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Personal Stories from the American Red Cross

by rayovac12, August 2016

  Rayovac partners with the American Red Cross)

We sat side by side-- a newly-trained female client caseworker and I, a disaster mental health volunteer--in a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. Next in line was a young survivor in his early 20's-- living in a local drug recovery center, who had lost his home, his girlfriend, his vehicle, and his job, in one of California's most devastating fires ever recorded.

I closed the door behind him as he took a seat. Shortly after he began, I reached for a bottle of water behind me, twisted off the cap, and handed it to him.  He talked and drank, cried and talked, and drank some more. For an hour, he related details of wrong turns, the long road back to sanity and sobriety, and finally the fire. We listened hard. Afterward, I asked about a sponsor,  12-step meetings, his support system.  The caseworker asked about housing plans and gave him information about government and community resources.

At the end, I gave him a blanket. I asked if he was hungry. “A little,” he admitted. I gave him a granola bar. I gave him a Disaster Distress Helpline brochure and the local crisis line number. He hugged me. He hugged her too.

“I noticed you take the cap off the water bottle", the caseworker said, after he left. "Why did you do that?"  "You saw that?" I replied, surprised. "Well, survivors under great stress easily dehydrate. When you open the bottle, it gives them 'permission' to drink it now rather than later.“

"Ah, good one", she said, nodding and jotting notes. "Your eyes never left his as you took off the cap.  And you sat forward when he started talking."  I grinned. "Were you observing me the whole time?"   "Of course I was!“ she laughed.  “I've never seen anyone work in the field before. I could never do what you did."

I looked puzzled. "But you were doing it."  Now she looked puzzled. "What do you think he'll remember from our interaction?" I asked.  A few beats later, she responded. "I think he'll remember how you knew so much about what he was going through."  "I'll bet you're wrong,” I replied.  “I'll bet he'll remember next to nothing of what I said. What he'll remember is how we both made him feel.  The water, the blanket, the snacks--there's a good chance he'll remember those also. But he won't forget your calm voice, the genuine smiles, the way he was deeply listened to, the way he was treated with dignity and respect.  Never underestimate the power of those simple gestures.  I promise you, those things are what people remember most about the Red Cross, in the end.”

“Maybe it's because those things look like hope.” She wrote that down, too.

I don't know what happened to him, of course.  But I know that she's a compassionate, caring, client caseworker, yet another Red Cross hope-giver, who now twists the cap off the water bottle as she hands it to the next survivor.

Julie Holly, MSE, LPC, CCTP, is a licensed mental health professional by trade and she, serves her community and those across the country such as the South Carolina floods and California wildfires. In addition, she served on an Integrated Care Team which provides a team approach to physical, spiritual and emotional recovery after a disaster.

"You are a part of the permanent narrative of the worst day of their lives."  - Julie Holly

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Why We Built the Rayovac Power Protect

by rayovac3, August 2016

Rayovac Power Protect portable charger with a personal alarmAt Rayovac, we want to be a source of power in your life. And sometimes that means empowering you, your friends or your loved ones to avoid being the victim of a violent crime or robbery. Our headquarters is in Madison, Wisconsin, a bustling college town, and within the last few years we’ve been deeply troubled by the news of people—particularly women—who have been attacked late at night when they are out jogging or walking alone. These crimes must stop. To help our fellow Madisonians—and people everywhere—create a sense of personal security, Rayovac has developed the Power Protect, a portable phone charger with a built-in personal safety alarm.

The Rayovac Power Protect is a small cylindrical phone charger that includes a flashlight and a 100 decibel emergency siren (the loudest sound level the ear can handle before creating damage). The device looks a bit like a small can of pepper spray, but it has a ring at the top that acts like a panic button.  Pulling the ring free of the charger causes an ear-piercing alarm to erupt and should scare off attackers, give you enough of a distraction to escape or beckon aid from people passing nearby. The safety siren is audible from 200 yards away*. To deactivate the safety alarm, press the power button or snap the ring back to its original setting.

The device has a 2,200 mAh battery that will offer most phones between half and two-thirds to a full charge. And you’ll never need to worry about monitoring your discharge percentage to preserve the safety siren because the Power Protect automatically stops distributing electricity at 20 percent capacity. That amount is permanently set aside in reserve to operate the alarm so it’s always usable.

