Home Fire Prevention Tips, Inspired by the TV Show “This Is Us”

By: Sue Wilson Cordle, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

Last night was a big night for NBC. And if you think it’s because the underdog Eagles upset the Patriots you’d only be partially right. It was the devastating loss after the game that has so many of us reeling. Jack Pearson, the loving, perfect-with-all-his-flaws husband and father died on NBC’s series This is Us.  

If you aren’t familiar with the show, it is a brilliantly written series about the Pearson family, told in a creative style of flashbacks from the parents and the kids’ youth, to the present day.

The generational story of Jack, his wife Rebecca and their 3 kids- triplets Kate, Randall and Kevin and how they discover deeper meaning in their present day lives after loss and tragedy is inspiring and compelling. Successful businessman and father Randall searches for information about his biological parents. Kate finds love and self-acceptance while battling obesity. Kevin pursues a more meaningful career, and battles his own demons which brings some difficult choices. Viewers have known from the beginning that Jack dies at some point while the kids were teenagers, but the dramatic episode aired last night after the big game, exposed the circumstances; that Jack died from a heart attack caused by the prolonged smoke exposure he suffered after saving his family from a home fire.

The fire started when a slow cooker with a faulty switch overheated and sparked. The Pearson home was old, with old wiring. The spark quickly turned into an electrical fire which spread rapidly to engulf the entire home. The smoke alarm did not sound because the batteries were dead. In fact, in previous episodes the fact that the Pearson’s kept forgetting to replace the batteries in the smoke alarms in the house was a set-up and hinted at how Jack’s death might unfold.

There has been some PR fallout for the company that makes Crock Pots, and NBC and the company itself has since been assuring people of the product’s safety- but the episode serves as a reminder and a public service announcement for all of us to unplug (not just turn off) our small appliances in our homes- from toasters in the kitchen to curling irons in the bathroom.

The Red Cross responds to hundreds of thousand of home fires nationally and has a number of reminders for basic fire prevention tips for your home:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. If you smoke, take precautions: Smoke outside; choose fire-safe cigarettes; never smoke in bed, when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen.
  • If you do smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use.

The Red Cross also has these 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

  1. Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  2. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  3. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
  4. Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
  5. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
  6. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  7. Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

For more information on preparedness resources from the Red Cross click here.

 

Even When A River Doesn’t Run Through It

Whether you live ten feet or ten miles from one of the many rivers and streams that run through Northeast Ohio, you never know when heavy rains and melting snow will combine to produce a terrible flood. Here are some ways to keep your friends and family safe as we look to the skies over the next few weeks.

Hurricane Harvey 2017

Right Before a Flood

  • Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter.
  • Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
Then, If You Can, Do This
  • Fill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank, in case you need to evacuate.
  • Bring outdoor belongings, such as patio furniture, indoors.
  • Turn off propane tanks to reduce the potential for fire.
If You Have Pets or Livestock
  • Consider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially any large or numerous animals. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.
  • Where possible, move livestock to higher ground. If using a horse or other trailer to evacuate your animals, move sooner rather than later.
  • Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.

Staying Safe Indoors

  • Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
  • Boil tap water until water sources have been declared safe.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.
  • Don’t use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.
  • Dispose of any food that comes into contact with flood water .

Staying Safe Outdoors

  • Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car.
  • If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  • Don’t walk on beaches or riverbanks.
  • Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.
  • Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, washes, etc. can become filled with water.

For more information on what to do if your home becomes flooded, visit http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/flood#After.

Cold Weather Injuries Are Not Cool

By: Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer

North Dakota and Minnesota FloodsWinter is beautiful, provided you are inside looking out.  If you are outside, and can’t get in to get warm, you better be prepared.  Hypothermia, frostnip and frostbite are all possibilities, and all can be serious.

Hypothermia is the medical emergency that can result from losing body heat faster than it can be replaced.  Your normal body temperature is 98.6°F; but you can start to notice signs of hypothermia when your temperature falls below 95°F.  Typical causes are being inadequately clothed or exposure to extreme cold temperatures, like icy water. Avalanche victims often suffer hypothermia if not rescued quickly.

First aid varies with the severity of the frostbite, but generally, if the hypothermia is mild:

  • Call for help immediately
  • Move the person inside a tent or dry shelter to prevent further wind damage.
  • Remove wet clothing
  • Place the victim in a sleeping bag and cover their head
  • Do not allow them to sit or stand
  • If alert, a person may be given warm drinks like soup or hot chocolate – no alcohol or caffeine.
  • Build a fire to warm they gradually until a heated ambulance arrives.

For severe hypothermia, consider the situation life-threatening and seek medical assistance immediately.  Do not rub the person’s extremities, as that my cause ice crystals in the blood to rupture skin cells.  Even if the person’s pulse drops to 2-3 beats per minute, they may still be revived with expert treatment. Do not initiate CPR.

Frostnip is the least serious of the three, but must be treated properly. It occurs when noses, cheeks, ear lobes, fingers or toes are exposed to freezing temperatures and the top layer of skin freezes. The skin becomes white in color and feels hard to the touch.

First aid consists of:

  • Gently rewarming the affected area by holding it against non-freezing skin elsewhere on the person’s body or that of the rescuer.
  • Do not rub the skin for fear of rupturing the ice crystals in the cells.
  • Do not use hot water bottles, etc. that are drastically warmer than the skin’s normal temperature.
  • Frostbite can be caused by exposure to extremely cold temperatures or by contact with extremely cold objects. During frostbite situations, the tissue temperature dips below the freezing point and normal blood flow is obstructed. Symptoms of mild frostbite include slight pain, while severe frostbite can occur with no pain, or possibly a burning sensation resulting in visible blisters.

First aid is similar to hypothermia above. In addition:

  • Loosely cover the affected area with a sterile dressing.
  • Place gauze between fingers and toes to absorb moisture.
  • Again, do not rub the affected areas.

Prevention is obviously preferable to any of the above.  Keep all extremities protected when out in the elements, including your eyes if winds are extreme.  For more first aid hints, consult the Red Cross First Aid app available for both Android and iOS devices, or consider taking a Red Cross sponsored first aid class.

 Oh, (Cold) Snap! 10 Furnace Safety Tips

By: Sue Wilson, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

Two years ago, 10 kids and two adults escaped a home fire in Lorain that began in the furnace.

Take a minute to consider your furnace. Here are 10 tips to keep your family safe when the temperature outside goes down, and the heat inside goes up.

  1. Have an annual furnace check up from a service professional to make sure that your system is running efficiently and safely. They’ll make sure there are no leaks, venting issues, broken parts or frayed wires that could be a hazard.
  2. Keep the area around your furnace clear. Don’t store anything potentially flammable near the furnace or water heater; especially newspapers, clothing, boxes, rugs, paint or chemicals. Vacuum dust, dog hair or anything that could sucked into a vent or open flame of a pilot light.
  3. Clean or change your furnace filter monthly. A dirty filter will cause your furnace to operate less efficiently and cost you money. It could also block airflow and increase the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) leaking into your home.
  4. Never use an oven or stove as an alternate heating source, as there is a serious risk of CO poisoning from fumes.
  5. Purchase a CO detector if you don’t have one and test and replace batteries of the ones you have in your home.
  6. Make sure your home has working smoke detectors. Change the batteries every 6 months. If you are in need of a smoke alarm, call the Red Cross at 330-535-2030 to request free installation by one of our volunteers.
  7. The area around your furnace and water heater should be a child-free zone to protect them from potential burns from hot vents or open flames, and to insures they will not inhale dangerous fumes.
  8. Space heaters are not intended to heat an entire home. Exercise extreme caution when using unvented, electric or propane space heaters, and follow instructions to lessen the chance of a fire or carbon monoxide exposure.
  9. If you smell gas, leave the area and call the fire department, or gas company.
  10. Make sure you have a fire escape plan, and that everyone in your home knows it and a designated meeting place once out. For more information on fire prevention click on this link on the Red Cross. 

Have a Safe 4th of July!

Everyone is looking forward to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend! We wanted to be sure to send out some steps that you can follow to stay safe, whether enjoying a nice meal with friends and family or going for a swim.

The biggest take away? Download the first aid app to help you and your family be prepared for whatever may happen!

Fourth-of-July-Grill-Tip-FINAL

GRILLING SAFETY Every year people are injured while using charcoal or gas grills. Here are several steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  2. Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  3. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  5. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

WATER SAFETY Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. While enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Other safety steps include:

  • Swim sober and always swim with a buddy. Make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.

DOWNLOAD SWIM, FIRST AID APPS The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The app has features specifically designed for children, including a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. It also contains water safety information for parents on a variety of aquatic environments including beaches and water parks. The First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on a variety of situations from insect bites and stings to choking and Hands-Only CPR. People can download the apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in their app store or at redcross.org/apps.

HOME POOL ESSENTIALS COURSE The Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF) have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, and how to respond to an emergency.

 

 

 

Let the Annual Weather Games Begin

May the forecast be ever in your favor….

If you like snow and cold, you are REALLY in luck this week. According to our partners at the Weather Channel, Northeast Ohio is in for some outstanding winter weather with snow giving way to freezing temperatures and then back to an icy, wintery mix over the next 10 days.

But we’ll leave the forecasting to the professionals.

Let’s chat about some things that you and your family can do to prepare for the winter weather that is upon us. But first, please remember your friends and neighbors – especially those who may have functional or access needs – and check on them. Help them get prepared as well, if you are able!

m16540227_wintershoveling

Get Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

Timely Advice Ahead of First Winter Storm of the Season

Driving in a winter storm presents its own unique challenges. The Red Cross has steps people can follow to get their vehicle ready for winter as well as what they should do if they are caught in a winter storm.

“Check your vehicle and stock it with some emergency supplies,” said Tim O’Toole, Disaster Services Officer. “The best thing you can do is stay off the roads during a winter storm.”

GET YOUR VEHICLE READY FOR WINTER  Plan ahead. Have a mechanic check your tires, battery, brakes and antifreeze levels. Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, shovel, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.

car-winter

DRIVING IN WINTER  While the Red Cross encourages you to stay off the road if possible, if you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm and what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:

  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If you have to drive, make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.

If you become stuck in the snow or icy conditions:

  • Stay with the car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
  • If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won’t back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window slightly open – away from the blowing wind – to let in air.

WEATHER ALERTS AND FIRST AID TIPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to winter storm tips and weather alerts for their area and where loved-ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.