As many students head back to school, Red Cross offers important safety tips

By Christy Peters, American Red Cross Regional Communications Manager

If you’re out this weekend, making a quick Target or Wal-Mart run, be prepared to witness a strange phenomenon – the panicked, school supplies shopping parent. We’ll be wide eyed and shaky, searching for a plastic folder, with three holes but no prongs, in a specific color that 500 other parents have also been looking for since school supply lists came out. That’s right folks, it’s back to school time!

My son will be in first grade this year, so I’m slightly less nervous than I was when he started his academic journey last year as a kindergartener. Of all my fears (and there were many) one of the biggest was him riding the bus. Watching him climb on and sit in that huge seat was enough to send me into a full-on panic attack. Unfortunately, so was watching the many drivers who sped past the bus as it was slowing down to get him or didn’t stop at all.

The American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region wants everyone to stay safe as students head back to school. Below are several reminders for riders, walkers and those of us sharing the roads and sidewalks with them. Take a moment to review these important tips and go over them with your kids returning to school.

CELL PHONES A DISTRACTION The National Safety Council (NSC) reports distracted walking can be dangerous, even deadly. Teach your students the following:
– Don’t text or talk on your phone while walking. If you must text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.
– Never cross the street while using an electronic device.
– Do not walk with headphones in your ears.
Drivers can be distracted too. Never use a phone while driving. Help keep children
safe by eliminating all distractions.

TAKING THE BUS
– Students should get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Young children should be supervised.
– Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant instructs them to get on. They should only board their bus, never an alternate one.
– All students should stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.

WALKING TO SCHOOL
– Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
– Never run out into the street or cross between parked cars.
– Use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards.
– Parents, walk with young children and those taking new routes or attending new schools, for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

GOING BY CAR
– Everyone should always wear a seat belt.
– Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
– If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat
belts.

RIDING A BIKE There may be more young people on bikes as the school bells ring. They should:
– Wear a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing.
– Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, in a single file.
– Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street.
– Stay alert and avoid distracted riding.

SLOW DOWN Drivers should slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones, and know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop, that motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.

Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.

KEEP LITTLE ONES SAFE Keeping all students safe is the primary concern for everyone, but there are special steps for parents of younger kids and those going to school for the first time:
– Make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their
parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to call 911.
– Teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.

Finally, download the free Red Cross First Aid app for instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. You can find it by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

Posted by Ryan Lang, American Red Cross Volunteer


Get the most out of your summer with Red Cross safety tips

By Ryan Lang, American Red Cross volunteer 

Summer: a time for family gatherings, swimming, grilling, and many more events that have become staples of the season. Whatever your plans are, the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region has some resources you can use to help you, and even your four-legged friends, have a safe summer. 

July 30, 2014. City of Myrtle Beach Parks and Recreation, South Carolina. Julieth Martinez, 4, enjoying her swim lesson as part of the Centennial campaign. Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

WATER SAFETY

Every day, an average of 11 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning — and one in five of those are children 14 or younger according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Red Cross wants everyone to know critical safety knowledge and skills that could save your life in and around the water. We encourage families to build confidence in the water by learning to be safe, making good choices, learning to swim and how to handle emergencies.
· Preventing unsupervised access to water, providing constant, active adult supervision and knowing how
to swim are critical layers of protection to help prevent drowning.
· Classes to learn how to swim are available for both children and adults. Check the map for Learn-to-Swim providers in your community. Everyone should learn first aid and CPR too, so they know what to do in an emergency.
· Download the Red Cross Swim app (https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/swim-safety.html), sponsored by The ZAC Foundation, for safety tips, kid-friendly videos and activities, and take the free Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers online course in English or in Spanish.
· It’s best to swim in a lifeguarded area. Always designate a “water watcher” whose sole responsibility is to keep a close eye and constant attention on everyone in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over.
· Drowning behavior is typically fast and silent. Unless rescued, a drowning person will last only 20 to 60 seconds before submerging. Reach or throw, don’t go! In the event of an emergency, reach or throw an object to the person in trouble. Don’t go in! You could become a victim yourself.

CAMPING SAFETY

If a camping trip is in your plans, know the level of ability of the people in your group and the environment around you. Plan accordingly.
· Pack a first aid kit to handle insect stings, sprains, cuts and bruises and other injuries that could happen to someone in your group. Take a Red Cross First Aid and CPR course and download the First Aid app so that you will know what to do in case help is delayed. You’ll learn how to treat severe wounds, broken bones, bites and stings and more.
· Sprains and falls are some of the most common misfortunes travelers may face. Falls are the biggest threat, many due to poor decision-making, lack of skill or not being properly prepared. Dehydration is also a danger. Plan ahead for these dangers.
· Share your travel plans and locations with a family member, neighbor or friend.
· Bring nutritious food items and water, light-weight clothing to layer and supplies for any pets.


