part, by contributions given through the United Way.