Posts Tagged ‘American Red Cross’

Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills offers advice about helping victims of Hurricane Harvey

Mills warns consumers to avoid giving to potentially fraudulent websites

Press Release
08/29/2017 04:04 PM EDT

AUGUSTA – Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills advised Mainers to choose wisely in sending funds to agencies to help the families and communities suffering from the extreme weather produced by Hurricane Harvey in Texas this week.

“A natural disaster brings out the best us, and people around the world offer whatever we can to aid victims like those down in Texas this week,” said Mills. “Unfortunately, it also sometimes brings out people who take advantage of our good nature and provide no help to those in need.”

AG Mills warned against giving money to organizations that are unfamiliar or not recommended by her office or other official sources. AG Mills shared a list of those organizations that are considered reliable

“If consumers have any questions or complaints about a particular organization I encourage them to call our Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-436-2131.”

Other sources for guidance related to charitable giving can be found at the links below for the Maine Attorney General, the Texas Attorney General, and the Federal Trade Commission.

The American Red Cross is encouraging people to donate money on its website,, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10. Apple is also accepting Red Cross donations via iTunes and the Apple App Store.

The Red Cross is also seeking blood. Upcoming blood drives in southern Maine:

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at: Portland Blood Donation Center 524 Forest Ave., Portland

Thursday at: Maine Mall, 364 Maine Mall Road South Portland

AG Mills added that she plans on donating blood in the coming days.

Americares, an emergency response organization based in Connecticut, is delivering emergency medicine and relief supplies and working with a local clinic in Houston. Make a donation at

United Way Worldwide has a relief fund to provide shelter and basic needs, as well as long-term recovery efforts. Donate at

The Salvation Army is accepting donations for hurricane relief at

To help pets stranded by Hurricane Harvey, donations are being accepted by the Humane Society of the United States at

For volunteer opportunities or other places to donate, check with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, at ###


Preparation the key to prevent swimming injuries, drownings


By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director Northeast CONTACT

Posted June 23, 2013, at 6:09 p.m.

Let’s get the troubling statistics out of the way first.

Most drownings involve children ages 1 to 4. Of children who died of unintentional injury in 2009, 30 percent died of drowning. For each child who dies in a drowning accident, five will need emergency room care for nonfatal, near-drowning injuries; half of them will need hospitalization or additional care.

Now, the good news. The vast majority of these injuries and deaths are preventable. Preparation – in the form of education and swimming skill – is the key.

Let’s take the last point first. Let’s make sure everyone who’s near any kind of water knows how to swim well. The American Red Cross is just one organization offering learn-to-swim and water safety courses (learn more at

Whether around the pool at home, at the beach or on Maine’s waterways, make sure that if something happens help is not far away. Have a well-stocked first aid kit handy. You or another responsible adult needs to be supervising children all the time. And make sure someone knows CPR – there are many courses for this as well.

Wearing life jackets is just common sense. While the letter of the law may require only persons age 10 and younger actually wear a personal floatation device, those other PFDs required to be on board won’t do much good if they’re stowed away. Make sure they’re Coast Guard-approved life vests in good condition and use them. Don’t entrust a child’s life to water wings, “noodles” or other toys.

Know local weather conditions before swimming or boating; storms can form quickly. When you’re near water, at home or away, stay in touch. Keep a cell phone handy; you can use it to summon help in an emergency.

Keep backyard pools safe and secure. Sturdy fences should keep unattended pools out of sight of young eyes; gates should be self-closing and self-latching. Install pool and gate alarms to alert you in case youngsters become too curious. Consider installing surface wave or underwater alarms.

If your house serves as the fourth side of a fence around a pool, install door alarms and use them. In addition to a first aid kit and flotation devices, have scissors handy, in case you need to cut hair, clothing or a pool cover.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a motto that sums up its ongoing safety campaign: Pool safely. The CPSC sums it up this way on its website ( “Adopt and practice as many safety steps around the water as possible — because you can never know which safety step will save a life — until it does.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a wealth of summer safety tips that go beyond the beach or pool at

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit or email


Prepare for disasters


By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director of Northeast CONTACT
Posted Nov. 11, 2012, at 7:34 p.m.

Anyone who has lived through more than one Maine winter may have chuckled over the minor dust-up between the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel over the naming of last week’s storm.

On Wednesday, TWC named the latest nor’easter Winter Storm Athena. NWS reacted with an internal memo, reminding forecasters that it does not name storms and that NWS forecasts should make no mention of the name Athena.

A storm by any other name (to misquote the Bard) is just a storm, we might remind ourselves. As the NWS directive noted, storms can weaken and strengthen, and they can combine with other storms. This makes it unclear where one begins and another ends, making naming a less exact science than forecasting the weather.

Whatever we call them, winter storms can grab our attention far beyond their duration — remember the Ice Storm of 1998? Winter-hardened consumers should be as ready as they can be for such weather, and the tools are there to help.

The Maine Prepares website ( is maintained by Maine’s Bureau of Emergency Preparedness. It greeted forecasts of last week’s storm with reminders about safe driving, especially as we would all be seeing ice- and slush-slicked roads for the first time in many months.

The website’s home page notes that snow and ice are not the only problems we face this time of year. Hurricanes are still a threat, and since strong storms can contain lightning, there are safety tips on that potential hazard. The site also contains links to the major public safety and information organizations: American Red Cross, National Weather Service, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Federal Emergency Management Agency — FEMA — and others.

FEMA’s version of the website is A clever public service announcement notes that the day before most disasters strike is an ordinary day — like today. The moral: prepare now, while things are ordinary.

The site offers lists of emergency supplies to last for 72 hours. Food, water and other essentials might not be accessible by usual means for some time following a disaster; having those things on hand in a kit you can get to easily just makes sense.

For those consumers who love checklists, visit the American Red Cross website ( and search for “Disaster Safety & Library.” You’ll find safety checklists to help you prepare for natural and manmade disasters. Using such lists should help raise your awareness of possible dangers and allow you to take real steps to minimize the effects, should a disaster strike.

And, since there’s a fraud perpetrator around every corner, remember to donate only to real relief agencies whose names you know. Avoid blind solicitations by phone or email, and don’t click on links in unsolicited emails. Disaster fraud is still among the top ten scams. The federal Justice Department welcomes calls about such fraud attempts, at 866-720-5721.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit or email

%d bloggers like this: