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With cases of H1N1 on the rise, hugs, high-fives, even air-kisses are about to go the way of the dodo. Just like seasonal flu, the swine flu is contagious, and, according to the CDC, is thought to spread mainly person-to-person.

Getting into a routine of some other basic habits can help you stave off the H1N1 flu andthe seasonal flu, and allow you to stay healthy and happy this fall and winter.

One of the simplest things you can do is to wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you don’t happen to have access to a sink, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also effective in keeping your hands germ-free.

It is also important to remember to cover your mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and throw it away immediately after using it. If you don’t have a tissue on hand, sneeze or cough into your elbow. By avoiding your hands, you help prevent spreading your germs to the next person. Speaking of hands, keep yours away from your eyes, nose or mouth to keep germs out.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If someone near you has a case of the sniffles, it’s best to stay away. The New York State Department of Health advises people to avoid close contact—within six feet—with people who cough, sneeze or show other signs of infection. On the other hand, if you’re the one feeling under the weather, try to minimize your contact with others (and possibly infecting them) by staying home from work or school.

There is also the tried-and-true method of avoiding illness by maintaining good general health practices: get sufficient sleep (the experts recommend between 7–8 hours each day), be physically active, manage your stress level, drink plenty of fluids and maintain a healthy diet (remember your fruits and veggies).

These tips will not only help prevent you from getting the swine flu, but most other seasonal illnesses as well.

The American Red Cross in Greater New York offers a range of products and training to help individuals and corporations prepare for a pandemic flu outbreak and keep you and your loved ones healthy. Read our FAQs to learn more about H1N1. To find out about preparedness training programs for companies or organizations, please contact Jim Parker, in Health & Safety Services at parkerj@nyredcross.org.

The American Red Cross is on the ground in American Samoa where a tsunami swept across the island after a powerful earthquake hit the South Pacific.

Red Cross has dozens of volunteers already providing food and supplies to those on the island.  A team of 50 volunteers is being sent in to supplement the efforts of the local Red Cross team.  The Red Cross has a warehouse on American Samoa supplied with cots, flashlights, and cooking and clean-up supplies, and will be sending in additional supplies as quickly as possible.

“We will get there as quickly as we can with what we can,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services.  “Our first priority is to provide food and water.”  After yesterday’s 8.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami, a significant portion of American Samoa is without power or water amid widespread damage.

Getting information out of the island is very slow at this time.  The Red Cross urges those who have been able to contact loved ones on American Samoa to register them with Safe and Well, the best way to share information about their status.  You can register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Website at www.redcross.org.  If you do not have internet access, call 1-800-REDCROSS to register your loved ones.  The information you post will let other loved ones know about the well-being of those on the island.  Please note – Safe and Well works only on American Samoa.  The service will not work on Samoa.

American Samoa, a group of seven islands about 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii, is a United States Territory.  American Samoa and the independent country of Western Samoa make up the Samoan group of islands in the center of Polynesia.  According to news reports, four tsunami waves about 15 to 20 feet high came ashore on American Samoa after the earthquake in the South Pacific.

You can help the victims of countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster, please do so at the time of your donation by mailing your donation with the designation to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C.20013. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish) or online at www.nyredcross.org/donate.

“A shoulder to lean on from a caring volunteer, a Red Cross personal hygiene kit containing toothpaste, toothbrushes, a washcloth, deodorant, a comb—these little things make an enormous difference to people who have just lost everything,” said Terry Bischoff, CEO of the American Red Cross in Greater New York (ARC/GNY). “These things give people hope when all hope seems to be gone.”
Ms. Bischoff was addressing the almost 60 business leaders and community members who attended an Open House hosted by ARC/GNY–Queens on September 30 at the Sheraton La Guardia East hotel in Flushing. The event was an opportunity for attendees to learn about the humanitarian work of the Red Cross in their borough, and how they might engage with the Greater New York Chapter to help their neighbors in Queens when they need it most.

Tina Lee, publisher of the World Journal newspaper and Chair of the ARC/GNY Queens Board of Advisors, opened the event by discussing how the Red Cross has responded to more than 424 fires and building collapses in Queens since January, assisting almost 2,000 adults and children with food, water, blankets, and health and mental-health services—right at the scene of a disaster.

Another speaker, Yuru Chou of the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation USA, explained how Tzu Chi has partnered with the New York chapter, providing meals and language translation for Chinese-speaking residents in Red Cross reception centers and shelters, and teaching CPR and first aid classes in Mandarin.

“The evening was a wonderful opportunity to have community members see the numerous ways in which the Red Cross carries out our mission of helping New Yorkers affected by emergencies and disasters,” said Sonia Martinez, ARC/GNY-Queens Director. “We look forward to having tonight’s attendees become more involved with our organization.”

The following information shows our total service delivery since the beginning of the Red River floods:

Red Cross volunteer Katie Hill is featured on this CNN report about the benefits of volunteering while unemployed.

From FDNY:

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano thank Theresa Bishoff, CEO of the American Red Cross, and the organizations many volunteers for their support during American Red Cross month.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano thank Theresa Bishoff, CEO of the American Red Cross, and the organizations' many volunteers for their support during American Red Cross month.

FDNY members took a moment during American Red Cross month to honor the organization’s many New York City volunteers in a ceremony at FDNY Headquarters on March 4.

“Your organization reminds us of the fundamental good in people,” said Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta. “When things are at their worst, the American Red Cross is at its best.”

Members from the organization’s Disaster Action Team, Disaster Assistance Response Team, corporate partners, board of directors and many others were honored with special commendations for their kindness.

“You do so much for Fire Department operations during emergencies,” said Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano. “We couldn’t do an adequate job without your help.”