Been there. Done that. And from experience, I can tell you it wasn’t pleasant.
Yes, we had an oven fire…
And our bird was toast – literally…
And our kitchen was full of smoke…
And family was arriving.
The smoke alarm was annoyingly loud. Everyone wanted to know the story of how it happened, but secretly, they wanted the turkey, which wasn’t to be that year.
So, what lessons were learned?
To feed a family this size, we needed a big bird, and our mistake was putting a giant bird in too small of a pan. The legs overlapped the sides of the pan, and grease dripped onto the lower burners, which must have started burning almost immediately. When we noticed it, the entire oven was smoke and flame- filled.
To our credit, we had a charged and ready home fire extinguisher outside the kitchen door. That was fortunate, because the flames in the oven precluded reaching in and removing the pan with the turkey until the fire was out.
Also, we had enough side dishes to have a glorious feast still…once the smoke cleared. We averted a tragedy. And, we use larger pans now.
Every eight minutes, donations to the Red Cross help someone affected by a disaster—most often, home fires. You can help save lives by making a financial donation to support our mission, signing up to become a volunteer, or taking steps to protect your family from home fires. Visit redcross.org to learn more.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
Posted by Ryan Lang, American Red Cross board member and volunteer
34 of these incidents, assisting 100, were over the Christmas weekend. Another 34 incidents, assisting 110, were during Thanksgiving week. Nine incidents occurred over the New Year holiday weekend, with 41 people assisted.
Responses included: Fatal fires in Toledo, Cleveland, and Akron. A home explosion in Toledo, and large multi-family fires in Maple Heights and Toledo. A parking garage collapse in Lakewood, which led to the evacuation of a large apartment building. The Red Cross provided meals and snacks to residents and first responders following the collapse. A shelter opening in Canton, where for two days, the Red Cross helped provide meals and a place to stay to families who were temporarily displaced. Eight Northern Red Cross staff members and volunteers deployed to Kentucky following deadly tornadoes. Installation of 50 free smoke alarms.
To illustrate DAT’s effectiveness, Tom Revolinsky, Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio said, “Dave Huey (volunteer) and I went on a multi-family late night fire where one family’s apartment was destroyed and another was heavily damaged, and an 11-year-old girl had critical injuries. When Dave and I spoke with family members, the appreciation and relief in their voices that the Red Cross was there to help brought back into focus the importance of our mission.
Tom also spoke of the importance of fire safety and ongoing efforts.
“Responding to fatal fires is the most difficult thing we do,” Tom said. “To help prevent these tragedies, the Red Cross installs free smoke alarms. During installation, families are educated on fire prevention and assisted in developing an escape plan. In early December we installed 50 smoke alarms, making 16 homes safer, in the Aetna Road area of Cleveland where a fatal fire occurred in early November. On January 8th, we are installing smoke alarms with the Cleveland Fire Department in the W. 54th street area of Cleveland where twins tragically perished in a fire in early December. Smoke alarms save lives.”
Jani Memorich, a volunteer Disaster Action Team (DAT) leader, spoke very highly of fellow DAT members and their dedication.
“Awesome work done by awesome people,” Jani said. “We are truly blessed in Northern Ohio to have such a dedicated team working with DAT. As a DAT responder and someone who has deployed to other states for disasters, I get to tell the Red Cross story from my perspective as a volunteer. This brings awareness to people who may never have needed the services of the Red Cross and only vaguely understand all we do.”
Jani also expressed hope that more will volunteer, saying, “Hopefully through our own volunteerism we can inspire others to take up the mantel. There is so much work to be done and so few who actually do it. That is my hope for 2022, that more people give of themselves, to help mend others.”
If you are able, please consider volunteering with the Red Cross, either as a DAT member or in another capacity. Information can be found here.
While many of us enjoyed time relaxing with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, American Red Cross disaster volunteers were busy responding to multiple incidents across the Northern Ohio Region. During the week of Thanksgiving, November 22-28, the Red Cross of Northern Ohio responded to 34 home fires, affecting 110 adults and children. We distributed more than $22,000 in immediate assistance to help these families begin the recovery process.
Of the many responses that happened in the past week, three occurred on Thanksgiving Day. Dedicated volunteers in the Northern Ohio Region left their own families and celebrations to assist families facing one of the worst days imaginable. Without the continued commitment of volunteers who are available 24/7 to respond to disasters, the Red Cross could not meet the needs of the many communities we serve.
The Red Cross normally sees an increase in local disasters, especially home fires, during the holiday season and this year is no exception. Cooking accidents and home heating mistakes often lead to fires that leave families stranded during the winter months. The Red Cross encourages the community to celebrate safely in the coming weeks and to read up on our tips to cook and decorate safely.
It’s also important that families are prepared for a home fire that could happen at any time. In most cases, families have less than two minutes to escape a home fire, although many believe they have much longer. The Red Cross encourages you to protect your family by taking two simple steps.
