Pushing one button could save a life – will you do it?

More than 65% of your friends won’t

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

October 5, 2020- It’s National Fire Prevention Week from October 4 – 10, and as a nation, we are woefully underprepared for an emergency. Home fires haven’t stopped since COVID-19 started, and American Red Cross volunteers still answer four fire calls per day on average in Northern Ohio.

A new 2020 national Red Cross survey shows most of us aren’t taking the steps to protect ourselves.

So, what are those things you aren’t doing?

  • Push the button to test your smoke alarms each month helps ensure that they’re working — which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Still, 65% of us don’t.
  • Practicing your escape plan twice a year also increases the odds of survival. But 70% of us don’t.
  • Escaping in less than two minutes can be the difference between survival and tragedy, according to fire experts. Yet more than half of us think we have more time.

It’s not that difficult, so how about today?

Here’s a quick to do list you might want to print out:

  1. Make sure you have smoke detectors on each level of your home, preferably inside and outside your bedrooms. If they are more than 10 years old, new batteries won’t help, they need to be replaced.
  2. Insure there are two escape paths from every room in your house. If there aren’t, seriously consider your alternatives.
  3. Have a meeting place for your family to rendezvous after a fire so everyone is accounted for.
  4. Practice emergency escape drills to make sure everyone can exit and meet outside in less than two minutes.
  5. Make sure young children recognize the sound of a fire alarm and, just as importantly, what you expect them to do if they hear one.

Many Northern Ohio fires could have been prevented

Being a disaster services responder, I hate to say it, but most of the calls I respond to in our region could have been prevented.

  • A kitchen fire that started while the cook went to watch TV.
  • A candle left in a room unattended, that the dog knocked over.
  • A child with a candle on their bedside table.
  • An electric fryer with a frayed cord.
  • A wheelchair patient smoking while on oxygen.
  • An electric heater placed too near a pile of clothes.
  • An electric heater left in the attic while away at work.

If any of those sound familiar – STOP IT!  Download the Red Cross Emergency app, tap Prepare, and then tap Home Fire.  You’ll find all sorts of helpful hints, which will benefit you and your family. Then help us prevent the tens of thousands of home fires we respond to annually by making a donation. Learn more about our fire prevention efforts and join the Home Fire Campaign.

Advice from Mansfield mother after smoke alarm saves her children’s lives

The Red Cross responds, aids in the aftermath of devastating loss

By Jim McIntyre, Regional Communications Manager, American Red Cross

January 8, 2020 – December 6, 2019, was a big day in Mansfield, Ohio. The town was anticipating the big game, the Mansfield High School Tygers taking on Trotwood-Madison in the Division III High School Football Championship game. It would be the first appearance in a state championship game for a team from Richland County.

Classes in the Mansfield schools were cancelled in preparation for the game later that evening.

On Springmill Street, five children were home playing. Their mom, Nancy Hines-Adkins, had an appointment to keep, so she left her 14-year-old in charge. Mom wasn’t gone long before the shrill siren of a smoke alarm alerted the children to a fire.

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Nancy Hines-Adkins, with children Samara and Sean standing behind her, and holding Brooklyn in her arms.

All five children escaped unharmed. One remembered mom’s instructions to run to the nearby fire station. But by the time firefighters were able to put water on the flames, everything inside the house was lost.

“The Red Cross has been very supportive,” said Nancy, two weeks after the fire occurred. “People call me from the Red Cross every single day to make sure me and my family are OK.”

The home on Springmill St. was gutted.

The family received immediate financial assistance, which was used to help them find lodging, food and clothing. Continuing care includes connecting the family to resources that can help them find another place to live.

Five days before Christmas, the children visited the Mansfield American Red Cross office on Smith Avenue to choose toys donated by employees of TravelCenters of America and the Red Cross.

Nancy knows that the help she received immediately after the fire was made possible only by the generous donations of the American public. “It’s very important for people who lose everything. In the blink of an eye everything is gone and they (the Red Cross) are there to help, so donate!”

She also has a vital message about smoke alarms: “They’re very important. Make sure you have them. It will save your life.”

Unfortunately for the Mansfield High Tygers, their quest for a state championship ended that night with an overtime loss. But Nancy is grateful that on that day, a smoke alarm alerted her children to the home fire, and that they escaped unharmed. They suffered a devastating loss of their home but no lives were lost.

