Tips for a summer of water fun on International Water Safety Day

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer and former nine- year board member

As warm weather arrives in our area after a long winter, many are anxious to get in andSwimming and Water Safety manual 2014 enjoy the many natural water resources Northeast Ohio is fortunate to have, from magnificent Lake Erie and its islands, to the beautiful Cuyahoga River. In the Akron area, thousands enjoy boating, swimming and water skiing on the Portage Lakes in additional to local ponds, lakes and pools. It is crucial that adults and children are committed to water safety and take precautions as they prepare for a summer of water fun.

May 15th is International Water Safety Day, and the American Red Cross encourages you to “do your part, be water smart.”  The goal of Water Safety Day is to spread awareness Aquatic Centennial Campaign 2016of the ongoing drowning pandemic in the United States and around the world, and educate people to be safe in and around water. Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old. But people of all ages can drown in all kinds of situations.

Here are some water smart safety tips to get ready for summer fun:

  • Talk to your family, and all adult caregivers, about the importance of water safety and commit to safety rules. Take the Pool Safely Pledge and share it on your social media. Use the hashtags #PledgeItOn and #IWSD. Challenge your friends and family to join you and take the pledge as well.
  • Download the Red Cross Swim App for a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. Water safety information for parents for a variety of aquatic environments (waterpark, pool, beach, lake) is also included as well as a progress-checker for swim lessons.
  • Learn to swim. People can find age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs for themselves and their family members by contacting their local aquatic facility and asking for American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety programs, or by visiting redcross.org/watersafety.

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Water safety goes beyond the outdoors. International Water Safety Day is a good time to think about water safety around the house, too:

  • Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use.
  • Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning.
  • Install fences around home pools.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. Take a CPR or First Aid Class through your local Red Cross.

Find more water safety tips here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Sound the Alarm campaign ends

But smoke alarm installations will continue all year long

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

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Volunteers and partners in Bedford Heights

May 13, 2019 –  As the national Sound the Alarm campaign came to a close this weekend, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio held the final three installation events in Bedford Heights, Warren and West Salem, Ohio on May 11. Volunteers and partners installed free smoke alarms and shared vital fire safety information with residents.

In Bedford Heights, the Red Cross and its volunteer partners installed 224 smoke alarms and made 91 homes safer.

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Sue Richter (right) speaks with Northeast Ohio CEO Mike Parks

Among those helping make homes and neighborhoods safer was Sue Richter, the Crossroads Division Vice President. One of the residence Sue visited was the home of Dorothea Drake.

As smoke alarms were being installed, Dorothea spoke with Sue, telling her how she was personally affected by a fire at six years of age.

“It was a small fire, a grease fire in the kitchen.  But I got left in the house alone,” Dorothea recalled. “The door was locked and I couldn’t get out.  Everyone else thought I was with them.”

Dorothea wasn’t hurt, but the memory has stayed with her. That’s why she said she was grateful to the Red Cross for installing smoke alarms and making her current home safer.

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From left: Virginia Hexter, Jim Cutler, Zachary Cutler, Melissa Cutler, Brady Cutler, John Hexter

Also helping with the Sound the Alarm effort, three generations of the Hexter family.  John Hexter, his daughter Melissa and her three children went door-to-door, installing smoke alarms and helping residents create escape plans. Melissa and her family live in the Washington, D.C. area. When she learned that Sound the Alarm would coincide with a planned visit to Northeast Ohio, she jumped at the chance to take part.

“My dad (John Hexter) has always been big into volunteering. It’s something he instilled in me, and I’m trying to pass the legacy onto my children.”

Sound the Alarm is a two-week national initiative. It’s part of the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross launched in 2014 to reduce fire deaths and injuries.

During the two-week campaign, across the region, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio installed 3,743 smoke alarms in more than 1,500 homes according to preliminary numbers, far exceeding the region’s goal.

Protecting homes from fires is not just a two-week commitment by the Red Cross. As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross installs free smoke alarms all year. To learn more about the program and to request a smoke alarm installation, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO.

To view photos from the Bedford Heights installation event, click here to view our Flickr album.

