Power up for disaster preparedness

Free on-line Red Cross presentations share safety tips

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

August 3, 2020- As we move into the “dog days” of August, it’s easy to feel a bit bogged down, a bit lethargic.  The American Red Cross is ready to wake up your brain and pump up your ability to care for yourself and others in an emergency.

“Be Red Cross Ready” is a collection of free safety presentations, delivered on-line. They cover disasters that happen every day – and explain what you can do to prevent and react to them.

People young and old all over Northern Ohio have been sitting in on these hour-long sessions to learn how to strengthen their own safety and the safety of those they love.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

“I wanted to thank you for the wonderful presentation,” Bill Riter said after taking a recent home fire safety class. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can {about preparedness) and your presentation had an immediate impact. I spoke with my girlfriend about a fire extinguisher and she doesn’t have one. She will in two days: I ordered one on Amazon.  We’ll check smoke detectors Saturday.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t stopping the Red Cross from offering vital information about being prepared for disasters,” said John Gareis, Northern Ohio regional manager for individual community and disaster preparedness.

“Our presentations are designed to help people prepare for thunderstorms, floods, home fires and other potential disasters.  We even offer a safety course for pets,” John added.

So, let’s start with pets. Pet First Aid covers hazards that can affect cats and dogs, and the first aid actions owners can take until they get their animal to a veterinarian. Owners also learn the signs of a healthy pet, so they recognize signs of distress.

California Wildfires 2018

How about General Preparedness and Fire Safety, the presentation Bill Riter took? It includes suggestions on how you and your family can be prepared for all kinds of emergencies, especially home fires. Learn how home fires start, how to prevent them and what to do if one flares up.

Sound the Alarm Event in Capitol Heights, Maryland 2019

Speaking of general preparedness, how about General Preparedness and Tornado Safety? This one also covers preparedness for all kinds of disasters, particularly tornadoes. (No, we’re definitely not out of tornado season yet in Northern Ohio!)

Texas Tornadoes 2020

One of the most effective disaster programs of the Red Cross is our Pillowcase Project. Volunteers present this program to children in grades 3-5, teaching them about personal and family preparedness – including safety skills, local hazards and basic coping skills. You can learn to lead students through a “Learn, Practice, Share” framework – a resource that will be vital as schools reopen for in-person learning.

IMG_7205

To join any of these presentations, register by clicking on the date and time of the topic you’re interested in; use the password Prepare20.

For more disaster safety tips, visit redcross.org. Be sure to also download the free Red Cross mobile apps, available in the Apple App Store or Google Play, for tools and preparedness information you can use every day.

 

Red Cross adapts sheltering strategies to maintain safety as hurricane season begins, pandemic continues

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

July 31, 2020- Providing shelter and care after a major disaster—such as a hurricane or tropical storm—is especially challenging during a pandemic.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Marc Lazerow of the American Red Cross welcomes the Cantu family to their cots at a Red Cross shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Hanna in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Family units are grouped closer together while other cots are spaced further apart for social distance from others. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

As the 2020 hurricane season begins, Mike Arthur, the Red Cross’ regional mass care and logistics manager for Northern Ohio, updated area volunteers and staff on sheltering methods during the pandemic. Here is an overview of initiatives:

The Red Cross’ mission is to assist everyone, regardless of background or illness status. Several steps are being taken to ensure safety and provide assistance for all in need following a disaster. These include following CDC guidance to identify those with COVID-19 symptoms and adhering to public health guidelines for quarantines. In addition, each shelter will have an Isolation Care Area. Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or show signs of illness will be separated from the general shelter population.

When possible, the Red Cross will employ non-congregate sheltering. Red Cross representatives will work with partners and communities to find non-congregate options, such as hotels, dormitories and campgrounds.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas The Cantu’s family get their temperatures checked as part of a COVID-19 screening precaution before entering a Red Cross emergency shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Hanna in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

When a congregate shelter is needed, ensure safety. In some cases, a congregate shelter may be the only option. In this event, the Red Cross will work to reduce the risk of infection, including:

  • Ensuring resources are available for Isolation Care Areas.
  • Requiring everyone to be screened before entering a shelter.
  • Increasing health and security staff.
  • Following social distancing practices inside the shelter.
  • Maintaining a safe environment through increased cleaning and disinfection of facilities.
  • Following safe practices when providing food and supplies and handling waste removal.
  • Providing virtual support services where possible.
  • Moving to smaller shelters and finding non-congregate housing as soon as possible.