Visit soundthealarm.org/neo to request smoke alarms for your home and to learn more about home fire safety. To make a donation to help families like Nancy’s, visit redcross.org/donate, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

Visit our YouTube channel here to see a video featuring Nancy and her family.

Edited By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

 

 

 

Sandusky man assisted by Red Cross during family tragedy to serve on local board

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

In January 2018 a family’s life was forever changed. An early morning fire broke out at a Norwalk, Ohio, home. Multiple fire departments responded and battled the blaze. Tragically, the fire took the lives of a husband and wife, their adult son, his certified therapy dog and their family dog.

The event devastated the family, which is still trying to heal. In a matter of minutes, they lost their parents, grandparents, brother and uncle. The case was difficult on the firefighters, too. It was the first multi-fatality fire in the community in nearly 100 years.

Rob Griggs of Sandusky is the oldest son and big brother of the family. A former Marine and self-described multitasker, he feels he can handle having a lot placed on his shoulders.

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Rob Griggs and his sister, Tricia Costanzo at the Sound the Alarm event in Sandusky in April

“My family often looks toward me for answers,” he said. “But I didn’t have them myself.”

“There was never a chance to say goodbye,” Rob said. “There is no closure, and there never will be. It’s been really, really hard for all of us.”

Rob, who is general sales manager at Kasper Buick GMC, is now working to prevent other families from having to experience this hardship—first as an American Red Cross volunteer and soon as a board member with the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter.

 

On a Saturday in late April, Rob, his wife Cali, their 11-year-old son Zach and Rob’s sister Tricia Costanzo went door to door in Sandusky installing smoke alarms as volunteers during a Sound the Alarm event. That day, 129 smoke alarms were installed by two dozen volunteers—ultimately making 63 homes safer.

“My son loved it,” he said. “He was there knocking on all the doors. He and his sister lost two grandparents. It was their first loss . . . so it has been a process for them as well. He’s a good kid who wants to be part of helping.”

Rob stated that his family is now a “Red Cross family.” He explained that he and his wife Cali want “to give to any and every part of the Red Cross” and help in any way they can to bring more awareness to its needs.

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Rob’s wife Cali installs a smoke alarm in a home in Sandusky

“Rob informed me that he was incredibly touched by our Red Cross volunteers that night his family’s home caught fire,” said Lara Kiefer, executive director of the Red Cross Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter. “He never realized what the local Red Cross does in our communities every day and said he will forever be a Red Cross volunteer. I look forward to having Rob on our board and helping us advance our mission throughout the communities we serve.”

Rob’s advice:  Every six months, check your smoke alarms and replace them after 10 years. He will be vigilantly reaching out to friends and family and advocating on this issue as a family. He believes if he can help people be more secure or protect their homes, it will help him rest more easily at night.

“People don’t realize how important it is,” he explained. “It takes a few minutes of your life to check. It’s a few minutes you may never get back. . . . The time it took could have saved three lives.”

The Red Cross’ Sound the Alarm campaign is designed to reduce the number of home fire fatalities each year. To donate so that smoke alarms can be purchased and installed in local communities, visit redcross.org/donate or call 800-HELP NOW (800-435-7669).

Sam Miller’s generosity touched many lives in Cleveland and across the country

Fatal fires in Cleveland prompted beloved philanthropist to start free smoke alarm program

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

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Red Cross file photo

March 8, 2019 – Something had to be done.

That was the sentiment in 1992, when 28 people died in home fires in the city of Cleveland.  Half of the victims were children.

Sam Miller did that “something.”  Angered by the deaths, especially the loss of children, he partnered with the city of Cleveland and the American Red Cross to help establish an initiative to install smoke alarms in homes throughout the city.  It was called “Operation Save-A-Life,” and the effort had the desired effect; fire fatalities in the city of Cleveland plummeted.

Mr. Miller died on March 7.  He was 97 years old.

“The Northeast Ohio Community has lost an icon of caring, compassion and concern for his fellow man and his community,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster officer for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, and a former Assistant Fire Chief for the city of Cleveland. “Sam Miller was involved in many public safety initiatives over the years, but none more impactful than the Operation-Save-A-Life program he founded here in 1992.  This program has improved the safety of tens of thousands of residents in Northeast Ohio, and is now the model for the National Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.”

