Partners in Preparedness

Red Cross, Dominion Team Up to Distribute Emergency Preparedness Kits

It was no April Fool’s joke; we were really giving away Emergency Kits, sponsored by Dominion East Ohio, to help prepare people for potential disasters on Saturday, April 1st, at eight locations throughout Northeast Ohio.

About 4,000 kits were distributed, free of charge, to people who took the time to determine how much they knew about being prepared for emergencies, as spring storm season approaches.

John Gareis, Regional Manager, Preparedness and Community Planning, said, “With everyone’s efforts, we were able to touch the lives of nearly 4,000 families; 8,330 individuals – including 3,048 children; an increase of 1,382 lives touched over 2016’s very successful event.”

Residents received free Emergency Kits and timely preparedness information at Starwood Great Northern Mall and Starwood South Park Mall in Cuyahoga County, Starwood Belden Village Mall in Canton, New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia, Eastwood Mall in Niles, and at Walmart stores in Ashtabula, Wooster and Stow.

See our photo gallery from Red Cross/Dominion Preparedness Day here.

Be Prepared for Spring Weather

Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Flooding All Threats

Spring can be a time for devastating weather. It is the peak time of year for tornadoes, flooding, thunderstorms and other severe weather.

The American Red Cross wants everyone to know what steps they can take to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for their community.

Prepare

  • Get a Kit. Make a Plan. Be informed.  See the Be Red Cross Ready Checklist
  • If you or a member of your household is an individual with access or functional needs, including a disability, consider developing a comprehensive evacuation plan in advance with family, care providers and care attendants, as appropriate. Complete a personal assessment of functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation, and create a personal support network to assist.

Tornado Safety

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Tornado devastation in Albany, Georgia, January 2017. Photo credit: Daniel Cima for the American Red Cross

Spring can be the peak season for tornado activity. Tornadoes occur mostly on warm spring days between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. However, tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year, at any time of the day. The Red Cross has safety steps people should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for someone’s neighborhood:

What should I do to prepare for a tornado?

  • Know the Difference
    • Tornado Watch – Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
    • Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately underground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
  • During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
  • Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornadoes, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.
  • Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.
  • Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA web site
  • Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.
  • Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.
  • Watch for tornado danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish clouds – a phenomenon caused by hail
    • Wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm
    • Cloud of debris
    • Large hail
    • Funnel cloud – a visible rotating extension of the cloud base
    • Roaring noise

What to Do During a Tornado

  • The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
  • If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
    • Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
    • Do not seek shelter in a hallway or bathroom of a mobile home.
    • If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately.
    • Go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately, using your seat belt if driving.
    • Do not wait until you see the tornado.
  • If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
    • Immediately get into a vehicle and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. Remember to buckle your seat belt and drive at right angles to the storm movement to get out of its path.
    • Stay away from bridge/highway overpasses.
    • If strong winds and flying debris occurs while driving, pull over and park, keeping your seat belt on and engine running. Put your head down below the windows, covering your head with your hands and a blanket (if available).

Thunderstorm Safety

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Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages. The Red Cross has steps you can take if a severe thunderstorm is predicted for your area:

  • Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are likely to occur. Many people struck by lightning are not in the area where rain is occurring.
  • If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds.
  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. If thunder roars, go indoors! The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Keep away from windows.
  • Do not take a bath or shower or use plumbing.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, tall, isolated trees, and metal objects, such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts, and sheds are NOT safe.

Flood Safety

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Spring can be a time of year for flooding. Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued. Other safety steps include:

  • Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Stay away from floodwaters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and less than 2 feet of water can sweep your vehicle away.
    • If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
    • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

Magics Learn Disaster Safety

Hurricane Season begins June 1.

And while that usually (usually!) isn’t a major factor when planning for Northeast Ohio weather, we do have plenty of disasters that we need to be aware of and plan for, here in NEO.

To that end, the Red Cross continues to help children in our communities learn about disasters that can (and do!) happen in NEO through our Pillowcase Project.

Nearly 300 students at Barberton Elementary School West had the opportunity to learn more about home fire safety and winter weather safety when kids from third to fifth grade participated in the program in February.

The volunteer team leading the education portion included members of the Advancement to Nursing program, high school students from Barberton and the surrounding communities.

To learn more about how to host the Pillowcase Program at your school, click here.

Smoke Alarm Goal Achieved: More Than 10,000 Installed So Far

Mission accomplished.

For the second year in a row, the Northeast Ohio Region has reached the goal set for the number of smoke alarm installations in homes throughout our communities.

And there are still nearly four months to go before the close of the fiscal year, June 30th.

The goal was 10,000 smoke alarms.  As of Monday, March 6, Red Cross workers, volunteers and community partners had installed more than 10,100.  “While we continue to seek our own internal goal of exceeding our installation totals from last year (approximately 13,000) we still must take a moment to recognize all of the hard work that has gone into achieving the national target at this point in FY 2017,” Regional Disaster Officer Tim O’Toole wrote in a message to the Northeast Ohio staff.  “As one of the smallest regions in the nation we still are among the leaders in this effort.

The annoncement couldn’t come at a better time: this weekend, we are urged to TEST our smoke alarms as we TURN our clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time.  It’s also a good time to take these steps to make sure our households are prepared for emergencies:

  • Install smoke alarms. If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, they should install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements.
  • Practice an escape plan. Make sure everyone in the household knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
  • Get a kit. Keep disaster supplies in an easy-to-carry bag to use at home or if ordered to evacuate.
  • Make a plan. Have all household members plan what steps they should take if an emergency occurs.
  • Be informed. Learn what emergencies can occur in the area and how officials notify residents should a disaster occur.