NEO Red Cross kicks off Sound the Alarm campaign in Parma

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

April 24, 2019- Have you ever lay awake at night worried about a loved one and their well-being? Are you ever worried about how prepared they are in the event of an emergency? This is how Luba Bar feels every day.

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L to R: Valentina Twaskiewych, Luba Bar, John Twaskiewych

Luba lives in Las Vegas, but her elderly parents, John and Valentina Twaskiewych, live 2,072 miles away in Parma. Even though she visits whenever she can to make sure everything is well with her parents, she worries about their safety, especially in case of an emergency, like a home fire. Yesterday, during the 2019 Sound the Alarm kickoff event in Parma, American Red Cross volunteers and partners lent a helping hand to bring Luba peace of mind, by installing two smoke alarms in her parents’ home.

“I feel so much better, knowing that when I leave them again, they’ll be safe,” exclaimed Luba.

Following volunteers installing smoke alarms at no charge to the family and teaching them the importance of having an escape plan in the event of a home fire, Luba was pleasantly surprised and expressed her gratitude by adding, “Who does anything for anyone anymore? I’m so blessed that you do this.”

 

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Home fires kill more people in a typical year in the United States than all other natural disasters combined. Most deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross responds, on average, to three home fires every 24 hours.

The Parma installation event kicked off Sound the Alarm, a two-week event during which volunteers and partners will visit local homes to help install 100,000 free smoke alarms nationally to help combat home fires. Yesterday, 132 free smoke alarms were installed in 55 Parma homes.

Sound the Alarm events are part of the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross launched in 2014 to reduce fire deaths and injuries. So far, it has reached more than 1.7 million people and saved more than 580 lives nationwide. Since 2014, the Red Cross and local partners in Northeast Ohio have:

  • Installed more than 42,800 free smoke alarms
  • Made more than 11,200 households safer
  • Reached more than 15,300 children through youth preparedness programs

There are more than 20 Sound the Alarm events remaining in Northeast Ohio fromIMG_6304 Saturday, April 27 to Saturday, May 11. Volunteers are still needed to install free smoke alarms and help families create home fire escape plans in high-risk communities.

To find a smoke alarm installation event near you to help local residents like John and Valentina Twaskiewych, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO.

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

Red Cross seeks volunteers to ‘Sound the Alarm’ in Northeast Ohio as new poll highlights need for smoke alarms

Survey: 2 in 5 people say winning the lottery more likely than losing home in a fire

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

April, 17, 2019- A new American Red Cross survey shows that roughly two in five people think it’s more likely that they’ll win the lottery than lose their home in a fire. However, sta-research-graphics-2the real odds are the opposite: the chance is greater of dying from exposure to fire or smoke (nearly one in 1,500), compared to winning the lottery (typically one in millions).

Home fires kill more people in a typical year in the United States than all other natural disasters combined. In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross responds, on average, to three home fires every 24 hours. Last weekend, three adults died in a home fire in Cleveland. The fire department said there were no working smoke alarms in the home.

96 PERCENT ENGAGED IN FIRE-RISK ACTIVITIES

Almost all people surveyed said they’ve engaged in ordinary activities that are among the leading causes of home fires. For example:

  • More than 70 percent of people said they’ve left the kitchen while cooking on the stove
  • Nearly three in five adults have walked away from their grills while cooking
  • Nearly one-third of people left the room or fell asleep while burning candles

To help prevent home fires, the Red Cross urges everyone to always supervise cooking equipment and candles as well as follow additional safety tips at redcross.org/homefires.

For more information on the survey, watch this video:

HOW YOU CAN HELP #ENDHOMEFIRES

From April 23 to May 11, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is calling for volunteers to help during a two-week nationwide campaign called Sound the Alarm. During Sound the Alarm events, Red Cross volunteers and local partners will go door-to-door to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create home fire escape plans. Services are free and available to all residents in need. People can register now at SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO to volunteer and raise donations to support lifesaving services, which are free for families in need.

 

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR EVENTS

In Northeast Ohio, there is a need for 500 volunteers to install free smoke alarms and help families create home fire escape plans in high-risk communities. People interested in helping at events can register now at SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO or call 216-431-3328 to volunteer and raise funds.

