Celebrate safely this July 4th!

By: Chris Chmura, Red Cross Volunteer

We usually take our summers seriously in Northeast Ohio, but this year is extra special due to COVID-19 restrictions easing and life normalizing a little. 

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, a time when people typically enjoy the summer holiday with backyard barbecues, fireworks, or water fun.  Independence Day will be different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which could be a little tricky because of the mixed rates of vaccinated Ohioans across the region.  The American Red Cross offers safety tips you can follow to help you enjoy and stay safe during the Fourth of July.

“We know the summertime, particularly the time around the 4th of July, is a great time to get together with friends and family,” said Dr. Austin Wellock, Medical Director, Emergency Department at Summa Health System – Akron Campus. “It’s important to know there can be dangers associated with some everyday outdoor activities. Around this time each year, we see patients in our emergency departments for fireworks related injuries and food illnesses.”

As communities reopening with events, inform yourself of precautions and new regulations that are being set to attend in public settings.

If you have not been vaccinated, you may want to continue to social distance by staying 6 feet away from others, especially if you are at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (over age 65 or any age with underlying medical conditions).  If you are vaccinated, educate yourself about the events your planning to attend through their websites and contact numbers. 

  1. Some events may have attendees and/or working staff continue to wear cloth face coverings in public. Face coverings are most essential when social distancing is difficult.  If vaccinated, you might be free or required to wear a mask.
  2. Follow guidelines for your area when it comes to how large gatherings can be. Avoid crowds and mass gatherings if you are not comfortable.
  3. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  4. Stay home if you are sick.

FIREWORKS SAFETY

Many of last year’s public fireworks shows were canceled across Northern Ohio last summer as communities tried to avoid holding events with large crowds. If you plan to attend a public show this year, we suggest educating yourself on the event that you plan to attend because each city/county may have different restrictions.  Each state have various laws related to personal use fireworks.

  1. 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.
  2. Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  3. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  4. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  5. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

GRILLING SAFETY

Grilling fires spark more than 10,000 home fires on average each year in the U.S. To avoid this:

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  2. Never grill indoors — not in the house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  3. Make sure everyone, stays away from the grill, including children and pets.
  4. Keep the grill away from the house or anything that could catch fire. 
  5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill.

WATER SAFETY

Warmer weather means enjoying the water. Be “water smart,” have swimming skills and know how to help others. This includes home pools — where young children are most at risk of drowning — and open water, such as ponds, rivers and lakes — where older children and teens are more likely to drown than any other location. With less access to lifeguarded aquatic facilities this summer, youth and teens may consider open water environments that are not designated for swimming.

  1. Talk to your children, including older youth and teenagers, about water safety. A variety of resources are available at redcross.org/watersafety and redcross.org/watersafetyforkids.
  2. If you choose to take your family to the water, make sure the area is designated for swimming and has lifeguards on duty. Once there, maintain social distancing, both in and out of the water, between you and people who don’t live with you.
  3. Wear face coverings on land, especially when physical distancing is difficult. Do not wear them in the water as it may be difficult to breathe. Don’t share goggles, nose clips, snorkels or other personal items.
  4. Designate a water watcher whose sole responsibility is to supervise people during any in-water activity until the next person takes over.
  5. Kiddie or inflatable pools can be a great way to have fun. Drain the water from the pool and flip it over after swim time is over.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross offers a series of free mobile apps to put lifesaving safety information in the palm of your hand. Download these apps by searching for “American Red Cross” in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

  • The Red Cross Swim App has water safety tips and resources for parents and caregivers along with child-friendly games, videos and quizzes.
  • The Red Cross Emergency App can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.
  • The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips.

Let the Annual Weather Games Begin

May the forecast be ever in your favor….

If you like snow and cold, you are REALLY in luck this week. According to our partners at the Weather Channel, Northeast Ohio is in for some outstanding winter weather with snow giving way to freezing temperatures and then back to an icy, wintery mix over the next 10 days.

But we’ll leave the forecasting to the professionals.

Let’s chat about some things that you and your family can do to prepare for the winter weather that is upon us. But first, please remember your friends and neighbors – especially those who may have functional or access needs – and check on them. Help them get prepared as well, if you are able!

