Preparedness in a Pillowcase

Milestone reached for the Pillowcase Project

One million elementary school students across the country have now learned how to prepare themselves, their households and their communities for emergencies by participating in The Pillowcase Project. More than 11,000 of those children live in Northeast Ohio.

 

Originally created in New Orleans, The Pillowcase Project is a free program inspired by the story of local university students carrying their belongings in pillowcases during Hurricane Katrina evacuations. During the presentation, participants receive a pillowcase to decorate and then take home to use as a personal emergency supplies kit.

The curriculum, targeted at 3rd to 5th graders, is structured by a Learn, Practice, Share framework. Students learn about the science of a locally relevant hazard and how to best prepare for it. They practice what to do if a disaster occurs and how to cope with related fear and stress. Afterwards, they share the information and skills they have learned with their family and friends so everyone in the household knows what to do.

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John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager was assisted by AmeriCorps worker Rachel Steiner at a Pillowcase Project presentation at the Cleveland VA Medical Center                                         Photo Credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

“It’s exciting to see young people in Northeast Ohio and across the country learn how to prepare themselves, their households, and their communities for emergencies and save lives by participating in The Pillowcase Project,” said John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager.

To date, 11 lives have been saved by four students who put into practice what they learned through the program. Last year, 9-year-old Camryn Sarnie of Ramona, Oklahoma was startled awake at 3:00 a.m. by a smoke alarm sounding in his home. The sound scared Camryn, but he recognized it and knew that it was alerting him to a fire. He knew that he had less than two minutes to escape, so he quickly woke up his parents, alerted them to the fire and instructed them to evacuate immediately. Camryn saved three lives that morning, including his own, by putting into practice what he learned just a few weeks earlier from The Pillowcase Project presentation at his school. According to Camryn’s mother, Lora, “Camryn told us all about what he learned in class after the presentation. Camryn is a true hero.”

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The Red Cross has engaged more than 35,000 volunteers and partnered with more than 13,000 schools, community organizations and partners to deliver this program to students across the country and at more than a dozen U.S. military stations abroad. The Walt Disney Company is the founding sponsor of the program.

Contact John Gareis at 216-431-3219 to schedule a Pillowcase Project presentation for your school, or email john.gareis@redcross.org. .  Additional information about The Pillowcase Project is available at redcross.org/pillowcase.

Ready to Help as Hurricane Season Begins

By Debra Kellar, Senior Specialist, Volunteer Services

Preparations are underway along the coasts, as the 2018 hurricane season is upon us. June 1 marks the start of what forecasters anticipate being a ‘near or above-normal’ year for storms in both the Atlantic and Pacific basins.

Forecasters also predict, with a 70 percent likelihood, that we will see 10 to 16 named storms in the Atlantic, of which half could be powerful enough to be classified as hurricanes. One to four storms are expected to become major hurricanes. Based on this prediction, the 2018 season is expected to be similar to last year–one that saw catastrophic impacts from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

 

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Animation provided by Yiqi Shao

Anatomy of a Hurricane

The formation of a hurricane begins as warm, moist air travels around the equator, rising as it heats, creating an area of low pressure beneath. As cooler air rushes in to take its place, it, too, begins to warm and rise before subsequently cooling, causing the formation of clouds. The system grows, further perpetuating the cycle.  As the winds get faster and faster, an eye will form in the center of the storm.

Once sustained wind speeds reach 39 m.p.h., the system is considered to be a tropical storm. Upon reaching 74 m.p.h., it is reclassified as a hurricane. The Saffir Simpson wind scale is used to further categorize a hurricane, with the weakest referred to as a Category 1 hurricane and winds in excess of 157 m.p.h. considered a Category 5.

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Graphics provided by the NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center, and the NOAA Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Red Cross Recovery Efforts

Last year’s Category 5 hurricanes came in quick succession, causing response and recovery efforts to pivot and reorganize to meet the needs of those impacted as additional states became affected. The American Red Cross’ ability to adeptly transition comes from its readiness planning and from the unparalleled dedication of its volunteers. Current disaster volunteers had been poised to assist the impacted coastal states, with many volunteers from Northeast Ohio deployed to staging areas pre-landfall. As the 2017 season continued, more than 100 new volunteers from Northeast Ohio became trained to provide disaster relief as part of one of the premier humanitarian organizations in the world.

Helping People in Need

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The Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services Department is already preparing its volunteer workforce in anticipation of another active hurricane season. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the disaster team, visit our website here to begin an online application or contact our Volunteer Services Department at 216-431-3328.

This year, Facebook has teamed up with the Red Cross to make sure people are prepared for hurricane season,  which runs through November 30. In addition to volunteering, you can help by donating to support disaster relief.

Debra Kellar studied climatology and cartography, and earned a Master’s Degree in Geography at Kent State University.

Thousands in NEO are Now More Prepared

About 9,000 residents of Northeast Ohio now have a better idea about how to prepare for emergencies.  And many of them also have new emergency first aid kits, thanks to our partners at Dominion Energy and the dozens of volunteers who helped distribute the information and the free kits on Saturday, April 7, 2018.

Shoppers at various malls and Walmart stores in Northeast Ohio were given a quiz, to test their preparedness knowledge.  They were quizzed on such topics as the lifespan of smoke alarms (10 years), the national “Call Before You Dig” phone number (811), and the most common cause of home fires (cooking.)

“Dominion Energy Ohio is proud to participate in another successful Preparedness Day with our partners in safety at the American Red Cross,” notes Jim Eck, vice president and general manager, Ohio and West Virginia Distribution. “We remind our customers and the general public that safety at home and at work requires daily vigilance and effort.”

“We are grateful for the help we get from Dominion Energy with Preparedness Day every year,” said John Gareis, Red Cross Regional Preparedness Manager.  “Our partnership has helped educate tens of thousands of people over the past several years, making them Red Cross ready.”

Nearly 4,000 Emergency First Aid kits were distributed to people who took the time to take the preparedness quiz.  You can purchase first aid kits and other emergency supplies at the Red Cross store.

And here you can see a photo album of our volunteers at work on Preparedness Day, 2018.

Save Face and Save a Life

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross volunteer

This year, March 10 can be a face-saving and a life-saving date – a two-for-one, if you will. How many other dates can make that claim?

Save Face

If you hadn’t noticed already, Daylight Saving Time comes on March 11.  So, traditional wisdom suggests that you turn your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed on Saturday, March 10. That’s the number one way to save face Sunday morning, when you might otherwise show up an hour late for worship service or your weekly breakfast date with friends.

Save a Life

The American Red Cross can’t stress enough the need to check your smoke alarms at least twice a year. They’ve even come up with a handy tagline to help you remember – TURN and TEST. Simply stated, each time you TURN your clocks forward or back, also remember to TEST your smoke alarms.TurnAndTest1 (002)

Two of the biggest contributors to lost life in a fire situation are 1) lack of smoke alarms in the home and 2) worn out batteries or total lack thereof.

Every day, seven people die in the United States due to a home fire. Remember, you only have two minutes to escape most home fires without serious or fatal results.  That’s why it’s important to have an escape plan for your home – and to practice it.

If you don’t have smoke alarms or if they are more than 10-years old, contact the Red Cross for free installation of new smoke alarms.  Visit the Home Fire Campaign page on our website.

Bonus Save Face

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a bonus. Please refer to it as Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time.  It’s not plural, despite what many people say. It’s one of those things that probably more than half the people get wrong – but now you know!  (Check here for more interesting Daylight Saving Time trivia.)

 

Be My Valentine – I Could Save Your Life!

By Rena Large, Volunteer, Citizen CPR Leader

With Valentine’s Day approaching, who isn’t thinking about people they love and the things we do to show them we care?

Maybe it’s not exactly what you had in mind, but one thing I do for the people I love is staying up to date on my CPR and First Aid certification. In my earlier years it was sometimes a requirement – as a babysitter, a camp counselor, a life guard – and later it seemed like a good idea as someone who cared for friends and family members and likes to be prepared for anything.

First Aid for Cleveland

Graphic provided by Doug Bardwell/American Red Cross Volunteer

Speaking of hearts…We all probably know someone who has had a cardiac emergency (maybe even witnessed it happen). Most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes, and CPR – especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest – can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. That’s one of the reasons I love Citizen CPR – a free non-certification program that teaches untrained bystanders to perform hands-only compressions, a simple skill that can keep vital blood and oxygen flowing in a cardiac emergency until trained responders arrive. Performing hands-only compressions is easy to remember and doesn’t require mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths or certification (something that deters some people) – all it requires is willingness to act!

Volunteer Citizen CPR Instructor Rena Large teaches MetroHealth employees lifesaving skills.  Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Being a volunteer Citizen CPR instructor in my community is one of the most rewarding things I do. Sometimes people are nervous about the idea – I always hear stories of people witnessing someone having a heart attack at a family reunion or work event and being afraid they will do something wrong if they try to help. Giving them the opportunity to see the skill and practice it takes the mystery away and gives people the confidence that they can do this in an emergency. It means so much to me that I know and can teach others how to save a life. If you aren’t CPR certified, take a moment to learn how to do hands-only compressions; or think about offering a Citizen CPR event in your community or workplace. It might be the most important gift you give this Valentine’s Day and all year long.

