Be Red Cross Ready presentations focus on tornado, home fire, flood, and storm safety

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

The clatter of my typing is accompanied by a low, bellowing wind. I look through the window at snow and ice, reflecting on the isolation and challenges of the past year. Realizing it is almost March and spring a few weeks away is a welcome thought. As pleasant as spring can be, however, it also brings thunderstorms, floods, and tornadoes. We must be prepared for them, just as we need to be ready for home fires and other disasters that can happen at any time.

I spoke with John Gareis, the Red Cross’s Northern Ohio Regional Manager, Individual Community and Disaster Preparedness, who leads these presentations. He said people often neglect or disregard preparedness, as many have an impression that “It won’t happen to me.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic and other events in the past year have shown we must all be prepared.  In the Be Red Cross Ready presentations.  “How prepared are you?” John asks. “How prepared were you last year, when COVID-19 first hit the world, and we were told to shelter in place? Think of the hardships that you may have gone through. What could you have done to alleviate your discomfort and the isolated situation?” Continuing, John asks, “What would you have done differently, and what can you do to avoid similar situations now?”

John Gareis, Regional Manager, Individual Community and Disaster Preparedness for the Northern Ohio Region of the Red Cross (Photo taken prior to COVID-19)

To help prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters, the American Red Cross offers a series of “Be Red Cross Ready” presentations. These free, one-hour, online presentations are available to everyone.

Be Red Cross Ready presentations are designed to help answer these questions and be better prepared, as disaster can happen to every one of us.   

March opens with the first of four sessions on General Preparedness & Tornado Safety. These presentations provide information and suggestions on being better prepared all types of emergencies. They also include tornado safety information with steps you can take to protect you and your family.

The first of four General Preparedness & Home Fire Safety presentations is on March 3rd. They will cover being prepared for all types of emergencies as well as fire safety preparedness, including how home fires happen and steps you can take to avoid them.

Are you ready to put your knowledge to the test? If so, the two Test Your Preparedness Knowledge sessions are for you. These fun, interactive presentations will test your knowledge on a variety of safety questions, such as: How Prepared are you? Would you know what to do if a fire broke out in your home? What kind of risk does carbon monoxide pose? If a tornado was sighted, where do you go? How well do you understand your smoke alarms? You will test your skills and learn a lot.

There are three sessions on Smoke Alarm Safety in March. They will discuss everything you need to know about smoke alarms, including proper installation and location, maintenance, and what to do if they sound off. The presentations include tips to avoid home fires and steps of an evacuation plan.

The March 23rd presentation is on General Preparedness & Flood Safety. Flooding, which occurs when water overflows onto normally dry land, is a threat to some parts of the U.S. and its territories nearly every day of the year and is always dangerous. The flood safety presentation will discuss the signs to know if a flood is eminent, and the safety actions you and your family can take to stay safe.

A General Preparedness & Thunderstorm Safety presentation is offered on March 25th. Every thunderstorm produces lightning and thunder. They are also associated with dangers such as hail, strong winds, and tornadoes. In addition, heavy rain can cause standing water and flash flooding. This presentation will discuss the signs that storms are eminent and actions that can keep you and your family safe.

To join any of these presentations, please register by clicking the date and time of the topic in which you are interested. The password is Prepare21. All times are Eastern.

Additional safety tips and resources are available at redcross.org and the free Red Cross mobile apps.

A look back at the 2018 hurricane season

New hurricane season begins as spring storms continue to wreak havoc

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

Hurricane season begins tomorrow, on June 1, and continues through November 30. Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season saw a total of 15 named storms with eight hurricanes. Two of note were Florence and Michael, collectively wreaking $50 billion worth of damage.

Hurricane Florence 2018

Ivanhoe, North Carolina, September 23, 2019. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

Florence made landfall in the United States on September 14, as a Category 1 near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. At least five people died in the storm.

Michael was only the fourth time a Category 5 hurricane touched down in this country when it made landfall on October 10 in the Florida panhandle. Fifty-nine deaths were directly or indirectly attributed to Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Michael video screenshots 2018

Panama City, Florida, October, 2019. Photo by Amy Anderson/American Red Cross

The American Red Cross was there helping residents affected, providing 3,200 disaster

Hurricane Michael 2018

Day 5 after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida.  Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross

workers, comprised of nearly 90 percent volunteers. More than 150 of those workers were from Northeast Ohio. Working with partner agencies, the Red Cross served more than 1.93 million meals and snacks. As cleanup began, more than a quarter-million relief items like cleanup kits and shovels were distributed. More than 70 emergency response vehicles were mobilized to deliver food and relief supplies.

Tips during any high wind situation

While Northeast Ohio never takes the brunt of a hurricane, we can get our share of high winds, thunderstorms and tornadoes, as the Dayton area experienced earlier this week. So what are some things to share with family members when preparing for high winds and inevitable power outages?

  • Never go near downed power lines. Report downed lines to the power company and keep people away.
  • Don’t risk a fire using candles – use only flashlights.
  • Keep a charged battery pack (preferably 20,000 mAh or bigger) for recharging cellphones until power returns.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to maintain contents for as long as possible. Review these food and water tips during an emergency.
  • Only use portable generators, grills or camp stoves outside the home. Maintain adequate ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide from entering the home. Never refuel a hot generator. Wait for it to cool first.
  • Be sure to check on relatives, neighbors and friends, especially those with disabilities, accessibility and functional needs.

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What to do right now

Before power goes out, download these Red Cross apps for your cellphone:

Emergency – This all-inclusive app lets you monitor more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts.

First Aid – Get instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies.

Monster Guard – For kids aged 7-11. This app teaches preparedness for real-life emergencies at home with the help of Maya, Chad, Olivia and all the monsters.