Get the most out of your summer with Red Cross safety tips

By Ryan Lang, American Red Cross volunteer 

Summer: a time for family gatherings, swimming, grilling, and many more events that have become staples of the season. Whatever your plans are, the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region has some resources you can use to help you, and even your four-legged friends, have a safe summer. 

July 30, 2014. City of Myrtle Beach Parks and Recreation, South Carolina. Julieth Martinez, 4, enjoying her swim lesson as part of the Centennial campaign. Photo by Connie Harvey/American Red Cross

WATER SAFETY

Every day, an average of 11 people die in the U.S. from unintentional drowning — and one in five of those are children 14 or younger according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Red Cross wants everyone to know critical safety knowledge and skills that could save your life in and around the water. We encourage families to build confidence in the water by learning to be safe, making good choices, learning to swim and how to handle emergencies.
· Preventing unsupervised access to water, providing constant, active adult supervision and knowing how
to swim are critical layers of protection to help prevent drowning.
· Classes to learn how to swim are available for both children and adults. Check the map for Learn-to-Swim providers in your community. Everyone should learn first aid and CPR too, so they know what to do in an emergency.
· Download the Red Cross Swim app (https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/swim-safety.html), sponsored by The ZAC Foundation, for safety tips, kid-friendly videos and activities, and take the free Water Safety for Parents and Caregivers online course in English or in Spanish.
· It’s best to swim in a lifeguarded area. Always designate a “water watcher” whose sole responsibility is to keep a close eye and constant attention on everyone in and around the water until the next water watcher takes over.
· Drowning behavior is typically fast and silent. Unless rescued, a drowning person will last only 20 to 60 seconds before submerging. Reach or throw, don’t go! In the event of an emergency, reach or throw an object to the person in trouble. Don’t go in! You could become a victim yourself.

CAMPING SAFETY

If a camping trip is in your plans, know the level of ability of the people in your group and the environment around you. Plan accordingly.
· Pack a first aid kit to handle insect stings, sprains, cuts and bruises and other injuries that could happen to someone in your group. Take a Red Cross First Aid and CPR course and download the First Aid app so that you will know what to do in case help is delayed. You’ll learn how to treat severe wounds, broken bones, bites and stings and more.
· Sprains and falls are some of the most common misfortunes travelers may face. Falls are the biggest threat, many due to poor decision-making, lack of skill or not being properly prepared. Dehydration is also a danger. Plan ahead for these dangers.
· Share your travel plans and locations with a family member, neighbor or friend.
· Bring nutritious food items and water, light-weight clothing to layer and supplies for any pets.


GRILLING SAFETY

More than three-quarters of U.S. adults have used a grill — yet, grilling sparks more than 10,000 home fires on average each year. To avoid this, the Red Cross offers these grilling safety tips:
· Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
· Never grill indoors — not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
· Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
· Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
· Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to help keep the chef safe.

PET SAFETY

Summer’s heat can be dangerous for your family pets. Follow these steps to take to help ensure your pet stays safe this summer.
· Don’t leave your pet in a hot vehicle, even for a few minutes. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees even with the windows cracked open.
· Animals can suffer heat stroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the boxer or bulldog, are especially prone to heat stroke, along with overweight pets, those with extremely thick fur or any pet with upper respiratory problems such as laryngeal paralysis or collapsing trachea.
· Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are heavy panting and being unable to calm down, even when lying down, brick red gum color, fast pulse rate and being unable to get up.
· If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees, cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees.
· Bring your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage. Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for instant access on how to treat heat stroke, other emergencies and general care for cats and dogs and take the Cat and Dog First Aid Online Training course.

FIREWORKS SAFETY

· Never give fireworks to small children, and never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials. Always follow the instructions on the packaging. 

· Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution. 

· Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection. 

· Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight a “dud.” 

· Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets. 

It is important to note that fireworks laws have changed in Ohio. As of July 1st this year, Ohio residents can discharge consumer grade fireworks in the state on private property. Click here (https://com.ohio.gov/divisions-and-programs/state-fire-marshal/fireworks/guides-and-resources/fire-service+-faqs-for-ohios-new-fireworks-law#:~:text=Beginning%20July%201%2C%202022%2C%20Ohio,to%20discharge%20consumer%20grade%20fireworks) to see the full list of changes to fireworks laws in the state. 

