Don’t be a statistic: It’s National Fire Prevention Week

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

A home can be rebuilt. Human lives, pets and mementos can’t.

For those with insurance, a home fire a major disruption. For those without insurance, it’s devastating. The good news is that most home fires are preventable.

As a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team, I’ve seen numerous fires that didn’t have to happen:

  • A kitchen fire was caused by unattended grease left in a pan on the burner; another was caused by loose papers left too close to the gas burner; and a third by a plastic highchair overhanging an electrical element.
  • Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wiring contributed to the loss of a beautiful century home.
  • An unattended burning candle and a young child playing alone in the home displaced two families.

I could go on, but the good news is that no lives were lost. However, with a modicum of prevention, they could have all been avoided.

Here are 10 simple tips to share with members of your family during National Fire Prevention Week:

  1. Make sure to have working smoke alarms and replace the entire unit if it’s more than 10 years old. Even with a good battery, the sensor in an old alarm wears out in 10 years.
  2. Create an escape plan and make sure every child and adult knows that they must be outside within two minutes of hearing the alarm. Practice the plan with your children so they know the official meeting place outside.
  3. Never smoke in bed or when extremely tired or intoxicated.
  4. Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  5. Keep lit candles away from flammables, children and pets.
  6. Take care that nothing can blow over or into your kitchen gas burners.
  7. Keep frying pan handles turned away from the front edge of the stove so they aren’t tipped by children or pets.
  8. Electric space heaters can easily start fires if clothes or newspapers are tossed on top of them.
  9. Keep a working fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.
  10. Keep gas cans outside if possible; but, never in a basement or near a furnace or water heater.

Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, recognized the huge loss caused by fires, both to property and human life. To address the problem, he proclaimed the first Fire Prevention Week in 1926, with the hope it would become an annual event.

He wrote:

“While efforts should be made constantly to reduce fire destruction to a minimum, in pursuance of a well-established precedent, one week is set aside each year during which the urgent need of preventing fires is forcibly stressed.

“If every individual will adopt and practice the simple precautionary measures advocated as fire prevention safeguards, fire hazards and their consequences will be materially reduced.”

Make Calvin proud, and use caution to avoid unnecessary fires.

For more resources, visit the American Red Cross Home Fire Safety page for videos, tips and mobile apps to help you safeguard your family.

On October 6, volunteers from the Red Cross, Parma CERT, Hope World Wide Ministries and the Parma Fire Department held a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event. The volunteers installed 171 smoke alarms making 61 home safer.

To view photos from the Parma Sound the Alarm event, visit our Flickr page. Furthermore, to learn more about home fire safety and to request a smoke alarm, visit the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Home Fire Campaign page.

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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.)

 

Is That Your Christmas Tree On Fire?

By Doug Bardwell,  American Red Cross Communications and Disaster Services Volunteer

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As popular as artificial trees are, almost everyone loves the smell of a real tree during the holiday season. But, to make sure your holiday memories are nothing but wonderful, take a couple minutes to make sure your tree doesn’t cause the unexpected.

Your lovely tree can turn deadly in just seconds

Don’t let it happen to you or your loved ones.  Here are seven simple hints to keep in mind:

  1. Choose a fresh tree that you cut yourself, if possible. If not, shake the tree aggressively before buying and don’t select one that drops its needles while shaking. That’s a sure sign that it’s drying out already.
  2. If you didn’t cut the tree yourself, cut an additional two inches off the bottom of the tree to open its pores, so that it can absorb fresh water.
  3. Use a sturdy stand to prevent tipping, and make sure that the stand can hold an adequate amount of water to keep the tree as fresh as possible. Make a scheduled time to add water every day.
  4. Keep the tree at least three feet away from any ignition source, such as fireplaces, heaters, candles or high intensity lightbulbs.
  5. Use only UL-rated light strings on your tree and no more than the manufacturer’s recommended number of sets plugged together. Discard any lights with worn or frayed cords.
  6. Make sure the tree and cords do not extend into or across doorways or paths of egress.
  7. Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly and always turn off any Christmas lights before going to bed each night.

