Sales tax holiday for hurricane supplies set for Memorial Day weekend

Sales tax holiday for hurricane supplies set for Memorial Day weekend

Hurricane season is fast approaching and the state wants to help residents prepare. On May 29 and 30, Louisiana residents can get a tax break when buying emergency supplies, including self-powered light sources like flashlights and candles; portable self-powered radios; two-way radios and weather-band radios; tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting; ground anchor systems or tie-down kits; gas or diesel fuel tanks; cellular phone batteries and chargers; portable generators and carbon monoxide detectors. The tax holiday makes the first $1,500 of such purchases exempt from the 4% state sales tax. Local sales taxes still apply. Hurricane season starts June 1.

Excerpt from Baton Rouge Business Report’s Daily Report


Government predicts up to seven major Atlantic hurricanes

The Atlantic hurricane season will likely be a busy one and may spawn as many as 23 named tropical storms, including up to seven major hurricanes, a number that’s not likely to be affected by the gulf oil spill, the U.S. government says. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that eight to 14 storms would strengthen into hurricanes, with top winds of 74 mph or higher. Three to seven of those could become major storms that reach Category 3 or higher, meaning they bring sustained winds of at least 111 mph. “If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record,” says NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared.” A hurricane might help break up the oil spill staining the Gulf of Mexico, but the oil won’t affect significantly how tropical storms develop, forecasters say. They don’t know what kind of environmental hazards to expect, though there are fears that winds and waves could push the oil deeper into estuaries and wetlands.

Taken from Baton Rouge Business Report’s Daily Report PM on Thursday, May 27

What do you do now? Be Red Cross Ready!

Picnic in the PARC


Over 150 seniors, 16 exhibitors and five guest speakers participated in the 2nd annual Picnic in the PARC (Preparedness—American Red Cross) event Wednesday. WAFB Channel 9’s Jay Grymes was the featured speaker and provided information on the 2010 hurricane season and the need for preparedness.

The event, sponsored by Peoples Health, encouraged area seniors to Be Red Cross Ready by making an evacuation plan, building a disaster supplies kit and getting trained on how to properly respond to life’s emergencies. Participants learned about food safety and sanitation from the LSU Ag Center and fire safety from the Baton Rouge Fire Department.

The American Red Cross would like to thank Chick-fil-A, Hi Nabor Supermarket and Coca-Cola Bottling Company for their donations.

Exhibitors included:

Acadian On Call

Baton Rouge Fire Department

Baton Rouge Rehabilitation Hospital

ComForcare Senior Services of GBR

Compassion Personal Care, LLC

Family Care Attendants, LLC

Hancock Bank


Lakewood Quarters Retirement Community

Lane Home Health

The NeuroMedical Center Rehabilitation Hospital

Peoples Health – Event Sponsor

Pinnacle Personal Care

The Retirement Center

Social Security Administration

Total Care Options Agency, Inc.

For more information on how to Be Red Cross Ready, to donate or to volunteer to your American Red Cross, call (225) 291-4533, log on to or email

Welcome to Picnic in the PARC

They arrived by the bus-loads!

Florence Keller enjoyed the event!

Connie Harvey with her exhibit

WAFB's Jay Grymes was the guest speaker

Sharman Charles & Thelma Fleming with the LSU Ag Center

Mary Lee Ho, RN; Mae McGuffery; Gladys Lundy and Shirley Harton

Stella Windom, Phil Reichert and Don Giacone

Darnell Jackson had fun, too!

It was a success!

Area drownings remind us the importance of water safety

Three people have drowned within the week, and the Red Cross encourages everyone the importance of water safety.

American Red Cross Offers Lifesaving Skills For Families Planning Water-Related Activities This Summer

A 2009 Red Cross survey found nearly half of people experience a near-drowning scare during their lifetime

A 2009 survey conducted by the American Red Cross shows the importance of water safety skills, with half of those surveyed saying they have had a near-drowning experience in their lifetime. The survey found that 48 percent reported a near-drowning experience, and nearly one in three said they had a near-drowning scare between the ages of five and 15. The national survey of 1,002 adults was conducted in late March 2009 to assess the water activity plans of families and their water safety knowledge and training.

