Smoke alarm sounds to save life of Olmsted Township resident

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

January 21, 2020- For many, a smoke alarm might be viewed as an annoyance that sounds off if we get dinner a little burnt. However, a smoke alarm is more than a random device that hangs out of sight around the house. It is a tool that could help save your life in the event of a home fire.

That was the experience of 86-year-old Olmsted Township resident Barbara Kovolenko.

On June 28, 2019, Barbara was awakened from a deep sleep at 1:23 a.m. to her smoke alarms screaming their alert. Barbara quickly realized this was not a false alarm. Her home was, in fact, on fire.

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Fire Chief Patrick Kelly with Barbara Kovolenko

Barbara, who requires oxygen, quickly remembered the information she received from the American Red Cross, which in partnership with the Olmsted Township Fire Department, installed smoke alarms in her home free of charge as part of a Sound the Alarm installation event. Using her newfound knowledge, Barbara evacuated the home to a safe location, did not enter her home again and waited for first responders to arrive on the scene and extinguish the fire.

In 2014, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide initiative to reduce the number of fire-related deaths by 25 percent. As of the end of 2019, 699 lives had been saved across the country – among them, Barbara Kovolenko.

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To learn more about the importance of having working smoke alarms on every level of your home, or to ask for a home fire safety inspection and smoke alarm installation, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.

To hear more about Barbara and this incredible story about the lifesaving impact of smoke alarms, listen to our recent episode of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region Podcast Be A Hero, featuring Barbara and Olmsted Township Fire Chief Patrick Kelly.

For more content on this incredible story, view this video of Chief Kelly interviewing Barbara, which was posted on the Olmsted Township Fire Department Facebook page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Happy first day of winter!

Helpful tips to keep you safe during the longest season in NEO

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer

December 21, 2019- Although December 21st is the first official day of winter, Northeast Ohio has already experienced enough frigid days and nights to let us know this is just the beginning of the long winter ahead. Here are some safety tips to help you prepare, and some of these you may not have thought about!

The Hands Have It 

  • Don’t put your hands in your pockets: It’s a natural instinct to put your hands in your pockets when you go outside, but don’t do it! If you slip and fall you can’t react to balance or catch yourself on the ice.
  • Mittens are warmer:  Gloves may be more fashionable, but mittens are warmer. When your fingers are touching one other they generate more body heat and keep your hands warmer.

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Before You Shovel 

  • Warm up your muscles by stretching and marching in place for a few minutes before you head out to shovel. You will work more efficiently and reduce the risk of injuring yourself if your muscles are warmed up.
  • Avoid caffeine and cigarettes. They increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict, which is not good for your heart.
  • Use rock salt and kitty litter for safer walkways. The salt helps melt the ice and kitty litter adds traction.

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Car Safety Kit

It can happen to all of us, a car breakdown, a flat tire, a big snowstorm. It’s always good to be prepared before going on the road in cold weather.

  • Have your vehicle winterized before the winter storm season to decrease your chance of being stranded in cold weather
  • Install good winter tires with adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate but some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Keep a safety kit in the car that includes: An emergency drinking water prep kit: a tin can, matches, candle, and paper cup in the car in case you would ever get stuck. Just melt some snow with these supplies if you run short on water.
  • A small shovel, a blanket, a flare and jumper cables.

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Protect Your Pets

  • Bring your companion animals indoors.
  • Ensure that you have supplies for cleanup for your companion animals, particularly if they are used to eliminating outdoors (large plastic bags, paper towels, and extra cat litter).
  • Create a place where outside 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.
  • Provide a feral cat shelter, food and water.
  • Report to the humane society or other local authorities if you see a pet chained outside with no protection from the elements

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Additional tips from the American Red Cross: 

  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications and medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
  • Be sure you have ample heating fuel.
  • If you have alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters, be sure they are clean and in working order. Never leave electrical devices or live flames unattended.
  • After a winter storm, immediately report any downed power lines or broken gas lines in your area or workplace.
  • Be a good neighbor. Winter weather can be tough on all of us, but especially the elderly, children, and people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Check on an elderly neighbor, or anyone you know that may live alone and have special needs.

American Red Cross National Headquarters Building 2001

Find more winter safety tips from The American Red Cross HERE.

Stay safe this winter with these tips to keep warm

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

November 14, 2019- Did you know that heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires, and fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths?

