Be prepared for the snow and cold

By Renee Palagyi, Senior Disaster Program ManagerPalagyi, Renee

Editor’s note: Renee sends a message to the Northeast Ohio regional staff every day, to accompany the daily report on disaster responses.  Here, we are sharing today’s message.

 

Not really a surprise but it appears we may be moving in to the winter season. Watch out for the “s” word in the forecast in the next few days and follow our tips to stay safe.

Beforehand:

  • Talk with your family about what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued. Discussing winter storms ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for young children.
  • Have your vehicle winterized before the winter storm season to decrease your chance of being stranded in cold weather.
  • Have a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster, and oil.
  • Install good winter tires with adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate but some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Keep in your vehicle: – A windshield scraper and small broom – A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats – Matches in a waterproof container – A brightly colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna – An emergency supply kit, including warm clothing.
  • Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Keep a supply of non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery.
  • Service snow removal equipment before the winter storm season and maintain it in good working order.
  • Keep handy a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, water-resistant boots, and extra blankets and warm clothing for each member of the household.

Plow

There’s lots more to be found at:    https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm.html

 

Smoke alarm helps save lives in Wooster

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

October 25, 2019- Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you might have as little as two minutes to escape? Something as simple as a smoke alarm can alert those inside of a fire in its early stages, providing critical time to vacate the home and call for help. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t have working smoke alarms, or don’t have enough devices within their home.

One American Red Cross volunteer, Barbara Buchwalter, experienced first-hand how powerful a simple device like a smoke alarm can be.

33882105078_6646b24feb_c

Joe Kiefer

“I was given a business card at a senior event,” said Barbara. “We knew we didn’t have enough smoke alarms for the size of our home. A fireman came and installed several alarms. Within the same week, our stove caught fire and the smoke alarm went off.  The fireman that installed the alarms also responded to the fire that afternoon. I believe my husband and I were saved, because we had our old alarms replaced.”

47706530702_b58007362e_c (1)

Lieutenant Joe Kiefer was the Wooster firefighter who provided the services that saved the lives of Barbara and her husband. He said that the smoke alarm not only saved lives that day, but it minimized the damage the fire caused. With the fast actions of the homeowners, Joe and his fellow firefighters were able to quickly respond and put out the fire before it spread to other areas of the home.

Joe was recently named Wooster firefighter of the year, and his work with the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign was mentioned as one of the reasons for his nomination.

The Buchwalters are among the 642 people whose lives have been saved after smoke alarms installed by the Red Cross and its partners alerted them to the danger in their homes. In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross and its partners have installed over 42,000 smoke alarms through its Home Fire Campaign.

Kiefers

Joe Kiefer with his wife Lara Kiefer, executive director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter

Smoke alarm installations are available to any community member through their local chapter of the Red Cross. Many fire departments, like the Wooster Fire Department partner with the Red Cross to install smoke alarms the Red Cross provides. Fifteen to 30 minutes is all it takes to install smoke alarms in a home. Joe said that it also provides the firefighters an opportunity to answer any questions the homeowners may have, and to point out any potential fire hazards within the home.

33882104578_9636739437_c

Joe Kiefer with Ashland mayor Matt Miller

“It’s a great way to get [firefighters] face-to-face with their community members,” Joe said.

“It’s a simple thing people can do—there’s no reason not to have smoke alarms,” according to Joe. To learn more about how you can prepare your home in case of a fire, visit the Red Cross Home Fire Safety page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross helps prevent home fires as part of Ashland Day of Caring

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

October 18, 2019- Support for neighbors and the community was in full swing on October 17, 2019, as part of the 25th annual Kay Conrad Ashland Day of Caring.

Organizations from all across Ashland County dedicated the day to volunteer their time to assist residents who are elderly, disabled and disadvantaged with tasks, such as light yard work, to help improve local communities.

IMG_6766

The American Red Cross was one of the organizations that took part in the day of caring.

Volunteers from the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter and partners visited homes across the county to help prevent home fires and make communities safer.

IMG_6756

As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross installed free smoke alarms in homes that had no or nonworking smoke alarms.

IMG_6752

Along with installing smoke alarms, volunteers provided residents with important fire safety tips and information on how to develop an escape plan, to ensure their family is prepared and safe in the event of a home fire.

For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, including how to request a free smoke alarm, donate or how to become involved, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO. The site also includes fire safety and prevention tips, checklists and more fire prevention and preparedness tools.

IMG_6732

To view more photos from the Kay Conrad Ashland Day of Caring, visit our Flickr page.

