Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: January 18-20, 2019

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

January 21, 2019- While many residents all across Northeast Ohio were hunkered down at home, waiting for Winter Storm Harper to pass, American Red Cross disaster workers conquered many obstacles to assist residents in need.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 12 incidents in Akron, Cleveland, East Liverpool, Euclid, Huron, Lodi, North Olmsted, Ravenna and Youngstown. The team assisted 34 adults and 15 children, and distributed more than $10,000 in immediate financial assistance.

With vehicles stuck on side streets and even members of the Red Cross disaster team snowed-in, nothing could keep the NEO Red Cross from reaching across county and chapter lines to assure that residents were assisted during their worst times.

In one such case, a disaster team from the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter responded to a call in Lodi, due to members of the Summit, Portage, and Media Counties Chapter team being unable to respond due to being trapped by the snow.

“Regardless of any obstacles we may face, the Red Cross will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of residents,” stated Mike Arthur, disaster program manager, Lake Erie/Heartland and one of the members who responded to the Lodi call. “If that is answering a call to help another chapter or driving in winter weather conditions, there is always a way for us to assist individuals in need.”

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Photo credit: Doug Bardwell/American Red Cross volunteer

Over the weekend, all 12 incidents were home fire responses. Thankfully, there were no reported fatalities.

The Red Cross announced last week that through the home fire campaign, more than 500 lives have now been saved nationally, due to the installation of free smoke alarms and helping residents create an escape plan in the event of a fire.

During the start of fiscal year 2019, from June-November 2018, the NEO Red Cross has installed 5,692 smoke alarms, reached more than 1,300 children through youth preparedness programs and made more than 5,200 homes safer throughout the region.

To learn more about the home fire campaign and to request a smoke alarm, visit the Northeast Ohio home fire campaign page.

If you would like to provide a financial donation to assist the Red Cross’ efforts to support the residents of Northeast Ohio, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

If you cannot assist financially, there is another way you may help the Red Cross assist those in need. Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are truly the face of the Red Cross.  Visit redcross.org/neo to learn more about volunteer opportunities or to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer.

Young lifeguards receive Red Cross award for saving man’s life

By Sue Wilson, Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter board of directors. Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

Four lifeguards trained by the American Red Cross have been honored for saving a man’s life. Ryan Grimesey, Andrew Bachie, Nathaniel French and John Porch jumped into action after finding a man lying unresponsive on the floor of the Middleburg Heights Recreation Center last July. They called for EMS and performed CPR with an AED until medics arrived.

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L to R: Tim O’Toole, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio regional disaster officer, Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr, Ryan Grimesey, Nathaniel French, Andrew Bachie, Jeff Minch, Middleburg Heights recreation director, and Jessica Rockhill, aquatics/facilities director

The lifeguards were honored with the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award at a Middleburg Heights City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. This is one of the highest awards given by the Red Cross to an individual or team for saving or sustaining a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross course.

The team of young men were on duty at the Middleburg Heights Community Center on July 5 when a call came across the radio that a man was lying on the floor in the locker room. All four moved in, each handling a specific aspect of the lifesaving techniques they had been trained for with precision.

Ryan Grimesey said they all knew what they needed to do. “I have been training with Andrew, John and Nathaniel for a few years now, and our chemistry is extraordinary, as are each of them. Everyone knew their part like it was the back of their hand. It was a team effort, and they were the best team I could have asked for.”

We often hear stories of “heroes” who step in and handle a situation in a way many of us fear we would not have the confidence to do, and these young men were no exception, expressing humility about their efforts; each crediting the other.

“It’s easy to have confidence in your actions when you are surrounded by great people,” said Ryan.

Nate French concurred: “This whole situation was held together by my coworkers. The people I worked with are not only well qualified and prepared, but level-headed and team players as well. Ryan, John and Andrew all kept their composure and acted efficiently. I wouldn’t have asked for anyone else to be on a team with.”

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Left to Right: Ryan Grimesey, Nathaniel French, Andrew Bachie and Tim O’Toole during the presentation of the Lifesaving Award during the Middleburg Heights City Council meeting.