As the cold weather continues to creep into Northeast Ohio, residents continue to take efforts to keep their homes warm from the freezing temperatures. Unfortunately, some of those efforts can lead to tragic consequences.

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Over the past two winter-like days, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 8 home fires, several related to alternative home heating sources, resulting in 23 residents being assisted and $3,695 in immediate financial assistance.

Nearly half of American families use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood/coal stoves to stay warm. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year, more than 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home.

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If you and your family use alternative heating sources to stay warm, here are some prevention tips to help keep you safe this winter:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.
  • Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard, nonflammable surface, like a ceramic tile floor, and away from bedding and drapes.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • NEVER use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.

Kentucky Ice Storm

How to keep family and friends safe from carbon monoxide?

  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move quickly to a fresh air location and then call 9-1-1.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Test the alarm every month.
  • Treat the alarm signal as a real emergency each time. If alarm sounds and you are not experiencing any symptoms, press the reset button. If the alarm continues to sound, call the fire department.

Visit redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to prevent heating fires.

Be prepared for the snow and cold

By Renee Palagyi, Senior Disaster Program ManagerPalagyi, Renee

Editor’s note: Renee sends a message to the Northeast Ohio regional staff every day, to accompany the daily report on disaster responses.  Here, we are sharing today’s message.

 

Not really a surprise but it appears we may be moving in to the winter season. Watch out for the “s” word in the forecast in the next few days and follow our tips to stay safe.

Beforehand:

  • Talk with your family about what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued. Discussing winter storms ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for young children.
  • Have your vehicle winterized before the winter storm season to decrease your chance of being stranded in cold weather.
  • Have a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster, and oil.
  • Install good winter tires with adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate but some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Keep in your vehicle: – A windshield scraper and small broom – A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats – Matches in a waterproof container – A brightly colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna – An emergency supply kit, including warm clothing.
  • Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Keep a supply of non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery.
  • Service snow removal equipment before the winter storm season and maintain it in good working order.
  • Keep handy a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, water-resistant boots, and extra blankets and warm clothing for each member of the household.

Plow

There’s lots more to be found at:    https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm.html

 

Smoke alarm helps save lives in Wooster

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

October 25, 2019- Did you know that if a fire starts in your home, you might have as little as two minutes to escape? Something as simple as a smoke alarm can alert those inside of a fire in its early stages, providing critical time to vacate the home and call for help. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t have working smoke alarms, or don’t have enough devices within their home.

One American Red Cross volunteer, Barbara Buchwalter, experienced first-hand how powerful a simple device like a smoke alarm can be.

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Joe Kiefer

“I was given a business card at a senior event,” said Barbara. “We knew we didn’t have enough smoke alarms for the size of our home. A fireman came and installed several alarms. Within the same week, our stove caught fire and the smoke alarm went off.  The fireman that installed the alarms also responded to the fire that afternoon. I believe my husband and I were saved, because we had our old alarms replaced.”

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Lieutenant Joe Kiefer was the Wooster firefighter who provided the services that saved the lives of Barbara and her husband. He said that the smoke alarm not only saved lives that day, but it minimized the damage the fire caused. With the fast actions of the homeowners, Joe and his fellow firefighters were able to quickly respond and put out the fire before it spread to other areas of the home.

Joe was recently named Wooster firefighter of the year, and his work with the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign was mentioned as one of the reasons for his nomination.

The Buchwalters are among the 642 people whose lives have been saved after smoke alarms installed by the Red Cross and its partners alerted them to the danger in their homes. In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross and its partners have installed over 42,000 smoke alarms through its Home Fire Campaign.

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Joe Kiefer with his wife Lara Kiefer, executive director of the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter

Smoke alarm installations are available to any community member through their local chapter of the Red Cross. Many fire departments, like the Wooster Fire Department partner with the Red Cross to install smoke alarms the Red Cross provides. Fifteen to 30 minutes is all it takes to install smoke alarms in a home. Joe said that it also provides the firefighters an opportunity to answer any questions the homeowners may have, and to point out any potential fire hazards within the home.

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Joe Kiefer with Ashland mayor Matt Miller

“It’s a great way to get [firefighters] face-to-face with their community members,” Joe said.

“It’s a simple thing people can do—there’s no reason not to have smoke alarms,” according to Joe. To learn more about how you can prepare your home in case of a fire, visit the Red Cross Home Fire Safety page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.”

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“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.

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

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri, American Red Cross volunteer