While Northern Ohio is not prone to hurricanes, the region does experience disasters that require mass care and sheltering, such as apartment building and condominium fires. And wherever hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and other national disasters occur, many local Red Cross volunteers and staff deploy to affected areas.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Diana Buckley of the American Red Cross checks on Jose and his wife Maria Elvia, who needs hospice care, at a Red Cross emergency shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Hanna in Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

Additionally, every day in Northern Ohio, Red Cross staff and volunteers help people recover after a home fire. The organization is reducing COVID-19 risk in these cases as well, particularly by using virtual support as much as possible.

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. La Feria, Texas Siblings, from left to right, Yakelin, 10 years old, Reyes Jr., 11 years old and Edwin, 16 years old, play with their smart phones while resting in their cots at a Red Cross emergency shelter for families displaced by Hurricane Hanna, in La Feria, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020. Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

With these and other adaptations, the Red Cross is doing all it can to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure while effectively continuing its mission. Help is needed to sustain this important work. If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer, information is available here. If you are able to provide financial support, please visit this page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

“Red Cross Roadie” hits the road again

IT worker heads to USVI ahead of strengthening storm

 

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

July 29, 2020- David Schindler is heading to his 35th assignment as an information technology (IT) volunteer for the American Red Cross, as tropical storm Isaias chugs toward the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

He is being deployed as the disaster services technology chief, responsible for setting up workstations, ensuring connectivity, and troubleshooting tech issues for Red Cross disaster workers who could be assigned to respond to the storm.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said the unassuming IT expert from his home in Lake County, as he prepared Tuesday night for his trip to St. Thomas, USVI.

How long he stays is anybody’s guess.

“I spent 21 months in Austin, Texas for the Hurricane Katrina response,” David said, recalling one of his first Red Cross assignments.  It was also his longest, but lengthy assignments are routine for him.

“I spent six months in Puerto Rico for (responding to) Hurricane Maria,” where he helped establish satellite services for the people of the devastated island.

David Schindler

David Schindler on a Zoom virtual news conference on July 28 prior to deploying to the U.S. Virgin Islands

“David is an outstanding volunteer, and an outstanding individual,” said Emily Probst, the workforce engagement manager for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio.  “So many people depend on him, and he always answers the call.”

“I call myself a Red Cross roadie,” David said, recalling the Jackson Browne song about the workers who are the first to arrive to set up the stage and the band’s equipment, and are the last to leave after packing everything away for the next show on the tour.

David spent a career as an information technology systems manager before retiring 16 years ago and using his experience to assist us whenever and wherever people need Red Cross help.

What’s changed since then?  “Laptops have gotten lighter.  Cellphones are different. We had flip phones when I started.  Now we use smartphones.”

Hurricane Hanna 2020

July 28, 2020. Edcouch, Texas Juanita Casanova of the American Red Cross surveys flooding caused by Hurricane Hanna, on the outskirts of Edcouch, TX on Tuesday July 28, 2020.  Photo by Scott Dalton/American Red Cross

David rates the technology we use as state-of-the art.

As a disaster services technology chief, David said he has worked with up to 80 others on disaster responses, and at times, he has been the sole technology worker.

“Every operation has unique challenges,” David said.  He’s not too concerned about traveling for this assignment, despite COVID-19.  The Red Cross is following CDC guidelines and has instituted several procedures to ensure the health and safety of its workforce and the people we are assisting.

“I’m a little concerned about wearing a face covering all day, but it’s a petty thing when you think about the job we’re doing.”

If you’re healthy and you would like to help others who may be affected by severe weather this hurricane/wildfire season by working in a shelter, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

 

 

Early active hurricane season highlights need for disaster support

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio

July 27, 2020- Earlier this year, weather experts predicted that the 2020 hurricane season would be one of the most intense seasons in recent memory. So far, the early hurricane season has not made any efforts to debunk those predictions, with an unprecedented 8 named storms already developing, with 4 months remaining in the season.

Currently there are two different storms affecting different regions of the United States, which the American Red Cross is actively monitoring to assist residents in need.

Hurricane Hanna

Hanna

  • Record-earliest eighth named storm in the Atlantic Basin and the first hurricane of the season.
  • Downgraded to a tropical storm overnight after making landfall twice Saturday evening along southern Texas’s Gulf coast as a Category 1 hurricane.
  • Heavy rainfall has already produced numerous reports of flash flooding across south Texas, and tropical storm conditions are expected to continue Sunday afternoon.