Since 2014, when the Red Cross started its Home Fire Campaign by installing smoke alarms, replacing batteries, and helping create home fire escape plans in homes across the country, more than 520 lives have been saved due directly to the efforts of Red Cross volunteers and partners.

“We are grateful for the passion Sam Miller had for saving the lives of the most vulnerable people in the city of Cleveland,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “That passion led to the effort that the American Red Cross continues to this day, and will no doubt save more lives in the future. Sam Miller’s contributions to the Red Cross will be felt for many years to come.”

This spring, the Red Cross will launch Sound the Alarm, a nationwide initiative to save lives by installing 100,000 smoke alarms in homes throughout the country from April 27 through May 12.

Sam Miller continued to support the Red Cross for years.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Cleveland Chapter beginning in 1998, providing valued leadership and donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Red Cross’ lifesaving mission.  Following his tenure on the board, he was named Co-Chairman Emeritus.

“The impact of Mr. Miller’s initial donation for the residents of the city of Cleveland is now being felt nationwide by hundreds of thousands of people,” said Tim O’Toole.  “While his passing is a significant loss, it is outmatched by his legacy of community spirit that will live on for decades.”

To volunteer to install smoke alarms during Sound the Alarm this spring, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.

 

 

Beyond national hurricane relief efforts, the Red Cross continues to respond to local disasters in Northeast Ohio

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

IMG_2066Currently, the most visible work of the American Red Cross is its response to assist in the relief efforts in the Southeast United States following Hurricanes Florence and Michael. However, even with 23 disaster relief workers deployed from this region to assist with the hurricanes, the Red Cross continues to respond to disasters here in Northeast Ohio.

The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross, which serves 22 counties and 4.5 million dunham ave 2 residents, has continued to be very active responding to calls across local communities. This past weekend, disaster relief workers responded to eight calls from home fires to storm damage in Canton, Cleveland, Fairlawn, Lorain, Sandusky, Sheffield Lake, South Euclid and Willard. They assisted 23 adults and 10 children and provided nearly $8,700 in aid.

IMG_4123The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross is prepared 24 hours per day and seven days a week to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. If you are interested in making an impact in local communities, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. We can provide support to our communities thanks to the work of our tremendous volunteers, which make up 90 percent of our workforce. To volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.orgIMG_1758

We also rely on the generosity of Northeast Ohio residents to continue to offer disaster relief. If you would like to provide a monetary donation, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

EY Interns Help Make Dozens of Homes Safer

It was hot.  It was Friday the 13th.  But it didn’t stop more than 40 interns from Ernst and Young in Cleveland from making dozens of homes in the city safer, by installing smoke alarms and offering residents fire safety information.

They were helping the American Red Cross by taking part in a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event.

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EY intern Nigel Williams of Marquette University installs a smoke alarm.

“When I learned about Sound the Alarm, and how the Red Cross makes so many homes safer by installing smoke alarms, I knew it would be a worthwhile project for our interns,” said Nick McCauley, Senior Manager, Assurance at EY and  a member of the board of directors for the Greater Cleveland chapter of the Red Cross.  “They loved being able to make a difference in so many people’s lives.”

The interns study at schools near, like Kent State University, and far, like Marquette University in Milwaukee.  They are working this summer at the EY office in downtown Cleveland.  But on Friday, July 13, 2018, they left the office and entered 77 homes in an east side neighborhood,  installing a total of 185 smoke alarms.

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EY Interns Nadia Dansani of Kent State University and Katherine Butler of the University of Cincinnati in the home of Danita Beamon Battle of Cleveland.

If you have an interest in helping make homes safer in vulnerable communities, become a Red Cross volunteer.  If you need smoke alarms in your home, visit soundthealarm.org/neo. To view more photos from the EY Sound the Alarm event, visit our photo album here.

Sound the Alarm on Home Fires

National, Local Effort to Prevent Fire Fatalities Gets  Underway This Week

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Every day, seven people are killed from home fires. It’s a staggering statistic, but true. If their homes had smoke alarms installed, who knows how many of those lives could have been saved? Watch this video.

Not content to accept this statistic, the American Red Cross is determined to reduce the number of injuries and deaths by at least 25 percent by the year 2020. From April 28 through May 13, smoke alarms will be installed in 100 at-risk communities across the United States.

In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross is partnering with local fire departments and corporate partners to install smoke alarms in homes that have none or have older ones that need to be replaced. If a smoke alarm is more than 10-years old, it needs to be replaced. The portion of the detector that senses the smoke can lose its ability to function properly after 10 years.

Teams of volunteers, both Red Cross members and other members of the community will be visiting areas throughout the country, and will be installing these smoke alarms at no cost to the homeowners. Locally, smoke alarms will be installed in communities in Cleveland and Akron.  Visit soundthealarm.org/neo for the dates of our home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events.Sound_the_Alarm_2018-04-23 (002)

Volunteers – both trained and untrained – are still needed for a variety of tasks. If you can’t help on the installation dates, additional volunteers are needed before the event. People will be canvassing the neighborhoods and leaving flyers announcing the event, along with fire safety information. If you can walk, you’ve got the skills necessary.

 

On the day of the event, people with tool skills will do the actual installations, but other people are needed to provide safety information, to document the installations and to explain fire evacuation facts to the homeowners.

There’s something everyone can do, and you could be the next person who directly or indirectly saves someone’s life that is presently without smoke alarms. Visit us online to sign up for one of the volunteer opportunities.  Consider bringing family and friends to help as well.

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.

Work of Her Hands Comes from Her Heart

Volunteer Caseworker Also Crochets for Victims of Disaster

By Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

“I don’t knit.  I crochet.”

Stephanie Farley, a retired school teacher and long-time Red Cross volunteer, says she found a bag of yarn in her closet several years ago and started stitching.

“I couldn’t remember why I bought it, what I was going to make with it, and I had a hat pattern, so I made a hat.”

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Since then, Stephanie has stitched an untold number of hats that have been given to residents in Northeast Ohio who experience disasters like home fires.  Each time Stephanie brings a new batch of hand-stitched hats, they are distributed by Disaster Action Team members who respond to home fires.

“The first hat anyone took was bright red,” Stephanie said. “He was so excited, he was waving it around.”

Stephanie says she also received a thank you note from the recipient of one of her hats.

She’ll be crocheting for the foreseeable future, after making a request for yarn on the website nextdoor.com, a private social network for neighbors.  “I got tons of yarn.  I’m good for a year or two.”

 

You don’t have to knit, or crochet to volunteer for the Red Cross.  Your heart just has to be in the same place as Stephanie’s.  Visit redcross.org/neo and click “Volunteer” to explore the many ways you, too, can help others.

Red Cross Workers Respond to Multiple Home Fires

Nearly a dozen responses to disasters over the holiday weekend

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The lives of more than 50 residents of Northeast Ohio were disrupted over the New Year holiday weekend by disasters, the vast majority of them home fires.

Red Cross disaster workers responded to home fires in 5 Northeast Ohio counties, providing assistance to 29 adults and 24 children.  Immediate financial assistance totaling $11,415 was provided to the affected residents, to help them find suitable lodging, or to meet other immediate needs.

Other assistance, including comfort kits and initial case work was also provided.

“It’s never a good time to go through something like a home fire,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer.  “It’s especially hard on families to be chased from their homes during the holidays.  We are grateful there was no loss of life over the weekend, and we’re thankful for our dedicated volunteers who responded to these residents in need.”

Red Cross workers from the Northeast Ohio Region responded to disasters, including multiple family home fires, in Cleveland, North Olmsted, Garfield Heights, Chesterland, Sandusky, Girard, Cadiz and Monroeville.

In addition to our weekend disaster response, the Red Cross is continuing to provide support to several warming centers in the city of Cleveland, with cots and blankets as requested.

The bitter cold temperatures are expected to continue to affect millions of people this week and the Red Cross has steps they should follow to stay safe during the ongoing deep freeze:

WINTER SAFETY TIPS

  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

Plow

WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you have to drive, follow these tips:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

PREVENT HOME FIRES

With the cold temperatures there is often a rise in the number of home fires. Follow these tips to help prevent a fire in your home:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs – at least three feet away from sources of heat.
  •  Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen.


DOWNLOAD APPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.