Summit County Smoke Alarm Hotline Now Up and Running

Red Cross Volunteers and Barberton Firefighters Prepare Free Smoke Alarm Installations

Red Cross Volunteers and Barberton Firefighters Prepare Free Smoke Alarm Installations on October 27, 2015

The effort to reduce fatalities from home fires continues in Northeast Ohio, as Red Cross volunteers and members of the Barberton Fire Department teamed up on October 27th, going door to door to install smoke alarms in homes where they were needed.

Residents received not only free smoke alarms, but also fire safety information.  The Barberton Fire Safety Walk took place on a particularly busy day for Red Cross disaster workers and volunteers, who responded to seven home fires in Summit, Stark Cuyahoga, Jefferson and Wayne Counties.The fires chased a total of 18 people from their homes, including 4 children and an adult in Canton, and three children and an adult in Shreve.

The residents of these home fires received assistance from the Red Cross valued at more than $2,600.  Typical financial assistance for home fire victims includes money for emergency lodging, food and clothing. Since July 1st, the Red Cross has given nearly $200,000 to residents affected by home fires.

The Red Cross Home Fire Prevention Campaign is meant to reduce the number of fatalities from home fires by 25% over a five year period.  Upcoming Fire Safety Walks are planned in North Akron on November 4, and Cuyahoga Falls November 10.  Firefighters from both communities will join Red Cross volunteers to install free smoke alarms and provide fire safety information in targeted neighborhoods.

Anyone in Summit County can request a free inspection of smoke alarms in their homes. If the alarms are not in working order, or if they are more than 10 years old, they will be replaced. Residents of Summit County can call the Smoke Alarm Hotline at 330-535-2030.

In Cleveland, residents can call the Operation Save-A-Life hotline 24 hours a day at 216-361-5535 to request a free fire safety inspection and smoke alarms for their homes.  More information is available for all residents of Northeast Ohio here.

Why I volunteer: Kevin

By Kevin Murphy, American Red Cross Volunteer

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 A few years after I graduated from high school I adopted this quote as the mission statement for life.  Having been born with a disability, I had learned that the world isn’t always fair. Even though I had setbacks of my own, I could still do something that would benefit others.

My first experience with the American Red Cross was in the summer of 2013 when the City of Barberton experienced devastating flooding and my employer, the Lake Anna YMCA, was selected as a shelter site for the city.  The next nine days were a whirlwind of activity, but in the end we were able to help a lot of people and do a lot of good in our community.  I knew from that point on that the Red Cross was the place for me!

Disasters do not pick and choose who they affect.  They can strike any person, in any neighborhood, at any time — even at 3 a.m. or when it’s -10 degrees outside. Being a part of the Disaster Action Team has helped me to make a big impact on my community.   It makes me feel good to know that I can help someone at a time when the help matters most to them.

Across the country the Red Cross is a strong organization that helps numerous men, women and children each day.  I strongly believe that our work should be shared with as many people as possible.  I often post on my personal Twitter handle (@macfankevin) when I am responding to a disaster.   It’s not for personal recognition, but rather to help raise awareness of the needs in our community.

Imagine what would happen if I could inspire someone else to help and then they inspire another person. It’s a never ending cycle of good in the world!

I strongly encourage you to do something to give back to your community.  Give. Volunteer . Advocate. Small things that you do today can have a big impact on what happens tomorrow. I have found my niche with the Red Cross. I look forward to many more years of developing my self-capacity and helping others.

Why we Red Cross: Disaster Services

Royce Brown, a man who believes that smiling for long enough will bring out the sun, smiles while telling his story in Downtown Barberton.

Royce Brown, a man who believes that smiling for long enough will bring out the sun, smiles while telling his story in Downtown Barberton.

Severe storms rumbled across Northeast Ohio the afternoon of July 10, 2013. In Barberton, flood waters climbed fast and strong. As a local automotive dealer worked quickly to move their inventory to higher ground, residents found themselves stranded on pockets of land surrounded by rushing rivers that only hours before had been neighborhood streets. Area fire crews responded to numerous reports of basements filled with water and weakening foundations.

The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage Counties responded by opening an shelter at the local YMCA for residents who had been displaced by the flood waters. Once the flood waters began to recede, people began returning to their homes to survey the damage.

In the midst of this chaos, one man found that he no longer had a home. The Shamrock Motel, a fixture on Norton Avenue, and Royce Brown’s home had closed as a result of the damage sustained during the floods. Unaware of the shelter provided by the Red Cross, Royce loaded his belongings into his new home, his Chevrolet.

Royce continued living in his car, parking at a local grocery that was open 24 hours and eating a small breakfast and washing up at the McDonalds before going into work. On the ninth day, Royce had to fill out paper work for his participation in the local Relay for Life, a 24 hour walk-a-thon benefiting the American Cancer Society. When asked for his address, Royce confided in a co-worker that he was living in his car.

“There’s nothing broke on me. I’m one of those people who won’t ask for a hand,” said Royce, an avid community volunteer. “But I love to help others, to see the smile on their faces. To have someone reach out to me, when I was in need, was truly a blessing. People cared about me, people who didn’t even know me.”

With a little assistance from co-workers, Royce was put in touch with a Red Cross case worker. Through the collaboration of the Red Cross, YMCA, Public Health and other agencies in Barberton, by Tuesday he was in a new apartment complete with furniture, linens, cooking supplies and personal hygiene products.

Royce has come out of his experience feeling like a new man.

“I have a second shot at life, I’m not going to take anything for granted. I believe in keeping on going and keeping the faith.”