GRILLING SAFETY

More than three-quarters of U.S. adults have used a grill — yet, grilling sparks more than 10,000 home fires on average each year. To avoid this, the Red Cross offers these grilling safety tips:
· Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
· Never grill indoors — not in the 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, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
· Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.

PET SAFETY

Summer’s heat can be dangerous for your family pets. Follow these steps to take to help ensure your pet stays safe this summer.
· Don’t leave your pet in a hot vehicle, even for a few minutes. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees even with the windows cracked open.
· Animals can suffer heat stroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the boxer or bulldog, are especially prone to heat stroke, along with overweight pets, those with extremely thick fur or any pet with upper respiratory problems such as laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea.
· Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are heavy panting and being unable to calm down, even when lying down, brick red gum color, fast pulse rate and being unable to get up.
· If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees.
· Bring your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage. Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for instant access on how to treat heat stroke, other emergencies and general care for cats and dogs and take the Cat and Dog First Aid Online Training course.

FIREWORKS SAFETY

· Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. 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.” 

· Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets. 

It is important to note that fireworks laws have changed in Ohio. As of July 1st this year, Ohio residents can discharge consumer grade fireworks in the state on private property. Click here (https://com.ohio.gov/divisions-and-programs/state-fire-marshal/fireworks/guides-and-resources/fire-service+-faqs-for-ohios-new-fireworks-law#:~:text=Beginning%20July%201%2C%202022%2C%20Ohio,to%20discharge%20consumer%20grade%20fireworks) to see the full list of changes to fireworks laws in the state. 

Tips to keep your pet safe the remainder of winter

.By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

Despite a few days of above normal temperatures, winter is baaaack! The American Red Cross would like to share some useful tips to help your family pets get safely through the rest of this winter season.

The American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States recommend following these basic steps to keep your pets safe during Ohio’s long winter months:

Bring your pets inside, especially if you’ll be gone for several hours.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ®  (ASPCA ®) reports if pets are left outdoors, they can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured, or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

If pets cannot come indoors, make sure they are protected by a dry, draft free enclosure. Make it large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in the pet’s body heat.

Raise the enclosure floor a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Make sure your animals have access to non-frozen drinking water. If you keep food and water outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.

Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth. The ASPCA adds that you can also use petroleum jelly or booties to protect sensitive paws. Use pet-friendly ice melt products.

If you make shelter space in your garage, shed or other secondary building, check for chemical spills and wipe up any you find before your pet can come in contact with it. Antifreeze (for example) is sweet and attracts pets, but it a deadly poison. Store antifreeze out of reach.

Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure they have access to non-frozen drinking water. If the animals are outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice, or other obstacles.

Photo of Tye, provided by Christy Peters

Take care of their coat and skin. To avoid itchy, flaking skin, the ASPCA recommends keeping your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he or she comes inside. Pay special attention to paws and in-between the toes. Remove any snow from between foot pads. If possible, keep your dog’s coat longer in winter for warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater for your pet. Keep pet bathing to a minimum when it’s cold to avoid dry skin. If your pet needs a bath, use a moisturizing shampoo.

Know your pet’s limits outdoors. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports you should be aware of how your pet tolerates cold weather and adjust as needed. Consult your veterinarian if you need advice.

Check your engine. A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to make sure a cat hasn’t taken refuge on your engine.

Use space heaters with caution. The heater can burn your pet or be knocked over, possibly starting a home fire.

Watch for hypothermia. If your pet is whining, shivering, anxious, slower than usual or stops moving, seems weak or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Be prepared: Winter can bring blizzards and power outages. Prepare an emergency kit and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water, and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least five days.

Avoid walking on frozen water. Stay away from frozen ponds, lakes, and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your pet’s weight and falling through the ice could be deadly.

Photo of Winnie provided by Chris Chmura

Can I bring my dog to a Red Cross shelter?

Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters. Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency.

Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app to put veterinary advice for everyday pet emergencies in the palm of your hand. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by step advice it’s never been easier to know Pet First Aid.

More Resources for Pet Owners:
Pet Disaster Safety
Protect Your Pets from Heat
Pet Travel Safety
Pet Fire Safety

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Ho Ho Ho – No No No

By Doug Bartwell, Red Cross Volunteer

Everyone knows that being prepared for a holiday is the key to truly enjoying it. Conversely, a lack of preparation, not only creates stress, but it also creates accidents. And who needs that on a holiday?

To that end, here are a dozen to-do’s and don’ts, (mostly don’ts) that will make your holidays more merry.

Decorations to avoid if you have pets

Holly, poinsettia, and mistletoe – they are all poisonous to your dog.

As mentioned last month, real candles can be a danger if pets can get near them. Cats can get most anywhere, BTW.

Silver icicle strands are so interesting to pets who like to play with it, but it is a choking hazard for them.

