Meet me at the corner! Plan for your family’s safety

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

Beth0

Beth Bracale

If I close my eyes, I can still see the flames shooting out from the windows of the house across the street. I can hear the agonized screams that drew us to our own windows that night to see what had happened. I was five years old, and that was my first experience of sheer terror – both someone else’s and my own.

Believe it or not, no one got hurt that night. Both of the senior sisters who shared the home had escaped the fire, one out the front door, one out the back. Their screams were the agony of each believing the other to still be trapped in the inferno. When neighbors reunited them, they fell sobbing into each other’s arms.

No one is ever fully prepared for disaster, but families can plan together to minimize the suffering. What if the sisters had had a plan? Would that night have gone differently had they designated a meeting spot in case they got separated in an emergency?

As foster parents, it’s required that we have a clear escape plan in case of disaster, one that everyone in the family can understand and remember. Even young children can learn what to do. All the students in the school where I taught, ages four through 14, practiced how to exit the school if there was a fire, how to exit a bus in an emergency, and what to do if a tornado was headed toward our neighborhood.

So I wasn’t prepared for the day my class of four-year-olds sat on the story carpet, listening to my assistant talk about emergencies. They raised their hands eagerly to share what they knew about fire drills. Stay in line. Walk, don’t run. Remain silent. Wait in our class’ spot on the corner until we got the “all clear” to return to our room. They had it all right.

Eilene Guy photo

Photo credit: Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

“But what if an emergency happened at home?” my assistant asked.

“If a bad man comes in the house, you hide in the closet,” one child announced. Others nodded in agreement.

“What if a tornado is coming?” she asked.

“You run outside,” another child responded. More nods. I made a mental note to teach about tornado safety in the near future.

“What if you smelled smoke in your house or saw that something was on fire?” she quizzed.

“You call 911,” a student said confidently. “Yes, but what do you do before that?” she asked.

“Hide in the closet,” he said. The other children agreed.

Hide in the closet. Images of that house fire from years ago leaped into my head. And I imagined children inside, hiding in the closet.

We did a lot of learning and practicing that day. We sent the students home with information for their parents to use in creating family safety plans.

You can find information about keeping children safe on the American Red Cross website at https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire/fire-safety-for-kids.html.

Don’t put it off. Create your own plan today!

Feel the Heat, 2015

Working With the Military on a Disaster Drill

The firefighting abilities of the 910th Airlift Wing Fire Department were on full display at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station on Thursday, October 22, 2015, as were the services provided by the American Red Cross during times of disaster.

Video credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

The second annual “Feel the Heat” exercise involved a simulated airplane crash, to demonstrate the response of firefighters and Red Cross staff and volunteers.  The drill also showcased how the Red Cross cooperates with the military to respond to the needs of family members and others.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photo credit/Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

As flames shot from the hull of the simulated wreckage, members of the 910th Civil Engineer Fire Department raced to the scene, fought the fire and searched for “survivors.”  It is those survivors and their loved ones who the Red Cross serves in the event of an aviation disaster.  The American Red Cross is responsible for tracking victims and their families, and providing them with counselling and support.  Staff members and volunteers would be activated to set-up necessary shelters, coordinate family and childcare facilities, arrange suitable non-denominational services, and make referrals to mental health professionals and support groups.

The American Red Cross responds to more than 70,000 disasters every year, big and small.  Most are home fires.  Victims are given emergency financial assistance, food, shelter, clothing and assistance with medicines, eyeglasses, even dentures they may have lost in a disaster.

It takes the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors to help the victims of disasters.  You can learn more about volunteering, and make a donation at redcross.org, or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.  You can also text the words “Red Cross” to 90999 to make a $10.00 donation.

The American Red Cross also serves members of the military and their families through the Service to Armed Forces program.  Learn more about the ways in which the Red Cross is committed to helping the U. S. Military here.

Top Ten Fire Safety Tip List

For Home and Work

The biggest disaster threat in the United States isn’t tornado, hurricane or flood: it is fire. The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year.  Most are home fires.  In Northeast Ohio, Red Cross workers and volunteers help an average of 3 families, victims of home fires every night.

Mike Parks, Chief Executive of the American Red Cross, Northeast Ohio Region recently appeared on WKYC Channel 3 to help the station kick-off its Safety Week activities.  Station management has a genuine concern for the well-being of the Channel 3 workforce, so they turned to the Red Cross during National Preparedness Month to help improve worker readiness in the face of an emergency.

During Mike’s visit to the station on Monday, September 14, the fire alarm was sounded.  Employees were not warned in advance.  The exercise was meant to assess their reaction. Hosts Michael Cardamone and Hollie Giangreco vacated the premises promptly, along with the studio crew and support staff.  Mike then went on the air with station President and General Manager Micki Byrnes to explain the importance of responding immediately to a fire alarm, and to credit the employees who evacuated without hesitation.

“This is something all companies should be doing,” he said.  “All organizations should have a plan in place.”

Fire prevention and escape plans aren’t just for the workplace: every home should have a plan as well.

Here is a Top Ten list of Fire Safety Tips:

  1. Install smoke alarms on every floor
  2. Change the batteries at least once a year, and install a new one if the low-battery alarm chirps
  3. Test alarms once a month
  4. Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and what to do if they hear it
  5. Establish at least two escape routes from your home
  6. Consider emergency escape ladders for rooms on the second floor and above
  7. Select a meeting spot where your family can safely gather after escaping
  8. Practice your escape plan twice a year: time each drill until every family member can escape within two minutes
  9. Make an emergency kit. Get the basics from our previous blog posting here.
  10. Visit redcross.org to find out more about how to protect you and your family from fire

Every year, the Red Cross spends an average of $370 million helping people and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from nearly 70,000 disasters across the country and around the world. Help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation towards disaster relief.

And be watching Channel 3 News for more coverage of National Preparedness Month. Employees are being offered classes in First Aid and CPR through the American Red Cross.

Red Cross and the 910th Airlift Wing team up for “Feel the Heat” event

IMG_4036IMG_4080 IMG_4095 IMG_4133 On Monday, October 27 the
American Red Cross of the Mahoning Valley and the 910th Airlift Wing teamed up to conduct a mock aircraft crash disaster training event at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

The 2014 “Feel the Heat” event simulated a mock aircraft crash. The 910th Civil Engineer Fire Department responded to contain the aircraft fire while the American Red Cross provided care and comfort to simulated survivors. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the high level of readiness of the air station’s first responders and the everyday work of the area’s American Red Cross staff and volunteers who respond to the plight of those in need of their services in our community. An audience of invited guests and area media outlets were on hand to observe the exercise.

Designed to showcase the partnership between the Red Cross and the military, this exercise was the second event to take place as part of the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative at Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

“This exercise is another example of community partnership and support. Since Clara Barton, the Red Cross has been committed to helping our military. We are proud to continue that tradition with our 910th Air Reserve Station and, in doing so, making our community a safer place.”

For more information about the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative, the Youngstown Air Reservation Station and more photos of the event, please visit their site.