Red Cross offers home fire preparedness tips during National Fire Prevention Week

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

Next week is National Fire Prevention Week and the American Red Cross wants to ensure everyone is prepared should they experience a home fire. So far in 2021, Ohio has had 95 home fire fatalities vs. 67 in 2020. 

We lost four on-duty firefighters in 2021 and the year is not over. These heroes were willing to give up their lives to help save lives of fellow Ohioans.  

Could your family escape in 2 minutes in case of a home fire?

A survey conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape before it’s too late to get out. But most Americans (62%) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape, more than twice the amount they have. Nearly 18% mistakenly believe they have ten minutes or more to get out. 

The American Red Cross urges everyone prepare by practicing their home fire escape plan and testing their smoke alarms.

1. Practice a 2-Minute Fire Drill 

Use our worksheet to draw your home’s floor plan and plot your escape routes. 

  • Practice your 2-minute drill (from home to a safe meeting place) at least twice a year.
  • Everyone in your household should know two ways to escape from each room in your home. 
  • In a real fire, remember to get out, stay out and call 911. Never go back inside for people, pets or things. 

2. Test Your Smoke Alarms Monthly

Test your smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button. 

  • You should hear three beeps, letting you know the alarm is working. 
  • Don’t hear the beeps? Then it’s time to change the batteries if your model requires them.
  • If your smoke alarm is 10 years old, it’s time to get a new alarm because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. 

Teach kids about preparedness

Our age-appropriate preparedness materials include engaging activities and easy action steps that youth will find both fun and effective.

Volunteer to help those affected by home fires

Join your local Red Cross to help families prepare for, respond to, and recover from home fire. The need for volunteers continues amidst a busy disaster season. Disaster action team members from the Red Cross Northern Ohio Region responded to nine local events over the weekend, all of them home fires. Several individuals were affected, including 30 adults and 7 children. The Red Cross provided more than $10,400 in immediate assistance.

Make a donation

Your financial gift allows the Red Cross to provide food, comfort and aid to those who have lost their home to fire. It also helps us install free smoke alarms and educate families on fire safety.

Be prepared before disaster strikes

Be prepared for disasters and other emergencies with a well-stocked emergency kit for your home, workplace and automobile. Choose from a variety of survival kits and emergency preparedness supplies to help you plan ahead for tornadoes, flooding, fire and other disasters.

Multiple weekend home fires keep Red Cross volunteers busy

Need for volunteers continues amidst busy disaster season

Disaster action team members from the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region responded to nine local events over the weekend, all of them home fires. Several individuals were affected, including 30 adults and 7 children. The Red Cross provided more than $10,400 in immediate assistance.

Home fires continue to be the main disaster affecting people in our area. In Northern Ohio, the Red Cross responds to an average of 3 home fires every day. And, tragically, recent home fires in the area have resulted in fatalities. The need for home fire safety doesn’t end during a pandemic. We urge everyone to take steps to keep their household safe by installing and maintaining smoke alarms, talking with loved ones about fire safety and creating and practicing a home fire escape plan. Learn more and download resources now to help your family prepare.

The Red Cross also has a need for volunteers to assist families who have been affected by local disasters, often a home fire. From offering a caring and compassionate ear, to meeting the disaster-caused needs of individuals and households, such as lodging and clothing, and connecting them with long term recovery services, our volunteers ensure that families don’t have to face tough times alone. During the pandemic, for the safety of you and those impacted by disaster, you will mostly respond virtually to provide compassionate and immediate care and assistance to those impacted. On occasion, a larger response may require some on-scene presence and coordination with your Disaster Action Team. To sign up, visit RedCross.org/volunteer.

The Red Cross is responding to local disasters and continues to assist those affected by natural disasters across the country, including the western wildfires and Hurricane Ida. The Northern Ohio Region currently has 13 individuals from our area deployed across the country. We expect to see the need for volunteers to deploy to continue in the coming months, as hurricane season continues.

The Red Cross could not continue to fulfill its humanitarian mission without the generous support of the American public. If you are not able to volunteer at this time, consider making a financial donation to help us provide the necessary resources for those facing disaster. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift. The Red Cross also has an ongoing need for blood and platelet donors. To schedule an appointment, visit RedCrossBlood.org.

Disaster volunteers respond to storm damage, flash flooding

Stormy summer weather prompted calls for assistance from the Northern Ohio Region of the American Red Cross during the weekend of August 13-15.

A family of five received assistance on Friday, after experiencing storm damage at their home in Toledo.

Flash floods in Elyria affected more than two dozen people, who received assistance totaling more than $4,400. The affected residents were able to use the funding to find safe shelter, buy food, clothing, and any other assistance they needed.

March 28, 2021. Ohatchee, Alabama. American Red Cross canvassing the area to provide assistance to all those affected by the devastating spring storms in and around Birmingham, Alabama. Photo by Jaka Vinsek/American Red Cross

Disaster assistance over the weekend was also provided to 10 adults and children who were forced from their homes by fire. Volunteers assisted fire-stricken residents in Cuyahoga, Summit, Portage, Ashtabula, and Monroe County, Michigan.

Andy Garcia – Photo credit: Meg Brinkman, Red Cross volunteer

In an effort to prevent fatal home fires, volunteers in Hancock County helped install smoke alarms and provided home fire safety information to residents in Findlay on Saturday. The effort was organized by Ben Garcia of Findlay, as his Eagle Scout project. Ben is a member of Troop #319 in Findlay. Teams of scouts and volunteers recruited by Ben were joined by local Red Cross volunteers to visit residents in Riverview Terrace and the surrounding neighborhood to install smoke alarms and teach residents about what to do in case a fire breaks out.  

22 homes were made safer, as Ben and the rest of the volunteers installed 49 smoke alarms.

Accompanying Ben were his father, Andy Garcia (pictured here), his mother and his brother.

If your home needs the protection of working smoke alarms, visit our Home Faire Campaign page to request a visit from trained Red Cross volunteers who can provide free smoke alarms, install them, and offer vital home fire safety information.

Be Red Cross Ready presentations focus on tornado, home fire, flood, and storm safety

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

The clatter of my typing is accompanied by a low, bellowing wind. I look through the window at snow and ice, reflecting on the isolation and challenges of the past year. Realizing it is almost March and spring a few weeks away is a welcome thought. As pleasant as spring can be, however, it also brings thunderstorms, floods, and tornadoes. We must be prepared for them, just as we need to be ready for home fires and other disasters that can happen at any time.

I spoke with John Gareis, the Red Cross’s Northern Ohio Regional Manager, Individual Community and Disaster Preparedness, who leads these presentations. He said people often neglect or disregard preparedness, as many have an impression that “It won’t happen to me.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic and other events in the past year have shown we must all be prepared.  In the Be Red Cross Ready presentations.  “How prepared are you?” John asks. “How prepared were you last year, when COVID-19 first hit the world, and we were told to shelter in place? Think of the hardships that you may have gone through. What could you have done to alleviate your discomfort and the isolated situation?” Continuing, John asks, “What would you have done differently, and what can you do to avoid similar situations now?”

John Gareis, Regional Manager, Individual Community and Disaster Preparedness for the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross (Photo taken prior to COVID-19)

To help prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters, the American Red Cross offers a series of “Be Red Cross Ready” presentations. These free, one-hour, online presentations are available to everyone.

Be Red Cross Ready presentations are designed to help answer these questions and be better prepared, as disaster can happen to every one of us.   

March opens with the first of four sessions on General Preparedness & Tornado Safety. These presentations provide information and suggestions on being better prepared all types of emergencies. They also include tornado safety information with steps you can take to protect you and your family.

The first of four General Preparedness & Home Fire Safety presentations is on March 3rd. They will cover being prepared for all types of emergencies as well as fire safety preparedness, including how home fires happen and steps you can take to avoid them.

Are you ready to put your knowledge to the test? If so, the two Test Your Preparedness Knowledge sessions are for you. These fun, interactive presentations will test your knowledge on a variety of safety questions, such as: How Prepared are you? Would you know what to do if a fire broke out in your home? What kind of risk does carbon monoxide pose? If a tornado was sighted, where do you go? How well do you understand your smoke alarms? You will test your skills and learn a lot.

There are three sessions on Smoke Alarm Safety in March. They will discuss everything you need to know about smoke alarms, including proper installation and location, maintenance, and what to do if they sound off. The presentations include tips to avoid home fires and steps of an evacuation plan.

The March 23rd presentation is on General Preparedness & Flood Safety. Flooding, which occurs when water overflows onto normally dry land, is a threat to some parts of the U.S. and its territories nearly every day of the year and is always dangerous. The flood safety presentation will discuss the signs to know if a flood is eminent, and the safety actions you and your family can take to stay safe.

A General Preparedness & Thunderstorm Safety presentation is offered on March 25th. Every thunderstorm produces lightning and thunder. They are also associated with dangers such as hail, strong winds, and tornadoes. In addition, heavy rain can cause standing water and flash flooding. This presentation will discuss the signs that storms are eminent and actions that can keep you and your family safe.

To join any of these presentations, please register by clicking the date and time of the topic in which you are interested. The password is Prepare21. All times are Eastern.

Additional safety tips and resources are available at redcross.org and the free Red Cross mobile apps.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 7-9, 2018

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

Year in and year out, when there are large national disasters, such as hurricanes Florence and Michael and the California wildfires, the focus of the news and viewers is high, and attention is on the American Red Cross and their efforts to assist those in need. Currently, the Red Cross and partners are operating 16 shelters and assisting over 200 residents in North and South Carolina following a winter storm that resulted in widespread loss of power in the Southeast United States.

However, even when the camera are not rolling, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is still active and assisting residents in need and helping to support them as they overcome a tragic low in their lives, which was evident this past weekend.

Flint Michigan Water Crisis 2016During the weekend of December 7-9, 2018, the Red Cross responded to 10 incidents in Cuyahoga, Huron, Mahoning and Stark Counties, with disasters ranging from a carbon monoxide leak to home fires. The response included assisting 23 adults and 15 children and distributing more than $7,000 in immediate financial assistance.

One incident included a fatal home fire in Youngstown involving five young children. The Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is deeply saddened by this tragedy. Professional disaster mental health volunteers are on-call ready to provide support and assistance to the family of the victims in this time of grief and difficulty.

In Northeast Ohio, the most frequent disasters the Red Cross responds to are home fires. Sound the Alarm North Carolina 2018On average, the Red Cross responds to three home fires every 24-hours. The Red Cross wants to ensure everyone in Northeast Ohio remains safe, which is why the Red Cross developed the home fire campaign, where volunteers go door-to-door to install free smoke alarms and help families create home fire escape plans. In 2018, the Red Cross installed 17,546 smoke alarms in Northeast Ohio. To learn more about home fire safety and tips to help keep your family safe during a home fire, visit redcross.org/homefires.

To continue to provide support and disaster relief to residents in their time of need, the Red Cross relies on the continued generosity of Northeast Ohio. If you would like to provide a financial donation, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Overconfident and Underprepared

New Red Cross Survey Shows Many Americans Mistaken About Home Fire Safety

According to a new survey by the American Red Cross, many people overestimate their ability to react to a home fire and miss critical steps to keep their loved ones safe.

In fact, 40 percent of people believe they are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than experience a home fire. Yet, home fires are the most common disaster people face in this country – the majority of the nearly 64,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to every year.

“Every day seven people in this country die in a home fire and another 36 people are hurt,” reports Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern. “To address this crisis, we’re bringing together thousands of community partners and volunteers to Sound the Alarm about home fire safety and help save lives. We’ve already installed more than 1.1 million smoke alarms, but our work will continue across the country, because many families are still underprepared when it comes to home fire safety.”

This spring, the Red Cross will Sound the Alarm through a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events in more than 100 high-risk communities in the United States, including Cleveland and Akron. In just 16 days – from April 28 to May 13 – volunteers and partners will install 100,000 free smoke alarms across the country. Volunteers are needed, learn more by visiting SoundTheAlarm.org/neo.

MANY PEOPLE MISTAKEN ABOUT HOME FIRE FACTS

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The Red Cross survey found that many Americans have a false sense of security about their family’s ability to escape a home fire. More than three-fourths (80 percent) of people surveyed believe everyone in their household knows what to do when a smoke alarm goes off. But less than half of those surveyed have a home fire escape plan in place. And only half of the families that do have a plan have actually practiced it.

Home fire experts say that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. However, the survey showed nearly 60 percent of people mistakenly believe they have much more time than is realistic.

MORE SURVEY RESULTS Even though many Americans admit to actions that could contribute to a home fire, only one out of four (27 percent) think that they are likely to experience a home fire in their lifetime. For example, about 40 percent of people have forgotten to turn off a stove or oven, even though cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. And, more than one-third (34 percent) of people have used a stove, kerosene lantern or space heater to warm their home. The fact is that heating equipment is involved in one of every five home fire deaths.

The survey does show that some progress is being made. More people are replacing batteries (a 9 percent increase vs. 2015) and testing to make sure their smoke alarms are working (an 11 percent increase vs. 2015). But there is still have a long way to go to make sure everyone is prepared for home fires.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that smoke alarms can save lives, yet one out of ten (12 percent) people have had to give up buying other essentials for their families to purchase one. These findings highlight just how critical the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is in communities across the country. Launched in 2014 to save lives and help end home fire tragedies, the Red Cross and its partners have already installed more than 1.1 million free smoke alarms and reached 1 million children through preparedness programs. These efforts are already credited with helping to save 381 lives. Learn more.

