Red Cross classes prepare people for the unexpected

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When it comes to water activities to escape the long, hot days of summer, training in CPR and lifeguarding can mean the difference between life and death.

To prepare people to react in emergency situations -- such as a person getting caught in a current or rip tide or being overcome by excessive heat -- the American Red Cross is offering safety and preparedness classes in lifeguarding, first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator training.

Classes, taught by certified American Red Cross instructors, are being offered this month at the Butler County Red Cross office, 312 Mercer St., Butler.

Most of the classes will be offered at other local sites during August. Check the American Red Cross website for places, dates and times.

Here are the dates, times and fees for the classes in Butler:

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, baby sitter's training, $85;

• 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 20, adult and pediatric first aid/CPR/AED, $110;

• 9 a.m. to noon July 20, adult CPR/AED, $70;

• 6 to 9 p.m. July 25, CPR/AED for professional rescuers and health care providers, blending a learning course with online content and classroom segments, $110.

The classes are applicable beyond summertime, said Dominique Buccina, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, Western Pennsylvania Region.

"Taking courses for preparedness is the first step in being prepared in an emergency for year-round situations," she said.

Baby sitter training teaches baby sitters of all ages how to be more informed, how to recognize hazardous objects and what to do if a child is in an emergency situation, such as who to call and how to talk the child during the emergency.

To be safe in the water, anyone in any body of water -- a lake, pool or ocean -- should be comfortable swimming.

"For children, it is important that they are always under supervision, even when lifeguards are on duty," Ms. Buccina said. "For weak swimmers or those without swimming experience, we recommend 'reach supervision,' which means a supervisor within arm's length of the person at all times."

The American Red Cross trains 2 million people a year in learn-to-swim courses.

The nonprofit organization is known for providing food and shelter in emergencies, assisting members of the armed forces and their families, teaching CPR and first-aid skills and more.

The classes in Butler will be conducted by the West Central Pennsylvania chapter of the American Red Cross, which serves Beaver, Butler, Lawrence and Mercer counties.

It is one of 11 chapters of the American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania, which serves more than 3.6 million people in 25 counties.

Another chapter, the American Red Cross of Southwestern Pennsylvania, serves more than 1.6 million people in Allegheny, Greene, Fayette and Washington counties.

It is headquartered at 225 Boulevard of the Allies in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Advanced registration is required to take a class. To register: 1-800-RED-CROSS or

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Margaret Smykla, freelance writer:


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