The installation of smoke alarms is just one part of the Operation Save-A-Life  campaign. Providing free home fire safety inspections and disseminating valuable fire safety information are also critical components.  And volunteers perform the majority of the work involved in making our communities safer.

You can volunteer to help the red Cross make our communities safer at redcross.org/neo, where you can also apply for a home fire safety inspection and free smoke alarm installation.

The fiscal year ends on June 30th.  We’ll let you know how many MORE smoke alarms our volunteers, staff and partners are able to install by then.

Stay tuned.

 

Operation Save-A-Life Lives Up to its Name, Again and Again

More Lives Saved Across the Country Thanks to Smoke Alarms, Education

159.  That is the number of documented lives saved as of the close of 2016, thanks to the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross rolled out nationwide in 2014.

The campaign is modeled after Operation Save-A-Life, which began as a partnership between the Cleveland Fire Department and the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Red Cross in 1992.

The 25th anniversary of Operation Save-A Life will be recognized at the 2017 Red Cross Fire and Ice Ball, which takes place on March 25 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Cleveland.
Together with corporations, community groups and other partners, the Red Cross provides residents with valuable fire safety information and installs free smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.32318085516_522639e1c2_z

“Thanks to the tireless work of our volunteers, employees, local fire departments, and other partners in the Home Fire Campaign, today we celebrate 159 documents lives saved,” said Harvey Johnson, Senior Vice President, Disaster Cycle Services.

Partners helping the Red Cross achieve its goal of reducing deaths and injury due to home fires by 25% range from the employees of Lincoln Electric to a group of missionaries from the Akron Stake of the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Eight elders of the  church recently installed 60 alarms in the homes of people in need.

“The group is very dedicated, said Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter.  “I have worked with missionaries on disaster operations across the country. They always come through for us and the people we serve.”

Your group can be a part of Operation Save-A-Life in Northeast Ohio by sponsoring a smoke alarm installation project.  Log onto redcross.org/neoosal, and click on your county to register.

The smoke alarms you install could be the next ones that save a life.

The Globetrotters and the Great Assist

Legendary Basketball Heroes Provide Help and Hope in the Face of Disasters

When you’re 6’ 8” tall, you don’t need a ladder to install a smoke alarm.

Unless your ceilings are REALLY high.

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Harlem Globetrotters forward Zeus McClurkin installs a smoke alarm in a home on Lawnview Avenue in Cleveland, as Regional CEO Mike Parks and Disaster Program Specialist Emily Probst observe.  Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Zeus McClurkin, a forward for the Harlem Globetrotters,  accompanied Regional CEO Mike Parks and other Red Cross workers and firefighters from the Cleveland Fire Department on Monday, December 12 to install smoke alarms in homes on Lawnview Avenue.

Residents who live in 25 homes in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood are now safer, after Zeus and the rest of the volunteers installed 75 smoke alarms.

“Having working smoke alarms cuts the risk of injury or death in a home fire in half,” said the eight-year veteran of the team.  “I’m happy to help the Red Cross with this lifesaving mission.”

Since 2014, the Red Cross has installed more than 500,000 smoke alarms nationwide. Nearly 13,000 smoke alarms were installed in Northeast Ohio last year. Together with the Harlem Globetrotters,  local fire departments and other community partners, our goal is to install our one millionth smoke alarm by October 2017 to help Americans stay safer from home fires.

Every eight minutes, the American Red Cross responds to a disaster, most of which are home fires, which claim more lives annually than all major disasters combined. The Red Cross and the Harlem Globetrotters have teamed up through The Great Assist initiative to help communities across America to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters big and small. Join with us as we raise urgently needed funds to support families during times of crisis throughout the year. Your donation can bring help and hope to those who need it most. Text ASSIST to 90999 to make a $10 donation now that will truly make a difference.

The Globetrotters played 2 games at Quicken Loans Arena on December 27th.

In addition, the team played at the Canton Civic Center  on January 27, and at the Covelli Center in Youngstown on January 28.

 

Be Prepared for Winter Weather

It’s Winter Safety Awareness Week

We have experienced mild autumn weather this year, but if you have spent any amount of time at all in Northeast Ohio, you know the snow could start to fly any day. And forecasters are predicting colder temperatures and more snow for the Great Lakes area this winter, thanks to La Nina. It’s not too early to be prepared for the winter weather ahead, and Governor John Kasich is promoting Winter Safety Awareness Week, Nov. 13-19, encouraging households and businesses to update their safety plans, replenish their disaster supply kits, and prepare themselves, their vehicles and their property for winter-related incidents.

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Freshly fallen snow on the trees (and power lines) of a Northeast Ohio neighborhood.

Be Informed

Know the difference between advisories, watches and warnings.

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.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: when in doubt, don’t go out.  Minimize travel outdoors. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.  Emergency kits are available in the Red Cross store.

Your emergency kit for your car should include:

  1. Flashlight with extra batteries
  2. An extra Cell Phone Car Charger
  3. Blanket and/or emergency Mylar blanket
  4. Fleece Hat, Gloves, Scarf (one set for each traveler)
  5. Flares
  6. Folding Shovel
  7. Sand or Cat Litter
  8. Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
  9. First-Aid Kit
  10. Small battery-operated radio
  11. Emergency contact card with names and phone numbers
  12. Extra prescription medications
  13. Bottled Water (4 quarts per traveler – don’t forget pets!)
  14. High protein snacks such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
  15. Maps
  16. Whistle
  17. Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
  18. A baggie of pet food, if you frequently travel with your four-legged friend

Visit redcross.org for more information on how to make an emergency kit, and keep yourself and your loved ones safe and warm this winter.