Tips to keep your pet safe the remainder of winter

.By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

Despite a few days of above normal temperatures, winter is baaaack! The American Red Cross would like to share some useful tips to help your family pets get safely through the rest of this winter season.

The American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States recommend following these basic steps to keep your pets safe during Ohio’s long winter months:

Bring your pets inside, especially if you’ll be gone for several hours.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ®  (ASPCA ®) reports if pets are left outdoors, they can freeze, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured, or killed. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death.

If pets cannot come indoors, make sure they are protected by a dry, draft free enclosure. Make it large enough to allow them to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in the pet’s body heat.

Raise the enclosure floor a few inches off the ground and cover it with cedar shavings or straw. Turn the enclosure away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic.

Make sure your animals have access to non-frozen drinking water. If you keep food and water outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.

Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate a pet’s paws. Wipe their paws with a damp towel before your pet licks them and irritates their mouth. The ASPCA adds that you can also use petroleum jelly or booties to protect sensitive paws. Use pet-friendly ice melt products.

If you make shelter space in your garage, shed or other secondary building, check for chemical spills and wipe up any you find before your pet can come in contact with it. Antifreeze (for example) is sweet and attracts pets, but it a deadly poison. Store antifreeze out of reach.

Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure they have access to non-frozen drinking water. If the animals are outside, make sure their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice, or other obstacles.

Photo of Tye, provided by Christy Peters

Take care of their coat and skin. To avoid itchy, flaking skin, the ASPCA recommends keeping your home humidified and towel dry your pet as soon as he or she comes inside. Pay special attention to paws and in-between the toes. Remove any snow from between foot pads. If possible, keep your dog’s coat longer in winter for warmth. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater for your pet. Keep pet bathing to a minimum when it’s cold to avoid dry skin. If your pet needs a bath, use a moisturizing shampoo.

Know your pet’s limits outdoors. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports you should be aware of how your pet tolerates cold weather and adjust as needed. Consult your veterinarian if you need advice.

Check your engine. A warm vehicle engine can be an appealing heat source for outdoor and feral cats, but it’s deadly. Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to make sure a cat hasn’t taken refuge on your engine.

Use space heaters with caution. The heater can burn your pet or be knocked over, possibly starting a home fire.

Watch for hypothermia. If your pet is whining, shivering, anxious, slower than usual or stops moving, seems weak or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Be prepared: Winter can bring blizzards and power outages. Prepare an emergency kit and include your pet in your plans. Have enough food, water, and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least five days.

Avoid walking on frozen water. Stay away from frozen ponds, lakes, and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your pet’s weight and falling through the ice could be deadly.

Photo of Winnie provided by Chris Chmura

Can I bring my dog to a Red Cross shelter?

Most American Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns and other considerations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are allowed in Red Cross shelters. Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, animal shelters or veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency.

Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app to put veterinary advice for everyday pet emergencies in the palm of your hand. With videos, interactive quizzes and simple step-by step advice it’s never been easier to know Pet First Aid.

More Resources for Pet Owners:
Pet Disaster Safety
Protect Your Pets from Heat
Pet Travel Safety
Pet Fire Safety

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Keep an eye on your pets in this heat

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

Here we are, still in the dog days of summer. If you’re not sweating out heat and humidity today, you’re likely to again before we slide into the cooler days of fall.

But what about our furry friends, our dogs and cats? Do they sweat the misery of hot, humid weather?

Actually, dogs and cats do sweat to cool off. And their fur acts as insulation.

But pets rely on us, “their people,” to behave like the “alpha animals” in their lives and protect them from the worst of summer.

“The American Red Cross focuses on the welfare of human beings, but we know how important pets are to people,” said Dr. Eve Schaming,  veterinarian at Sagamore Hills Animal Hospital in Summit County.  “That’s why we want to help folks prevent heat-related issues with their animals.”

Provide plenty of fresh water. To avoid pet heat exhaustion, make sure your pets have plenty of cool, fresh water and access to shade all day long.

Never leave your pet in the car. And no, cracking the window open or parking in the shade doesn’t count! The inside of a vehicle can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, which puts an animal in real danger.