To learn more about the home fire preparedness campaign and to request a free smoke alarm installation, please visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

New Yorker brings her preparedness training to Cleveland as Red Cross Corps

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross Volunteer

April 5, 2019- An internship in New York set a college student on the path to helping others here in Northeast Ohio. Mackenzie Heilman was finishing her senior year at State University of New York when she took an internship at the American Red Cross Central New York Chapter in Syracuse. During her internship, Mackenzie received preparedness training. She became certified in First Aid and CPR/AED.

Mackenzie1After graduating and while she was looking for full-time work in her field, her husband suggested she pursue volunteer work. The Red Cross’ Northeastern New York Chapter Albany office was close to their home. She began to volunteer for their home fire campaign, assisting with the region’s Sound the Alarm events.

When Red Cross staff in the Albany office learned of her extensive training and previous Red Cross internship, they told her about the AmeriCorps program. The program offers participants a full-time position that pays a stipend. AmeriCorps workers serve an 11-month term.

Her first assignment as an AmeriCorps worker was from January through December 2018 with the Red Cross’ Albany office. Along with Sound the Alarm, her job was helping with the Pillowcase Project. This project is aimed at educating children about being prepared in the event of an emergency. It teaches them how to make emergency preparedness kits out of pillowcases so they are ready if they need to leave home at a moment’s notice.

Last fall, she deployed to the National Disaster Operation Coordination Center in Fairfax, Virginia, during hurricane and wildfire season. She worked the fusion desk, answering calls and receiving emails. This role fields calls and communications from people experiencing home fires, flooding and hurricanes, and alerts Red Cross leadership 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The center then tracks disasters across the country and maps them. She was there for one week in October between Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas and Hurricane Michael in Florida.

Mackenzie moved to Northeast Ohio at the end of December 2018 after her husband landed a job at the Cleveland Clinic. Armed with her training and Red Cross experience, she took a second assignment with AmeriCorps. Her term began in February and will end in January 2020.Mackenzie2

Her job as a Red Cross Corps member through the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter is administering the Home Fire Campaign, the Pillowcase Project and other preparedness programs across Greater Cleveland. 

She said the best parts of her job are getting to work in an organization where she enjoys being, working with volunteers, schools and clients, and making a difference in the community.

Mackenzie recommends that others get involved in the AmeriCorps program.

“You don’t need a specific background and as long as you do the work, you will get paid and gain great experience,” she explained. “Besides preparedness, Red Cross Corps workers can also go on call and sometimes meet with clients who have experienced disasters. There is an opportunity to deploy to a hurricane or fires.”

This possibility interests Mackenzie. She wants to be DAT member.

Mackenzie“I would love to deploy and get into the dirty work to help those in need—and personally be there with the victims,” she said.

She certainly would be ready. Mackenzie specializes in feeding disaster victims and prepping food. She is an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) driver, having been trained in Albany on the special features of the vehicle. She said she would readily hop in and drive an ERV to feed people in need, if they needed her.

You don’t have to be a Red Cross Corps worker like Mackenzie to be prepared for emergencies. Anyone can learn important lifesaving skills by taking a class with the Red Cross. To find a class near you, visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class.

Red Cross partners with Dominion Energy to distribute first aid kits

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

April 3, 2019- Dominion Energy and the American Red Cross want to make sure you are prepared. This Saturday, April 6, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., at locations across northern Ohio they will supply you with the right tools. In return for five to 10 minutes of your time, you’ll be rewarded with a free, Red Cross First Aid Kit (valued at $35).

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Since 2013, “partners in safety” Dominion Energy and the Red Cross have held an annual Disaster Preparedness Day. Each person or family that agrees to take a short, six-question survey, will receive a quality, first aid kit along with literature stressing home safety.  Volunteers from each organization will be available to help people complete their surveys and hand out special co-branded bags with both organizations’ logos.

“Safety is one of Dominion’s core values,” explains Neil Durbin, senior communication specialist at Dominion. “That’s why this partnership is such a great fit for both organizations—we’re both centered on promoting safety. We also happen to each have offices in matching cities across the region.”