It is preparedness that is key. All four were trained in the extensive programs available through the Red Cross, like the Water Safety and Lifeguarding courses that gave them the knowledge and skill to deliver critical care services like CPR, first aid and AED administration for situations such as this. Once in the training room, the lifeguards saw what was happening and did what needed to be done.

“We communicated with each other on what we were doing and instructed one another on what should happen next,” said Nate.

“It’s gratifying to know that Red Cross training played a part in helping save a life,” said Tim O’Toole, American Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer, who presented the awards during the ceremony on behalf of the American Red Cross Board of Governors. “The swift and decisive actions of these four lifeguards exemplify the Red Cross mission to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.”

The American Red Cross offers training programs in various areas from first aid, CPR, AED administration, water safety, babysitting and more. The programs use methods designed by a team of nationally recognized experts with the latest evidence-based data to create training programs to help save lives. Learn more about Red Cross lifesaving courses here.

Visit our Flickr page to view photos from the Lifesaving Award presentation.

Don’t be a statistic: It’s National Fire Prevention Week

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

A home can be rebuilt. Human lives, pets and mementos can’t.

For those with insurance, a home fire a major disruption. For those without insurance, it’s devastating. The good news is that most home fires are preventable.

As a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team, I’ve seen numerous fires that didn’t have to happen:

  • A kitchen fire was caused by unattended grease left in a pan on the burner; another was caused by loose papers left too close to the gas burner; and a third by a plastic highchair overhanging an electrical element.
  • Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wiring contributed to the loss of a beautiful century home.
  • An unattended burning candle and a young child playing alone in the home displaced two families.

I could go on, but the good news is that no lives were lost. However, with a modicum of prevention, they could have all been avoided.

Here are 10 simple tips to share with members of your family during National Fire Prevention Week:

  1. Make sure to have working smoke alarms and replace the entire unit if it’s more than 10 years old. Even with a good battery, the sensor in an old alarm wears out in 10 years.
  2. Create an escape plan and make sure every child and adult knows that they must be outside within two minutes of hearing the alarm. Practice the plan with your children so they know the official meeting place outside.
  3. Never smoke in bed or when extremely tired or intoxicated.
  4. Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  5. Keep lit candles away from flammables, children and pets.
  6. Take care that nothing can blow over or into your kitchen gas burners.
  7. Keep frying pan handles turned away from the front edge of the stove so they aren’t tipped by children or pets.
  8. Electric space heaters can easily start fires if clothes or newspapers are tossed on top of them.
  9. Keep a working fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.
  10. Keep gas cans outside if possible; but, never in a basement or near a furnace or water heater.

Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, recognized the huge loss caused by fires, both to property and human life. To address the problem, he proclaimed the first Fire Prevention Week in 1926, with the hope it would become an annual event.

He wrote:

“While efforts should be made constantly to reduce fire destruction to a minimum, in pursuance of a well-established precedent, one week is set aside each year during which the urgent need of preventing fires is forcibly stressed.

“If every individual will adopt and practice the simple precautionary measures advocated as fire prevention safeguards, fire hazards and their consequences will be materially reduced.”

Make Calvin proud, and use caution to avoid unnecessary fires.

For more resources, visit the American Red Cross Home Fire Safety page for videos, tips and mobile apps to help you safeguard your family.

On October 6, volunteers from the Red Cross, Parma CERT, Hope World Wide Ministries and the Parma Fire Department held a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event. The volunteers installed 171 smoke alarms making 61 home safer.

To view photos from the Parma Sound the Alarm event, visit our Flickr page. Furthermore, to learn more about home fire safety and to request a smoke alarm, visit the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Home Fire Campaign page.

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Pillowcase Project Aimed at Preparing Kids for Emergencies

Inspired by Hurricane Katrina experience 13 years ago

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Partner

In late August, 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast causing catastrophic damage from Central Florida to Eastern Texas. Especially devastated was the city of New Orleans, when the storm made landfall on August 29, and the protection levees failed, flooding almost 80 percent of the city and the surrounding parishes. Out of the many stories of sadness and loss came stories of heroism and survival. It is from the latter that The Pillowcase Project was born.

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John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager, teaching the children of employees of the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System during a Pillowcase Project presentation.    Photo credit:  Mary Williams/American Red Cross

The Pillowcase Project was created by the American Red Cross in Southeast Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina when Kay Wilkins, Southeast Louisiana regional executive, had learned that Loyola University students carried their valuables in pillowcases when they were evacuated for Katrina. This inspired Kay and her team to work with an art therapist to create a program in which children living in makeshift communities across New Orleans decorated pillowcases as emergency supplies kits.

Students decorate their pillowcases.

Soon, The Pillowcase Project became a preparedness education program for elementary school students. In just a few years, it was adapted and implemented by several other Red Cross chapters with substantial success. Here in Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross taught nearly 4,500 students preparedness last year through the program.

The goal of the project is to help create a generation of children who understand the science of hazards, are empowered to take action preparing for emergencies, and are excited to help create a prepared community by sharing what they have learned with family and friends.

Students who participate in The Pillowcase Project will be able to:

• Identify the best ways to stay safe during emergencies that can occur in their communities.

• Identify the best ways to prevent and stay safe during a home fire.

• Use coping skills to help manage stress during emergencies and in everyday situations.

• Gain confidence in their abilities to be prepared for emergencies through hands-on activities.

• Use their knowledge to act as advocates for emergency preparedness in their homes and communities.

• Discuss the role science plays in emergency preparedness.

• Understand and communicate the work of the Red Cross in their communities.

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In addition to The Pillowcase Project, the Red Cross has teamed up with Disney to develop the Mickey and Friends Disaster Preparedness Activity Book, which has been distributed to more than 300,000 youth nationwide. The book teaches kids and families how to prepare for and respond to a wide range of disasters and emergencies through interactive games and activities. The book is available to download in English and Spanish.

Disney also sponsored the creation of Monster Guard – the first mobile app created by the Red Cross designed specifically for kids. The app complements The Pillowcase Project, and is a game where children role-play as various monster characters and engage in interactive training episodes for hazards such as home fires, floods and hurricanes.

To learn more about The Pillowcase Project and register your school to participate, visit our Resources for Schools page and scroll down for information.

Preparedness in a Pillowcase

Milestone reached for the Pillowcase Project

One million elementary school students across the country have now learned how to prepare themselves, their households and their communities for emergencies by participating in The Pillowcase Project. More than 11,000 of those children live in Northeast Ohio.

 

Originally created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project is a free program inspired by the story of local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during Hurricane Katrina evacuations. During the presentation, participants receive a pillowcase to decorate and then take home to use as a personal emergency supplies kit.

The curriculum, targeted at 3rd to 5th graders, is structured by a Learn, Practice, Share framework. Students learn about the science of a locally relevant hazard and how to best prepare for it. They practice what to do if a disaster occurs and how to cope with related fear and stress. Afterwards, they share the information and skills they have learned with their family and friends so everyone in the household knows what to do.

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John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager was assisted by AmeriCorps worker Rachel Steiner at a Pillowcase Project presentation at the Cleveland VA Medical Center                                         Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

“It’s exciting to see young people in Northeast Ohio and across the country learn how to prepare themselves, their households, and their communities for emergencies and save lives by participating in The Pillowcase Project,” said John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager.

To date, 11 lives have been saved by four students who put into practice what they learned through the program. Last year, 9-year-old Camryn Sarnie of Ramona, Oklahoma was startled awake at 3:00 a.m. by a smoke alarm sounding in his home. The sound scared Camryn, but he recognized it and knew that it was alerting him to a fire. He knew that he had less than two minutes to escape, so he quickly woke up his parents, alerted them to the fire and instructed them to evacuate immediately. Camryn saved three lives that morning, including his own, by putting into practice what he learned just a few weeks earlier from The Pillowcase Project presentation at his school. According to Camryn’s mother, Lora, “Camryn told us all about what he learned in class after the presentation. Camryn is a true hero.”

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The Red Cross has engaged more than 35,000 volunteers and partnered with more than 13,000 schools, community organizations and partners to deliver this program to students across the country and at more than a dozen U.S. military stations abroad. The Walt Disney Company is the founding sponsor of the program.

Contact John Gareis at 216-431-3219 to schedule a Pillowcase Project presentation for your school, or email john.gareis@redcross.org. .  Additional information about The Pillowcase Project is available at redcross.org/pillowcase.