Red Cross Response:

In response to Hanna, the Red Cross has pre-positioned thousands of cots, blankets and other shelter supplies across the Gulf Coast.

The Red Cross has also opened 3 Red Cross shelters in Cameron, Nueces and Kleberg Counties and is supporting the state with hotel stays as needed. The Red Cross is also serving hundreds of meals and snacks with partners so far.

Hurricane Douglas

Douglas

  • First Eastern Pacific major hurricane of the season as it became a Category 4 storm on July 24. As of Sunday morning, Douglas was downgraded to a Category 1 storm.
  • Although some slow weakening is anticipated over the next two days, Douglas is expected to maintain its hurricane intensity as it passes dangerously close to the main Hawaiian Islands on Sunday and into Monday. If it does make landfall, it would be only the third hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii.
  • With the close passage of the storm, damaging winds, flooding rainfall, dangerously high surf and mudslides could threaten the islands. Impacts from Douglas will first impact the Big Island before moving to Maui and other islands into the beginning of this week.

Red Cross Response:

The Red Cross has pre-positioned relief supplies to support residents in need. The Red Cross is also currently supporting 5 government-run evacuation centers and several more are expected to open today.

In addition to Hanna and Douglas, the Red Cross is closely monitoring Invest 92L in the Atlantic. It is expected to move westward during the next several days, and it could become a tropical depression or storm this week as it moves toward the Lesser Antilles.

While a busy hurricane season, along with a busy wildfire season, is enough cause for concern, the current environment surrounding COVID-19 is making responding to disasters more difficult.

As COVID-19 numbers increase, it is making it challenging for the Red Cross to deploy trained disaster volunteers to other parts of the country should an emergency occur. To help respond to these disasters, the Red Cross needs volunteers from the Northern Ohio Region


, who are willing to travel when necessary, to lend a helping hand.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

Shelter Help Needed

There is a special need for volunteers to support sheltering efforts. Because of COVID-19, the Red Cross is placing those needing a safe place to stay in emergency hotel lodging when possible. If hotel stays aren’t possible, then the Red Cross will open traditional shelters. To help keep people safe, we have put in place additional precautions and developed special training for our workforce.

We need volunteers to help staff shelter reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks to help those we serve. We have both associate and supervisory level opportunities available.

Health Services Support Needed 

If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with an active, current and unencumbered license, the Red Cross needs your support. Volunteers are needed in shelters to help assess people’s health. Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Roles are also available for Certified Nursing Assistants, Certified Home Health Aides, student nurses and medical students. We need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters. This could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies.

If you are interested in helping our community should a disaster occur, please go to redcross.org/volunteertoday

Student will live to see graduation because of duo’s quick action

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

July 24, 2020- Imagine seeing a high school student fall to the ground while watching a football team practice. Would your first inclination be to assume he was horsing around? Fortunately, Shamara Golden, a student at Youngstown State University, was watching and had a sense there was more to it than that.

Shamara and athletic trainer Alex McCaskey rushed to his aid. Finding that he was still breathing and still had a pulse, but was unresponsive and unconscious, Alex stayed by his side and called 911. Shamara ran for the AED machine and medical kit.

Golden 1

Shamara Golden with her Red Cross Certificate of Merit

While she was gone, the student stopped breathing. Alex immediately began CPR. As she returned, Alex cut open his shirt as Shamara attached the AED pads for assessment. Following the instructions on the AED, they delivered a shock, which caused him to start breathing again.

Once the victim began to breathe again, Alex stabilized the victim’s spine while Shamara rolled the victim into recovery position. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the victim stopped breathing again and the AED advised to continue CPR. Alex began to again administer five rounds of CPR until the ambulance arrived.

“I received a call from the boy’s mother when he was taken off the ventilator in the hospital,” recalled Alex. “That was an amazing feeling, getting that call. After that, a number of the Warren G. Harding High School administration members came down to congratulate Shamara and me at future football games.”

RedCrossAwards-002 (002)

Virtual award presentation featuring Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley Chapter Executive Director Rachel Telegdy, Northern Ohio Region CEO Mike Parks, Dr. Morgan Bagley, Shamara Golden and Alex McCaskey

“The day after it happened,” explained Shamara, “I didn’t mention it to my class, because I still hadn’t heard how the boy was doing. After we heard that he was fine, my classmates found out and there were cheers all around.”