And watch the humidity. Just like humans, our pets sweat or pant to cool off, but high humidity slows that process down.

The Red Cross offers these steps to treat heat stroke in dogs:

  • Get your animal out of direct heat.
  • Check for signs of shock, which include: collapse, body temperature of more than 104, bloody diarrhea or vomit, stupor, seizures or coma, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, salivation.
  • Take your dog’s temperature.
  • Spray your dog with cool water and then retake its temperature.
  • Put water-soaked towels on the dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen; turn on a fan an point it in the dog’s direction; rub isopropyl alcohol (70%) on the foot pads, but don’t use large quantities.
  • Take your dog to the nearest veterinarian. The effects of heat stroke may not show up right away.

Pay special attention to older animals and to dogs with shorter noses (like pugs, boxers and bulldogs). They’re at greater risk for heat stroke.

Protect your pet’s paws from hot surfaces. Walk your pet in the grass or the shade whenever possible. If the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws! If it needs to go outside on a hard surface to “do its business,” try wetting the surface with a hose or water bottle to help cool it off.

Don’t overdo outdoor exercise. Often, dogs don’t know when they need a break, so it’s up to us, “their people,” to stop for regular shaded breaks and offer water. Try to plan your walks, hikes or runs during the cooler times of day. (Better for you too!)

Whether it’s hot or not, check with your vet to see if your pets should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal to both dogs and cats.

The Humane Society of the United States says fleas and ticks are another summer threat. Only use flea and tick treatments recommended by your vet; some over-the-counter product can be toxic, even when used according to directions.

You can have first aid advice for everyday pet emergencies at your fingertips by downloading the Red Cross Pet First Aid App from smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Pet owners can also access the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course on a desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid. The 35-minute course covers:

  • How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so you can spot something that’s out of the ordinary;
  • Step-by-step instructions for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound or is having a seizure; and
  • Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being.

My neighbor’s dog, Nap, thanks you. And so does my son’s cat, Spike.

Tips for keeping your pets safe in the summer heat

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

July 9, 2020- During the hot summer months, we’re all looking for ways to keep cool and beat the heat. However, it isn’t just people who need to be safe during hot summer days—our pets need to stay cool as well. Heat and humidity can be dangerous for our pets, so the American Red Cross wants you to know it’s important to follow these tips to keep them safe on hot days.

pet-in-car

  • NEVER leave your pets in the car. This may seem obvious, but you want to make sure you are mindful of this before bringing your dog or pet with you along for a ride. Even just running into the store for 5-10 minutes can be dangerous. On a 75-degree day, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees in a vehicle within 30 minutes, even with a window cracked.
  • If you see a pet in a hot car, take action. Write down the make, model and license plate number of the vehicle and alert a manager in the business so they can assist with finding the owners. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department through their non-emergency number to report the situation.
  • Be aware of hot surfaces your dog is walking on. If it’s too hot for your bare feet to walk on, it is too hot for your dog’s feet too. A dog’s feet pads need to be protected, since dogs sweat through their feet and their pads are sensitive.
  • Give your pet plenty of water. Give your pet plenty of fresh, clean, cool water to drink throughout the day. If you go on a walk, make sure to bring a water bottle and a collapsible pet bowl to help prevent your dog from dehydrating.
  • Find a shady spot. If your pets spend a lot of time outside, make sure they have a cool, shady place to keep cool. An area with good airflow, like a shady tree, will allow your pet to take a break from the sun to cool off.

Red Cross pet photo 2018

If your pet experiences heat stroke, make sure to act quickly. Read these six steps to take if you suspect your pet has heat stroke.

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For more tips on how you can keep your pets safe, or provide first aid to your beloved animal, download the Pet First Aid app from the American Red Cross. The app includes instructions for first aid emergencies and emergency preparedness plans for your pet and more. The Red Cross also offers a free, 35-minute First Aid online course focused on pet first aid and safety at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid.

Protect pets from “dog days” heat

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

August 9, 2019- Phew! We’ve survived the wave of heat and humidity that smothered Northeast Ohio in July. Like me, my pets are enjoying the cooler temperatures. But we know more heat is on the way. The “dog days” of summer are coming, and they aren’t called that because dogs enjoy them. How can we help pets survive life-threatening conditions caused by hot weather?

