Winter is coming: Tips to protect your home and family this winter

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

As the calendar turns to November, in Northeast Ohio we know this means winter in coming. With snow and bone-chilling cold just around the corner, it is important to plan ahead to ensure that you are winter ready.

Here are some tips from the American Red Cross to help you prepare before the cold and winter storms arrive:

North Dakota and Minnesota Floods

Protecting your family:

  • Winterize your vehicle before the winter storm season to decrease your chances of being stranded.
  • Have a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster and oil.
  • Install good winter tires.
  • Service snow removal equipment before the winter storm season to ensure they are in good working condition.emergency prep kit
  • Items to keep in your vehicle all winter include a windshield scraper and a small broom, a small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels, matches in a waterproof container, a bright colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna and an emergency supply kit, which includes warm clothing.

Protecting your home:

  • Protect your pipes from freezing. To learn how to protect your pipes, click here.
  • Make sure your home heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements and are clean and in working order.
  • Install storm windows and cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.
  • Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to add additional protection from the cold winter air.
  • If you have a fireplace, keep a supply of firewood on hand. Be sure the fireplace is properly vented and in good working order.

Don’t forget your furry friends:

  • Do not leave your companion animals out in the cold, bring them indoors. Ensure you have supplies for cleaning up after your companion animal—large plastic bags, paper towels and extra cat litter.
  • Create a place where your other 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.
  • Be aware of potential for flooding when snow and ice melt and be sure that your animals have access to high ground that is not impeded by fencing or other barriers.
  • Ensure that any outbuildings that house or shelter animals can withstand wind and heavy snow and ice.

Use the American Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know 10846-005.jpgyou are safe if severe weather occurs. Find this and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

To learn more about what you should do before, during and after a winter storm to keep you and your family safe, visit redcross.org for additional winter storm safety tips.

10 tips to stay safe this Halloween while trick-or-treating

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

Halloween, one of the country’s most popular holidays, is just days away. Soon neighborhoods across Northeast Ohio will be filled with witches, ghosts, pirates and superheroes.

As you prepare to take to the streets for some trick-or-treating fun, the American Red Cross offers some tips to help keep you and your family safe:

  1. Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen.
    • Use face makeup instead of masks. Masks can make it hard for a child to see clearly.
    • Give kids a flashlight to light their way.
    • Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
    • Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to help motorists see your trick-or-treater at night.
  1. Use flame-resistant costumes.
  2. Plan the trick-or-treat route in advance. Make sure adults know where their children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door.
  3. It’s not only vampires and monsters people have to look out for on Halloween. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
  4. Walk, don’t run.
  5. Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door—NEVER go inside.
  6. Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street.
    • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
    • Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner.
    • Don’t cut across yards or use alleys.
    • Don’t cross between parked cars.
    • Use extra caution if driving. Young trick-or-treaters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing.
  1. Make sure a grown-up checks the sweet goodies before eating.
    • Make sure to remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards.
    • Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.

And finally, for those expecting trick-or-treaters at their homes looking for candy, follow these safety steps:

  1. Light the area well so young visitors can see.
  2. Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.

Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert advice in case your ghost, zombie or werewolf has a mishap. Use the Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

By being prepared and keeping these tips in mind, you and your little ghouls and goblins can have a safe, fun and candy-filled Halloween!

American Red Cross launches first aid for opioid overdoses course

New online training helps people respond to opioid overdoses and save lives

The American Red Cross has launched First Aid for Opioid Overdoses – an online course to teach people how to respond to a known or suspected opioid overdose.

The 45 minute course contains content on how to identify the signs and symptoms of a suspected opioid overdose and the appropriate care to provide based on the responsiveness of the person. Information on how to use several different naloxone products – including a nasal atomizer, Narcan Nasal Spray, and EVZIO – to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose is also included.

People can register and access the course at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/opioidoverdose. Because an opioid overdose can lead to cardiac arrest, people are also encouraged to take a Red Cross CPR/AED course.

“An opioid overdose is a life-threatening emergency,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “When you suspect an opioid overdose, it’s important to start providing care immediately.”