This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from national partners: Almost Family, Delta Air Lines and International Paper. The Red Cross has also received funding from FEMA through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Join the Red Cross today by volunteering to install smoke alarms in your community, making a financial contribution, or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires. Together, we can Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives. Learn more at soundthealarm.org/neo.

Supplemental Information about Survey Methodology

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross in August 2017 using the research firm Issues & Answers. The study was conducted among a national sample of 604 American adults. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 4 percent.

Beautiful to View – Dangerous to Ignore

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer-Communications and Disaster Services

Candles can add beauty, fragrance and ambiance to any home.  They can even add the scent of fresh pine to a home with an artificial tree. But, home safety trumps ambiance, so keep these easy to follow suggestions in mind during the holiday season (and the rest of the year as well.)

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Photo credit: Mel Turner on Unsplash

Flickering flames can be extremely interesting to toddlers.  Keeping candles high enough to avoid their reach goes without saying, but if your toddler is ingenious enough to drag over a stool or chair, make sure that the candle will still be out of reach.

If you live in a home with cats, make sure that the candle is somewhere kitty can’t jump or climb.  One swish of a long, furry tail and your candle could come flying down.

Never place candles near draperies or other flammable fabrics. Also, consider open windows. Loose papers or blowing curtains could easily come in contact with the flame.

Candles in the bedroom can be truly romantic; but, statistics show that one-third of candle fires start in the bedroom and approximately half of candle-related deaths occur after midnight and before 6:00 a.m. Be sure to extinguish your candles before you dose off to sleep, or better yet, opt for the inexpensive, flickering, battery-operated candles.  Some even come with small remote controls.

Candle1

If there is a power outage, opt for a flashlight or other battery-powered light. Candles can easily get knocked over in the darkness.  As an alternate, consider these Red Cross nightlights which plug into an outlet, and emit a soft glow. If the power goes out, they turn to a bright white light and can actually be removed from the outlet to serve as a flashlight.  No batteries to ever worry about, since the outlet keeps them charged constantly.

Make sure the candle holder is sized properly for the intended candle. Preferably, have multiple holders for all your favorite-sized candles.  If the holder is too loose, the candle could shift and fall at any time.

Finally, a UL/NFPA approved fire extinguisher is always great to have nearby.  Make sure all family members know where it’s located and know how to properly use it. Now’s an ideal time to review your family escape plan as well.

Read on for more practical fire safety tips.

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.

 

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.

 

 

VA, Veterans to Help Red Cross Make Homes Safer

Home Fire Safety and Smoke Alarm Installation Event to Take Place in Honor of Flag Day

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Homes in four Northeast Ohio cities will be made safer on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  That’s when the Red Cross, employees from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, and various veterans groups will fan out in neighborhoods in Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Parma to provide residents with home fire safety information and to install smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.

“Our Northeast Ohio VA employees are dedicated to serving those who serve day in and day out.  Their dedication carries over to their time away from work as we join forces with the Red Cross to make our Veterans homes and those of their neighbors safer,” said Susan M. Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System Director.

“This partnership with the VA and various veterans’ groups is an effort to provide continuing service to our communities,” said Jessica Tischler, Red Cross Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces.  “We intentionally planned it in honor of Flag Day, to focus on our military and veteran connected communities.”

Brinton Lincoln, a military veteran and member of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors, said, “The American Red Cross does so very much to support active military members, veterans and their families.  It is a true privilege for those of who have served within the armed forces, to give back to the Red Cross by sponsoring and partaking in this event.”

Homes to benefit by this home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event are located in areas near 4 Northeast Ohio VA facilities:

  • Akron: 55 W. Waterloo, Akron, OH 44319-1116
  • Canton: 733 Market Avenue South, Canton, OH 44702-1018
  • Mansfield: 1025 South Trimble Rd., Mansfield, OH 44906
  • Parma: 8787 Brookpark Road, Parma, OH 44129

The Red Cross and its partners have saved more than 250 lives as part of the nationwide Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries. The long-term goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

More than 15,000 smoke alarms have been installed in Northeast Ohio homes by the Red Cross and its partners since July 1, 2016.  Local residents can get more information about smoke alarm installations through the by visiting http://www.redcross.org/neoosal.