Cooperative Fetching

Photo credit: Ron Bracale

Keep in mind the natural elements that are essential for life:

WATER: Animals and birds need plenty of water, especially when it’s hot. Give them free access and refill bowls as needed. Clean the bowls each day and make sure the water is fresh. Some animals enjoy sitting or standing in a baby pool filled with water. You can stick your feet in and keep them company!

AIR: Fresh air is important for our pets. Try to give them time outdoors without putting them at risk of overheating. If they’re enjoying the air conditioning indoors, provide them the ability to move into or out of the blowing air. Birds, especially, need to be protected from drafts.

LIGHT: If you close your curtains during the day to keep your house cool, give pets a chance to absorb some sunlight now and then if they choose. Access to shade is crucial. My light colored, short-haired dog loves to lie in the sun for 10 or 20 minutes. My long-haired black dog only lies in the sun on cool days. Remember that dark colors amplify the heat!

Little Bit Pool

Photo credit: Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

EARTH: Your pets are walking on bare feet. If the pavement is too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s. For those of you who walk your dogs along the beach, keep in mind how hot the sand is. The air coming off the lake may seem cool but the sand holds the sun’s heat even after it sets.

TEMPERATURE: Monitor the temperature of your pet’s environment, keeping in mind its specific needs. Reptiles need to stay warm. Mammals need a way to cool off when it gets too hot. If your hamster is in an aquarium, it’s going to get hotter more quickly than if it’s in a cage. Of course, NEVER leave any pet in a car during the summer! Car temperatures can reach over 120 degrees in just a few minutes.

What if your pet does overheat? The American Red Cross now offers online training in First Aid for Dogs and Cats at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/first-aid/cat-dog-first-aid. Sign up now and be prepared!

keets on hand

Photo credit: Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

The Red Cross also offers a first aid app for pets. It provides instant access to expert guidance on how to maintain your pet’s health, what to do in emergencies and how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Stay safe this Fourth of July with these safety tips

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

July 3, 2019- With Fourth of July celebrations almost under way, the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross has some fireworks safety tips to make sure everyone stays safe this holiday.

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“Fourth of July is a great holiday for families to enjoy the summer weather but we want everyone to stay safe, especially when it comes to fireworks,” said Tim O’Toole, regional disaster officer for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “These safety tips will ensure that everyone can have an enjoyable and safe Independence Day, including pets.”

Attend a Public Fireworks Show

The safest way to enjoy fireworks this Fourth of July is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Make sure to stay at least 500 feet away from the show and leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

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If you or someone you know is setting off fireworks at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials, and make sure to light them a safe distance away.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Always have an adult supervise any fireworks activities, even sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Many communities in Northeast Ohio are hosting fireworks shows throughout the Fourth of July weekend. Click here for a full listing of shows in the area.

Pet Safety

Hurricane Florence 2018

July 5th is the busiest day at local animal shelters due to animals being scared by fireworks and running away. Here are some tips to keep your furry friends safe this Independence Day:

  • Keep your pets inside on the lowest level of your home.
  • Turn on a television or radio to help cover some the loud noises that may be outside.
  • Before fireworks and other festivities begin, get your pet to be active, such as going on a long hike. A pet that is mentally and physically exhausted is less likely to react to fireworks and other loud noises.
  • Provide your pet a distraction, such as a delicious treat or toys, to keep them occupied.
  • Comfort them. Sitting close to your pet, petting them gently and offering quiet words of reassurance during scary events like fireworks can help to center them and might even reduce their fearfulness.
  • Make sure your pet has access to a favorite and comforting area, such as a bedroom.
  • Try an anxiety vest. Much like swaddling helps to calm infants, a snug garment that puts gentle pressure on your pet’s torso can reduce fireworks anxiety. Get your furry  friend used to wearing a pressure wrap before fireworks so that by the time the event arrives, they will be comfortable with the garment.
  • Just in case your pet does escape, make sure your pet’s identification is up to date and that you have a current photo ready.

Fireworks aren’t the only things that pose a home fire risk – this video can help you avoid home fires due to cooking accidents:

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer