Sound the Alarm was a ringing success

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

May 24, 2019- Sound the Alarm 2019 wrapped up in Northeast Ohio on May 12. With a total of 21 events over a two-week period, more than 1,500 homes were made safer by the installation of 3,743 smoke alarms.

After responding to dozens of fires as an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, it’s always sad to see a family lose all their possessions; but far more heart-wrenching is when a family member is hurt or a pet dies. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of a minute or two that makes the difference in who survives and who doesn’t. Sound the Alarm’s purpose is to make sure the number of home fire fatalities is significantly reduced each year.

First-hand experience

David Leatherwood, who still carries the scars of being in a home fire when he was younger, was appreciative when approached by volunteers in Lorain during the Sound the Alarm event. “It makes me feel so much better knowing that my whole house is now protected by smoke alarms,” said David. Volunteers from Ford Motor Lorain plant installed new alarms, replacing his old ones that were already more than 10 years old.

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Volunteers Stephanie Pinskey (L) and Dionna Seplight (C) discuss the importance of replacing smoke alarms every 10 years with homeowner David Leatherwood (R).

Stephanie Pinskey, one of the Ford volunteers commented, “I can’t believe the power of the Red Cross brand. Not one of the people we met today ever hesitated about letting us come in to install alarms in their homes. With all the mistrust of strangers these days, this was heartwarming to know people really trust Red Cross and their volunteers.”

By the numbers

Begun in 2014, the Home Fire Campaign can already count 582 lives nationally that have been saved, thanks to smoke alarms installed by Red Cross volunteers. In that time:

  • More than 709,000 households have been made safer
  • More than 1,700,000 smoke alarms have been installed
  • 1,300,000 youth have been educated through the campaign

Not just a two-week event

Installing smoke alarms for those who need them is a year-round activity for Red Cross. In Northeast Ohio, anyone who needs alarms installed can visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO and be placed on a list for free installations. Cleveland, where the smoke alarm program began, has been making homeowners safer since 1992, when businessman Sam Miller partnered with Red Cross and the Cleveland Fire Department to lower the number of fire fatalities each year. This year marked the milestone of the 200,000th alarm to be installed in Cleveland.

In addition, fire prevention safety education has helped make sure that people know that they only have two minutes to safely leave their home in case of fire and that their children need to know what to do in case an alarm sounds. Families are encouraged to plan two escape routes from each room and to practice their escape drills twice a year.

Even though this year’s Sound the Alarm has wrapped up, Red Cross still accepts donations for additional alarms to be purchased and installed throughout the year. To donate, visit redcross.org/donate or call 800-HELP NOW (800-435-7669).

Catch the excitement of this year’s events by viewing photos on our Flickr page.

See photos from our Cleveland-West Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Youngstown Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Sandusky Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Ravenna sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Parma sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Sound the Alarm kick-off news conference here.

See photos from our Carrollton Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Ashland Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Mansfield Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Slavic Village Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Medina Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Norwalk Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Akron 5/7 Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Akron 5/9 Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Lorain Sound the Alarm event here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

Photos provided by Cal Pusateri, Doug Bardwell, Eric Alves, Jim McIntyre and Karen Conklin – American Red Cross.

Still “Sounding the Alarm” to make communities safer and save lives

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

May 6, 2019- The Sound the Alarm campaign continued in Northeast Ohio during the2019 STA Mansfield week of April 29 to May 4, with installation events in North Ridgeville, Carrollton, Ashland, Ashtabula, Massillon, Slavic Village (Cleveland), Medina and Mansfield.

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.

Last week, the Red Cross installed 998 smoke alarms and made 456 homes safer. Since April 23, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio has installed 2,024 smoke alarms and made 884 homes safer.

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The goal in Northeast Ohio is to install 3,000 alarms by May 11. It is part of the national goal to install 100,000 smoke alarms.

The early success of Sound the Alarm is made possible thanks to volunteers and generous partners, such as Third Federal, who lend a helping hand with installing smoke alarms in Slavic Village.

“Third Federal is a family organization. It is always important to keep family safe.  It not only helps our Third Federal family, but also keeps our local community safe,” exclaimed Sharon Rose, human resources specialist.

Volunteers Dennis Castiglione of the Wenk Family Foundation, and Tanner Ferko and Sarah Haynes of ArcelorMittal helped install two alarms in the home of Laura Kosto.

“This is great. It’s really good for the community,” the Slavic Village resident said. “I don’t have a job any more and that’s a horrible feeling. To know that you can get help like this is really wonderful.”

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Sound the Alarm continues until May 11 for the final week of the national campaign. Volunteer opportunities still exist for the remaining installation events throughout Northeast Ohio. Visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO to find an event near you.

See photos from our North Ridgeville Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Carrollton Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Ashland Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Mansfield Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Slavic Village Sound the Alarm event here.

See photos from our Medina Sound the Alarm event here.

Steve Bullock’s Red Cross legacy is local and national

Local leader once helped guide the National American Red Cross 

By Eilene Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

February 22, 2019 – Steve Bullock’s career with the American Red Cross spans six decades. During that time, he has been one of the hundreds of thousands of volunteers and paid staff striving to help Americans and people around the world prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

But there’s one thing no other Red Crosser will ever be able to claim: Steve was the first African-American to sit at the helm of our nation’s premier humanitarian organization.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find a more inspiring role model than Steve,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio. “It’s no wonder our Northeast Ohio Red Cross Humanitarian Award is named in his honor. He has lived a life of service to mankind.” Parks added “I am humbled by his friendship and continued support.”

Steve Delano Bullock was the youngest of 22 children born to a sharecropper family in segregated North Carolina. He was in the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1962 when he first volunteered with the Red Cross. He found a fit in the organization that upholds impartiality – not discriminating on the basis of nationality, race, religion, class or political beliefs – as one of its fundamental principles.