Out of control in 20 seconds – you won’t believe the speed or intensity of this fire

Watch this one-minute video from the National Fire Prevention Association showing how quickly a spark or small fire can ignite your beautiful tree.  In less than 20 seconds, you better be out of there. (You have discussed a family escape plan with your children haven’t you?)

As the video points out, a dry tree ignites faster than newspaper.  Protect yourself this season and enjoy the happiest of holidays.  If you need a smoke alarm installed in your home,  visit this page to click on your county of residence to request a free home fire safety inspection and free smoke alarm installations in your home..

Sounding the Alarm in Euclid

Partnership with Lincoln Electric and Euclid Fire Department Helps Save Lives

More than 50 employees, trainees and interns from Lincoln Electric fanned out in the shadow of the firm’s giant windmill in Euclid on Saturday to help make residents safer. They were taking part in a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event, for the third year in a row.

“It’s a way for our company and our employees to give back to the community,” said Chris Mapes, Lincoln Electric CEO. “Our goal is to go out and meet the community and assist them in having a safer home environment, where we can provide them with smoke alarms that have been provided to us by the American Red Cross and make this a safer community.”  IMG_4410

Lincoln Electric has been headquartered in Euclid for more than 122 years.

As in the previous two years, the volunteers were first treated to lunch prepared by Chief Chris Haddock and other members of the Euclid Fire Department,  long-time partners in our free smoke alarm installation program.  The volunteers then received instructions for sharing fire safety information with residents, and for the proper installation of smoke alarms.

Nearly 130 homes were made safer, and almost 370 smoke alarms were installed on several streets in Euclid.IMG_4428

“I’m glad you guys are doing it,” said resident Steve Washington.  As the volunteers installed new alarms with 10-year lithium batteries in his home, he said, “If you got children, even pets, if you sleep heavy you’ll hear that thing.  It’ll wake you up in a minute.  You never know when a fire’s gonna start.”

The home of Denise Miller is once again well protected, as the eight older smoke alarms in her home were replaced with new alarms.  “It’s nice to update them.  I don’t know how long they’ve actually been in our home,”  she said of the old alarms. “My husband had them put up when the kids were little.”IMG_4431

Like many people, Denise wasn’t aware that the sensors that detect smoke from a fire can fail after ten years.  “I had no idea.  I figured as long as the batteries were chirping, and you pressed the button on occasion, you were good.”

Mike Parks, CEO of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, called the partnership with Lincoln Electric, “One of the best corporate partnerships we have.  We have the opportunity to save lives, make homes safer,  and make the community more resilient.”

For more pictures from the event, visit our photo album on Flickr here.

Saturday’s smoke alarm installations in Euclid preceded a nationwide effort this fall to install 100,000 smoke alarms in 40 cities across the country. The initiative is called Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.  You can join the American Red Cross to Sound the Alarm about home fire safety and help save lives by  learning more at soundthealarm.org/neo.

 

 

Partnership with VA, Vets Groups Makes 100+ Homes Safer

The heat couldn’t keep the Red Cross and some of its partners from installing smoke alarms throughout Northeast Ohio on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

The high temperature topped out at 93 degrees, as volunteers from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System and members of several veterans groups helped install nearly 300 smoke alarms in homes in four separate cities simultaneously.  The Operation Save-A-Life event was scheduled to occur during the same week as Flag Day, an observance that is held with reverence among many members of the military and veterans.

“Our Northeast Ohio VA employees are dedicated to serving those who serve day in and day out.  Their dedication carries over to their time away from work as we join forces with the Red Cross to make our Veterans homes and those of their neighbors safer,” said Susan M. Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System Director.

Homeowners in Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Parma received home fire safety information as well as smoke alarms, installed at no cost to them.