Practice your two-minute escape drill
Test your smoke alarms monthly
In an effort to #EndHomeFires, the Red Cross continues to provide home fire safety information to residents and to install smoke alarms for those who need them. On Monday Nov. 29, volunteers visited 22 homes and installed 67 smoke alarms in Cleveland and East Cleveland. View our photo album here.
For more information on the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, fire safety tips, or to request a smoke alarm, please visit this site. The Red Cross also has an urgent need for volunteers to respond to local disasters and help in other ways as we carry out our lifesaving mission. Learn more about our volunteer positions and sign up today.
By Mike Parks, Regional CEO, American Red Cross of Northern Ohio
November 26, 2020- Friends and family of the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio!!
As challenging as this year has been, and is, for all of us, I feel strongly we still have so much for which to be grateful—not the least of which is your American Red Cross—and YOU ARE the American Red Cross!!
Thank you for everything you do to support our lifesaving mission. Please take less than a minute and watch the video below because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be priceless!!
Cynthia, Tiffany and Halle join me in wishing you and yours a blessed and wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!!
We all must make the personal decision to cancel our in-person gatherings, greatly reduce the size of our events, and/or get creative to move forward with plans. Our Northern Ohio weather can be unpredictable to move our Thanksgiving outdoors, but it can be done.
Millions of people may still celebrate their Thanksgiving by cooking a special meal. The American Red Cross would like to offer some suggestions:
Limit the amount of people in the cooking area to reduce the chance of individuals from being burned with hot appliances, reduce injury around cutting stations and help reduce the stress levels of the people preparing food.
Leverage oven mitts and items designed to carry hot plates/serving bowls vs. using dish towels, which can result in bad burns.
Use prepackaged snacks, sealed drinks and individually prepare meals to avoid buffet style food serving.
When using a turkey fryer, do not use frozen turkeys, which could cause hot oil to spill onto heating sources resulting in a fire. Select a safe space for your turkey fryer to control access from attendees, avoid outdoor decks that can catch fire and never cook indoors with a propane fryer. A very limited type of electric fryer can be used indoors, so you would need to consult the manufacturer’s instructions.
Limit and control alcohol consumption to safe levels. You could offer to drive your guests home, call a taxi or order an Uber when sending your invitations.
Stay up to date on Red Cross disaster alerts, preparedness tips and ways to get involved. Simply provide your email address to start receiving updates. Sign up at https://www.redcross.org/subscribe.html.
Be safe, healthy and have an enjoyable holiday season.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings people together to give thanks and celebrate their blessings. Relatives gather around the table to enjoy their family’s version of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Each year, millions of people drive to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends, making it one of the busiest times for road traffic.
If you are headed “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house,” as the childhood song goes, prepare in advance to ensure a safe visit. The American Red Cross offers 10 tips to help you stay safe if you are traveling by car:
Make sure your car is in good condition for a road trip.
Pack an emergency preparedness kit, supplies and a first aid kit in the trunk.
Share travel plans with a family member or friend.
Check the weather before departing and along your route. Plan for travel around any storms that may be coming.
Be well rested and alert.
Buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired.
Follow the rules of the road and use caution in work zones.
Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.
‘Tis the season . . . flu season. So if public transportation is part of your travel plans, keep this in mind. From luggage to seats, everything that you touch is likely touched by someone else. Follow these tips to help avoid the spread of germs.
Handle your own belongings.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces, such as armrests.
Bring your own pillows and blankets. They can act as a shield against the seat itself.
If you are like my family members, you can already taste the pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. But with children and pets (and let’s face it – some grown-ups, too) running around and through the kitchen, paying close attention while preparing the feast is vital to having a safe holiday.
“Cooking is the number one cause of home fires,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO. “Last year over 40 individuals – more than a dozen of them children – experienced a home fire over the holiday weekend. Education is key in preventing cooking fires.”
6. Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
7. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
8. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year. We can help! Learn more about our free smoke alarm and education program, Operation Save-A-Life, at www.redcross.org/neoosal!
Download the American Red Cross First Aid App. The app provides users with quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. See all the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.
Volunteers from Lincoln Electric and Euclid Fire joined Red Cross volunteers and staff this summer to make a neighborhood safer Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross
Mike Parks, CEO of the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region saw this column, written by Regina Brett in last Sunday’s Plain Dealer and was inspired to share the following with Red Cross staff and volunteers:
“I thought Regina did a remarkable job of capturing the importance of the holiday we celebrate this week. I intend to share it with those gathered around our Thanksgiving table this year and felt moved to share it with all of you as well.
“Please accept my heartfelt thanks-not just this week-but throughout the year, for all you do to help prevent and alleviate human suffering throughout Northeast Ohio.
“I wish all of you a blessed and enjoyable Thanksgiving.