Dedicated volunteers spend Thanksgiving week assisting home fire victims

While many of us enjoyed time relaxing with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, American Red Cross disaster volunteers were busy responding to multiple incidents across the Northern Ohio Region. During the week of Thanksgiving, November 22-28, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio responded to 34 home fires, affecting 110 adults and children. We distributed more than $22,000 in immediate assistance to help these families begin the recovery process.


Of the many responses that happened in the past week, three occurred on Thanksgiving Day. Dedicated volunteers in the Northern Ohio Region left their own families and celebrations to assist families facing one of the worst days imaginable. Without the continued commitment of volunteers who are available 24/7 to respond to disasters, the Red Cross could not meet the needs of the many communities we serve.

The Red Cross normally sees an increase in local disasters, especially home fires, during the holiday season and this year is no exception. Cooking accidents and home heating mistakes often lead to fires that leave families stranded during the winter months. The Red Cross encourages the community to celebrate safely in the coming weeks and to read up on our tips to cook and decorate safely.


It’s also important that families are prepared for a home fire that could happen at any time. In most cases, families have less than two minutes to escape a home fire, although many believe they have much longer. The Red Cross encourages you to protect your family by taking two simple steps.

  1. Practice your two-minute escape drill
  2. Test your smoke alarms monthly

In an effort to #EndHomeFires, the Red Cross continues to provide home fire safety information to residents and to install smoke alarms for those who need them. On Monday Nov. 29, volunteers visited 22 homes and installed 67 smoke alarms in Cleveland and East Cleveland. View our photo album here.

For more information on the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, fire safety tips, or to request a smoke alarm, please visit this site. The Red Cross also has an urgent need for volunteers to respond to local disasters and help in other ways as we carry out our lifesaving mission. Learn more about our volunteer positions and sign up today.

In Northern Ohio and nationwide, Americans support each other another a year into COVID-19

Please take part in Red Cross Giving Tuesday as #HelpCantWait

Tim Poe, American Red Cross Volunteer.

September 7, 2021. Kenner, Louisiana. American Red Cross volunteer, Charisse Brown, hands out hot meals and words of comfort to residents of Kenner, Louisiana, after over a week of power outages in the community. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

In my various capacities as an American Red Cross volunteer the last few years, I have seen the impact of your donations, whether financial support, donating blood, or volunteering time and expertise. I have seen the moment in people’s faces when despair turns to hope following a disaster and they begin focusing on recovery, the appreciation of first responders receiving food and beverages while working at a large-scale event, and the caring during the organized bustle of blood drives. I have also been fortunate to speak with veterans and their families assisted by the Red Cross, met people who saved lives with the help of Red Cross training, and worked alongside incredibly kind and dedicated fellow volunteers and staff members. I, my family, and friends have also benefitted from the Red Cross in our personal lives, both through lifesaving blood donations and a deployed relative brought home after his mother passed. None of this would have been possible without donations.

The monetary value of items I have seen provided varies, from a cup of coffee and toiletries to food and safe shelter to the pricelessness of needed blood and assistance from well-trained people.

On Giving Tuesday, please consider donating to the Red Cross. The effectiveness of your donations is tremendous and, as this recent article states, needed now more than ever. This year alone Northern Ohio Red Cross staff and volunteers responded to nearly 1,200 disasters, aiding more than 1,800 people.

There is also a critical need for blood—the Red Cross distributed 250,000 more blood products this year—while the pandemic caused fewer blood drives and donors, a 32% decrease in Northern Ohio and a 34% drop nationally. The Red Cross’s blood supply is at its lowest in more than a decade.

Also, the COVID-19 pandemic, severe weather, and global conflict have created tremendous demand for Red Cross services and posed significant challenges. Nationally, the Red Cross launched a new major relief effort every 11 days to provide refuge, food, and care. Families displaced by disasters spent an average of nearly 30 days in a Red Cross-supported emergency shelter. In addition, 2.1 million essential items were provided to evacuees and children seeking asylum.

To provide a sense of scale for the impact of your donations, each day the Red Cross:

  • helps nearly 170 families affected by a home fire or other disaster,
  • collects about 12,500 blood donations to help people in need,
  • provides critical aid to members of the military, veterans, and their families around 1,400 times,
  • along with its partners, helps provide more than 683,000 rubella vaccinations to children,
  • and provides lifesaving training to nearly 13,000 people.