When the Weather Outside is Frightful, Driving Can Be, Too!

By Brad Galvan, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

When wintry conditions strike, it can make for treacherous travel.  Follow these suggestions for staying safe so you can get over the river and through the woods this winter.

If you do not HAVE to go out, stay home.

– many employers have flexible options for poor weather days – speak with your supervisor and work out a proactive plan that involves Skype, email and instant messages so you can still get the job done.

generally, meteorologists give plenty of notice when winter storms are on their way. That’s your cue to stock your pantry and tackle any errands that may need to get done prior to being snowed-in.

If you truly need to go out, here’s how to stay safe:

Vehicle: make sure your car has plenty of fuel, windshield washer fluid, a snow brush and a safety kit. The best kits contain: flares, a bright safety vest, a blanket, tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, flashlight and minor first aid supplies. Your vehicle should be equipped with quality tires, working wipers and heat as well as a working defrost system. You’ll also want to make sure your cell phone is fully charged.

Bring enough of the following for each person:

  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Rain gear, extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks, and wool hats
  • Newspapers for insulation
  • Plastic bags for sanitation
  • Canned fruit, nuts, and high energy snacks (Include a non-electric can opener if necessary)
  • Warm broth in a thermos and several bottles of water
  • Keep a cell phone or two-way radio with you. Make sure the battery is charged.
  • Plan to travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person with you.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • Before leaving, listen to weather reports for your area and the areas you will be passing through, or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.
  • Be on the lookout for sleet, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and dense fog, which can make driving very hazardous

The drive: Prior to hitting the road, be sure to have your preferred route and a back-up route in-case the weather gets to be too severe. You’ll need to make sure all snow, frost and ice is removed from your vehicle, including the roof.

Once you are behind the wheel, it’s important to maintain proper distance from the vehicles ahead of you. The slick roads could cause breaking to be a challenge so give yourself plenty of space. Additionally, the snow plows on the roads are there for your safety – please be generous with the space you give them, too. The plows generally travel well below the speed limit, so be patient.

For more winter driving tips, visit here.26196357_10155747520710071_8760805260501895770_n

As pretty as Northern Ohio winters can be, they can be even more frustrating to navigate. Remember to take your time and take precautions to travel safely. And if it can wait, just enjoy a cup of hot cocoa from the comfort of your warm home!

Resolve to be Prepared

by: Melissa Papini, Disaster Program Manager

As we spend time reflecting on the closing of 2017, celebrating the season with our loved ones, being thankful for all the little things that bring us joy like safety and security, let’s also take time to think about (and say prayers for, if you’re so moved) our friends and family all over the world whose safety and security was threatened this year by natural disasters.

12292-409.jpgI recently heard an interview on the radio about a couple who moved from Brooklyn, NY to Ventura, CA this year. The interview was about the mandatory evacuations in their neighborhood related to the Thomas fire. They talked about how different it is to live in a community that has to be prepared at all times to flee their homes. Everyone they know has an emergency kit ready for not if, but when the wildfires get too close. That observation struck me. We live in a part of the country where very few people have natural disasters on their minds regularly. How many people do you know in Northeast Ohio that have an emergency kit ready at home?

Through my recent career move to “all things disaster,” my 10-year-old daughter has picked up on the idea of disaster preparedness. She has heard me talking about the Pillowcase Project and has created her own emergency kit that she’s packed in a pillowcase. She has a change of clothes, a flashlight, and a first aid kit ready to go if we ever need it. After reviewing the checklist in the Pillowcase Project booklet, I may suggest she add things like toiletries, markers and paper, a blanket, and a favorite toy.

For a detailed list of items that you can put together to create an entire household emergency kit please refer to our previous posts. There are also many Red Cross apps that can help you be prepared for and alerted about local disasters.

One other thing I’ve realized about preparedness through follow-up casework with our clients who’ve had home fires is how important it is to create an inventory of the contents of your home. If you are ever in a situation where you have a fire, your insurance company cannot begin to help you start replacing things until you’ve created a detailed inventory list for them. This is a daunting task for people who have millions of other things on their minds after a home fire. The easiest way to do this is take videos in each room of your home. Be sure to open drawers where you may have valuables too. Keep a copy of this video somewhere safe like an external hard drive in a fire proof lock box, the cloud, or you can even email it to yourself.

If you are like me and can’t wait to crack open your new planner for 2018 and start making lists of goals, be sure to add preparedness to your list of resolutions!