Be Water Smart

It’s International Water Safety Day

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

May 15 is International Water Safety Day. The day is designed to spread awareness about drowning and promote water safety education. It is a timely reminder as summer approaches.

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Summertime brings warmer weather and outdoor fun. Children splash in community pools and water parks, families head to beaches and shorelines to enjoy boating, fishing and water sports, or travel to vacation destinations.

The water invites us to cool off and be carefree. Yet, every day, an average of 10 people die in the United States from unintentional drowning. And 1 in 5 of them are children 14 or younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Based on an American Red Cross survey, more than half of all Americans (54 percent) either can’t swim or don’t have all the basic swimming skills. The Red Cross recommends that everyone learn critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency.” To download water safety tip sheets, visit RedCross.org/watersafety. 

Centennial Campaign: Helping Save Lives

In May 2014, the Red Cross launched its Centennial Campaign to mark 100 years of swimming safety education in the United States. This five-year campaign is aimed at reducing drowning in 50 communities where drowning rates exceed the national average. Since the Centennial Campaign launch, children and adults have participated in more than 41,340 sets of swim lessons.

Take Steps to Stay Safe

The Red Cross is asking every family to make sure that both adults and children can swim—and that parents make water safety a priority this summer. To find water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs for you and your family, contact your local aquatic center and ask for American Red Cross swimming and water safety programs. Or visit RedCross.org/TakeAClass/swimming.

Do your part, be water smart. Then jump in, make some waves and have fun this summer!

 

 

The Wake of Maria, Six Months Later

Though it has lost its luster as a headline to news outlets across the continental U.S., the damage done during Hurricane Maria, six months ago today, continues to affect those who have begun to pick up the pieces of their lives on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Clearly, once the churning eye of the storm looked off toward the ocean, the devastating power of mother nature continued to wreak havoc on the islands. Touching not only those affected by the winds and rain of the hurricane herself, but also those who try to continue to build their life day-by-day. Big name stores have shuttered, tourism remains low, and by all accounts, tens of thousands remain without power.

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But the Red Cross remains a vital part of the effort to help — and provide hope for — those affected in the cyclical devastation of this disaster.

Along with our partners, the Red Cross has served more than 12.8 million meals and snacks and distributed over 5.9 million relief items across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photos by Sergio Rojas for The American Red Cross

Red Cross volunteers have provided more than 50,000 mental health and health services to support and care for those affected.

The international community continues to play an important role in the recovery efforts. More than 30 Red Cross disaster responders from around the globe deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help deliver aid. These responders came from Red Cross societies in Colombia, Costa Rica, Finland, Mexico, Spain, and from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

To support all of the urgent humanitarian needs of the Red Cross, click here to start a monthly donation. Thank you!

Save Face and Save a Life

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross volunteer

This year, March 10 can be a face-saving and a life-saving date – a two-for-one, if you will. How many other dates can make that claim?

Save Face

If you hadn’t noticed already, Daylight Saving Time comes on March 11.  So, traditional wisdom suggests that you turn your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed on Saturday, March 10. That’s the number one way to save face Sunday morning, when you might otherwise show up an hour late for worship service or your weekly breakfast date with friends.

Save a Life

The American Red Cross can’t stress enough the need to check your smoke alarms at least twice a year. They’ve even come up with a handy tagline to help you remember – TURN and TEST. Simply stated, each time you TURN your clocks forward or back, also remember to TEST your smoke alarms.TurnAndTest1 (002)

Two of the biggest contributors to lost life in a fire situation are 1) lack of smoke alarms in the home and 2) worn out batteries or total lack thereof.

Every day, seven people die in the United States due to a home fire. Remember, you only have two minutes to escape most home fires without serious or fatal results.  That’s why it’s important to have an escape plan for your home – and to practice it.

If you don’t have smoke alarms or if they are more than 10-years old, contact the Red Cross for free installation of new smoke alarms.  Visit the Home Fire Campaign page on our website.

Bonus Save Face

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a bonus. Please refer to it as Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time.  It’s not plural, despite what many people say. It’s one of those things that probably more than half the people get wrong – but now you know!  (Check here for more interesting Daylight Saving Time trivia.)

 

Is That Your Christmas Tree On Fire?