To help provide financial support, please visit this link. To schedule a blood donation, please see here. And to explore volunteer opportunities, please click here.


Tips for decking the halls safely

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

When I was young, I visited the home of an elderly Finnish couple. I remember the heavenly aroma of special cookies baking for the upcoming Christmas holiday.

But my most vivid memory of that visit was of an unfinished wooden frame in the shape of a Christmas tree with delicate straw ornaments and real candles burning!

I asked my dad why we didn’t have real candles on our tree. He immediately dismissed the idea as “too dangerous.” Boy, was he right: According to the National Fire Protection Association, candles cause an average 20 home fires a day in the U.S., and these emergencies peak in December and January.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com


The American Red Cross suggests that if you’re decorating with candles this holiday season, consider using the battery-operated kind. They’re flameless, many are scented and they come in a variety of styles, from votives and pillars to tapers for windowsills and the dining table. If you must use real candles, keep them away from anything that could burn and out of reach of pets and children. Never leave burning candles unattended.

The Red Cross offers other steps you can take to be sure you and your family enjoy the
holidays safely:
– Check all light cords to ensure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together – no more than three per extension cord.
– Turn off all holiday lights – including window candles – when going to bed or leaving the house.
– Be sure outside decorations are labeled for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If you’re using hooks or nails outside, make sure they’re insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
– If you’re buying an artificial tree, look for a fire-resistant label.  When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees.
– If you’re getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh – and keep it watered. To test if the tree is fresh, bend the needles up and down to make sure needles aren’t falling off.
– Clear the mantel of stockings and other dangling decorations before lighting a fireplace.
– Check the labels on older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
– If you’re using a ladder to hang the mistletoe or place a tree-topper, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.

The Red Cross responds to more than 60,000 disasters a year – and the majority are home fires. Home fires claim seven lives a day in the U.S., but working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death by half. This is a good time to test your smoke alarms and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes: That’s how long you may have to leave a burning home before it’s too late.

If you’re looking for a gift for that someone “who has everything,” how about a new smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher or emergency escape ladder?

How about a donation in that person’s name to the American Red Cross, to support activities that help prepare for, prevent and respond to disasters down the street, across the country and around the world? To make a donation, visit here.

Red Cross response in 2021: Families face emergency needs

Bring hope to the holidays by donating on Giving Tuesday or giving blood to help overcome the nation’s emergency blood shortage

In 2021, people in Northern Ohio and across the country faced great emergency needs as the ongoing pandemic exacerbated the challenges related to severe disasters, blood shortages and global conflict.

“Our most vulnerable neighbors are facing unique and pressing struggles when crisis strikes on top of COVID-19,” Mike Parks, Regional CEO said. “This holiday season, join us to provide help and hope in these difficult moments by making a financial donation or by giving blood or platelets.”

Watch Mike’s Thanksgiving video message here.

Visit redcross.org to make a financial donation or an appointment to give blood or platelets. Individuals can also learn about volunteer opportunities in their area and give back in honor of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, whose 200th birthday will be commemorated on December 25.

RELENTLESS DISASTERS COMPOUND COVID-19 STRUGGLES 2021 marked one of the country’s most active years for severe weather — which battered many communities still reeling from last year’s disasters. For thousands of people in need, the Red Cross launched a new major relief effort every 11 days to provide refuge, food and care.

August 10, 2021. Chicago Park, California. Red Cross volunteer Dave Wagner surveys damage from the River Fire on Meyer Drive in Chicago Park, California. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

This year, a family displaced by a disaster in the U.S. spent an average of nearly 30 days in a Red Cross-supported emergency shelter. These extended stays were largely due to a lack of savings and community housing shortages — signs that climate-driven disasters are compounding the financial hardships of the pandemic.

Tom Revolinsky and Tracy Endress travelled to the hurricane-ravaged gulf coast

65 disaster workers from Northern Ohio, most of them volunteers, helped people across the country who were impacted by disasters, including western wildfires, Hurricane Ida, Tropical Storms Fred and Henri, flooding in middle Tennessee, and the repatriation of refugees from Afghanistan in Maryland, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In Northern Ohio, Red Cross workers responded to nearly 1,200 disasters – the vast majority of them home fires. More than 1,800 families received assistance in the immediate hours and days after experiencing their darkest hours.