Alex and Shamara were nominated for American Red Cross lifesaving awards by Dr. Morgan Bagley, associate professor at Youngstown State University where Shamara was studying to become an athletic trainer.

Alex received the Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for those who step up in an emergency to save or sustain a life. Shamara received the Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to a person who saves a life using the skills and knowledge learned in an American Red Cross Training Services course.

RedCrossAwards-011 (003)

Alex McCaskey

“I’m so proud of both of them,” said Dr. Bagley. “Shamara told me, ‘It’s just like you said, we have to constantly practice to be prepared for anything and everything.’”

Without a doubt, the skills learned in the American Red Cross CPR and AED Training class helped to save the life of this student.

You, too, can sign up and receive training in CPR, AED and First Aid with the Red Cross. Online classes are available. Click here to get started.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Future of Northern Ohio’s American Red Cross bright with new Young Professionals Council leadership

By Chris Chmura, American Red Cross volunteer

July 22, 2020- Our Northern Ohio Red Cross welcomed a new Young Professionals Council leadership team July 1. The team is dedicated to the YPC and the mission of the American Red Cross and will help create a positive, new chapter for the council. The new leadership of the YPC includes Jasmine Boutros of KeyBank, chair; Adam Joines  of Jones Day, vice-chair; and Ali DeCrane of CBIZ, secretary.

The council is a dedicated group of mission-minded young professionals who support the Red Cross through volunteerism, outreach and special events. The YPC consists of four committees: Onboarding/Engagement Committee, Social Committee, Service Committee and Professional Development Committee.

78076831_10157675846824500_1708421463591092224_o

Young Professional Council members in November held a netorking lunchon with Don Kimble of KeyBank

The Northern Ohio Region’s YPC was formed in 2017 when Northern Ohio Regional CEO Mike Parks and the board of directors expressed an interest in engaging more young people in the mission of the Red Cross, expanding its volunteer base and infusing fresh new ideas into the organization. Over the next year, the YPC grew from a group of five individuals, to a group of 20.

Since the inception of the YPC, its members have volunteered hundreds of hours for the Red Cross, including participating in numerous Sound the Alarm events, hosting Missing Maps mapathons, supporting veterans at the VA, and assisting with blood drives throughout the region. The YPC holds quarterly professional development events, inviting top business leaders from the community (often times a Red Cross board member) to share their insights and advice with the group. The YPC also holds quarterly social events, including networking opportunities and dinners.

I asked why these individuals committed to the Red Cross in leadership roles and solicited their thoughts on the need for young volunteers.

91126532_10158097888769500_1313569808511401984_o

YPC Vice-Chair Adam Joines donating blood at a blood drive at Saucy Brew Works in Cleveland

Jasmine, chair, explained, “I’m passionate about the work of the Red Cross because I started my career in pediatric oncology. Working with kids fighting cancer and receiving regular transfusions, I’ve seen firsthand the impact Red Cross programs like blood drives can have on our most vulnerable population. It’s important for young professionals to get involved because we are the people who can create the momentum to make long, lasting changes to our community.”

Adam, vice-chair, said, “Volunteering establishes a sense of perspective. Whether it is installing smoke alarms in others’ homes, giving blood and following its journey to a patient, playing drums with veterans and families in therapeutic “jam sessions,” or consoling a family suddenly homeless after a fire, each opportunity provides a glimpse into another facet of life that the volunteer might not otherwise experience. Volunteering gives young people the opportunity to “walk a mile in another person’s shoes” and recognize the world from another angle.”

Secretary Ali DeCrane stated, “Growing up as the daughter of a fireman and teacher, the importance of helping those in need when you are able to was instilled in me from an early age. I felt that I needed to invest my time in helping those in our community and society who needed it. This organization was a natural fit for me, as my own values aligned so well with the fundamental principles it promotes. As a young professional, I believe that it is now our turn to take responsibility for building a better world for all people. My advice to young professionals is to make time to get involved because it will give you experiences and relationships that you will value for the rest of your life.”

Red Cross staff is grateful for Jasmine, Adam and Ali for their valuable time, energy and passion. They look forward to collaborating with them to advance the organization’s mission.

YPC membership offers:

  • Networking opportunities with fellow philanthropic young professionals and community leaders
  • A chance to volunteer for the world’s most recognized charity
  • Leadership opportunities in areas including: event planning, fundraising and mission deliver

 

87051621_10157980793774500_1517788244941471744_o

Members of the YPC with Brinton Lincoln, Vice President of Military Markets for Selman & Company, during a networking event

For more information on how you or someone you know can become involved with the Red Cross of Northern Ohio’s Young Professionals Council, contact Carolyn Wild at 216-346-8220 or carolyn.wild2@redcross.org.

Edited By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Seeking hero volunteers: The need is great; the reward, greater

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

July 20, 2020- It has been a tumultuous 2020 so far. A global pandemic, waves of protests for social justice, a massive economic downturn and a volatile political environment in an election year. And it’s only July. But amidst the chaos, there is hope. We see it shine in stories of everyday heroes— first responders, medical workers and essential employees. While most of America is trying to cope with the stress of the pandemic, we can find comfort knowing there is an organization full of heroes working quietly behind the scenes, whose sole mission is to plan for the worst, so that we don’t have to. The volunteer heroes of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross provides support to victims of disasters, and supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood. They depend on volunteers to perform their mission. Right now they are short-handed, especially in the area of blood services and disaster volunteers. Planning for a natural disaster, like a hurricane or wildfire, is a challenge any time, but especially during this pandemic. Emily Probst is the regional disaster workforce engagement manager for the Red Cross Northern Ohio Region. She coordinates the deployment of local volunteers when natural disasters occur.

Southern Storms and Tornadoes 2020

“Currently our biggest challenge is finding volunteers who are willing to deploy in the COVID environment.” said Emily.

Melanie Collins, regional volunteer recruitment specialist for the Red Cross of Northern Ohio agrees that recruiting new volunteers and keeping current ones at this time has presented some challenges.

“A lot of our current volunteers who are ages 60+ have decided to not volunteer at this time– which is completely understandable as the health and safety of our workforce comes first and foremost,” said Melanie. “At the same time, we saw a huge increase in volunteer applications over the last few months. Those who are healthy and willing to volunteer have stepped up to give their time.”

People have been hesitant to donate blood, so there is a blood shortage. But when donors do  give, the Red Cross needs volunteer blood donor ambassadors to check the temperatures of potential donors and staff so a phlebotomist does not have to be pulled away. Melanie said donors and volunteers can feel safe going to a blood donation center because several enhanced blood donation protocols have been put into place.

Texas Tornadoes 2020

In the event of a natural disaster requiring the opening of shelters, there will be a need for volunteers in those shelters. Additional safety measures have been implemented for disasters. “Our disaster response has gone almost completely virtual,” said Melanie. “If a home fire or other disaster can’t be responded to virtually, social distancing measures are put in place.”

Volunteers give their time and talents. In return, they get a sense of purpose and pride in helping others. The need is great for volunteers in the areas of local engagement, blood services, deployment opportunities, sheltering and disaster health. A complete list of volunteer needs is available here. If you are interested in a rewarding volunteer opportunity, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday. You can also reach out to the volunteer services department at NOHvolunteer@redcross.org or contact Melanie Collins via email or call 330-204-6615.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

 

 

Got ink? You can still give blood

By Christy Peters, External Communications Manager, Northern Ohio Biomedical Services

July 17, 2020- In honor of National Tattoo Day today we’re debunking the myth that those with tattoos can’t give blood. On June 8, the American Red Cross implemented new changes to donor eligibility criteria that may make it even easier for those with tattoos to give!

tattoo

 

In most states, including Ohio, there is no waiting period to give blood if your tattoo was applied in a state-regulated facility. The District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming do not regulate tattoo facilities. If you received a tattoo in one of these states, the waiting period to give has gone from 12 months to three months.

If you are an individual currently deferred with the Red Cross for a tattoo under the former policy, your donor record will be updated by the end of July to align with the new policy. If you would like to have your donor record updated prior to then, donors can contact the Red Cross Donor and Client Support Center at 1-866-236-3276 for more immediate action. Please be aware that deferrals cannot be removed onsite at our blood drives or donation centers.

 

The Red Cross currently has an urgent need for blood donors to help ensure patients receive the lifesaving blood products they need. Healthy, eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment in the coming weeks. To schedule a time to give, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. Donors are required to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance and recent local and state mandates. To learn more about donor eligibility, visit RedCrossBlood.org/eligibility.