Red Cross and partners Sound the Alarm in Richmond Heights

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

October 14, 2019- During the weekend of October 11-13, 2019, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 7 home fires, assisted 34 individuals, including 14 children and provided more than $7,300 in immediate financial assistance.

48887634192_a4975b212b_c

The Red Cross is committed to helping to put an end to home fires in Northeast Ohio through the Home Fire Campaign.

As part of the campaign, the Red Cross holds Sound the Alarm events throughout the region to install free smoke alarms, such as the event held in Richmond Heights on October 12.

48886931763_6da1379019_c

Forty volunteers from partners Selman & Company, HOPE worldwide and the Richmond Heights CERT community response team installed 222 smoke alarms and made 83 homes safer.

“Thank you to the volunteers from Selman & Company, HOPE worldwide and the Richmond Heights CERT for helping make another Sound the Alarm installation event a success. With their assistance, we were able to ensure more homes in Northeast Ohio will be prepared in case of a home fire,” said Tim O’Toole, Red Cross regional disaster officer. “A special thank you to our partners with the Richmond Heights Fire Department, who will continue to install free smoke alarms in homes throughout their community.”

48886939583_5171bc9751_c (1)

“Saturday’s Sound the Alarm was a wonderful event. Everyone at Selman & Company who participated has said that it was the best volunteer event the company have ever done,” stated Brinton Lincoln, Greater Cleveland Chapter board member. “Thank you so very much for everyone’s efforts to make Saturday a success.”

Holly Tackett, Human Resources Generalist for Selman and Company, said, “The SelmanCo volunteer team has not stopped talking about their experience this past Saturday and they are even educating their peers and family on home safety. This was truly an impactful event that has changed lives – both the residents of the homes we installed in and SelmanCo team members.”

For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, including how to request a free smoke alarm, donate, or help make homes safer, please click here.  Additional information regarding the national Home Fire Campaign is available here. Both sites include fire safety and prevention tips, checklists, and tools.

48886946948_63ca706e3d_c

To see more photos from the Richmond Heights installation event, please visit our Flickr page.

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri, American Red Cross volunteer

 

Fire safety: lessons learned from the California wildfires

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

October 7, 2019- It is Fire Prevention Week. Every 24 hours the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responds to on average three home fires.

During the weekend of October 4-6, 2019, the Red Cross responded to 8 home fires, assisted more than 34 individuals and provided more than $5,800 in immediate financial assistance, highlighting the importance of  fire prevention.

While it is not something that many Northeast Ohio residents think about, wildfires can occur here. Read the following article written by Doug Bardwell, a Red Cross volunteer, about his deployment to assist with last year’s California wildfires and the lessons he learned:

FIRE! One of the most chilling words you never want to hear — whether shouted by a family member, a neighbor or a coworker. Ready or not, it requires immediate action to save yourself or family members.

Doug 1

In Northeast Ohio, we rarely experience a raging, neighborhood-consuming wildfire like they do in California. But we do experience hundreds of home fires in our community each year. So what lessons can we learn from the fires that happen each year in California?

Plan ahead for your home

One of the first things Californians discovered was that combustible materials should never be kept outside your house. That goes for trash, cardboard boxes and firewood.

Clean out old vegetation. If it isn’t green and growing, those dead trees, plants and grasses can be highly flammable.

Make sure outdoor barbeque grills are safely equipped with current valves and hoses.

Roasting marshmallows?  Build your campfires or bonfires in a pit a safe distance from your home. Afterward, wet down all remaining embers and make sure everything is cool to the touch before leaving the site.

Have fire extinguishers at the ready and hoses hooked up and ready to go.

Make sure your house number is clearly marked so the fire department isn’t wasting time trying to locate your property.

Doug 2

Plan ahead for your family

If the need occurs for you to evacuate your home or your neighborhood, you’ll be happy if you’ve taken the time to pre-think and practice an evacuation plan. Everyone in the family should be aware of a pre-determined rendezvous point where the family will meet up.

You’ll also want to designate an out-of-town family member or family friend who everyone can reach to keep tabs on who has checked in and who hasn’t.

Make a kit. When you are trying to escape a fire, it’s not the time to be looking for your ID, your important papers, your medicines, your glasses or your wallet. Keeping duplicates of those items near your garage or front door, makes it easy to grab and go. It will make the days immediately following the event much less stressful.

For more tips on being prepared, watch this video.

And always . . .

Make sure your home is equipped with fully functioning smoke alarms. If you don’t have working smoke alarms, call your local Red Cross office and they’ll put you on the list for a free installation.

For even more lifesaving tips, follow the Northeast Ohio Red Cross blog. Just fill in your email address and tap the FOLLOW button in the left margin. (You’ll only get two or three articles a week and you can easily cancel at any time.)

[All photos by Doug Bardwell]

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Connect with neighbors to plan ahead

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross Volunteer

September 16, 2019- Last year, our friends watched their barn burn to the ground in the middle of the night. They were unable to save their animals, the horror of which they are unable to forget. This summer, another friend went to get gas for his mower and came home to find it floating down the road, along with his shed. Eric Alves, regional communications specialist for the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, reports that this past July, flash flooding in Apple Creek, Ohio, caused residents to have to shelter overnight at Grace Church. That same weekend, a road washed out in Kinsman. Residents who were trapped in their homes had to be rescued by boat.

Eilene Guy photo

We have no idea when disaster will strike or how quickly we’ll need to respond. We’ve all been alerted numerous times to have a plan in case our families need to escape and to have supplies ready to grab on the way out the door. Many residents in Northeast Ohio live near the Perry nuclear power plant, where evacuation plans are printed in the local telephone books. People often say they’ll worry about it when the time comes. But in the panicked moment when you have to act, will you be thinking clearly enough to protect your family and get them to safety?

Kinsman1

Part of preparing your family for an emergency includes preparing as a community. Who in your neighborhood would need help in an emergency? An older couple, perhaps? A single mom or a neighbor confined to a wheelchair? What about your animals – is there a safe place in the area to take them if you have to leave your home? What resources are nearby in case there is no power, no water and/or limited lines of communication?

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

In the farming community where I live, families talk together about how they might support each other during a disaster. When the rising waters of Lake Erie threatened to shut down the public water system, we knew which farms had natural springs that could be relied on for ourselves and our animals. If an ice storm leaves us in a blackout, Anna and Joe who heat their house with electricity know they can take their small children to Jill and Trevor’s farm a mile down the road and stay warm near the wood stove. We know to call Jim and Matt when a tree comes down, for example. Or that Patti will drop everything to watch our children if we’re rushed to the hospital.

We all need help sometimes, and we are each able to help, even in small ways. Talk to your neighbors about how you might support each other in times of need. Community building can be fun. Have a potluck or a block party and get to know each other!

The Pillowcase Project, New York 2013

The Red Cross website provides a wealth of information to help you prepare for emergencies: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies.html. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

Safety tips to help you enjoy the end of summer fun this Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2019- Labor Day is considered the unofficial end of the summer in Northeast Ohio, and with that comes a lot of traveling and social gatherings.

Whether you are planning to host family and friends for a cookout, enjoy a day ofCentennial Campaign 2015 swimming at Edgewater Park Beach or driving to attend the Cleveland National Air Show, the American Red Cross has offered the following tips on how to safely enjoy the holiday.

Driving safety: When driving, make sure you are well rested and alert, wear your seat belts, follow the speed limit and rules of the road, make frequent stops, and don’t let your gas tank get low.

  • Pack a first aid kit and emergency preparedness kit in each vehicle.
  • If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink.
  • Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Use caution in work zones. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
  • If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.

Water safety: Be water smart. Make sure to have swimming skills and know how to help others.

  • Pay close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.Aquatics Centennial Campaign 2014
  • Prevent unsupervised access to water with adequate barriers for pools and spas.
  • Learn swimming and water survival skills.
  • Children, inexperienced swimmers and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Always swim with a buddy in a life-guarded area.

Barbecue safety: Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. You can also follow these steps:

  • Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Never grill indoors — not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

Here are a few other suggested steps to take ahead of Labor Day:

  • Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills so you’ll have the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency until help arrives. Take a class (redcross.org/takeaclass), download the free Red Cross First Aid app and open the Red Cross First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.
  • Go to redcross.org/watersafety for a variety of water safety resources and courses. Download the free Red Cross Swim app.App Icon
  • Give blood. The number of people donating blood often drops during the summer when people are on vacation and schools are closed. Visit redcrossblood.org, download the Red Cross Blood app, or enable the Red Cross Blood Skill for more information or to schedule your donation.App Icon

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Meet me at the corner! Plan for your family’s safety

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

Beth0

Beth Bracale

If I close my eyes, I can still see the flames shooting out from the windows of the house across the street. I can hear the agonized screams that drew us to our own windows that night to see what had happened. I was five years old, and that was my first experience of sheer terror – both someone else’s and my own.

Believe it or not, no one got hurt that night. Both of the senior sisters who shared the home had escaped the fire, one out the front door, one out the back. Their screams were the agony of each believing the other to still be trapped in the inferno. When neighbors reunited them, they fell sobbing into each other’s arms.

No one is ever fully prepared for disaster, but families can plan together to minimize the suffering. What if the sisters had had a plan? Would that night have gone differently had they designated a meeting spot in case they got separated in an emergency?

As foster parents, it’s required that we have a clear escape plan in case of disaster, one that everyone in the family can understand and remember. Even young children can learn what to do. All the students in the school where I taught, ages four through 14, practiced how to exit the school if there was a fire, how to exit a bus in an emergency, and what to do if a tornado was headed toward our neighborhood.

So I wasn’t prepared for the day my class of four-year-olds sat on the story carpet, listening to my assistant talk about emergencies. They raised their hands eagerly to share what they knew about fire drills. Stay in line. Walk, don’t run. Remain silent. Wait in our class’ spot on the corner until we got the “all clear” to return to our room. They had it all right.

Eilene Guy photo

Photo credit: Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

“But what if an emergency happened at home?” my assistant asked.

“If a bad man comes in the house, you hide in the closet,” one child announced. Others nodded in agreement.

“What if a tornado is coming?” she asked.

“You run outside,” another child responded. More nods. I made a mental note to teach about tornado safety in the near future.

“What if you smelled smoke in your house or saw that something was on fire?” she quizzed.

“You call 911,” a student said confidently. “Yes, but what do you do before that?” she asked.

“Hide in the closet,” he said. The other children agreed.

Hide in the closet. Images of that house fire from years ago leaped into my head. And I imagined children inside, hiding in the closet.

We did a lot of learning and practicing that day. We sent the students home with information for their parents to use in creating family safety plans.

You can find information about keeping children safe on the American Red Cross website at https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/fire-safety-for-kids.html.

Don’t put it off. Create your own plan today!

How to beat the heat

Tips for preparing for – and staying safe during – a heat wave

summer-heat

Beaches will no doubt be busy places this weekend, as temperatures in Northeast Ohio are expected to soar into the 90s (don’t forget the sunscreen!)

Here are some tips for preparing for extended periods of excessive heat:

  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined.
  • Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for power outages.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.

Icon Disaster

During a heat wave, we encourage you and your family to:

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

More helpful information, including how to treat heat-related illnesses and preparing for power outages can be found here.

And if you find relief from the heat at a beach, whether it be at Atwood Lake, Pymatuning State Park, or along the shores of Lake Erie, be sure to observe the rules of water safety.

And have fun!

 

Stay safe this Fourth of July with these safety tips

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

July 3, 2019- With Fourth of July celebrations almost under way, the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross has some fireworks safety tips to make sure everyone stays safe this holiday.

beautiful-breathtaking-canada-day-2526105

“Fourth of July is a great holiday for families to enjoy the summer weather but we want everyone to stay safe, especially when it comes to fireworks,” said Tim O’Toole, regional disaster officer for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “These safety tips will ensure that everyone can have an enjoyable and safe Independence Day, including pets.”

Attend a Public Fireworks Show

The safest way to enjoy fireworks this Fourth of July is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Make sure to stay at least 500 feet away from the show and leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

july-4th-socialmediagraphic-1

If you or someone you know is setting off fireworks at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials, and make sure to light them a safe distance away.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Always have an adult supervise any fireworks activities, even sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Many communities in Northeast Ohio are hosting fireworks shows throughout the Fourth of July weekend. Click here for a full listing of shows in the area.

Pet Safety

Hurricane Florence 2018

July 5th is the busiest day at local animal shelters due to animals being scared by fireworks and running away. Here are some tips to keep your furry friends safe this Independence Day:

  • Keep your pets inside on the lowest level of your home.
  • Turn on a television or radio to help cover some the loud noises that may be outside.
  • Before fireworks and other festivities begin, get your pet to be active, such as going on a long hike. A pet that is mentally and physically exhausted is less likely to react to fireworks and other loud noises.
  • Provide your pet a distraction, such as a delicious treat or toys, to keep them occupied.
  • Comfort them. Sitting close to your pet, petting them gently and offering quiet words of reassurance during scary events like fireworks can help to center them and might even reduce their fearfulness.
  • Make sure your pet has access to a favorite and comforting area, such as a bedroom.
  • Try an anxiety vest. Much like swaddling helps to calm infants, a snug garment that puts gentle pressure on your pet’s torso can reduce fireworks anxiety. Get your furry  friend used to wearing a pressure wrap before fireworks so that by the time the event arrives, they will be comfortable with the garment.
  • Just in case your pet does escape, make sure your pet’s identification is up to date and that you have a current photo ready.

Fireworks aren’t the only things that pose a home fire risk – this video can help you avoid home fires due to cooking accidents:

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer