By Tim O’Toole
Regional Disaster Officer, Northeast Ohio
121 people lost their lives in Ohio last year due to accidental fires, according to information provided to the State Fire Marshal’s Fire Prevention Bureau.
Unfortunately, two counties within the Northeast Ohio Region top several lists.
- Cuyahoga County in the Greater Cleveland Chapter led the state with 14 accidental fire fatalities. This is twice as high as the counties with the second highest number.
- Jefferson County in the Lake to River Chapter led the state in per capita deaths, with 7 fatalities. Although these deaths occurred in just 3 events, it still is still an alarming number.
Fire deaths continue to impact the very young and the senior community. Nearly half of the fire victims were over 60 years of age.
Smoke alarms were present in only 25% of the fire locations. This number indicates only that they were present, and not whether they functioned correctly.
The takeaway is that the mission of the American Red Cross is an important one. And one that isn’t going away.
4 people lost their lives last night (1/11/16) in Summit County. Every Day, tragedy strikes our communities. But our Disaster Cycle Service processes of Prepare, Respond and Recover align perfectly with the problem these numbers dictate. Our education and prevention programs can reduce the number of future fires and prepare people to respond appropriately when they do occur. Daily, our response teams and caseworkers continue to provide support for those who do suffer the effects of hostile fires and help them recover from the impact. And finally, Operation Save-A-Life, our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign will continue to help prevent the fatalities that too often occur as a result of those fires.
These numbers indicate not only the importance of our mission, but also the fact that we must increase our efforts to insure we impact them positively in the future.
I thank all Disaster Service volunteers and staff for their dedicated and sincere support of the mission.
I am proud to be part of it.
Regional Disaster Officer
Northeast Ohio Region
Learn more about Operation Save-A-Life, the Red Cross effort to reduce fire fatalities in Northeast Ohio by providing fire safety education and FREE smoke alarm installations, at redcross.org/neoosal.
Read more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross here.