The Power Protect comes in three colors, and is small enough to easily fit inside a backpack, purse or clip onto your person. Visit to order a Power Protect, and take peace of mind—for your phone battery and yourself—with you on your next evening adventure. 

*varies by geography and environmental conditions. 

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American Red Cross Helps 24 Families Affected by Apartment Fire

by rayovac3, August 2016

The American Red Cross shares stories from people they help By Dawn Miller, American Red Cross Volunteer

“I was asking for safety and security,” said Jama Ali of his morning prayers on Sunday, January 3, 2016. The young father of two was praying when he heard a sharp noise that made him look out the door of his apartment and down the hall.

The smoke hit his face hard when he opened the door and he ran back in for what was most important, his two sons ages 10 months and 2 years. His wife had already left for work. Once they were safe outside, they went to their car before a neighbor invited them in to warm up.

“You never know what is going to happen,” said Ali. “ I thought I was going to work today but here I am with my sons.” Ali normally would have been at work as a truck driver but instead he found himself wondering what was going to happen next as they moved to a Red Cross warming shelter to find out if his family, along with 23 other displaced families, would return to their apartments.

At the warming shelter Ali, and others, found Red Cross workers wanting to help with their immediate needs. Needs are varied including blankets, help accessing medicine, diapers and baby wipes. They also found warm coffee, snacks and sandwiches to nourish them while they processed what their next steps would be.

They all wanted to hear if they would be able to return to their apartments based on the fire & smoke damage and if the utilities would be on or if they would need alternative overnight accommodations.  “Due to the Packers vs. Vikings home game and hotels at capacity there are limited options if friends and family are not a possibility,” stated Steve Hansen, the Chapter Executive.

Ali fed his 10-month old son while the two-year-old explored the gym at West High School where the warming shelter was set up. Ali was calm at the shelter and while he didn’t know what would happen next, he felt his prayers were answered. “The most important thing is we are safe and sound,” said Ali. “You can get many things in this world but you can’t get back a life.”

The Red Cross provided multiple families with the shoulder-to-lean-on that day along with personal hygiene items to helping them establish a plan of ‘what to do next’.  Financial assistance was provided for basic needs such as food, clothing, infant supplies, shelter, transportation and more.  You can help the Red Cross help families after fires with a financial gift at

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Five Awesome Summer Activities Your Family Will Love

by rayovac19, July 2016

A family hiking during the summer

Summer vacation may be full of ice cream sandwiches, sand castles and cartoon marathons now, but before you know it the kids will be back to school, waking up early, shuffling off to carpools and dreadfully completing their math homework in the evenings. So before it’s too late, check the following summer activities for kids off your bucket list and enjoy some quality family time.

Dive–In Movie Night in the Backyard

Swap out poodle skirts and mustangs for bikinis and pool noodles to experience a modern day “dive–in” movie. It’s easier than it sounds, too. Use a large white bedsheet and a movie projector (which can be rented at most photography stores), families can replicate a nostalgic movie experience from the 50s in the comfort of their own backyard. Hop in the pool and relax lazy river style or set up a slip–n–slide if a pool is out of the picture. To really enhance the experience, plug in external speakers to a portable power source for surround sound. This fun family activity will surely create countless memories that will be treasured for years to come. If you’re up north and it’s too cold to jump in the pool, consider an inflatable pool filled with pillows and blankets.

 Scavenger Hunt

Is summer even complete without a scavenger hunt? The answer is definitely no. Spice it up this year and instead of giving a complete list of items to find, start with clues that lead to destinations; then at each destination, give another clue leading to the next location. The first team to get to every location wins. Don’t forget safety; always bring a flashlight if you’re doing a scavenger hunt at night, and consider making this family activity mom versus dad, one parent on each team. To lessen the prep time beforehand, limit the search area to home or the neighborhood.

Homemade Music Video

This might sound a little over the top, but when you consider how far modern technology has come, producing a homemade music video is extremely easy. Throw on some of your little one’s favorite tunes, let them play dress up in your closet, and hit record on your smartphone. Pro tip: use a portable phone charger if you plan to create a long video. When it comes to editing, there are plenty of apps for download that help users mash videos together to create a masterpiece, and no one said it had to be perfect, right? The point is, it will be a fun experience for the kids and a great way for the family to bond. After all, family activities this unique and inexpensive are pretty hard to come by nowadays.