The Red Cross survey found more than 90 percent of people planned to participate in water-related activities that summer. Nearly half of parents—with children between the ages of three and 17—planned to engage in water-related activities where no lifeguard would be on duty. “As we’ve seen, so many families plan unsupervised water-related activities during summer, and the Red Cross is urges families in the Greater Baton Rouge community to learn to swim and learn water safety and lifesaving skills that can help save a life,” says Louis Hicks, preparedness director.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on water-related injuries1, the drowning rate in the United States averages 10 people per day with a quarter of fatal drownings involving children 14 and younger. This is why Red Cross recommends swimming in areas supervised by a lifeguard. If no lifeguard is on duty, designate an adult as a “water watcher,” someone who maintains constant supervision of children around any water no matter how well they can swim or how shallow the water.

“While we all looking forward to a summer of fun with our family and friends, it’s important to remember that most water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe and following a few simple guidelines,” says Hicks..

“Everyone should know how to swim well. We can help families stay safe by teaching skills through our swimming and water safety program that teaches children and adults to learn how to swim skillfully and safely.” The 2009 Red Cross survey also found that nearly one in three parents (30 percent) believe that “floaties” are better than supervision. The Red Cross stresses that floaties cannot be used as a substitute for appropriate supervision. Water safety is also important for pool owners as almost 10 percent of people surveyed had experiences where they nearly drowned in a private pool. Pool owners should know what equipment to have on hand and what to do in case of an emergency to make the home pool or hot tub environment as safe as possible.

Red Cross is urging your family safe to stay this summer with these few simple tips and by contacting the local chapter to obtain additional information on water safety:

Learn to swim well. Contact the Red Cross for information on learning how to swim—nearly 2 million people learn to swim each year with Red Cross programs.

Never leave children unattended near water—not even for a moment! Adults should practice “reach supervision,” which means to always be within arm’s length when a young child is near water. For older children–even adults– who are not strong swimmers, practice “active” or constant supervision and make sure they wear U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) whenever in or around the water.

Know how to respond to an emergency. You should know how to tell if a swimmer is in distress or is drowning and how and when to call for emergency help. You should also learn how to help someone in trouble in water while keeping safe yourself. Do not create a situation where you become a victim as well! Enroll in Red Cross water safety, first aid and CPR courses to learn what to do.

Keep lifesaving gear handy. Always have on hand a ring buoy, life jacket, rope, pole or other object that can be used to help a person in trouble. Remember to have a first aid kit, cordless phone and emergency contact information by the pool.

Know when it’s too dangerous. If you, or someone you are swimming with, appear to be too cold, too far from safety, been exposed to too much sun, or had too much strenuous activity, it is time to head for shore or signal for help.

Eliminate temptation. Backyard pools should have self-closing, self-latching gates that remain locked when the pool is not being used. Kiddie pools should be emptied and toys removed immediately after use. Empty water pales and buckets so small children cannot fall in and drown.

Know what you’re getting into. Check local tides, currents and other conditions which could be dangerous before entering open bodies of water.

For more information on Red Cross Learn to Swim, water safety, first aid, CPR and our new Wilderness First Aid classes near you, contact the American Red Cross at or (225) 291-4533.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unintentional Drowning: Fact Sheet –


Haiti donation

Many thanks to LSU’s Phi Kappa Phi for their $2,223.98 donation to Haiti. The money was raised from a concert on April 17. Seen here are Lindsay Guillory; Red Cross CEO Bobbi McKinney Zaunbrecher and LSU’s Richard Vlosky, Ph.D.

Hurricane Awareness Week

It’s Hurricane Awareness Week. Check out our radio interview that aired yesterday on local Clear Channel radio stations.

Hurricane Awareness Week is May 23 – 29

ARE YOU RED CROSS READY? American Red Cross urges preparedness

The American Red Cross urges everyone to take the necessary steps to get better prepared now for a variety of disasters such as hurricanes and the high winds, flooding and tornadoes that may accompany them.