You need to provide live trees with a good supply of water , but cover it so pets aren’t tempted to drink. It can get stagnant easily, and could contain bacteria that will make your pet sick.

Low-hanging ornaments are a temptation for pets. Save that lower space for presents under the tree.

Best practice, if possible, would be to set a pet fence around your tree and gifts.

Serving suggestions

In case you’ve not had dogs before, they love chocolates; but chocolate is extremely toxic and dangerous for them. Teach your children and guests not to offer them to your pups.

If you spike your eggnog, be sure to put a warning label on the bottle or serving pitcher. My dad’s friend poured a big bowl for his dog, and by the time my dad saw him, the poor dog was bouncing off the walls. (True story)

Meal prep and cleanup

Avoid the temptation to buy that big bird a week ahead of time. Many stores let you order in advance and pick up your order from the store just a day or two before your holiday. Saves worrying about adequately defrosting a big bird in time, and keeps a fresh bird from spoiling.

Don’t use the same cutting board for poultry and veggies or fruit, unless you sanitize vigorously between. Avoid bacterial contamination, which could cause your family to get sick.

Keep guests out of the kitchen, especially during flu season. Serve light appetizers elsewhere to keep them from snitching “tastes” of the food as you are carving. Most likely they haven’t washed their hands before tasting.

Reheat your leftovers to 165 degrees throughout or until steaming hot. Soups, sauces and gravies should be brought to a rolling boil for one-minute before re-serving.

Speaking about food safety, the American Red Cross offers all our disaster team members a great food safety course – for free. We could use more team members ready to respond to disasters, and would love to have you join the team. You can learn more here.

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

Red Cross offers Halloween safety steps as pandemic continues

Trick-or-treating is back this Halloween, however the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means there are extra factors to consider when planning your activities. The American Red Cross offers these tips and more to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

“Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in the U.S. and with most communities returning to normal activities this school year, people should expect a higher volume of visitors in search of tricks and treats,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “Whether you’re handing out goodies or going door-to-door, with just a few simple considerations you can make sure your family and those around you are safe and sound.”

Here are the top tips for parents to keep in mind while getting their kids ready for Halloween this year:

  1. Make your cloth mask part of your costume. A costume mask is not a safe substitute for a cloth mask. Avoid wearing a costume mask over a cloth mask as it can make breathing difficult.
  2. Plan outdoor activities and avoid indoor events where the risk of virus transmission is higher.
  3. Bring hand sanitizer with you while trick-or-treating and use it after touching objects or other people. Wash your hands when you get home.
  4. Avoid trick-or-treating in large groups, and social distance from others around the neighborhood.
  5. Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen. Give kids a flashlight to light their way and consider adding reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  6. Plan the trick-or-treat route in advance and make sure adults know where their children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door. 
  7. It’s not only vampires and monsters people have to look out for. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
  8. Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. Avoid running. Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  9. Only visit homes that have a porch light on, and never go inside.
  10. Make sure a grown-up checks the goodies before eating. Make sure to remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards. Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.

For those planning to welcome trick-or-treaters to their homes, follow these safety steps:

  • Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
  • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters by setting up an area with individually bagged treats for kids to take. Wash your hands before handling treats.
  • Maintain social distancing and wear a cloth mask.
  • Light the area well so young visitors can see.
  • Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.

Trick or treat dates and times vary; in Northeast Ohio, check here and in Northwest Ohio, here. You can also visit your city’s website for specific information.

Download the free Red Cross First Aid app for instant access to expert advice in case your ghost, goblin or superhero has a mishap. Use the Emergency app for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps. 

Stay warm safely this winter

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

We all have used them at one time or another. Just that added little bit of heat can make a nice difference on a really cold day. But did you know that space heaters account for four out of every five home heating fire deaths?

With the forecast calling for overnight temperatures dipping into the 40’s this week – and into the 30’s next week in Northern Ohio, you may be tempted to break out your space heaters.  And there are some things to keep in mind.

Any time you are using a portable electric heater, it’s important to remember to keep them at least three feet – from EVERYTHING. Look around and anything that’s liable to burn should be well away from those hot elements. Bed linens, blankets, socks, children’s clothes, draperies, newspapers and magazines, cardboard boxes, paper bags . . . they are all able to ignite easily if they contact the heating elements of a space heater.

Also, remember that space heater cords are designed to safety transmit the electricity needed to operate the device itself, but often, household extension cords are not. Many cords have wires that are a smaller gauge than required to transfer all the electrical current required by the space heater. That can cause inexpensive extension cords to literally melt and start a fire just from continued use.

To view a video with tips from the National Fire Protection Association, CLICK HERE.

The ‘three-foot’ rule

Space heaters aren’t the only things that benefit from the three-foot rule. The same goes for fireplaces, wood stoves, candles and your furnace. It’s best to teach young children that it’s a “Kid Free Zone” around anything flammable and that they are not allowed to be any closer than that.

And while half of home heating fires happen in the months of December, January and February, it’s also a good rule all year long. With windows open in the summertime, a breeze could easily blow draperies or loose paper into a burning candle if set too close. We need to be vigilant all year long.

Sweep and service

Other heating appliances also need your attention each year. Your furnace should be routinely serviced each year before heating season. Heating coils should be cleaned professionally. And don’t forget to change filters in your furnace every couple of months at least. With routine cleaning and new filters, your furnace will not only last longer, but you’ll feel warmer and have cleaner air to breathe.

Lastly, don’t forget that fireplace. Chimneys can get coated with creosote, and with as little as 1/8 to 1/4 inch of creosote on the walls of your chimney, when temperatures reach 451 degrees, creosote can catch fire.  A chimney fire has the potential to burn down an entire house, so check your chimneys if you haven’t had them cleaned recently.

Alarms save lives

On top of your home safety checklist should be to make sure that you have installed working smoke and CO2 alarms throughout your home. You need to check regularly that the batteries are fresh and that any alarm manufactured before 2011 is replaced. Even if the batteries are new, the actual detection mechanisms in smoke alarms cease to function after 10 years. Replace them immediately.

If you need alarms and can’t afford them or can’t install them, call the American Red Cross to be put on our complimentary free alarm installation list. Visit this site to learn more or to get on the list.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Back to school safety tips

Almost everyone is back at school by now, and most students are back to the classroom after months of virtual learning. The American Red Cross wants to make sure your student is safe as they head back to school for the upcoming year

“Parents and kids are both eager to get back to normal and return to the classroom for the new school year,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “But don’t forget to make safety a top priority.”

The Red Cross offers these steps to help make the trip back to the classroom a safe one.

  1. If your student rides a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive.
  2. Students should board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed them to get on. They should only board their bus, never an alternate one.
  3. All students should stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  4. Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
  5. Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  6. If children go to school in a car, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
  7. If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and avoid eating or drinking while driving.
  8. Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right, in the same direction as the traffic is going.
  9. When children are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards.
  10. Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for students to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

In addition, parents of younger kids and those headed to school for the first time, should also take a few special steps. Make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 911. Teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.

DRIVERS, SLOW DOWN!

Drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.

Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.

PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES Know what the emergency plan is at your child’s school in case a disaster or an unforeseen event occurs. Develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know who to contact and where to go if something happens while children are at school and parents are at work. Details are available at redcross.org/prepare.

TAKE A FIRST AID CLASS The Red Cross First Aid App provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies whether it be before, during or after school. Download the app for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn and practice first aid and CPR skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

Excessive heat a reminder to enjoy the end of summer safely

Although fall is right around the corner, you’d never know it from the recent high temperatures we’ve been experiencing in northern Ohio. Many people don’t realize excessive heat causes more deaths than all other weather events. As many of us squeeze in our final summer activities in the coming weeks, remember to stay safe when temperatures rise.

June 27, 2021. Talent, Oregon. Red Cross volunteer Chuck Albin delivering water and snacks to a cooling center in Talent, Oregon. Photo by Patty Albin/American Red Cross

Hot cars can be deadly so never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees. 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. If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places such as schools, libraries, theaters and malls.

And, don’t forget your pets! Read our recent blog on how to protect your pets during extreme heat. Also, download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app so you’re prepared in a pet emergency.

Extreme heat can often lead to thunderstorms and power outages. If thunder roars, go indoors! Watch for darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. If you are in a building, keep away from windows. Get out of mobile homes as they can blow over in high winds and do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.

Wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable end of summer!

Three R’s plus a dose of Three C’s

Cover up, Caution around traffic, Car seats

By Doug Bardwell, Red Cross volunteer

As of this writing, Cleveland, Akron, and Massillon have declared that all returning students will be required to wear masks until further notice. With the Delta variant as dangerous as it is, that’s the only way to protect those too young to be vaccinated.

But that’s not all

The virus isn’t the only thing parents and caretakers need to be aware of. Accordingly, the American Red Cross has issued a list of ten tips to help make this school year a safe one.

  1. If your student rides a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. 
  2. Students should board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed them to get on. They should only board their bus, never an alternate one.
  3. All students should stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus. 
  4. Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
  5. Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  6. If children go to school in a car, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
  7. If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and avoid eating or drinking while driving.
  8. Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right, in the same direction as the traffic is going. 
  9. When children are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. 
  10. Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for students to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

“Parents and kids are both eager to get back to normal and return to the classroom as a new school year starts,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “But don’t forget to make safety a top priority.”

While most people realize that the Red Cross responds to disasters, we try equally hard to promote safety at home, at work, and at school; so your donations are always welcome.