 Relay Race Course

This is the activity of all summer activities to tucker the kids out before bedtime.  For your at–home relay race, go all out! Think jumping through hopscotch, carrying an egg on a spoon, double dutching without error for 2 minutes — the sky’s the limit when it comes to relay race courses. Not only is the course itself fun, but the planning of it can be as well. Take some time to brainstorm a list of activities to put in the course with your kids the day before. Try to hype up the game by making signs, picking team colors, and most importantly – create an amazing game day playlist and blast it through speakers as each team races for the win.

Go on a Night Hike

Thought it may be too hot during the day, depending on where you live, going on a nighttime hike with the family is a great way to bond with each other and with nature while also getting some exercise in. The hike can also be an educational experience. Print out informational cards on the types of rock (sedimentary, granite, etc.) and have kids collect and identify what types of stone the family is hiking upon. No rocks? Try flower and plant identification. If everyone enjoys the hike, opt for planning a camping trip next time.  

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Tips for Traveling Overseas with Hearing Aids

by rayovac18, July 2016

Wearing Hearing Aids While TravelingSummer is winding down and the final few weeks are excellent opportunities to take advantage of last-minute vacation deals. But if you’re hearing impaired, or have somebody in your family who is, then traveling—especially via plane or oversees—can be quite tricky and sometimes even stressful. The new environments, chaotic noise levels and busy schedule can easily become overwhelming if you’re not prepared. The good news is that after reading these tips you’ll be ready to handle any hearing-related situation that you might encounter while traveling.

Don’t Forget Anything

Sometimes the simplest steps are the easiest to forget, such as making a list of every hearing-related item you’ll foreseeably need during your journey and then double checking your supplies. It’s a huge pain if you realize that your extra tubing, remotes, portable chargers or hearing aid batteries got left behind. So although it’s a bit cliché, you can prevent yourself from having to make supply pit stops just by double checking that list. Plus, if you have an old pair of hearing aids, it’s smart to pack them as well for emergency situations. If you’re traveling abroad, pack the appropriate power outlet converter as well. Many countries don’t use the same voltage levels or appliance connector ports that the United States does. Here’s a useful list to check what each country uses. Now that your list is made, the items on it are packed and everything is double checked, we advise that you keep all of your hearing equipment in a carry-on bag. The rule of thumb is that checked bags can be lost, delayed or destroyed. Anything that is absolutely necessary for you to have should be kept in a carry-on bag for ease of travel.

 Who can help you?

After you’ve set out on your trip, the next step is to ensure that you can communicate with the staff that will be helping you. The simple way to do this is find the person who best meets your current needs, and then ask them to find you in case an auditory announcement is made. This is especially useful if you’re at the airport and your flight changes gates, departs early or is arriving late. The other option is to opt-in for email or text message alerts regarding changes to your travel itinerary. Most major airlines or train companies offer this opportunity if you order tickets online. If you’re taking the digital route, then also save the email verification you get to minimize the amount of talking and listening you’ll need to do. Otherwise, look into what hearing resources your hotel or hostel have at hand, or see if they’re able to make accommodations for you. Sometimes hotels can let staff know that you might not respond to telephone calls or knocks on the door, and that a standard alarm clock won’t suffice.

Hearing Aids During a Flight

There are no current restrictions about hearing aid devices on airplanes, even the devices with wireless technology. You’ll be able to have your device on the entire flight if you wish. However, FM assistive devices fall under the same category as cell phones and laptops, so you’ll need to keep that off to limit transmitting any radio waves. Do be aware that your hearing aids will likely pick up excess levels of noise above the wing or near the back of the plane, so if you’re able to choose your seat then you might want to pick a spot closer toward the cockpit.

Remember Your Maintenance Routines

Hearing aid users might be surprised to discover how filthy and bacteria-ridden crowded tourist spots can make their aids. While you’re moving from location to location, remember to keep your hearing aids clean by wiping them down every evening and using the appropriate maintenance routines for your specific device. And if you’re heading to a particularly sandy or dusty area, remember to protect your ears and the devices. Sand and gritty dust or saltwater are lethal to hearing aids.