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Everything You Need to Know in New All-in-One Red Cross Emergency App

The new, all-inclusive Emergency App from the American Red Cross provides people with instant access to emergency alerts, life-saving information, and ways to contact family and friends in one free, easy-to-use app for smart phones and tablets.Emergency App

The Emergency App is a single ‘go-to’ source for everything from home fires to hurricanes. It includes content from a group of award-winning Red Cross apps with additional information about what to do in case of 14 different types of emergencies and disasters. Users can customize more than 35 emergency alerts based on their location and where loved ones live.

The app includes a new featured called “Family Safe” that allows the app user to notify loved ones who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster. The recipient can instantly see the alert details as well as specific “what to do now” steps, and then respond with either “I’m safe” or “I’m not safe.” This feature works even if the recipient has not downloaded the Emergency App. In addition to smartphones and tablets, this feature will be available on the new Apple Watch and can be downloaded from the Apple Watch App Store starting April 24.

Other important features include:

  • Emergency first aid information for situations such as heart attacks, heat-related emergencies as well as water safety information;
  • Preloaded content so users can access guidance from Red Cross experts even without mobile connectivity;
  • A single map with open Red Cross shelter locations and weather information;
  • A home fire section with detailed prevention and safety tips as well as Red Cross “After the Fire” information;
  • “Make a Plan” feature to help families plan what to do and where to go if a disaster strikes; and
  • The ability to easily toggle between English and Spanish.

The app is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.

Red Cross apps have been downloaded more than 6 million times and nearly 400 million alerts have been sent since the launch of the first app in 2012. While apps can help prepare someone for disasters, it’s important to note that they are not substitutes for training. People can take Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED courses so they’ll know what to do in case help is delayed. They can get information and register at redcross.org/TakeAClass.

Winter Prep: Simple Steps to Stay Safe

Blizzards, ice storms, Nor’easters and freezing cold ­ winter can be a killer. The season can have a huge impact on travel, schools, businesses and health. Just look at what happened to Buffalo recently, where people were trapped at home and in their cars due to snow measured by the foot. Or the Thanksgiving Nor’easter that disrupted the busiest travel day of the year and left more than 400,000 people without power in the northeast. Don’t let winter hazards catch you unprepared. Follow these simple steps from the National Weather Service to stay safe this winter:

1. Know your risk

Check the forecast at weather.gov before you leave the house. Familiarize yourself with winter watches, warnings and advisories so you know what to do when the National Weather Service issues one for your area.

2. Take Action

Make sure you have an emergency supplies kit in both your home and car. If possible, avoid leaving your home if hazardous winter weather is approaching. If you must leave, make sure you are dressed for the elements and that your mobile phone is fully charged. If it’s too cold for you to be outside, it’s also too cold for pets. Make sure to provide a warm, dry place for any animals that typically stay outdoors.

To learn more about cold weather health dangers, like frostbite and hypothermia download the free Red Cross First Aid app (a 99¢ Red Cross Pet First Aid app is also available!)

3. Be A Force of Nature

Set an example and others will follow. Take to social media to post about approaching hazardous weather and tell your family and friends how you are preparing (on Twitter use #WinterPrep). Call friends, family and neighbors to alert them to dangers and encourage them to get ready for the storm. After the storm passes, check on your loved ones and neighbors. Offer assistance where you can, especially to the elderly who are particularly vulnerable. Be a Force of Nature in your hometown. Winter weather can be deadly. But with a few simple steps, you can stay safe.

With Halloween coming, stay safe as you don your costumes and go out to Trick-or-Treat

The Red Cross is offering the following tips to help make this Halloween safe.

Halloween’s greatest hazards aren’t vampires and villains, but falls, costume mishaps and traffic accidents.

Halloween’s greatest hazards aren’t vampires and villains, but falls, costume mishaps and traffic accidents.

TRICK OR TREAT

  • Look for flame-resistant costumes.
  • Plan the Trick-or-Treat route and make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.
  • Make sure the Trick-or-Treaters have a flashlight. Add reflective tape to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing in order to be seen.
  • Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
  • Consider using face paint instead of masks, which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  • Be cautious around pets and any other animals.

 WELCOMING GHOSTS AND GOBLINS

If someone is welcoming Trick-or-Treaters at their home, they should make sure the outdoor light is on. Other safety steps include:

  • Sweep leaves from the sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
  • Restrain any household pets.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in the jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard.

 People can also download the Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies.