15 ways to stay safe when Winter Storm Harper hits Northeast Ohio

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

With Winter Storm Harper barreling down on Northeast Ohio and threatening significant snow and subzero temperatures this weekend, the American Red Cross has steps you should take to ensure you can enjoy the winter weather, while remaining safe.

HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY

outside-winter-safety-tips-twWith wind chill this weekend potentially being as low as -30 degrees, homes all across Northeast Ohio will certainly have their heating sources working to their full potential. While it is nice to be warm and cozy inside of our homes, it is also important to heat our homes safely.

Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends your follow these steps:

  • All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

For more home fire safety information, visit the Red Cross home fire safety campaign page.

STAY SAFE DURING WINTER WEATHER

  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.heating-en
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water. Click here for more tips to keep your four-legged friends safe this weekend.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

With Winter Storm Harper possibly bringing a foot or more of snow to Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross recommends everyone to remain safe by staying off the roads. However, if you must leave your home during the storm, here are some tips to keep you safe while you travel:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

BE RED CROSS READY

To help you and your family prepare for Winter Storm Harper, download and review the Red Cross’ winter storm safety checklist.

DOWNLOAD APPS

North Dakota and Minnesota FloodsYou can also download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps and more are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps

Emergency need: Donors urged to give blood and platelets now

January 16, 2019 – A donation shortfall over the winter holidays is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now Blood Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 2018to prevent a blood shortage from continuing throughout winter and affecting patient care. The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply, as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.

Right now, the Red Cross has less than a three-day supply of most blood types, and blood products are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in.

You can help!

  1. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets by downloading the free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
  2. Let your friends and family know there is an emergency need for blood and platelet donors and ask them to #GiveNow.
  3. Bring someone to donate with you.
  4. Host a blood drive so others can give – be it at your office location, place of worship or community organization.

Your support can help ensure that blood products are there for trauma victims, premature babies, patients going through cancer treatment and others who depend on transfusions for survival.

The hospitals that rely on blood and blood products collected by the Red Cross regularly hold blood drives of their own. One such hospital is the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Blood Donation 2018

From the days of Clara Barton and our founding, the Red Cross has had a strong relationship with members of the military, veterans and their families.  Every day, the Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces provides 24/7 global emergency communication services and support in military and veteran health care facilities across the country and around the world. Furthermore, Susan Fuehrer, director of the Northeast Ohio VA healthcare system, also serves on the Red Cross’ Greater Cleveland board of directors.

On February 1 from 7 AM to 5 PM, the Cleveland VA Medical Center will be hosting a blood drive, which is open to the public.

Are you unable to donate on February 1st, but have space on your calendar on February 12th to give life? Well, you are in luck!  Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights will be hosting its annual blood drive, which is the largest in the region. The blood drive will be held on Tuesday, February 12th at 6111 Landerhaven Drive from 7 AM-7 PM.

Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Don’t wait to help. Give now.

Before the year ends, consider giving

By Doug Bardwell and edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteers

As the year comes to a close, many people spend time between Christmas and the New Year holiday with their yearly review and goal setting for next year. If you haven’t tried it yet, you might want to.

Many people decide that they want to do more for those in need. If that thought is on Red Cross year end check listyour mind, please consider volunteering with the American Red Cross. Even if you can only commit to a few hours a week or a month, there’s a way for you to make a difference. Visit redcross.org/volunteer to get started and see what positions are needed now.

Others realize that their charitable donations aren’t where they should be. But fear not, there’s still time.

Did you know:

  • If you itemize your deductions, your donation can be used to lower your tax obligation in the year you donate.
  • Putting a check in the mail constitutes a donation made in the year it was mailed.
  • Contributions made on a credit card are deductible in the year they appear on your account, even if you pay them off in the following year.
  • Contribution limits for tax purposes are quite high. If you have an adjusted gross income of $100,000, you can donate up to $60,000 to a public charity.
  • If you donate property you’ve owned for at least a year, the donation is considered to be the fair market value of the item donated. If the property has appreciated in value, you’ll get the added benefit of that higher value.
  • Individuals who are 70-1/2 years old or older, can donate up to $100,000 directly from their IRA without having to claim it as taxable income.
  • To read more about these hints, refer to Charity Navigator’s website.

So, you’ve decided to donate before year-end. But, where to donate? Well, if you’re 183401-18-Holiday-Campaign-2018_Social-Media-Plan_Facebook-Post-Graphic_3_FINALreading this, chances are you are already well aware that the American Red Cross is the preeminent organization for helping to prevent and alleviate human suffering in this country.

Only one decision left. Where would you like your donation applied? Our website’s donation page gives you four options:

  • Disaster Relief
  • Where it is needed most
  • Local Red Cross programs and services—this benefits Northeast Ohio chapter activities
  • Home fires

and you can pay via credit card or via PayPal.

Considering a donation other than online?

Here are some helpful links, no matter how you decide to donate:

Do you want to mail a check?  Send it to American Red Cross; 3747 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.

If you’d like to donate by phone, call 1-800-Red Cross (1-800-733-2767).

Donate by text: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to Disaster Relief.

Donating vehicles of any kind (running or not): Call 1-855-92 RC CAR (1-855-927-2227) or by visiting redcross.org/cardonation.

Donating stocks or mutual funds: Go here on our website.

Donating by Electronic Fund Transfer or Wire Transfer:  See below:

doug donation

If you are unable to make a financial contribution or to volunteer, you may also give life saving blood. The Red Cross provides roughly 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply. However, of the 38 percent of the population that is eligible to donate, less than ten percent actually donates. With someone in the U.S. needing blood every two seconds, your blood donation is vital. To make an appointment to donate, you may visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or you may download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Thanks for your donation—either your time, your blood or your money. Have a wonderful New Year!

Winter safety tips to help you outsmart Jack Frost

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteeer.

With the first day of winter only one day away, like it or not, Jack Frost is getting ready to spend a few months in Northeast Ohio.

Red Cross pet photo 2018While winter weather in Northeast Ohio can be unpredictable, the one thing you can expect is that it will bring headaches. Blizzards, freezing cold, Nor’easters and ice storms can all have significant impacts on travel, schools, businesses and health. They can even impact our homes.

Pretending winter is not coming is not going to make the calendar fast forward to July. Do not let winter catch you off guard. Here are some winter tips to help you stay safe and be prepared for Jack Frost.

Be Informed

It is important to know the difference between advisories, watches and warnings to understand what they mean when one is issued in your area by the National Weather Service:

  • Advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconvenience and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
  • Watch: Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Warning: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

outside-winter-safety-tips-twPrepare your home

  • Protect your pipes from freezing. To learn how to protect your pipes, click here.
  • Make sure your home heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements and are clean and in working order.
  • Install storm windows and cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to add additional protection from the cold winter air.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep a supply of firewood on hand. Be sure the fireplace is properly vented and in good working order.

Get your vehicle winter ready

  • Have a mechanic thoroughly look over your vehicle by checking your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster and oil.
  • Install good winter tires.
  • Items to keep in your vehicle all winter include a windshield scraper and a small broom, a small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels, matches in a waterproof container, a bright colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna and an emergency supply kit, which includes warm clothing.

Winter driving

While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you must drive during inclement weather, follow these tips on how to drive safely during a winter storm and what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:

  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

If you happen to become stuck:

  • Stay with the car. DO NOT try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running to avoid draining the battery.
  • If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it –- don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window slightly open –- away from the blowing wind –- to let in air.

American Red Cross National Headquarters Building 2001Be sure to download and use the American Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. You can find this and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or by visiting redcross.org/apps.

Deck the halls and trim the tree: Tips for a festive and safe home

Written by Brad Galvin and edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteers

The holidays are approaching, so is the heightened risk for home fires. Unfortunately, this time of year is tragically one of the busiest for fire departments due to the surprising danger of holiday décor, dry Christmas trees, holiday cooking and misuse of fireplaces and chimneys.

fireplace-1024x683.jpgBeautiful, fragrant and festive, the live Christmas tree can be very risky if safety precautions are not observed. The longer the tree is in the home without being given ample water, the more it will dry out and become a fire hazard. A dry live tree can go up in flames quickly if there is an electrical mishap with a strand of lights or if an open flame gets too close to the needles. It is important to continue to give your tree plenty of water and keep it away from energy sources. Strands of lights should be checked frequently.

According the National Fire Protection Agency, between 2012 to 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 170 home fires per year that started with Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of four deaths, 15 injuries and $12 million in direct property damage annually.

Festive décor should be installed with common sense in mind. Décor such as candles and lights can catch their cheerful counterparts such as garland, bows and wreaths on fire if they aren’t properly inspected and used correctly. Do not overload sockets and connect too many extension cords.

Hams, casseroles and delicious cookies are staples on the holiday plate but use caution 240_F_146531964_rcj4af3xtTm2f3nW8aoKU9G6Y14fPSt6when using the oven and cooking range. FEMA recommends a common-sense practice of simply staying in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or cooking on the stove top or broiling food. The idea of “set-it and forget-it” is dangerous. Additionally, FEMA recommends to never use a turkey fryer in a garage or on a wooden deck. It’s imperative to watch the fryer carefully, as the oil will continue to heat until it can catch on fire. To avoid oil spillover, don’t overfill the fryer.

The holidays are the perfect time to enjoy the crackling of a fire in the fireplace. Stockings hung from the mantel is an iconic holiday image. While picturesque, it is critical to be smart when operating the fireplace. Some suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics include:

  • Even if the chimney is not due for cleaning, it is important to check for animal nests or other blockages that could prevent smoke from escaping.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that is potentially flammable (furniture, drapes, newspapers, books, etc.). If these items get too close to the fireplace, they could catch fire.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house. If you leave the room while the fire is burning or the fireplace is still hot, take your small child with you.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher nearby.

heating-en

The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. The excitement can often divert our attention and distract us from our usual diligence. It’s imperative to use these common-sense suggestions to decrease the risk of a dangerous home fire.

You can learn more about preventing home fires with tips from the American Red Cross at redcross.org. The Red Cross offers simple safety tips that take you safely through the holidays and into the new year. Read  them here.

Winter is coming: Tips to protect your home and family this winter

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

As the calendar turns to November, in Northeast Ohio we know this means winter in coming. With snow and bone-chilling cold just around the corner, it is important to plan ahead to ensure that you are winter ready.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross to help you prepare before the cold and winter storms arrive:

North Dakota and Minnesota Floods

Protecting your family:

  • Winterize your vehicle before the winter storm season to decrease your chances of being stranded.
  • Have a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster and oil.
  • Install good winter tires.
  • Service snow removal equipment before the winter storm season to ensure they are in good working condition.emergency prep kit
  • Items to keep in your vehicle all winter include a windshield scraper and a small broom, a small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels, matches in a waterproof container, a bright colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna and an emergency supply kit, which includes warm clothing.

Protecting your home:

  • Protect your pipes from freezing. To learn how to protect your pipes, click here.
  • Make sure your home heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements and are clean and in working order.
  • Install storm windows and cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to add additional protection from the cold winter air.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep a supply of firewood on hand. Be sure the fireplace is properly vented and in good working order.

Don’t forget your furry friends:

  • Do not leave your companion animals out in the cold, bring them indoors. Ensure you have supplies for cleaning up after your companion animal—large plastic bags, paper towels and extra cat litter.
  • Create a place where your other animals can be comfortable in severe winter weather. Horses and livestock should have a shelter where they can be protected from wind, snow, ice and rain. Grazing animals should have access to a protected supply of food and non-frozen water.
  • Be aware of potential for flooding when snow and ice melt and be sure that your animals have access to high ground that is not impeded by fencing or other barriers.
  • Ensure that any outbuildings that house or shelter animals can withstand wind and heavy snow and ice.

Use the American Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know 10846-005.jpgyou are safe if severe weather occurs. Find this and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

To learn more about what you should do before, during and after a winter storm to keep you and your family safe, visit redcross.org for additional winter storm safety tips.

Don’t Be “One of Those” Blood Donors

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

I just celebrated my 20th anniversary – 20 years since my first blood donation back on January 21, 1997.  I’ve learned a lot since then, and much of it concerns things I did wrong.  Profit from my mistakes, all made in a relatively short amount of time.

  • While walk-ins are gratefully accommodated, you’re liable to have to wait for an open donation time slot if you haven’t made an appointment. Appointments can easily be made online or with the Red Cross Blood app for your phone.

bloodapp

  • When you are leaving home or office and heading to the donation site, be sure to have your blood donor card or the blood app on your phone. A driver’s license or two other forms of ID could suffice, but without ID, you won’t be allowed to donate. Have your ID ready as you approach the registration table.
  • Drink PLENTY of water and have something nourishing (not fatty) to eat before you donate; BUT, not immediately before you come in. Eating or chewing gum immediately before taking your temperature can cause an incorrect reading and could disqualify or delay you. I recently had a chocolate chip cookie right before donating and it raised my temperature to 99.9 degrees. I then had to wait fifteen minutes while it returned to 98.6. It’s best to have something to eat one-half to one hour before you donate. Also, avoid caffeinated coffee and tea before your appointment.
  • Just like we exercise to keep our bodies in shape, you can pump up your blood’s iron levels by eating an iron-rich diet before donating. A low iron level could keep you from donating.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before your donation. Your body rejuvenates your cells while you sleep.
  • Don’t rush. Rushing to get to the donation center can cause stress, which can elevate your blood pressure. Avoid stressful activities.  Breathe, and give yourself time to leisurely get to the donation center. Even if you are a couple minutes late, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.
  • If you’ve got cold or flu symptoms (other than allergies), call (1-800-RED-CROSS) and discuss rescheduling your appointment. You’ll potentially save the trip, and your appointment time can be assigned to someone who walked in without an appointment.
dougdonating

Red Cross Communications Volunteer and long-time blood donor Doug Bardwell

  • Lastly, wear loose clothing with sleeves that can easily be rolled up above the elbow.

Congratulations, you just made sure your donation was a success. But, one last suggestion, don’t try to leave too quickly afterwards.  There are snacks and drinks at that refreshment table in the corner. Pay it a visit. Take some of the time you saved and treat yourself to a snack. It will provide your body with some needed nourishment and you’ll leave feeling better for it.

Don’t forget, the clock is ticking, and you’ll be eligible to donate again before you know it.  Make that appointment today and have another great experience.