GLOBAL CONFLICT CREATES MASS NEEDS FOR DISPLACED FAMILIES Around the world, massive humanitarian needs emerged in 2021 for a growing number of families displaced by the overlapping challenges of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change. This year, at the request of federal government partners, Red Cross workers from Northern Ohio and across the country distributed more than 2.1 million essential items — like blankets, diapers, medicine and toys — for Afghan evacuees arriving on U.S. military bases and unaccompanied children seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

September 1, 2021. Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. The American Red Cross is welcoming evacuees from Afghanistan at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, at the request of the Department of Defense. Red Cross team members are offering hygiene supplies, baby items, and other necessities. Photo by Emily Osment / American Red Cross

COVID-19 STRAINS BLOOD SUPPLY FOR PATIENTS To meet the increasing needs of hospital patients, the Red Cross distributed 250,000 more blood products in 2021 than last year, until the delta variant began to spread in August. The pandemic also resulted in fewer blood drives at schools and colleges, contributing to a 34% drop in new blood donors from last year — one of the largest year-to-year decreases and one that could threaten essential medical care for patients. Locally, the Northern Ohio Red Cross Region has experienced a 32% decrease in new blood donors this year.

Blood donor Ed Lewis gives at the WNCX Rock and Roll blood drive in April, 2021

As a result of low blood donor turnout in recent months, the Red Cross is heading into the holidays with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade at this time of year. Blood donations are desperately needed now to meet the needs of accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

All those who come to give Nov. 29-Dec.16 will automatically be entered for the chance to win a private screening for the winner and 50 of their guests of the epic new film The Matrix Resurrections. Plus, those who come to give Nov. 29-Dec. 16 will also get a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email, thanks to Amazon.*

Stay safe while cooking this Thanksgiving

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross Volunteer

On Thanksgiving loved ones gather to celebrate togetherness and express gratitude while sharing a feast. Some will also be assisting others, such as first responders, medical professionals and members of the American Red Cross’ Disaster Action Team (DAT). They will likely be busy. Last year’s Thanksgiving weekend, for example, saw Northern Ohio Red Cross DAT responders help 70 people who experienced home fires. They also continued aiding 80 residents displaced by an apartment fire earlier that week.

As wondrous as Thanksgiving is, home fires are a serious risk. The National Fire Protection Association states that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, and that Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires caused by cooking equipment. Other peak days for home cooking fires are Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas Eve.

I asked Jani Memorich, a Northern Ohio DAT leader, for her perspective. She said, “My experience as a DAT responder has shown me the horrible effects a cooking fire can have on a family and their home. It seems like such a simple thing to avoid and yet it happens all the time. Even when someone doesn’t think what they are doing will end in a fire, it only takes seconds before it all goes wrong. Staying awake and keeping other items away from the stove seem to be two precautions most circumvented on the cooking fires I have responded to. Should the worst case scenario occur, every home should have a fire plan and everyone in the household should know what to do in the case of fire.”

“My experience as a DAT responder has shown me the horrible effects a cooking fire can have on a family and their home. It seems like such a simple thing to avoid and yet it happens all the time.”

Jani Memorich, Northern Ohio ReGION
Disaster action team Leader

Jani offered this cooking safety tip: Create a list of food and when to prep and cook it. “So many of our dishes take several steps,” she said, “and if you put it down on paper, it takes much of the guess work out. It’s almost like a recipe for the day!” Jani added, “Also, a lot of things happen about an hour out from turkey completion so having a checklist will help you keep it straight and on track. Hopefully eliminating stress helps eliminate mishaps in the kitchen!”

To keep you and your loved ones safe, please follow these cooking safety tips:

  • Never leave frying, grilling or broiling food unattended. If you leave the kitchen for even a moment, turn off the stove. In short, “Keep an eye on what you fry!”
  • Do not use the stove if you may fall asleep. I often saw the results of this as a disaster responder.
  • Move flammable items such as dishtowels, bags, boxes, paper and curtains away from the stove. Also keep children and pets at least three feet away.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
  • Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
  • Fires can start when the heat is too high. When frying, turn the burner off if you see smoke, or grease starts to boil. Carefully remove the pan from the burner.
  • Keep a pan lid or a cookie sheet nearby. Use it to cover the pan if it catches on fire. This will put out the fire. Leave the pan covered until completely cooled.
  • Turn pot handles to the back of the stove, so no one bumps them or pulls them over.
  • Use a timer to remind yourself the stove or oven is on.
  • Limit the amount of people in the cooking area. Besides lessening the chances of a burn or cut, it will also lower the stress of those preparing food.
  • Oven mitts or items designed to carry hot plates/serving bowls are better at preventing burns than dish towels.
  • Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher for your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on proper use.
  • Check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving home to ensure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are off.