“By taking three basic preparedness actions you can Be Red Cross Ready for disasters and other emergencies 1) Get a kit, 2) Make a plan and 3) Be informed,” said Louis Hicks, preparedness director for the American Red Cross. “Your local Red Cross chapter is here to help you get prepared for specific disasters like hurricanes. Even if you took action to prepare last hurricane season, it’s important that you revisit and update your communication plan and check your disaster supplies kit for expired items.” The American Red Cross recommends the following preparedness actions:

Get or assemble a disaster supplies kit:

Gather enough emergency supplies to meet your needs. A portable kit, stored in a sturdy, easy to carry, water resistant container should have enough supplies for three days. The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of supplies at home and to keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car. Check your kit and replace the stock every six months. Whether you purchase a kit or choose to build your own, your three-day kit should include:

  • • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day) and ready-to-eat non-perishable foods, such as tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers, canned fruit, juice boxes, etc.
  • • A manual can opener.
  • • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
  • • A first aid kit and reference guide
  • • Prescription and non-prescription medication items
  • • Copies of important documents, including birth certificates, insurance policies and social security cards.
  • • Cash. ATMs and credit cards won’t work if the power is out.
  • • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
  • • A change of clothes for everyone, including long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy footwear
  • • One blanket or sleeping bag per person
  • • Emergency tools, including tools to turn off utilities.
  • • An extra set of home and car keys
  • • An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses, extra batteries for hearing aids
  • • Pet supplies

Prepare a Personal Disaster and Evacuation Plan

The American Red Cross urges each and every household to develop a household disaster plan.

  • • Meet with your family to create a plan. Discuss the information you have gathered and why it is important to prepare for a disaster.
  • • Identify two meeting places; One right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
  • • Be sure to make advanced preparations for your pets. Be aware that pets may not be allowed in shelters. Contact hotels, motels, family members and animal shelters to see if they would allow pets in a disaster situation. Keep a contact list of “pet friendly” locations. If you are asked to evacuate, take your pets with you.
  • • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. During or after a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance, especially if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your emergency contact person’s phone number and email address.
  • • Tell your family about the Safe and Well web site accessible at all times via The Safe and Well Web site is an Internet-based tool that allows those directly affected by a disaster to let their loved ones know of their well-being. People within a disaster affected area are able to select and post standard “safe and well” messages. Concerned family members who know the person’s phone number (home, cell, or work) or a complete home address can search for the messages posted by those who self-register.
  • • Show and explain to each family member how and when to turn off the water and electricity at the main switches. Turn gas off only if instructed by local authorities. Remember, if the gas is shut-off, only a professional can turn it back on.
  • • Plan your evacuation route. Use local maps and identify alternate evacuation routes from home, work and/or school. Know where you are going and how you plan to get there before you leave home.

Be informed:

  • • Find out what types of disaster are likely to occur in your area and how to prepare for each.
  • • Find out how local authorities will contact you during a disaster. Listen to local media broadcasts or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest storm conditions and follow the advice of local authorities.
  • • Contact your American Red Cross for details about community disaster education presentations that may be arranged or are available in your workplace, school or community organization.
  • • Get trained in CPR and first aid so you will know how to respond to emergencies in the event that help is delayed.
  • • If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately. You may choose to evacuate sooner than alerted if you think you may need additional time.

Know what to do if a hurricane WATCH is issued:

  • • Listen to weather updates from your battery-powered or hand-cranked radio.
  • • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, hanging plants, bicycles, toys and garden tools, anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
  • • Close all windows and doors. Cover windows with storm shutters or pre-cut plywood.
  • • If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture or move it to a higher floor to protect it from flooding.
  • • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
  • • Check your disaster supplies kit to make sure items have not expired.

Know what to do if a hurricane WARNING is issued

  • • Listen to the advice of local officials, and leave if they tell you to do so.
  • • If in a manufactured home, check tie-downs and evacuate as told by local authorities
  • • Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve
  • • If you are not advised to evacuate, stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors
  • • Do NOT use open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light
  • • If power is lost, turn off appliances to reduce damage from a power surge when electricity is restored

For more information regarding how individuals and families can prepare for disasters or to purchase NOAA weather radios or emergency preparedness and first aid kits, call (225) 291-4533.