Red Cross helps prevent home fires as part of Ashland Day of Caring

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

October 18, 2019- Support for neighbors and the community was in full swing on October 17, 2019, as part of the 25th annual Kay Conrad Ashland Day of Caring.

Organizations from all across Ashland County dedicated the day to volunteer their time to assist residents who are elderly, disabled and disadvantaged with tasks, such as light yard work, to help improve local communities.

IMG_6766

The American Red Cross was one of the organizations that took part in the day of caring.

Volunteers from the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter and partners visited homes across the county to help prevent home fires and make communities safer.

IMG_6756

As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross installed free smoke alarms in homes that had no or nonworking smoke alarms.

IMG_6752

Along with installing smoke alarms, volunteers provided residents with important fire safety tips and information on how to develop an escape plan, to ensure their family is prepared and safe in the event of a home fire.

For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, including how to request a free smoke alarm, donate or how to become involved, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO. The site also includes fire safety and prevention tips, checklists and more fire prevention and preparedness tools.

IMG_6732

To view more photos from the Kay Conrad Ashland Day of Caring, visit our Flickr page.

You can give blood even after getting a flu shot

Vaccination Does Not Prevent Blood Donation

October 16, 2019- Flu season is underway, and it is expected that more than half of the U.S. population will get a flu vaccine this year according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). However, the American Red Cross does not defer individuals from donating blood after receiving the influenza vaccine if they are symptom-free and meet all other donation eligibility requirements.

Did you read that?  You can still give blood, even after getting a flu shot!

flushot

Important Flu and Blood Facts

The flu vaccine can be administered by a flu shot or intranasal. Neither are cause for a blood donation deferral and there is no risk of transmitting the influenza virus after receiving the vaccine. Additionally, influenza virus has not been shown to be transmitted through blood transfusion.

If you have the flu, it is important to wait until you no longer have symptoms and have recovered completely before attempting to donate. All blood donors must feel healthy and well on the day of donation.

Preventing the Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), millions of people in this country get sick with flu every year, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and, unfortunately, tens of thousands die. The best way to help avoid getting influenza is to get vaccinated every year.

While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. Influenza activity often begins to increase in October and most times peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. It takes about two weeks after receiving your vaccine for the antibodies that protect against flu to develop in the body so it’s important to get your vaccine now.

The CDC recommends that everyone be vaccinated by the end of October. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who need 2 doses should receive their first dose as soon as possible after vaccine becomes available to allow the second dose (which must be administered at least 4 weeks later) to be received by the end of October.

AT HIGH RISK FOR FLU:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 2 years old – although all children younger than 5 years old are considered at high risk for serious flu complications, the highest risk is for those younger than 2 years old, with the highest hospitalization and death rates among infants younger than 6 months old.
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

The CDC also reports people with the following health and age factors are also at an increased risk of getting serious complications from the flu:

  • Asthma
  • Neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions
  • Blood disorders
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • People who are obese with a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher
  • People younger than 19 years of age on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications.
  • People with a weakened immune system due to disease or medications

Flu vaccine is available now in many locations such as your doctor’s office, pharmacies, grocery stores and health departments. Your vaccine will help protect you throughout the 2019-2020 flu season.

flusafety

DO I HAVE THE FLU? The common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose and vomiting and/or diarrhea (which is more common in children). If you think you have the flu, call your health care provider. Seek immediate care if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).
  • Confusion or sudden dizziness.
  • Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
  • Not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting (children).
  • Fever with a rash (children).
  • No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal (children).

 YOU CAN HELP STOP THE FLU FROM SPREADING

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.

More information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected from the flu is available on this website and in the free Red Cross First Aid App. See all the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.

How Healthy Individuals Can Donate Blood

Learn more about how to stay healthy this flu season so you can help patients in need. You can find more information about preventing the flu at redcross.org, as well as receive guidance on the flu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Schedule an appointment to give blood with the American Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or activating the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.

You must be 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

You can save time at your next donation by using RapidPass® to complete your pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of your donation, before arriving at the blood drive or donation center. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Red Cross and partners Sound the Alarm in Richmond Heights

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

October 14, 2019- During the weekend of October 11-13, 2019, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 7 home fires, assisted 34 individuals, including 14 children and provided more than $7,300 in immediate financial assistance.

48887634192_a4975b212b_c

The Red Cross is committed to helping to put an end to home fires in Northeast Ohio through the Home Fire Campaign.

As part of the campaign, the Red Cross holds Sound the Alarm events throughout the region to install free smoke alarms, such as the event held in Richmond Heights on October 12.

48886931763_6da1379019_c

Forty volunteers from partners Selman & Company, HOPE worldwide and the Richmond Heights CERT community response team installed 222 smoke alarms and made 83 homes safer.

“Thank you to the volunteers from Selman & Company, HOPE worldwide and the Richmond Heights CERT for helping make another Sound the Alarm installation event a success. With their assistance, we were able to ensure more homes in Northeast Ohio will be prepared in case of a home fire,” said Tim O’Toole, Red Cross regional disaster officer. “A special thank you to our partners with the Richmond Heights Fire Department, who will continue to install free smoke alarms in homes throughout their community.”

48886939583_5171bc9751_c (1)

“Saturday’s Sound the Alarm was a wonderful event. Everyone at Selman & Company who participated has said that it was the best volunteer event the company have ever done,” stated Brinton Lincoln, Greater Cleveland Chapter board member. “Thank you so very much for everyone’s efforts to make Saturday a success.”

Holly Tackett, Human Resources Generalist for Selman and Company, said, “The SelmanCo volunteer team has not stopped talking about their experience this past Saturday and they are even educating their peers and family on home safety. This was truly an impactful event that has changed lives – both the residents of the homes we installed in and SelmanCo team members.”

For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, including how to request a free smoke alarm, donate, or help make homes safer, please click here.  Additional information regarding the national Home Fire Campaign is available here. Both sites include fire safety and prevention tips, checklists, and tools.

48886946948_63ca706e3d_c

To see more photos from the Richmond Heights installation event, please visit our Flickr page.

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri, American Red Cross volunteer

 

Disaster mental health volunteer helps people cope and heal after devastating losses

By Jason Copsey, American Red Cross volunteer

October 10, 2019- After Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the U.S. Virgin Islands in September 2017, the American Red Cross deployed volunteers to help provide food, clothing and shelter for impacted residents. Alongside these basic needs, the Red Cross deployed specialized volunteers trained to help individuals navigate the difficult emotional and psychological aftermath of a traumatic experience.

Adrienne Ford was one of the disaster mental health volunteers deployed to the Virgin Islands. Ford, a retired teacher and school counselor, joined the Red Cross as a volunteer in 2014 after learning about disaster mental health at a conference for school counselors. As an independently licensed counselor, Ford saw in the Red Cross an opportunity to continue practicing while serving those in need.

California Wildfires 2018

“The first time the Red Cross called on me to provide services was in response to the California wildfires in 2014,” said Ford. “There was a massive shelter set up at the Napa Valley fairgrounds. So many people had run for their lives with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”

Disaster mental health volunteers tend to the emotional trauma people experience after a disaster. They play a critical role in the delivery of the Red Cross mission by providing support, comfort and hope to people impacted by incidents of all sizes, from home fires to natural disasters.

California Wildfires 2017

“Ultimately, people want to tell their stories to begin the healing process,” said Ford. “As mental health workers, we know how to ask the right questions for people to begin telling the story of what they have been through. The anxiety that comes from living through a near- death experience is considerable and depression can often follow.”

During her Virgin Islands deployment, Ford encountered families that were continuing to live in severely damaged homes instead of shelters. Working as part of medical teams consisting of a nurse, mental health advocate and a case worker, Ford would visit families and monitor for risk factors.

60405662_10157187182004500_3969712532230242304_n

“There was one family we had seen a few times and were continuing to check on,” said Ford. “I had talked with the mother several times about her experience. Half of her house had collapsed during the storm. Her son, a teenager, had been trapped in part of the house, and for a period of time she feared the worst.”

While Ford was able to connect with the mother, the son was less forthcoming. Over time, Ford was able to build trust with the child.

Texas Floods 2019

“We talked about sports and things he was interested in,” says Ford. “Little by little, he let me ask him questions about his experience. He started telling me about what it was like for him to have been alone and the fear he had experienced.”

As first responders, Red Cross volunteers are often the connection between individuals and community resources and local agencies. Mental health volunteers are critical in this role, as trauma can easily trigger harmful tendencies for those without adequate coping skills. The early intervention of a Red Cross mental health volunteer can be a key factor in the recovery process.

Oroville Dam Spillway Compromised 2017

Ford said that over her five years as a Red Cross volunteer, it is the firsthand experience of individuals helping one another that has been most rewarding.

“The way communities respond to disasters renews your faith in humanity,” said Ford. “People really do take care of each other.”

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Fire safety: lessons learned from the California wildfires

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

October 7, 2019- It is Fire Prevention Week. Every 24 hours the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responds to on average three home fires.

During the weekend of October 4-6, 2019, the Red Cross responded to 8 home fires, assisted more than 34 individuals and provided more than $5,800 in immediate financial assistance, highlighting the importance of  fire prevention.

While it is not something that many Northeast Ohio residents think about, wildfires can occur here. Read the following article written by Doug Bardwell, a Red Cross volunteer, about his deployment to assist with last year’s California wildfires and the lessons he learned:

FIRE! One of the most chilling words you never want to hear — whether shouted by a family member, a neighbor or a coworker. Ready or not, it requires immediate action to save yourself or family members.

Doug 1

In Northeast Ohio, we rarely experience a raging, neighborhood-consuming wildfire like they do in California. But we do experience hundreds of home fires in our community each year. So what lessons can we learn from the fires that happen each year in California?

Plan ahead for your home

One of the first things Californians discovered was that combustible materials should never be kept outside your house. That goes for trash, cardboard boxes and firewood.

Clean out old vegetation. If it isn’t green and growing, those dead trees, plants and grasses can be highly flammable.

Make sure outdoor barbeque grills are safely equipped with current valves and hoses.

Roasting marshmallows?  Build your campfires or bonfires in a pit a safe distance from your home. Afterward, wet down all remaining embers and make sure everything is cool to the touch before leaving the site.

Have fire extinguishers at the ready and hoses hooked up and ready to go.

Make sure your house number is clearly marked so the fire department isn’t wasting time trying to locate your property.

Doug 2

Plan ahead for your family

If the need occurs for you to evacuate your home or your neighborhood, you’ll be happy if you’ve taken the time to pre-think and practice an evacuation plan. Everyone in the family should be aware of a pre-determined rendezvous point where the family will meet up.

You’ll also want to designate an out-of-town family member or family friend who everyone can reach to keep tabs on who has checked in and who hasn’t.

Make a kit. When you are trying to escape a fire, it’s not the time to be looking for your ID, your important papers, your medicines, your glasses or your wallet. Keeping duplicates of those items near your garage or front door, makes it easy to grab and go. It will make the days immediately following the event much less stressful.

For more tips on being prepared, watch this video.

And always . . .

Make sure your home is equipped with fully functioning smoke alarms. If you don’t have working smoke alarms, call your local Red Cross office and they’ll put you on the list for a free installation.

For even more lifesaving tips, follow the Northeast Ohio Red Cross blog. Just fill in your email address and tap the FOLLOW button in the left margin. (You’ll only get two or three articles a week and you can easily cancel at any time.)

[All photos by Doug Bardwell]

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

The American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign turns five

Campaign credited with saving more than 640 lives nationwide

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

October 6, 2019- October 6th marks the fifth anniversary of the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, an initiative with roots in Northeast Ohio.  First launched in October 2014 as a nationwide program, the campaign coincides with the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week.

46817153425_35ba7de486_z

When the Home Fire Campaign began five years ago, the Red Cross and its partners sought to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over five years, through initiatives which include installing free smoke alarms and providing fire safety education.

33855683928_a909d4d7aa_c (1)

The results are remarkable.  Nationwide, the campaign has directly resulted in saving at least 642 lives, 14 of them here in Northeast Ohio.

46925706945_4f635febf1_c

Thus far, 1,915,555 smoke alarms have been installed nationwide, making 793,343 households safer.  More than 62,600 of those alarms have been installed in Northeast Ohio, improving the safety of more than 20,000 homes in the region.  In addition, 1,470,325 children have been reached through fire safety education, more than 16,000 of them in Northeast Ohio.

47842055231_cd2fa86d96_c

The devastation wrought by home fires is tremendous.  On average, each day in the U.S. seven people die and 36 are injured as a result of home fires.  They also account for the vast majority of more than 62,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to annually, and yearly property damage exceeds seven billion dollars.

47629682932_a7a71cb335_c (1)

The Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross is especially proud of the Home Fire Campaign and its success, as the program grew out of an initiative that began in Cleveland.  In 1992 businessman and philanthropist Sam Miller and other civic leaders partnered with the Red Cross and Cleveland Fire Department to reduce fire fatalities.

47797281791_d6e94dd9cb_c

The resulting program lasts throughout the year.  And a nationwide initiative to install 100,000 smoke alarms during a two-week period takes place each spring. It is called Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. Volunteers and partners help the Red Cross install smoke alarms and provide fire safety education in neighborhoods deemed to be at high risk for home fires.33805117198_d0886784c4_c.jpg

For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Northeast Ohio, including how to request a free smoke alarm, donate, or become involved, please click here.  The site also includes information about our partners.  Additional information regarding the national Home Fire Campaign is available here.  Both sites include fire safety and prevention tips, checklists, and tools.

Wanted: Northeast Ohio Heroes

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

October 2, 2019- Do you know a community member who entered a burning home to rescue a trapped family? A passerby who pulled a drowning child to safety? A neighbor who administered CPR or abdominal thrusts to a total stranger? A dog that alerted its family to a fire? Then the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio needs your help!

The Greater Cleveland Chapter and the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter 46405978995_5834726541_cwill once again honor local individuals in 2020 who displayed extraordinary courage to become someone’s hero.

The Red Cross is asking for assistance from local communities to help identify ordinary people who have placed themselves in harm’s way or have even risked their own lives to save another.

Greater Cleveland Chapter

Nominees must reside or work within Cuyahoga, Lake or Geauga County. The heroic deed must have occurred in either 2018 or 2019.

Those individuals selected as heroes will be honored at the Greater Cleveland Heroes award breakfast at the Global Center for Health Innovation, 1 St. Clair Ave. NE, Cleveland, Ohio 44114, on Thursday, March 12, 2020, at 8:15 am.

Click here to learn more about the 2018 Greater Cleveland Hero award winners.

groupshot1 (1)

Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter

Nominees must reside or work within Portage, Medina or Summit County and must have performed the heroic act in 2019.

All submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee. Individuals selected will be honored as local heroes at the Acts of Courage Awards ceremony to be held at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn on Thursday, March 5, 2020.

To learn more about the 2019 Acts of Courage award winners and their extraordinary stories, click here.

46406023495_48fe28ecb2_c

To nominate a hero, visit redcross.org/neoheroes.

The deadline to submit nominations for the Greater Cleveland Chapter and the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter awards is December 31, 2019.