Wear Your Hearing Device

Lastly, the most obvious advice: actually wear your hearing aid or cochlear implant during your trip, but especially before you walk out the door. Leaving behind a toothbrush or small trinket isn’t a huge hassle, but if you forget your hearing aids or hearing accessories the day you leave then it’s going to be a major headache that will likely hamper the overall mood of your trip. But simply wearing the aids serves as an easy way not to leave them behind. The devices don’t set off alarms at airport security, and actually wearing the device through the chaotic airport will help you better navigate and answer customs agents’ questions and hear flight announcements.

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Meet Shari Eberts, our new hearing aid blogger

by rayovac7, July 2016

Shari Eberts

Meet Shari Eberts. We love her upbeat and practical approach to living with hearing loss and are excited to share her first hand insights about living with hearing loss on Rayovac’s Hearing Aid Battery Blog.

 Shari started blogging in 2014 (check out her blog, Living With Hearing Loss) as a way to cope with her hearing loss and to connect with others trying to do the same. Her first blog post to attract attention was titled, “How to Tackle Thanksgiving Dinner When You Have Hearing Loss.” Shari says the number of people who read and commented on her post motivated her to continue writing and to build an online community for people like herself.

  Everyday situations are Shari’s main focus. She understands how challenging daily tasks can be when you have hearing loss, so she tries to provide an upbeat approach for effectively handling those situations. But she also knows that frustration is inevitable. That’s why she wants to provide a space for people to find hope and understanding.

  “It can be tough, and sad, and isolating at times, and it’s important to acknowledge that and share those feelings,” Shari says. “But it is also critical to not let hearing loss hold you back from living life as fully as possible.”

  Shari also hopes to provide information for people who want to better understand their friends and family members living with impaired hearing. Here’s what she had to say: 

               “Be supportive of your loved one by encouraging him to seek treatment for his hearing loss rather than ignoring it. Sometimes the person with hearing loss would rather not acknowledge that they have an issue because they are embarrassed or feel there is a stigma associated with having hearing loss. It is important for family and friends to help eradicate that stigma. Do not let hearing loss become an unmentionable topic. The more it is treated as just one of the many life details that impact the family or friend group, the quicker it will be acknowledged, treated and accepted.


It is also important to learn the best ways to communicate with your friend or loved one who has hearing loss. Ask them how YOU can help them hear their best and then do those things regularly. This could include things like facing them when you speak, keeping your mouth uncovered, letting them have the seat against the wall, making sure the area is well lit and that background noise is at a minimum.”

 Read below for our Q&A with Shari where she shares some of her other goals and interests. And make sure to check back regularly with the Rayovac HAB blog for more awesome insights and useful information from Shari Eberts – and be sure to check out Shari’s blog, Living With Hearing Loss.

  You also have a yoga blog – why did you decide to start writing on that topic?

I absolutely love yoga, particularly Bikram yoga. Not only are the physical benefits of yoga important, the mental benefits are also numerous. Yoga at its best, combines physical postures with a philosophy of patience and self-acceptance, which can come in very handy when dealing with the day-to-day frustrations of hearing loss. I know it does for me. I enjoy writing about my experiences with yoga and interacting with others who share this same interest.

 If you could travel to any place, where would you go?

I would love to have the opportunity to see all Seven Wonders of the World. I would also like to hike to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. I think traveling is the best way to experience firsthand how connected we all are with one another. I particularly enjoy seeing and learning about ancient architecture and artifacts. I also love hiking and viewing wildlife in its natural surroundings, like in Costa Rica. I would also love to visit the Galapagos Islands one day. 

 What are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about my children. Because my hearing loss is genetic, I may have passed it onto them. Since my loss is adult-onset, we will not know for at least 10 years. My hearing loss advocacy work stems from my hope that I can help make the world a more hearing loss-friendly place should they ever experience hearing loss themselves.

 What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my advocacy work for people with hearing loss. I sit on the national board of Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the largest advocacy organization for consumers with hearing loss. HLAA seeks to enable people with hearing loss to live life fully and without compromise. This mission aligns well with the work I am doing on my blog. I am also proud of the work I did as Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation, where I helped launch the innovative and collaborative Hearing Restoration Project research consortium. The consortium’s mission is to find a biological way to restore hearing.



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