In addition to cooking safely, please also test your smoke alarms, travel safely and consider downloading the free Red Cross First Aid app.

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

A chance to give back: One family’s first blood drive 

By Ryan Lang, American Red Cross Volunteer

“In the cancer world, I don’t think people understand how much blood product is needed and just how important it is.” 

Ed Fink, Krista Fink, Dylan Fink, Grady Fink

Those are the words of Krista Fink, mother of now 15-year-old Dylan Fink, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma back in September 2019 at just 14 years old. That moment will forever be cemented in time as one of the most profound moments of Krista’s and her husband Ed’s lives. 

Will our son be OK? Will he play sports again? What now? All of those questions and so many more raced through their minds as they first had to consider how to tell Dylan, whose biggest concern to that point was trying out for the high school basketball team. 

They did tell Dylan and then the Fink family began their treatment plan, attacking the cancer as aggressively as they could, all while holding onto the hope that Dylan would be OK.

Chemotherapy was the first order of business, and it started almost immediately after Dylan’s official diagnosis. This continued over the course of nearly seven months, and as it does, chemo took its toll on Dylan and his young body, leaving him weak and his blood counts drastically low.

“It was after his fourth round of chemo that he needed his first blood transfusion,” Ed said. And over the course of his more than 100 days in the hospital between September 2019 and March 2020, Dylan would undergo nine blood transfusions and 11 platelet transfusions in addition to his cancer treatments.

Then came May 4, 2020, eight months to the day from when he was diagnosed with cancer. Dylan was able to “ring the bell” at Akron Children’s hospital, marking his remission.

“For Dylan, that was the goal… We talked about ‘the bell’ so much, and when it did happen it was truly a miracle,” Krista said.

From the moment Dylan’s treatments began, Ed and Krista Fink had decided that when they could, they would find a way to give back to all of the people who helped them, and helped Dylan, along the way. Between moral and emotional support and, of course, blood donations family and friends had made in Dylan’s honor, the Finks had a lot to be grateful for, and in turn, according to Ed, a lot to give back. 

That’s where the Fearless Fighters Foundation started. It’s the nonprofit started by Ed and Krista Fink, in honor of Dylan, with the mission of “crushing all pediatric cancers by funding research for new and improved treatments as well as helping families who are currently going through treatment,” according to the group’s Facebook page. As the Finks were launching the foundation, trying to decide what type of event would really get their charitable efforts off the ground, the answer came to them quickly: a blood drive! What better way to support pediatric cancer patients than helping to provide the lifesaving blood that Dylan was so dependent on during his treatment. 

On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, the Finks and the Fearless Fighters Foundation are hosting their very first blood drive at the SYB hall in Stow, located at 4157 Hudson Drive. For details, see the Facebook event page. There are several appointments still available for donors. Ed and Krista are urging all who can to sign up as soon as they can to secure their spot. 

December’s blood drive, the Finks said, is the first of many opportunities for their family to give back. For cancer patients needing blood products over the course of their treatments, there was one message Krista wanted to convey: “They would not be able to survive without it.” 

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Reflections of a local veteran and volunteer

Veterans Day remarks from Mike Parks follow

By Chiane Martin, American Red Cross Volunteer, Service to the Armed Forces

Veterans Day is a day, when as a country, we can sit back and reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a day of remembrance, gratitude and honor.  As a veteran, I reflect on the personal sacrifices all veterans have made and we honor our brothers and sisters that we have lost along the way. Veterans Day is about showing homage to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The sacrifice of leaving everything they know and love behind to fight for their country. There is an immense sense of pride that a service member feels when they put on that uniform. That pride comes from knowing that they are fighting for something bigger than themselves.

Red Cross volunteer and US Army veteran Chiane Martin

The work that I do with the American Red Cross makes me feel that sense of pride again. I am honored to provide my fellow service members and their families with the support they need during some of the most difficult and trying times in their lives. Having someone understand the challenges you’ve faced or are facing can make all the difference and I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to do just that.