 

Scared of needles? That is okay! You can help the Red Cross assist patients in need of lifesaving blood by becoming a volunteer blood donor ambassador at Red Cross blood drives. Visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to learn more and to apply.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, Red Cross volunteer

Preventing wildfires, right here in Ohio

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

July 15, 2020- Wildfires? In Ohio? Absolutely. Ohio’s Emergency Management System (EMS) reports in its Hazard Mitigation Plan, that hundreds of wildfires occur in Ohio each year. Most of them are caused by humans, either on purpose or accidentally. Common causes besides arson are the burning of cleared debris, campfires, smoking and, of course, children playing with lighters or matches. The fires in Ohio are not on the catastrophic size of those in the western United States, but they can still do great damage.

California Wildfires 2018

Wildfires are especially dangerous when they happen in areas surrounded by homes and businesses. Last year, for example, a fire got out of control in a Conneaut farm field near care facilities for both seniors and developmentally disabled adults. Even though it was relatively small, you can imagine the panic the fire caused. In recent years, flames have roared through the Mentor Marsh, which is surrounded by densely populated communities. I personally witnessed a wildfire spring up during a dry spell not long ago. While driving on I-90 I was stunned to see pine trees engulfed in flames along the side of the freeway. Fortunately, fire teams were able to put out the fire before it got farther out of control.

It’s important to know the fire guidelines for where you live. Open burning during daylight hours is often prohibited in the months when wildfires are hardest to control. While July isn’t regularly on that list, dry weather conditions like we’ve experienced create greater risk. According to the National Weather Service’s online Fire Weather page for our region on the last day of June, a dry spell of nearly two weeks was predicted. That included the 4th of July weekend, traditionally celebrated with cookouts, campfires and fireworks.

California Wildfires 2018

Social distancing due to COVID-19 caused many such events to be canceled, community fireworks displays among them. Unfortunately, that encouraged many individuals to create fireworks displays of their own.

According to a June 20 Wilmington News Journal article, mishandled fireworks also cause fires, with July among the busiest days for professional firefighters. Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires last year, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 outside and other fires.”

California Wildfires 2019

What can you do to keep wildfire risk at a minimum?

  • Water the area around a site where you plan to build a fire.
  • If a garden hose won’t reach the burn site, be sure to have buckets of water nearby.
  • Be aware of the direction in which the wind is blowing. Do not light fires when wind is high or gusty.
  • Remove anything from the area that might catch on fire from flying sparks.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Soak the burning material thoroughly when you are done.

California Wildfires 2017

The American Red Cross responds when disasters such as wildfires occur, even on a small scale. To learn more about this and other services provided by the Red Cross in our area, visit redcross.org/NOH.

If you would like to volunteer to assist those suffering from a disaster both here in Northern Ohio and across the country, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Northern Ohio Region weekend disaster report: July 10-12, 2020

By Eric Alves, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio 

July 13, 2020- The coronavirus is a topic that is on the top of everyone’s mind in Northern Ohio. We are all concerned about the new increase in cases, which is why over the weekend the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio lent a helping hand to those helping keep our communities safer.

On Friday, July 10, the Red Cross of Northwest Ohio helped support the COVID-19 testing site on Put-in-Bay by providing snacks, beverages and lunch for the essential workers who were administering the tests to the workers on South Bass Island.

In addition to providing support to the COVID-19 testing site over the weekend, the Red Cross responded to local disasters, such as home fires and storm damage, in Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Lucas, Putnam, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne counties.

In addition to providing comfort and support to 46 residents during their time of need, the Disaster Action Team provided the residents $11,980 in immediate financial assistance.

covid canteen 2

To date in the new fiscal year, which began on July 1, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio has assisted 117 adults, 84 children and has provided $44,900 in immediate financial assistance.

Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are without a doubt the face of the Red Cross. If you are interested in helping your local community, we have a wide variety volunteer opportunities, including important volunteer-from-home opportunities available. There truly is an opportunity for everyone. Find your opportunity today by visiting redcross.org/volunteer.

Furthermore, have you or someone you know recovered from COVID-19 and you would like to help others recover? The Red Cross is calling on individuals who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate convalescent plasma to aid in the treatment of others suffering from the virus.

To donate, visit RedCrossBlood.org and fill out the donor eligibility form.