No better time to make homes safer

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

James Mays lives alone in a roomy house in Cleveland, and is extra cautious about preventing a home fire.  “I’m pretty spooked out about it,” he said on the morning before Halloween, as American Red Cross volunteers Brittany Tucker and Walter Reddick installed new smoke alarms in his home.

Red Cross volunteers Walter Reddick and Brittany Tucker install a smoke alarm

James said he’s experienced two fires in his life.  “You have to really be watchful,” he said.

James’ home was one of 22 made safer on October 30, 2021, as six Red Cross volunteers, three staff members and two Cleveland firefighters visited homes in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. All were observing safety measures to protect themselves, each other and the residents they visited by wearing face coverings and being socially distanced when possible.

Red Cross volunteer Brittany Tucker and Cleveland resident James Mays

“I saw it on TV,” said Carolyn Lee, referring to a message urging people to test their alarms when they turn back their clocks to end daylight saving time on November 7.  It prompted Carolyn, who has nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren to call the Cleveland Division of Fire, which works closely with the Red Cross to install alarms and share home fire safety information with residents who make an appointment.

Carolyn’s son Treyfus Lee was visiting when the Red Cross arrived.  The U.S. Army veteran grew up in the house and said the alarms hadn’t been changed in “quite a while.”  He was told smoke alarm sensors have a 10-year life span, and that all alarms should be tested monthly.

Treyfus Lee, left and his mother Carolyn Lee

It was a timely message, delivered a week before the time change, and a reminder to all residents: when you turn back your clocks, test your smoke alarms.

To make an appointment for a home fire safety visit and to have free smoke alarms installed in your home, visit our website.  Residents of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula Counties can also call 216-361-5535.  Residents of Summit, Mahoning, Trumbull, Medina, Portage and Columbiana counties can call 330-535-2030.  In Stark, Wayne, Ashland, Carroll, Holmes, Harrison and Tuscarawas Counties, residents can call 330-453-0146. In Erie, Hancock, Huron, Lorain, Putnam, Seneca, and Wyandot Counties, residents can call 419-422-9322. In Lucas, Fulton, Henry, Ottawa, Sandusky, Wood, and Monroe County, Michigan, residents can call 419-329-2900.

Photos by Dave Eadelis, American Red Cross volunteer. For more photos, visit our Flickr album.

Trying to #EndHomeFires during 2021 Day of Action

Working with partners to deliver home fire safety information, install smoke alarms

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

CLEVELAND, May 10, 2021 – Dozens of homes in the city of Cleveland were made safer on Saturday, when the American Red Cross and the Cleveland Division of Fire partnered to Sound the Alarm during the 2021 Day of Action. 

Red Cross volunteers like Sherri Akers offered residents home fire safety information from outside their homes, observing social distancing and wearing a face covering, while Cleveland firefighters entered the homes to install vital smoke alarms in a coordinated campaign to make homes safer.

“Home fires haven’t stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster officer for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio. “Through targeted outreach, we’re working with community partners like the Cleveland Division of Fire to connect with families and make their homes safer by bringing residents fire safety education and new smoke alarms.”

During Saturday’s Day of Action, 44 homes in two Cleveland neighborhoods were made safer.  116 residents live in those homes, including 22 children and 28 senior citizens.  Cleveland firefighters installed 139 smoke alarms in those homes.  The alarms were provided by the Red Cross. 

“I feel much safer now that I have smoke detectors in my house that I never had before,” said Shondo Green of Linwood Avenue.  His neighbors Annie Kemp and Bessie Terrell echoed the same sentiment.

Cleveland residents Brenda Wynn, Annie Kemp and Shondo Green

“It makes me feel safe”

Annie Kemp of cleveland

“It makes me feel safe,” said Ms. Kemp, after two firefighters installed several smoke alarms in her home.  After being told she may have as little as two minutes to escape if a fire starts in her home, Ms. Terrell said, “I didn’t think to put up an escape plan, but I’m going to for the children who still live here.”

See more photos from the 2021 Day of Action here.

Practicing an escape plan and testing smoke alarms monthly are two ways to help protect families from home fires. Smoke alarms should be installed on every floor of a home, Research has shown that working smoke alarms cut the risk of serious injury or death in a home fire in half.

Residents of Northern Ohio can visit SoundtheAlarm.org/noh to schedule a virtual home fire safety visit or to request a smoke alarm.  Since 2014, more than two-million smoke alarms have been installed by the Red Cross and our partners, and more than 860 lives have been saved because of those alarms.

Between April 8 and May 8, More than 800 homes in Northern Ohio were made safer, and more than 700 new smoke alarms were installed by partners working with the Red Cross, impacting nearly 2,200 residents.

Sound the Alarm a Success

Hundreds of Volunteers Install Thousands of Smoke Alarms in Three Weeks

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Volunteers for the Sound the Alarm event in Slavic Village on May 12, 2018

Residents in more than 900 homes in Northeast Ohio can sleep more soundly knowing they now have working smoke alarms, installed over a three-week period this spring by volunteers with the American Red Cross and dozens of partners.

Nationwide, more than 103,000 alarms were installed in 43,000 homes during the same three weeks, as part of a Red Cross initiative known as Sound the Alarm. Save a Live.  Read more about the national results here.

Locally, nearly 2,500 alarms were installed in neighborhoods of Cleveland, Akron and Maple Heights between April 28 and May 12.  About 350 volunteers went door-to-door, installing free smoke alarms, changing batteries in existing alarms, and helping residents create escape plans.

40277366540_81f2ea6dbd_z“We have over 20 people here from KeyBank, and we think this is a great cause,” said Don Kimble, Chief Financial Officer at KeyBank and a member of the board of directors for the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter. He volunteered to help during the final Sound the Alarm event in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood on Saturday, May 12.  “There aren’t many times you can volunteer and actually help save a life. It really helps out the community.”

More than 400 lives have been saved since the Red Cross began installing alarms nationwide in 2014.

“Anything can happen.  You never know what will cause a fire,” said Richard Demming, as volunteers installed new smoke alarms in his second-story home on East 55th Street in Cleveland. “Smoke alarms alert you to get out of the house.”

 

Another resident of East 55th Street, Stanford Simmons said, “It’s good for the community.  Volunteering is important. The fire department can’t do it all.”

The Cleveland Fire Department has been working with the Red Cross to install smoke alarms in homes since 1992.  Several firefighters accompanied the volunteers in Slavic Village on Saturday.

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Jamie Evans, upper left, and other volunteers from Third Federal Savings and Loan

Jamie Evans is a human resources employee with Third Federal Savings and Loan, which is headquartered in Slavic Village.   He was with a team of volunteers from Third Federal and said, “You could definitely tell people appreciated it.  A couple of residents were outside waiting for us.  We took out lots of old alarms, people who didn’t have the means to replace them.  It’s definitely a good program.”

425 alarms were installed in Slavic Village on Saturday, making 125 homes safer. Click here for more photos from the Sound the Alarm event in Slavic Village.

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FirstEnergy employees were among the volunteers for the Sound the Alarm event in Akron on May 11, 2018.

The day before, dozens of volunteers gathered in East Akron for another Sound the Alarm event. Among them was Murphy Montler, Director of Local External Affairs for FirstEnergy in Ohio and West Virginia.  He was heading a team of more than two dozen FirstEnergy workers.

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Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Board member Charles Brown and Murphy Montler of FirstEnergy

“We have a long-standing partnership with the Red Cross,” Murphy said.  “When they’re out dealing with disasters, we’re also dealing with infrastructure issues affecting our customers.”  Murphy noted that there has been a recent spate of fire fatalities in Akron, and that FirstEnergy workers volunteered to help the Red Cross make homes in Akron safer.

“This organization is so wonderful,” he said.  “It doesn’t operate without volunteers.  It’s a mission that people really connect with.”

Greg Sell, a resident of Eva Avenue in Akron, said he didn’t know the Red Cross offered free smoke alarm installations.  “Thank God for the Red Cross,” he said.  “I’ll be telling everybody.  Continue the good work.”  Click here for more photos from the May 11th Sound the Alarm event in Akron.

Sound the Alarm events WILL continue, year-round. Residents throughout Northeast Ohio can request a free home fire inspection and free smoke alarms by visiting soundthealarm.org/neo.  You can register to become a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org/neo.

We are grateful for all our partners who helped us Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.

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Akron City Fire Department
Almost Family
ArcelorMittal
Asurint
BCD Travel
Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs
Case Western Reserve Students
Cleveland Central Catholic
Cleveland City Council
Cleveland Fire Department
Cox Automotive
DOVIA
First Energy Corporation
Franklin Myles State Farm
Huntington Bank
J & M Champions for Change
KeyBank
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center
Manheim Cleveland-Cox Automotive
Maple Heights Fire Department
Metro Health System
Mount Calvary Lodge
NAWIC
NLC LOANS
Ohio’s Choice Home Health
Prince Hall Masons
Red Cross Board, & Associate Board (Young Professionals)
Red Cross Club- CWRU
Robert W Baird
S&T Bank
Signet Jewelers
Stockyard Connection Block Club Metro West CDO/Stockyard Safety Committee
Team RWB
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Torchbearers
Westfield Group

 

More than 90 Homes Made Safer During First Sound the Alarm Event

Cold and rain fail to dampen the spirit of volunteers

More than 90 families on Cleveland’s west side can sleep more soundly, knowing there are now working smoke alarms in their homes.  The alarms were installed by volunteers from various community groups and corporate partners, who worked with the Red Cross and the Cleveland Fire Department on the first Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in Northeast Ohio on Saturday.

The goal of the nationwide program is to save lives.

“Through the combined efforts, we were able to install more than 234 smoke alarms,” said Tim O’Toole, Red Cross Regional Disaster Program Officer. “91 families in the Clark Fulton neighborhood slept safer last night due to the efforts of our combined partnership.”

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Tim O’Toole, Chief Angelo Calvillo, and Councilwoman Jasmin Santana

Chief Angelo Calvillo of the Cleveland Division of Fire and city councilwoman Jasmin Santana, who represents the neighborhood, helped kick-off the event.

“People don’t realize that when a house fire occurs, you only have a couple of minutes to get out,” said Chief Calvillo. “An alarm will actually notify you and your family to get out of the house.”IMG_5726

 

 

More than 30 volunteers dispersed throughout the neighborhood to help residents create escape plans and to install smoke alarms.  Among the groups represented by volunteers were the Metrohealth System, Prince Hall Masons, and the Red Cross Club from Case Western Reserve University.

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CWRU Red Cross Club volunteers Austin Zhang and Tobi Oshomoji

A Tobi Oshomoji, a sophomore from Nashville, Tennesee, and Austin Zhang, a freshman from Houston, Texas were on a team of installers going door-to-door on Trent Avenue.

“It’s about stepping outside University Circle and interacting with the community,” said Austin. “Cleveland has welcomed us, and we’d like to give back.”

You can see more photos from Saturday’s Sound the Alarm event here, in our Flickr photo album.

The city of Cleveland is one of more than 100 cities nationwide where Sound the Alarm events are taking place between April 28 and May 13.  Volunteers and partners will also help install alarms in Akron, Maple Heights, and Slavic Village during the next three weeks.  For more information or to volunteer, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.

 

Still Writing Checks and Saving Lives

Charitable Trust Continues to Fund Smoke Alarm Installations

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In 1992, following a spate of fire fatalities, the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland partnered with the Cleveland Division of Fire to install smoke alarms, free of charge to residents who lived in neighborhoods deemed to be at high risk for home fires.

The project was made possible then, and continues now, in part because of funding from the Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust.  “25 years later, we’re still writing checks and saving lives,” said Chris Hitchcock, Executive Director of the Trust, adding, “And now it’s becoming a national program.  That’s very exciting.”

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 Chief Angelo Calvillo, Tim O’Toole, and Chris Hitchcock 

Chris joined Red Cross volunteers, members of  the Westshore Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and the Cleveland Division of Fire on a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in the neighborhood in Cleveland where a woman and her 8-year old great-granddaughter died in July.

28 homes were made safer, as the volunteers and firefighters installed 85 smoke alarms and helped residents formulate escape plans.

The Cleveland Fire Department, which has an active presence on Twitter, broadcast a live interview on the Periscope app with Chris, Chief Angelo Calvillo,  and Tim O’Toole, the Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer.

See more photos here, on our Flickr album.