There is an immense sense of pride that a service member feels when they put on that uniform. That pride comes from knowing that they are fighting for something bigger than themselves.

Chiane Martin

The Red Cross is a phenomenal organization and were helpful when I was in the military. I respect the work and dedication that I see put in by the Red Cross and couldn’t be more happy to be a part of it. Thank you to all the men and women past and present, who have made that ultimate sacrifice. Those that understood and upheld the mission of service before self. Those that took that oath and those who understand that the world is more important than themselves.

Happy Veterans Day,

Mike Parks’ Veterans Day message

By Mike Parks, Rear Admiral, US Coast Guard (retired)
Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

This Thursday, November 11th, we will remember Veterans Day, which evolved from Armistice Day and was first proclaimed in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson.  The term “armistice” refers to when warring parties agree to stop fighting.  President Wilson’s Armistice Day recognized the end of World War One when hostilities ceased at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month).  The United States Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 to recognize Veterans of all U.S. wars. 

In this poster, a Tomb Guard carries out his responsibilities with
unwavering dedication, alone on the quiet plaza at dawn.
There have been Tomb Guards of all races, genders, religion
and creeds, so I wanted to keep the identity of this Tomb Guard ambiguous. 
By placing the Tomb Guard off to the side I hoped to remind the viewer
to look past the sentinel and focus on the tomb itself and the unknown
soldiers who died in service to our nation.
(Artist Matt Tavares)

This past year has been yet another year of remarkable events in our nation’s history—not the least of which was the conclusion of our military’s 20-year engagement in the war in Afghanistan—a war that saw thousands of American Veterans serve our country—many making the ultimate sacrifice or suffering debilitating injuries they will live with for the rest of their lives.  We should not only remember and thank those Veterans who served in that two-decade long war, we should also recognize and thank their families and loved ones. 

I’d like to highlight this last point just a bit more on this Veterans Day.  Veterans past and present put themselves in harm’s way to protect our way of life; many endure severe hardships while serving our country; they sacrifice significant time with their families and loved ones during long deployments-often in far-away lands and on the high seas; and they frequently uproot themselves and their families to undertake moves of entire households—many times cross-country.  All of these facets of a Veteran’s everyday life, also take a huge toll on their families and loved ones as they support their Veterans.  I speak from personal experience, and feel confident I speak for other Veterans, when I state I would not have been successful without the love, support, and prayers of my family—they were, and always will be, a true blessing.  Let us all make a special point this year to also remember to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to the families and loved ones of our Veterans.

In closing—I challenge all of us to not just remember our Veterans and their families on November 11th, but remember and thank them whenever the opportunity presents itself.  None of our Veterans only protected our freedoms one day a year—I hope we can express our gratitude on more than one day a year as well.  To all those Veterans that are reading this—“Thank you for your service!”  Please also thank your families and loved ones for their support of you and their sacrifice as well!  Let us never forget. 

Best regards…Mike

P.S. Please also take a moment to view our Virtual Resiliency Workshops website to learn how to access these resources, which are open to anyone with a military veteran affiliation (including partners, donors, service members, spouses, friends and staff members, those 18 years and up). 

Safety forces from Richmond Heights receive Red Cross Lifesaving Award

A police officer who administered first aid for the victim of a gunshot and five members of the Richmond Heights Fire Department have been honored with the American Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action.

Richmond Heights Fire Lieutenant John Boos, upper left, firefighters Thomas Fanara, Michael Kocmit, Kevin Moore and Richard Rousch, upper right, Patroman Sean Lawlor, lower right, and Red Cross Regional COO Jorge Martinez, lower left.

On July 24th, they helped save the life of a young man who had accidentally shot himself in the leg.  Patrolman Sean Lawlor arrived on scene and helped apply tourniquets and pressure to the wound.

Shortly thereafter, arriving on the scene were fire lieutenant John Boos and firefighters Thomas Fanara, Michael Kocmit, Kevin Moore and Richard Rousch, all of whom provided life-saving treatment and emergency ambulance transportation to the hospital.

The Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action is awarded to individuals who step up in an emergency situation and help save or sustain a life. Such action exemplifies the mission of the Red Cross – to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

Lieutenant Boos credited the others for their actions.

