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!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Preparing Families for Emergencies

By John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager

Most people believe that on the First Day of Christmas the appropriate gift to give is a Partridge in a Pear Tree. Well the American Red Cross believes in building Disaster Resilient Neighborhoods during the Holiday Season as well throughout the year.pear
To help you select stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts designed to make individuals, families and the homes they live in as safe as possible, the American Red Cross has put together the following recommendations for gifts for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the First Day of Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas, the Red Cross recommends that you install a Smoke AlarmSMOKE ALARM. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of a home; outside bedrooms on the ceiling or high on the wall, at the top of open stairways and at the bottom of enclosed stairs and near (but not in) the kitchen. It is important to check your Smoke Alarms every month and replace their batteries annually. The life expectancy of ALL smoke alarms is 10 years – the sensors wear out.

On the Second Day of Christmas

On the Second Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you install a CO2CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM. Carbon Monoxide Alarms should be placed in hallways throughout the home. They should also be placed in recreational vehicles and on boats.

extinguisherOn the Third Day of Christmas

On the Third Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you install a FIRE EXTINGUISHER in your home. Install A-B-C type Fire Extinguishers in the home and teach all household members how to use them.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

On the Fourth Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you install aladder FIRE ESCAPE LADDER. Homes with more than one floor should have at least one Fire Escape Ladder stored on all floors, other than ground level. Store these ladders where they are easily accessible.

kitOn the Fifth Day of Christmas

On the Fifth Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you assemble a FAMILY DISASTER SUPPLIES KIT. A family will cope best by preparing for emergencies before they occur. One way to prepare is by assembling a Family Disaster Supplies Kit. Once disaster hits, you won’t have time to shop and search for supplies.

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

petOn the Sixth Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you assemble a PET SUPPLIES KIT. Pets enrich the lives of individuals and families in more ways than you can count. In turn they depend on people for their safety and well-being. Having a Pet Disaster Supplies Kit is one of the best ways to care for pets when disaster strikes.

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

On the Seventh Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you acquire wxa WEATHER RADIO. As the voice of the National Weather Service, a Weather Radio provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information directly from a National Weather Service Forecast Office. During severe weather routine broadcasting is interrupted and special watch and warning messages are issued.

On the Eighth Day of Christmas

firstaidOn the Eighth Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you get a FIRST AID KIT. Because the first five minutes of a medical emergency are critical, every individual and family should have a First Aid Kit in their home and vehicle and on your boat.

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

cprOn the Ninth Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you attend FIRST AID AND CPR TRAINING. For more than a century, the Red Cross has been saving lives with Health and Safety Services education programs. A unique idea for a Christmas Stocking would be a Gift Certificate for a First Aid and CPR Training course.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

On the Tenth Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you purchasehouse numbers HOUSE NUMBERS. Each home should have its number posted clearly on the front door, over the doorway, or elsewhere on the front so emergency responders can easily locate it. Lives and property can be saved simply by adequate house numbers where emergency workers can find them as quickly as possible.

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

flashOn the Eleventh Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you purchase a FLASHLIGHT. As simple as a Flashlight is, it can become a very important tool during and after disaster strikes. Every Family Disaster Supplies Kit should contain a Flashlight and spare batteries.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas the Red Cross recommends that you create an phoneEMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLAN. Each home should have a list of Emergency Phone Numbers posted near the phone or in the front of a phone book.

For additional information on these and other safety tips visit:
http://www.redcross.org/news/article/7-fire-safety-tips-for-holiday-decorating-and-entertaining

 

Beautiful to View – Dangerous to Ignore

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer-Communications and Disaster Services

Candles can add beauty, fragrance and ambiance to any home.  They can even add the scent of fresh pine to a home with an artificial tree. But, home safety trumps ambiance, so keep these easy to follow suggestions in mind during the holiday season (and the rest of the year as well.)

Candle2

Photo credit: Mel Turner on Unsplash

Flickering flames can be extremely interesting to toddlers.  Keeping candles high enough to avoid their reach goes without saying, but if your toddler is ingenious enough to drag over a stool or chair, make sure that the candle will still be out of reach.

If you live in a home with cats, make sure that the candle is somewhere kitty can’t jump or climb.  One swish of a long, furry tail and your candle could come flying down.

Never place candles near draperies or other flammable fabrics. Also, consider open windows. Loose papers or blowing curtains could easily come in contact with the flame.

Candles in the bedroom can be truly romantic; but, statistics show that one-third of candle fires start in the bedroom and approximately half of candle-related deaths occur after midnight and before 6:00 a.m. Be sure to extinguish your candles before you dose off to sleep, or better yet, opt for the inexpensive, flickering, battery-operated candles.  Some even come with small remote controls.

Candle1

If there is a power outage, opt for a flashlight or other battery-powered light. Candles can easily get knocked over in the darkness.  As an alternate, consider these Red Cross nightlights which plug into an outlet, and emit a soft glow. If the power goes out, they turn to a bright white light and can actually be removed from the outlet to serve as a flashlight.  No batteries to ever worry about, since the outlet keeps them charged constantly.

Make sure the candle holder is sized properly for the intended candle. Preferably, have multiple holders for all your favorite-sized candles.  If the holder is too loose, the candle could shift and fall at any time.

Finally, a UL/NFPA approved fire extinguisher is always great to have nearby.  Make sure all family members know where it’s located and know how to properly use it. Now’s an ideal time to review your family escape plan as well.

Read on for more practical fire safety tips.

Severe Weather Refresher

We normally share tornado safety information in the spring, when tornadoes in Northeast Ohio are most likely.  But the National Weather Service U. S. Hazards Outlook indicates a chance of severe weather for Northeast Ohio tomorrow.  So here is some information you can review:

Tornado Safety

Tornado70K

Top Tips

  • Identify a safe place in your home where household members and pets will gather during a tornado: a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.
  • In a high-rise building, pick a hallway in the center of the building. You may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.
  • In a mobile home, choose a safe place in a nearby sturdy building. If your mobile home park has a designated shelter, make it your safe place. No mobile home, however it is configured, is safe in a tornado.

What should I do to prepare for a tornado?

  • Know the Difference
    • Tornado Watch – A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible.
    • Tornado Warning – A tornado WARNING means a tornado is already occurring or will occur soon. GO TO YOUR SAFE PLACE IMMEDIATELY.
  • 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 (open in Chrome)
  • 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.
  • Be aware that no area of a mobile home is safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
    • If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately and go to either, using your seat belt if driving.
  • 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).

 

From Hurricanes to Home Fires – Get Prepared in September

Hurricane Harvey 2017By now you know may think that you know all about hurricanes — massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. These large storms are called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring now, between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.

It may seem like you’re well versed on basic preparedness tips, such as:

  • Know where to go if ordered to evacuate.
  • Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
  • If not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.

And with Ohio not being a coastal state, you may feel that you don’t have to worry about any of these things!

But you should.

Hurricane Harvey 2017Coming right smack in the middle of the peak of Hurricane season, is Preparedness Month. Celebrated every September, it is the perfect time for you, your family, and your community learn how to BE PREPARED.

Prepare for the things you may experience as an Ohioan: tornadoes, flooding, extreme winter weather, power outages, or a home fire.

Step one:
Build a Kit or Do an Annual Supply Check

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, or seniors.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Waterone gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)

Additional Emergency Supplies

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Glasses and contact lense solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers
  • Replace expired items as needed
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.

  • Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  • Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  • Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.