Recently, the Red Cross had the opportunity to share its commitment and efforts to help address this public health crisis at a White House opioids event. Learn more about the event, and the involvement of the Red Cross here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/articles/year-historic-action-combat-opioid-crisis/

The Red Cross has also prepared guidance on opioid use and overdose response for those working in the organization’s shelters during disasters. Recently, these efforts empowered a Red Cross volunteer to help save the life of a person in a shelter during Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Florence 2018

In addition to the new First Aid for Opioid Overdoses online course, this is the first year Red Cross disaster shelters are arming staff and volunteers with information and supplies to help ensure that everyone stays safe in the case of an opioid overdose. During Hurricane Florence, Julian Delgado with Health Services explains to volunteers how to administer these supplies for residents who may need them in shelters. Photo by Daniel Cima/American Red Cross.

“Residents staying at Red Cross shelters often reflect the demographics of the general population,” said Parks, who worked in shelters in North Carolina during the Hurricane Florence disaster relief operation.  “Volunteer shelter workers who are trained to provide treatment when an overdose is suspected will no doubt save more lives in the future.”

 

 

Add earthquake preparedness to your to-do list, even if you live in Ohio

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer

Shake out

Held annually on the third Thursday of October, the ShakeOut International Day of Action is set for Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 10:18 a.m. During the self‐led drill, participants practice earthquake preparedness by learning to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On”. Endorsed by emergency officials and first responders, the safe response to an earthquake is to:

  • DROP where you are, onto your hands and knees. This position protects you from being knocked down and allows you to stay low and crawl to shelter if it’s nearby. If you have mobility issues, either lock the wheels of your wheelchair or stay seated, and bend over.
  • COVER your head and neck with one arm and hand. If a sturdy table or desk is nearby, crawl underneath it for shelter. If no shelter is nearby, crawl next to an interior wall, away from windows.
  • HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If you are under a table or desk for shelter, hold onto it with one hand and be ready to move with your shelter if it shifts.

Watch the video

Earthquakes in Ohio – really?  YES – REALLY

“People may say ‘Why do we need to practice earthquake drills in Ohio?’ We practice because Ohio does experience earthquakes,” said Sima Merick, executive director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency . “Ohio has had four low-scale earthquakes so far this year. It is also good to know earthquake safety in the event you’ve traveled to another state or country where quakes can occur with higher magnitude and frequency.”

In January 1986, a 5.0-magnitude earthquake took place in Lake County, impacting most of northeastern Ohio. This was the first Ohio quake that caused injuries and to occur near a U.S. nuclear power plant. The 1986 quake ranks as the third largest in the state.

Ohio is on the periphery of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an area in Missouri and adjacent states that was the site of the largest earthquake sequence to occur in U.S. history. Four great quakes were part of a series at New Madrid in 1811 and 1812. These events were felt throughout the eastern part of the country and were strong enough to topple chimneys in Cincinnati. In March of 1937, western Ohio experienced a 5.4-magnitude quake that knocked down or damaged every chimney in Anna (Shelby County). So much damage was caused to the local school that it had to be torn down.

For more information, or to register yourself, your company or your organization, visit the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut website for Ohio.  Two million Ohioans have already registered.

Also, check out the Red Cross Earthquake App where you can monitor relatives out of town and get the latest alerts.  Available for Android and iOS phones. In the app’s toolkit, you can notify relatives that you are safe, and locate open Red Cross shelters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency Preparedness for your Pets

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member & Communications Volunteer Partner

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans years ago, it was reported that more than 10,000 people refused evacuation because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind. Some of those people, and their pets, became casualties. When reporters asked survivors who didn’t evacuate why they would risk their lives for their pets, they said things like, “They are part of my family.” Or, “My pet is my kid; would you leave your kid behind?”

It’s a situation many animal lovers understand. And a situation many community leaders have considered to save lives of both pets and people.

The truth is, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pet either. As we recognize World Animal Day (October 4), we recommend that as you make your emergency plans for your family in the event of a home fire, weather emergency or any disaster that might require you to leave your home, it is important that you include arrangements for your pet in those plans.