“It was an extremely hot day, but through your hard work and commitment to your communities, we were able to make 103 homes in Northeast Ohio safer by installing 297 smoke alarms,” wrote Jessica Tischler, Director of Service to the Armed Forces for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, in a message to the volunteers.

“I can’t get over it, this is such a nice thing you all are doing,” said Sara Janasik of Parma, as smoke alarms were being installed in her Monmouth Road home.

The Flag Day event preceded another big push to prevent home fire deaths this fall. Sound the Alarm, a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event will take place across the country, including Northeast Ohio during the weekends of September 23, September 30, October 7 and October 14, 2017.  If you’d like to help us make homes safer, become a Red Cross volunteer.  Call 216-431-3328 for more information about Sound the Alarm and all of the volunteer opportunities the Red Cross offers.

You can also help people affected by disasters like home fires by making a donation to support Red Cross disaster relief online.  Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.  Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the words RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

VA, Veterans to Help Red Cross Make Homes Safer

Home Fire Safety and Smoke Alarm Installation Event to Take Place in Honor of Flag Day

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Homes in four Northeast Ohio cities will be made safer on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  That’s when the Red Cross, employees from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, and various veterans groups will fan out in neighborhoods in Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Parma to provide residents with home fire safety information and to install smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.

“Our Northeast Ohio VA employees are dedicated to serving those who serve day in and day out.  Their dedication carries over to their time away from work as we join forces with the Red Cross to make our Veterans homes and those of their neighbors safer,” said Susan M. Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System Director.

“This partnership with the VA and various veterans’ groups is an effort to provide continuing service to our communities,” said Jessica Tischler, Red Cross Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces.  “We intentionally planned it in honor of Flag Day, to focus on our military and veteran connected communities.”

Brinton Lincoln, a military veteran and member of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors, said, “The American Red Cross does so very much to support active military members, veterans and their families.  It is a true privilege for those of who have served within the armed forces, to give back to the Red Cross by sponsoring and partaking in this event.”

Homes to benefit by this home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event are located in areas near 4 Northeast Ohio VA facilities:

  • Akron: 55 W. Waterloo, Akron, OH 44319-1116
  • Canton: 733 Market Avenue South, Canton, OH 44702-1018
  • Mansfield: 1025 South Trimble Rd., Mansfield, OH 44906
  • Parma: 8787 Brookpark Road, Parma, OH 44129

The Red Cross and its partners have saved more than 250 lives as part of the nationwide Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries. The long-term goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

More than 15,000 smoke alarms have been installed in Northeast Ohio homes by the Red Cross and its partners since July 1, 2016.  Local residents can get more information about smoke alarm installations through the by visiting http://www.redcross.org/neoosal.

 

Volunteers Honored for Making Homes Safer

President’s Award Bestowed by Stark County Firefighters During EMS Week Celebration

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They weren’t expecting it.  Several volunteers from the American Red Cross of Stark and Muskingum Lakes thought they were simply attending a breakfast to help kick-off EMS Week activities.  But they were honored by the Stark County Firefighters Association with the President’s Award, for the home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events they’ve been a part of.

One of those events took place on May 17, when teams of Red Cross volunteers and partners from the North Canton Fire Department went door-to-door in a senior retirement community of manufactured homes, offering fire safety education and installing smoke alarms at no cost to the residents.  They entered more than 60 homes, installing 130 alarms.

Tim Reichel, the Chapter’s Disaster Program Manager commended the volunteers for the work they have done to make homes and neighborhoods safer.

“It’s a labor of love.  They thoroughly enjoy giving back to the community.  And our partners with the fire department are grateful to be engaged.  It’s a win win for everyone.”

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WE NEED VOLUNTEERS

More home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events are planned throughout the summer, including on June 17, in honor of Flag Day.  Partners from the VA and veterans groups will join Red Cross volunteers in four separate communities that day to help make homes safer.  Visit our website to volunteer for our home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in honor of Flag Day on June 17.