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Preparing for Preparedness Day turns out to be quite the project itself. John Gareis, regional manager for preparedness at the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, said that the preparation starts way before the event and involves staff and volunteers from both organizations. Sites have to be reserved, insurance certificates need to be provided, negotiations have to occur with vendors, five pallets worth of specially branded kits need to be received and then combined with handouts, and cases of assembled kits need to be transported to local chapters. Volunteers then need to be recruited, trained and equipped for the day of the event. When volunteers walk in that Saturday morning, everything will be there ready for them.

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This Saturday, more than 3,000 first aid kits will be presented to families at nine locations across northern Ohio. “We hope that people will take the information they learn on the survey and share it with family and friends,” said John. “In that way, each year, in just four hours, we hope to touch the lives of up to 10,000 people. It’s a lot of work on our part but to be able to reach that many people in one weekend, it’s certainly worth the effort.”

One of the key messages that volunteers will be stressing is that gas appliances should be professionally inspected each year. “While people usually think about having their annual inspections done in the fall, summer is an ideal time to schedule them, when heating contractors aren’t as busy,” suggested Neil. You’ll probably save some money and you’ll certainly have more flexibility scheduling your appointment.

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“No matter how much insurance you have or no matter how safe you think you are going to be, anyone can have a disaster at any given time, which is unfortunate,” explained John.  “We’d rather put the effort into teaching or reminding people what to do, rather than responding after a disaster happens.”

Disaster Preparedness Day locations:

  • Belden Village Mall – Canton
  • Chief Supermarkets – Lima
  • Eastwood Mall – Niles
  • Great Northern Mall – North Olmsted
  • New Towne Mall – New Philadelphia
  • Target – University Heights
  • Walmart – Ashtabula
  • Walmart – Stow
  • Walmart – Wooster

Red Cross volunteers can still sign up on Volunteer Connection to assist at some locations. Residents are encouraged to come out and get a quality first aid kit, which is ideal for home or auto. Sometimes they go quickly so come early, if possible.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

April is National Pet First Aid Month

By Sue Wilson, Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer

April 1, 2019- You probably have a first aid kit at home or in your car. You know you should have some knowledge in first aid basics to handle anything from minor cuts and scrapes to a broken bone or even something more serious to help a friend or family Red Cross pet photo 2018member in an emergency. But first aid for your pet? It may not be something you think about until you find your dog ate that dark chocolate bar you left out on the counter. Or your bug-swatting cat got stung by the bee he was playing with.

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. The American Red Cross has a number of resources and tips available to pet owners so you’ll know what to do in an emergency until veterinary care is available.

Download the App. The Red Cross free Pet First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on what to do in emergencies, how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans, and suggestions for a first aid kit. The app will also help owners keep their pets safe by learning what emergency supplies to have, when they should contact their veterinarian, and where to find a pet care facility or pet-friendly hotel.

Another important resource on the app is suggestions for how to put together a first aid and emergency kit. See the list below. The app also provides access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies.

The Pet First Aid App can be downloaded by texting GETPET to 90999, by going to redcross.org/apps, or by searching American Red Cross in app stores.

Take a pet first aid class. Pet owners can take the Red Cross online Pet First Aid Course on their desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at Trio_CatDogFirstAidtheir own pace. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete the course. Participants can stop and pick up where they left off if the course can’t be completed in one sitting. The interactive course includes:

  • How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so owners can notice if there are any irregularities
  • Step-by-step instructions and visual aids for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound, or is having a seizure
  • Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being

Additional resource. Each year the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center examines its data and releases the Top 10 categories of toxins pets come in contact with each year. Find the list of top 10 toxins and other important information here.

Recommended items for your pet first aid kit: Leashes, food, water, toys, medical records and an animal carrier for evacuation purposes, gauze pads, cotton balls, adhesive tape, fresh 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (always check with Superstorm Sandy 2012veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving to your pet), ice pack, disposable gloves, blunt end scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, oral syringe or turkey baster, liquid dish washing detergent (for bathing), towels, flashlight, alcohol wipes and artificial tear gel.

Both the Cat and Dog First Aid online course and the Pet First Aid App are not intended to replace veterinary care. But knowing some first aid basics, and having a pet first aid resource can be reassuring to any pet lover until you can get your pet to a veterinarian.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer