Northern Ohio Red Cross Disaster Response Teams assisted over 500 people this Holiday Season

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross Volunteer

In Northern Ohio and nationwide, the American Red Cross was exceptionally active this holiday season, as it was for the entire year.

Between November 22, when this year-to-date post was published, and January 2, 2022, Northern Ohio Disaster Action Teams (DAT) responded to 181 incidents, assisting 542 people.

 34 of these incidents, assisting 100, were over the Christmas weekend.
 Another 34 incidents, assisting 110, were during Thanksgiving week.
 Nine incidents occurred over the New Year holiday weekend, with 41 people assisted.

Canton Shelter

Responses included:
 Fatal fires in Toledo, Cleveland, and Akron.
 A home explosion in Toledo, and large multi-family fires in Maple Heights and Toledo.
 A parking garage collapse in Lakewood, which led to the evacuation of a large
apartment building. The Red Cross provided meals and snacks to residents and first responders following the collapse.
 A shelter opening in Canton, where for two days, the Red Cross helped provide meals and a place to stay to families who were temporarily displaced.
 Eight Northern Red Cross staff members and volunteers deployed to Kentucky following deadly tornadoes.
 Installation of 50 free smoke alarms.

To illustrate DAT’s effectiveness, Tom Revolinsky, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio said, “Dave Huey (volunteer) and I went on a multi-family late night fire where one family’s apartment was destroyed and another was heavily damaged, and an 11-year-old girl had critical injuries. When Dave and I spoke with family members, the appreciation and relief in their voices that the Red Cross was there to help brought back into focus the importance of our mission.

Tom also spoke of the importance of fire safety and ongoing efforts.

Maple Heights fire 12/21

“Responding to fatal fires is the most difficult thing we do,” Tom said. “To help prevent these tragedies, the Red Cross installs free smoke alarms. During installation, families are educated on fire prevention and assisted in developing an escape plan. In early December we installed 50 smoke alarms, making 16 homes safer, in the Aetna Road area of Cleveland where a fatal fire occurred in early November. On January 8th, we are installing smoke alarms with the Cleveland Fire Department in the W. 54th street area of Cleveland where twins tragically perished in a fire in early December. Smoke alarms save lives.”

Jani Memorich, a volunteer Disaster Action Team (DAT) leader, spoke very highly of fellow DAT members and their dedication.

“Awesome work done by awesome people,” Jani said. “We are truly blessed in Northern Ohio to have such a dedicated team working with DAT. As a DAT responder and someone who has deployed to other states for disasters, I get to tell the Red Cross story from my perspective as a volunteer. This brings awareness to people who may never have needed the services of the Red Cross and only vaguely understand all we do.”

Jani also expressed hope that more will volunteer, saying, “Hopefully through our own volunteerism we can inspire others to take up the mantel. There is so much work to be done and so few who actually do it. That is my hope for 2022, that more people give of themselves, to help mend others.”

If you are able, please consider volunteering with the Red Cross, either as a DAT member or in another capacity. Information can be found here.

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.

Dedicated volunteers spend Thanksgiving week assisting home fire victims

While many of us enjoyed time relaxing with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, American Red Cross disaster volunteers were busy responding to multiple incidents across the Northern Ohio Region. During the week of Thanksgiving, November 22-28, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio responded to 34 home fires, affecting 110 adults and children. We distributed more than $22,000 in immediate assistance to help these families begin the recovery process.


Of the many responses that happened in the past week, three occurred on Thanksgiving Day. Dedicated volunteers in the Northern Ohio Region left their own families and celebrations to assist families facing one of the worst days imaginable. Without the continued commitment of volunteers who are available 24/7 to respond to disasters, the Red Cross could not meet the needs of the many communities we serve.

The Red Cross normally sees an increase in local disasters, especially home fires, during the holiday season and this year is no exception. Cooking accidents and home heating mistakes often lead to fires that leave families stranded during the winter months. The Red Cross encourages the community to celebrate safely in the coming weeks and to read up on our tips to cook and decorate safely.


It’s also important that families are prepared for a home fire that could happen at any time. In most cases, families have less than two minutes to escape a home fire, although many believe they have much longer. The Red Cross encourages you to protect your family by taking two simple steps.

  1. Practice your two-minute escape drill
  2. Test your smoke alarms monthly

In an effort to #EndHomeFires, the Red Cross continues to provide home fire safety information to residents and to install smoke alarms for those who need them. On Monday Nov. 29, volunteers visited 22 homes and installed 67 smoke alarms in Cleveland and East Cleveland. View our photo album here.

For more information on the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, fire safety tips, or to request a smoke alarm, please visit this site. The Red Cross also has an urgent need for volunteers to respond to local disasters and help in other ways as we carry out our lifesaving mission. Learn more about our volunteer positions and sign up today.

A question that changed Christmas for me

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

About five years ago, my daughter asked me a question, and although I certainly didn’t expect my answer to be that profound, it actually changed the way I looked at Christmas. She asked, “Mom, do you remember any of the gifts you received last Christmas?” I had to think long and hard. And I was embarrassed that I could not.

She then pointed out that every year we spend far too much money and time getting stressed about gifts, and that isn’t what Christmas should be about. She said that as a new mom and living states away, the best gift was being home. Plus, although she wanted to make Christmas special for her kids, she didn’t want them focused on the consumerism that Christmas had turned into. I was proud that she, and my other daughter, too, felt that the best memories from childhood were laughing, cooking, eating, playing board games and watching Christmas movies. So, we all agreed we’d scale back on the gift buying.

Historical First AidAlthough we haven’t completely stopped giving gifts–we have cut way back—and the gifts we give now are intentional, mindful and less tangible. We give gifts of time and experiences. Gifts that are practical. Our standards: If you can’t use it, wear it because you need it, eat it or take part in it, we won’t buy it. No more impractical “stuff” to sit on a shelf. We’ve also incorporated giving gifts that have true meaning–gifts for the greater good. And one of those is making a donation to a worthy cause. After I joined the board of directors for the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter, giving gifts of meaning became even more important to me.

This year, there are so many who will not be celebrating Christmas as they did last year because their home was destroyed by the devastation of a wildfire or hurricane. Every night, in any given city, there is a home fire. I’ve seen first-hand the work the Red Cross does on a local and national level, and to continue to do this work your financial support is needed. Here are three creative and meaningful gift ideas:

  • For disaster relief, donate here. (Print a card or certificate to tell a loved one that you donated in their honor.)
  • If you still enjoy giving traditional gifts, you can shop online at the  Red Cross store and give a practical gift—the gift of preparedness for emergencies, with first aid kits, a hand-crank radio that can charge your cell phone, water bottles and more.
  • Visit redcross.org/gifts and choose from a variety of symbolic gifts that give back to people in need. 183401-18-Holiday-Campaign-2018_Social-Media-Plan_Facebook-Post-Graphic_2_FINAL

All donations are tax-deductible and will support Red Cross programs like Disaster Services, Service to the Armed Forces, Blood Services and International Services.

This holiday, give something that means something, and you’ll feel just like Mr. Scrooge did when he woke up-giddy on Christmas morning knowing he was going to make so many people’s lives better. Give, that’s what Christmas spirit is all about.

The Meaning of the Season

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

Holiday music is everywhere. Some radio stations go “all-Christmas” music 24-7 even before Thanksgiving, and we hear it in every store, business and TV commercial. While most of us love the fun songs–Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming To Town or Winter Wonderland...there are a few songs that make me feel especially sentimental, almost sad-because I think of the expectation of “joy” so many have for the season. As I reflect on “Chestnuts Roasting” or the hope that “I’ll be home for Christmas “(if only in my dreams), I think of the men and women in the military far from home, the infirm, or those displaced by one of the many natural disasters that occurred this year, from the wildfires to the  hurricanes; and sadly, the many human-made tragedies, too. So many are suffering from something.

This Christmas Eve, while many are celebrating with family and friends, I’m thinking of the amazing organization I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with: The Red Cross. As a board member, I’m more of an observer to the work done, and am thinking that those words of hope in those Christmas songs are fundamental principles of the global Red Cross Network. The 7 Tenants of this incredible organization completely mirror those wishes. They are:main-fundamental-principles

  1. Humanity: The Red Cross, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavors—in its international and national capacity—to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace among all peoples.
  2. Impartiality: It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.
  3. Neutrality: In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Red Cross may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
  4. Independence: The Red Cross is independent. The national societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance with Red Cross principles.
  5. Voluntary Service:The Red Cross is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.
  6. Unity: There can be only one Red Cross society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.
  7. Universality: The Red Cross is a worldwide institution in which all societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other.

Wow…what great principles to live by. What if before we posted on social media, we considered these 7 tenants. What wonderful principles to reflect not only THIS season…but ANY season!

You can support this worthy organization’s mission by making a  year-end, tax-deductible gift to the Red Cross today.

A Meaningful Gift This Christmas

Give Something That Means Something

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

171203-5770It’s a few days before Christmas, and you can feel the stress. You run in and out of stores aimlessly grabbing items for people you feel you need to buy for; annoyed with yourself that once again you feel the same way this year as you’ve felt in years past:

Why didn’t I start my Christmas shopping earlier?

Why do I spend all this money on gifts that won’t be remembered long after the paper has been ripped from the package?

Is THIS what Christmas is all about?

I’m here to tell you “NO,”  it’s not.

Christmas is special. Whether you celebrate as a religious holiday, a completely secular holiday, or somewhere in-between, most of us have been conditioned to believe (and most of us want to believe) there there is magic to this season. It represents hope for goodwill toward all. Peace in our family, our community, our world. As we end a tumultuous year, we want to believe the  Christmas spirit will heal the hurt that may exist in our lives.

So how can you give a gift that represents that?

This past week gave me an idea. A colleague of mine lost his brother in a tragic accident. Just one week before Christmas; he is gone. Any death is tough, but a sudden death… a week before Christmas? It just puts the mad rush through Target to buy something than means nothing into perspective. I’ve been reading the wonderful things about this man. People are sharing memories, photos and stories of how he affected their lives. All these kind words are being said that this man will never hear, and it made me think: why can’t we say these things now? What kind of gift would it be to post photos, tell stories, and say wonderful things about the people who mean something to us while they can still hear it…and NOT just save it for a funeral?

Inspired by that, I am writing notes to the people I love this year, telling them what I love about them. I am telling them what I would say if they weren’t here, while they still are. And I am enclosing a gift of a donation in their name to a charity I think would mean something to them. If you like that idea, let me suggest a charity worthy of your donation: The Red Cross

If, hypothetically, you were the victim of a house fire, who would be comforting you and your family with a blanket around your shoulders, and guidance to a shelter? Volunteers from The Red Cross. In the event of a  hurricane, flood, or any natural disaster….the Red Cross is there. Need Blood? The Red Cross. Need to get word to a military family member? The Red Cross.

The Red Cross can be there to fill these needs because of the monetary support from donors like you. So if you want to give a meaningful gift that will be remembered long after the chaos of Christmas morning fades, write a letter and tell someone you what you love about them, and make a donation in their name. You can personalize and be specific with this link and gift certificate to include in your card.

And have a Meaningful Merry Christmas!

 

Wreaths Across America

On Saturday, the Red Cross assisted a national program, Wreaths Across America, at the Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.

The annual program remembers and honors the fallen at national cemeteries across the country by placing wreaths on veteran headstones on a certain day in December – this year it was December 12. It’s an amazing program – the wreaths are sponsored by citizens across the nation, then trucked in to each of the cemeteries by volunteers. The wreaths are then placed by local volunteers.

The Red Cross was on site to pass out coffee, hot chocolate and water. The hot beverages are usually a welcome treat for the volunteers, but with Saturday’s balmy temperatures water was the most requested drink.

Following the placement on individual grave sites, the cemetery holds a ceremony which places a wreath in memorial of every veteran in each branch of service.

For more photos from the 2015 ceremony, please visit our Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter Facebook page.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Preparing Families for Emergencies

Most people believe that on the First Day of Christmas the appropriate gift to give is a Partridge in a Pear Tree. Well, the Red Cross believes in building Disaster Resilient Neighborhoods during the Holiday Season, as well throughout the year.

To help you select stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts designed to make individuals, families and the homes they live in as safe as possible, the Red Cross has put together the following recommendations for gifts for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Smoke AlarmOn the First Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you install a SMOKE ALARM. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of a home; outside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall, at the top of open stairways and at the bottom of enclosed stairs and near (but not in) the kitchen. It is important to check your Smoke Alarms every month and replace their batteries when Daylight Savings Time begins in the spring and ends in the fall.

CO2On the Second Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you install a CARBON MONOXIDE (CO2) ALARM. Carbon Monoxide Alarms should be placed in hallways throughout the home. They should also be placed in recreational vehicles and on boats.

 

Fire ExtinguishersOn the Third Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you install a FIRE EXTINGUISHER. Install A-B-C type Fire Extinguishers in the home and teach all household members how to use them.

 

Fire Escape LadderOn the Fourth Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you install a FIRE ESCAPE LADDER. Homes with more than one floor should have at least one Fire Escape Ladder stored on all floors, other than ground level. Store these ladders where they are easily accessible.

 

Disaster Supplies KitOn the Fifth Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you assemble a FAMILY DISASTER SUPPLIES KIT. A family will cope best by preparing for a disaster before it strikes. One way to prepare is by assembling a Family Disaster Supplies Kit. Once disaster hits, you won’t have time to shop and search for supplies.

Pet Supplies KitOn the Sixth Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you assemble a PET SUPPLIES KIT. Pets enrich the lives of individuals and families in more ways than you can count. In turn they depend on people for their safety and well-being. Having a Pet Disaster Supplies Kit is one of the best ways to care for pets when disaster strikes.

NWSOn the Seventh Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you acquire a WEATHER RADIO. As the voice of the National Weather Service, a Weather Radio provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information directly from a National Weather Service Forecast Office. During severe weather routine broadcasting is interrupted and special watch and warning messages are issued.

First AidOn the Eighth Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you get a FIRST AID KIT. Because the first five minutes of a medical emergency are critical, every individual and family should have First Aid Kits in their home and vehicles (including boats).

 

CPROn the Ninth Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you attend FIRST AID AND CPR TRAINING. For more than a century, the Red Cross has been saving lives with Health and Safety Services education programs. A unique idea for a Christmas stocking would be a Gift Certificate for a First Aid and CPR Training course.

House Numbers aOn the Tenth Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you purchase HOUSE NUMBERS. Each home should have its number posted clearly on the front door, over the doorway, or elsewhere on the front so emergency responders can easily locate it. Lives and property can be saved simply by using adequate house numbers placed where emergency workers can find them. You can purchase numbers at your local hardware store.

Flash LightOn the Eleventh Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you purchase a FLASHLIGHT. As simple as a Flashlight is, it can become a very important tool to use during and after a disaster. Every family disaster supplies kit should contain a flashlight and spare batteries.

PhoneOn the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you create an EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLAN. Each home should have a list of Emergency Phone Numbers posted near the phone or in the front of a phone book. 

 

For additional information on these and other safety tips visit:

http://www.redcross.org/news/article/7-fire-safety-tips-for-holiday-decorating-and-entertaining