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By 1998, Steve had been executive director of the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Red Cross for 15 years when he was tapped to serve as interim president of the American National Red Cross in Washington, DC.

Steve had already distinguished himself as a model of leadership: Having led successful chapters in St. Paul, Minn., and Cleveland, in 1988 he was named chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee, a group of senior Red Cross field executives who counseled top management on issues facing the organization. Several years later, he was appointed to head the 1996 national American Red Cross fundraising campaign.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, he oversaw the launch of Operation Save-A-Life, which aimed to reduce injuries and deaths due to home fires by providing residents in at-risk neighborhoods with fire safety education and free smoke alarms and installations. That initiative has been adopted by the Red Cross nationwide and as of the end of 2018, more than 1.5 million alarms have been installed and more than 500 lives have been saved.

When the call came from Washington, Steve was no “filler” between high-profile national leaders. He quickly outlined his “100-day plan” to enhance the organization’s strengths, support local chapters, strengthen international relationships and address problems in the blood services division. “It’s a matter of making sure we’re performing at an excellent level,” he said.

That commitment to excellence led him to found The Bullock Group, a Cleveland-based management consulting firm focused on strengthening nonprofits. He has also shared his expertise by taking leadership positions in a wide variety of civic organizations as well as University Heights City Council and his alma mater, Virginia Union University.

Steve has distilled his experience as an African-American leader in a predominantly white society into a book, “My Name Is Steve Delano Bullock: How I Changed My World and The World Around Me Through Leadership, Caring and Perseverance.” Through it, he wants to empower others to succeed in business and in life, regardless of any hurdles before them.

Read more about Steve Bullock and other African Americans who have helped shape the Red Cross here.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: February 8-10, 2019

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

February 11, 2019-  While individuals across Northeast Ohio were out running around to make last minute plans for Valentine’s Day, the American Red Cross was fighting another weekend of frigid temperatures to show love to residents during their darkest moments following a local disaster.

During the weekend of February 8-10, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 11 incidents in Akron, Ashtabula, Cleveland, Eastlake, Euclid, Leavittsburg, Mansfield, Sandusky, Streetsboro and Warren. The disaster team assisted 38 individuals and provided more than $8,500 in immediate financial assistance.

One of the incidents the NEO Red Cross responded to was a home fire in Euclid, which caused an estimated $80,000 in damages.

2019 Euclid fire response

“I am truly amazed at the selflessness of all of our volunteers, while everyone else is spending time with their families, going to events and getting ready for the week ahead, our volunteers are answering the call,” said Ben Bellucci, the disaster program manager for the Greater Cleveland Chapter, who responded to the call and took the photo above showing the significant damage from the fire.

Ben added, “It takes an amazing person to get up in the middle of the night, go to a neighborhood they have never been, walk up to complete strangers, and be the light in their darkest hours. Being able to see a client who has despair in their eyes, and the questions of “what is next?” to speaking with a client that has been touched by the Red Cross, either through case work, community partners and or just a hug, reminds me why I love this job and why I love working with the volunteers.”

The majority of local disasters that the Red Cross responds to in Northeast Ohio are home fires. Every 24 hours, the Red Cross responds to three home fires on average. To learn how you can protect your family from home fires and to request a free smoke alarm installation, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.

If you are interested in making an impact in your local community, the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. To volunteer, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact our Volunteer Services Department directly at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

 

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: January 18-20, 2019

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

January 21, 2019- While many residents all across Northeast Ohio were hunkered down at home, waiting for Winter Storm Harper to pass, American Red Cross disaster workers conquered many obstacles to assist residents in need.

Over the weekend, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 12 incidents in Akron, Cleveland, East Liverpool, Euclid, Huron, Lodi, North Olmsted, Ravenna and Youngstown. The team assisted 34 adults and 15 children, and distributed more than $10,000 in immediate financial assistance.

With vehicles stuck on side streets and even members of the Red Cross disaster team snowed-in, nothing could keep the NEO Red Cross from reaching across county and chapter lines to assure that residents were assisted during their worst times.

In one such case, a disaster team from the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter responded to a call in Lodi, due to members of the Summit, Portage, and Media Counties Chapter team being unable to respond due to being trapped by the snow.

“Regardless of any obstacles we may face, the Red Cross will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of residents,” stated Mike Arthur, disaster program manager, Lake Erie/Heartland and one of the members who responded to the Lodi call. “If that is answering a call to help another chapter or driving in winter weather conditions, there is always a way for us to assist individuals in need.”

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Photo credit: Doug Bardwell/American Red Cross volunteer

Over the weekend, all 12 incidents were home fire responses. Thankfully, there were no reported fatalities.

The Red Cross announced last week that through the home fire campaign, more than 500 lives have now been saved nationally, due to the installation of free smoke alarms and helping residents create an escape plan in the event of a fire.

During the start of fiscal year 2019, from June-November 2018, the NEO Red Cross has installed 5,692 smoke alarms, reached more than 1,300 children through youth preparedness programs and made more than 5,200 homes safer throughout the region.

To learn more about the home fire campaign and to request a smoke alarm, visit the Northeast Ohio home fire campaign page.

If you would like to provide a financial donation to assist the Red Cross’ efforts to support the residents of Northeast Ohio, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

If you cannot assist financially, there is another way you may help the Red Cross assist those in need. Without the tremendous dedication of our volunteers, the Red Cross would not be able to serve the 22 counties and 4.5 million residents of Northeast Ohio. Volunteers make up 90 percent of our workforce. Our volunteers are truly the face of the Red Cross.  Visit redcross.org/neo to learn more about volunteer opportunities or to apply to become a Red Cross volunteer.

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.)