By Doug Bardwell,  American Red Cross Communications and Disaster Services Volunteer

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As popular as artificial trees are, almost everyone loves the smell of a real tree during the holiday season. But, to make sure your holiday memories are nothing but wonderful, take a couple minutes to make sure your tree doesn’t cause the unexpected.

Your lovely tree can turn deadly in just seconds

Don’t let it happen to you or your loved ones.  Here are seven simple hints to keep in mind:

  1. Choose a fresh tree that you cut yourself, if possible. If not, shake the tree aggressively before buying and don’t select one that drops its needles while shaking. That’s a sure sign that it’s drying out already.
  2. If you didn’t cut the tree yourself, cut an additional two inches off the bottom of the tree to open its pores, so that it can absorb fresh water.
  3. Use a sturdy stand to prevent tipping, and make sure that the stand can hold an adequate amount of water to keep the tree as fresh as possible. Make a scheduled time to add water every day.
  4. Keep the tree at least three feet away from any ignition source, such as fireplaces, heaters, candles or high intensity lightbulbs.
  5. Use only UL-rated light strings on your tree and no more than the manufacturer’s recommended number of sets plugged together. Discard any lights with worn or frayed cords.
  6. Make sure the tree and cords do not extend into or across doorways or paths of egress.
  7. Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly and always turn off any Christmas lights before going to bed each night.

Out of control in 20 seconds – you won’t believe the speed or intensity of this fire

Watch this one-minute video from the National Fire Prevention Association showing how quickly a spark or small fire can ignite your beautiful tree.  In less than 20 seconds, you better be out of there. (You have discussed a family escape plan with your children haven’t you?)

As the video points out, a dry tree ignites faster than newspaper.  Protect yourself this season and enjoy the happiest of holidays.  If you need a smoke alarm installed in your home,  visit this page to click on your county of residence to request a free home fire safety inspection and free smoke alarm installations in your home..

Sounding the Alarm in Euclid

Partnership with Lincoln Electric and Euclid Fire Department Helps Save Lives

More than 50 employees, trainees and interns from Lincoln Electric fanned out in the shadow of the firm’s giant windmill in Euclid on Saturday to help make residents safer. They were taking part in a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event, for the third year in a row.

“It’s a way for our company and our employees to give back to the community,” said Chris Mapes, Lincoln Electric CEO. “Our goal is to go out and meet the community and assist them in having a safer home environment, where we can provide them with smoke alarms that have been provided to us by the American Red Cross and make this a safer community.”  IMG_4410

Lincoln Electric has been headquartered in Euclid for more than 122 years.

As in the previous two years, the volunteers were first treated to lunch prepared by Chief Chris Haddock and other members of the Euclid Fire Department,  long-time partners in our free smoke alarm installation program.  The volunteers then received instructions for sharing fire safety information with residents, and for the proper installation of smoke alarms.

Nearly 130 homes were made safer, and almost 370 smoke alarms were installed on several streets in Euclid.IMG_4428

“I’m glad you guys are doing it,” said resident Steve Washington.  As the volunteers installed new alarms with 10-year lithium batteries in his home, he said, “If you got children, even pets, if you sleep heavy you’ll hear that thing.  It’ll wake you up in a minute.  You never know when a fire’s gonna start.”

The home of Denise Miller is once again well protected, as the eight older smoke alarms in her home were replaced with new alarms.  “It’s nice to update them.  I don’t know how long they’ve actually been in our home,”  she said of the old alarms. “My husband had them put up when the kids were little.”IMG_4431

Like many people, Denise wasn’t aware that the sensors that detect smoke from a fire can fail after ten years.  “I had no idea.  I figured as long as the batteries were chirping, and you pressed the button on occasion, you were good.”

Mike Parks, CEO of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, called the partnership with Lincoln Electric, “One of the best corporate partnerships we have.  We have the opportunity to save lives, make homes safer,  and make the community more resilient.”

For more pictures from the event, visit our photo album on Flickr here.

Saturday’s smoke alarm installations in Euclid preceded a nationwide effort this fall to install 100,000 smoke alarms in 40 cities across the country. The initiative is called Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.  You can join the American Red Cross to Sound the Alarm about home fire safety and help save lives by  learning more at soundthealarm.org/neo.