“It was a great job by the members on the shift that day to get in there and effectively help with what Patrolman Lawler initiated and continue the same care end expedite the transport to the emergency room in a timely fashion.”

The firefighters credited officer Lawler with doing a great job as the first on the scene, saying he “really stole the show.”

The patrolman called it a team effort, crediting other officers on the scene as well.

Red Cross Regional COO Jorge Martinez, who conducted the virtual ceremony, commended the winners for their willingness to help others in distress.

“Heroes are all around us,” Martinez said. “But they are not common—because to act quickly and decisively during a crisis takes a level of courage reserved only for a chosen few.”

You can watch a recording of the ceremony here.

Don’t forget to TURN and TEST this weekend

This Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time for 2021, meaning we will “fall back” one hour. As you turn back your clocks this weekend, the American Red Cross asks everyone to also test their smoke alarms.

Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster and tragically take seven lives every day in this country. Individuals may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late. An early warning from a working smoke alarm, plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly, can save lives.

“It’s critical to take action now to be as safe as possible as the threat of home fires increases with the holidays and cooler weather,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “In fiscal year 2021, Red Cross volunteers in our region responded to more than 1,100 home fires. The good news is that you can take a few simple steps this weekend to help protect your loved ones.”

Follow these simple tests to get your home ready:

  1. Test all existing smoke alarms, and make a plan to check them monthly.
  2. Check to make sure you have smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, including inside and outside of bedrooms and sleeping areas.
  3. Replace any smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older. Components such as sensors can become less sensitive over time. Follow your alarm’s manufacturer instructions.
  4. Practice your two-minute home fire escape plan. Make sure everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes. Include at least two ways to get out of every room and select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone can meet.

Red Cross Home Fire Campaign

Since October 2014, the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign with community partners has saved at least 1,048 lives by educating families about fire safety, helping them create escape plans and installing more than 2.2 million free smoke alarms in high-risk homes across the country. 

For more information, including safety tips and free resources, visit redcross.org/homefires or download the free Red Cross Emergency app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores.

No better time to make homes safer

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

James Mays lives alone in a roomy house in Cleveland, and is extra cautious about preventing a home fire.  “I’m pretty spooked out about it,” he said on the morning before Halloween, as American Red Cross volunteers Brittany Tucker and Walter Reddick installed new smoke alarms in his home.

Red Cross volunteers Walter Reddick and Brittany Tucker install a smoke alarm

James said he’s experienced two fires in his life.  “You have to really be watchful,” he said.

James’ home was one of 22 made safer on October 30, 2021, as six Red Cross volunteers, three staff members and two Cleveland firefighters visited homes in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. All were observing safety measures to protect themselves, each other and the residents they visited by wearing face coverings and being socially distanced when possible.

Red Cross volunteer Brittany Tucker and Cleveland resident James Mays

“I saw it on TV,” said Carolyn Lee, referring to a message urging people to test their alarms when they turn back their clocks to end daylight saving time on November 7.  It prompted Carolyn, who has nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren to call the Cleveland Division of Fire, which works closely with the Red Cross to install alarms and share home fire safety information with residents who make an appointment.

Carolyn’s son Treyfus Lee was visiting when the Red Cross arrived.  The U.S. Army veteran grew up in the house and said the alarms hadn’t been changed in “quite a while.”  He was told smoke alarm sensors have a 10-year life span, and that all alarms should be tested monthly.

Treyfus Lee, left and his mother Carolyn Lee

It was a timely message, delivered a week before the time change, and a reminder to all residents: when you turn back your clocks, test your smoke alarms.

To make an appointment for a home fire safety visit and to have free smoke alarms installed in your home, visit our website.  Residents of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula Counties can also call 216-361-5535.  Residents of Summit, Mahoning, Trumbull, Medina, Portage and Columbiana counties can call 330-535-2030.  In Stark, Wayne, Ashland, Carroll, Holmes, Harrison and Tuscarawas Counties, residents can call 330-453-0146. In Erie, Hancock, Huron, Lorain, Putnam, Seneca, and Wyandot Counties, residents can call 419-422-9322. In Lucas, Fulton, Henry, Ottawa, Sandusky, Wood, and Monroe County, Michigan, residents can call 419-329-2900.

Photos by Dave Eadelis, American Red Cross volunteer. For more photos, visit our Flickr album.