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Red Cross volunteer Pat Kern with Lila in a shelter in North Carolina. Photo by Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

While the American Red Cross has historically not allowed pets in shelters, mainly for health and sanitation reasons, they work with local and regional animal agencies that operate shelters that would keep pets and their people if not together then nearby. In our area, the Red Cross works with an organization called CARE.

“If we had a shelter opened, we would rely upon them to set up a pet shelter adjacent to the evacuation shelter,” said Debbie Chitester, disaster program manager for the Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter “They have the equipment, supplies and volunteers to do that.”

Debbie also encourages people to have a plan for their pets.

California Wildfires 2018

Jordan, age 8, was able to be with his pets at a shelter in California last summer.
Photo by Virginia Becker/American Red Cross

“Think ahead to family or friends who may be able to take care of your pet,” she explained. “Talk with a vet or a boarding facility ahead of time to see if they have a plan and would be able to accept your pet,” she suggests. If a pet owner does not have any other place to take their pets, she said the Red Cross would activate the CARE team to set up a shelter for them. You can call your local Red Cross office to ask what shelters  are available for your pet if needed.

As you put your emergency plan and supply kit together for your family,make sure you have a separate one for your pet. Your pet emergency kit should include:

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely and ensure that they can’t escape.
  • Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food. Use plastic/waterproof bins to keep dry food dry and free of mold or bugs.
  • Medications and copies of medical records stored in a waterproof container.
  • A first aid kit.
  • Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost. Since many pets look alike, this will help eliminate mistaken identity and confusion.
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavioral problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

Knowing you have a plan for your family, including your beloved pet(s), will give you peace of mind should a situation ever arise where you need  to evacuate your home. Click HERE for more information about preparing pets (and people) for emergencies.

September is National Preparedness Month

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer and Disaster Action Team member

One of the most often heard phrases during and after a disaster is “If I had only thought to (insert any of the following suggestions), I wouldn’t be in this mess now.” This is known as the “could of – should of” syndrome. You knew you could have prepared. You knew you should have prepared. But you didn’t.

Well, this September is your chance to get it done. The American Red Cross offers some helpful tips. All you need to do is follow through.

As we consider all the natural disasters that could strike, there are some basics that will apply across the board to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, etc.

  • Don’t wait until the day of a disaster to think about what to pack. Be prepared if you need to evacuate. Make a list of “must have” items right now and keep it somewhere handy.
    1. Have a family plan for a meeting place in case some family members are not home when you have to evacuate. In case someone comes looking for you, leave written instructions in the home as to where you went.first aid kit
    1. Pack enough for 72 hours at least. Pack the following items in an easy-to-carry container: a gallon of water per person, per day; non-perishable food; flashlight and hand-crank or battery-powered radio; extra batteries; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of important papers; extra cash; and any medical or baby supplies family members may need. Plan for your pets as well. Additional suggestions here. Even more suggestions here.
    1. Fill your car with gas. Never let it go below a half tank when threatening weather exists.
    1. Pay attention to officials and evacuate when suggested. Those who linger are the ones who find themselves in trouble.
  • The American Red Cross has multiple apps for iOS and Android with directions to mobile-apps-emergencylocal shelters, emergency first aid instructions and weather-related specifics. Download them to your phone now in case your wireless goes out later.
  • Simulate an emergency some weekend. Make sure your “Go Kit” fits in the car and spend a night away somewhere. Make a list of those things you wish you had included.
  • When you get home, make the changes and you’ll be ready in the event an emergency occurs.
  • Share your experience with other family and friends who don’t live with you.

Congratulations! You’ve just avoided the “could of – should of” syndrome and your family will be ready should an emergency strike.

Having worked in many emergency shelters, I know that those who were prepared are much better able to deal with the inconvenience of leaving their homes. Forgetting your wallet, your glasses or your medications just make the experience twice as stressful.

To learn more about how the Red Cross helps in emergencies, see these local and national articles. After you learn all that Red Cross does, hopefully you’ll want to make a donation.

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.