Think S-A-F-E-T-Y as you trim your tree this year

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Northeast Ohio. While the dusting of snow is lovely, and while we are all busy getting ready for the holidays, we need to be aware of the potential for home fires during this season.

decorations-home-fire-engThe National Fire Protection Association warns us that Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are the three days most likely to experience fires started by candles.

Consider that Northeast Ohio experienced 14 fires just over Thanksgiving weekend alone.

The American Red Cross wants people to stay safe from home fires—the nation’s most frequent disaster—by testing their smoke alarms and practicing their home fire escape plan with free resources at redcross.org/homefires. In addition, you can follow these 10 simple safety tips as you put up lights and ornaments:

  1. Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord.
  2. If you are buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. When putting it up, keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
  3. If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it frequently to keep it fresh. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off.
  4. If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
  5. When decorating outside, make sure decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or fire hazard.
  6. If using a ladder, be extra careful. Make sure to have good, stable placement and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
  7. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  8. Don’t forget to turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
  9. Keep children, pets and decorations away from candles.
  10. If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.45180555475_4b8c6fc3dd_z

Every eight minutes, donations to the Red Cross help someone affected by a disaster—most often, home fires. You can help save lives by making a financial donation to support our mission, signing up to become a volunteer or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires. Visit redcross.org to learn more.

Don’t stop now.  Also check out our tips for Cooking Safety and Travel Safety.

Also, as you continue to prepare to decorate your house, here is a video on holiday decorating safety tips you can watch with your family to ensure everyone can enjoy the holidays safely:

Travel tips to get you safely to your Thanksgiving celebration

By Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings people together to give thanks and celebrate their blessings. Relatives gather around the table to enjoy their family’s version of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Each year, millions of people drive to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends, making it one of the busiest times for road traffic.

 

If you are headed “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house,” as the childhood song goes, prepare in advance to ensure a safe visit. The American Red Cross offers 10 tips to help you stay safe if you are traveling by car:

  1. Make sure your car is in good condition for a road trip.
  2. Pack an emergency preparedness kit, supplies and a first aid kit in the trunk.
  3. Share travel plans with a family member or friend.
  4. Check the weather before departing and along your route. Plan for travel around any storms that may be coming.
  5. Be well rested and alert.
  6. Buckle up, slow down and don’t drive impaired.
  7. Follow the rules of the road and use caution in work zones.
  8. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  9. Make frequent stops. During long trips, rotate drivers. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.
  10. If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

‘Tis the season . . . flu season. So if public transportation is part of your travel plans, keep this in mind. From luggage to seats, everything that you touch is likely touched by someone else. Follow these tips to help avoid the spread of germs.

  1. Handle your own belongings.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  3. Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces, such as armrests.
  4. Bring your own pillows and blankets. They can act as a shield against the seat itself.

To find out what supplies you should have on hand in an emergency preparedness kit, the Red Cross offers this checklist and quiz to test your knowledge: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/survival-kit-supplies.html.

You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to help you monitor severe weather and emergency alerts.

Whichever road leads to your Thanksgiving destination, these Red Cross tips and tools can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Safe travels!

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!

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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Some like it HOT, 3 Ways to Stay Safe in this Week’s Heat

summer-heatSome like it HOT.

But with this week’s toasty Northeast Ohio temperatures, it’s important that you keep three key things in mind to beat the heat: stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed. And don’t forget about your friends and neighbors, check on those most at-risk at least twice a day.

Stay Cool

  1. Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible.
  2. Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.

Stay Hydrated

Your body may sweat more in these temps, which means you will be losing fluids.

  1. Drink more water than usual.
  2. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more fluids.
  3. Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.

Stay Informed

Download the free Red Cross First Aid app to learn more about how to treat heat related illnesses – like heat cramps or heat stroke.

For more information on at-risk populations, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/

 

Back to School Safety Tips

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Partner

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Summer vacation for students around the country is drawing to a close as the nation’s schools prepare to open their doors for the new school year. Some students have already returned to the classroom.  Here are some safety steps from the American Red Cross to make the new school year a safe one.

Keeping all students safe is the primary concern for everyone, but there are special steps for parents of younger kids and those going to school for the first time:

  • Make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1.
  • Teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

  • If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive.
  • Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed you to get on.
  • Only board your bus, never an alternate one.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

GETTING TO SCHOOL BY CAR, BIKE, ON FOOT

  • If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
  • If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
  • Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right in the same direction as the traffic is going.
  • When children are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

DRIVERS, SLOW DOWN!

Drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.

PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES AND TAKE A FIRST AID CLASS

Know what the emergency plan is at your child’s school in case a disaster or an unforeseen event occurs. Develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know who to contact and where to go if something happens while children are at school and parents are at work. Details are available at redcross.org/prepare. The Red Cross First Aid App provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies whether it be before, during or after school. Download the app for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

Back-to-School Sports Safety Tips

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer Partner

August is called the “dog days of summer” for a reason. It’s the hottest month of the year for most parts of the country and this year, especially, much of the nation is suffering wave after wave of brutal heat.Icon Disaster

So when I see high school football players on practice fields, I immediately flash back to the dreaded “two-a-days.” Back in my day (yes, I’m a baby-boomer) our very football-oriented high school coaches worked the players hard in the heat twice a day during the hottest months of the summer. I’d hear about— and even witness—guys in my class pass out, get sick and suffer from what was probably heat stroke or exhaustion, as they worked out in their pads day after day in the heat. I think it was a badge of honor somehow if you made it through. However, I thought it looked barbaric. Back then, we didn’t talk about things like the importance of hydration, or the concern over head injuries and long-term damage from concussions and warming up and cooling down as we practice.

Thankfully, we know a lot more now about sports safety. But whether you are male or female, or play one of the many fall and winter sports indoors or out, back-to-school time is a good time to think about sports safety.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers some great tips to keep kids safe on the field, the court or wherever they participate in sports and recreation activities. Here are some of these tips and a few others:

Use the right equipment: Make sure kids use the right gear for the right sport and use it for both practice and the game. It is important they use protective gear like helmets, wrist guards, knee or elbow pads.

Make sure the gear fits and is in good shape: Check the equipment to assure it is in

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

good condition, fits appropriately and is worn correctly all the time—for example, avoid missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding.

Warm up, cool down: Before starting (or ending) any form of activity, it is important to warm up the muscles by stretching, walking and easing into the practice. At the end, the reverse is also important, so slow down and cool down. Diving right into a strenuous activity without a warm-up can cause pulled muscles, strains and potential injuries. 

Get an action plan in place: Be sure your child’s sports program or school has an action plan that includes information on how to teach athletes ways to lower their chances of getting a concussion and other injuries. Get more concussion safety tips.

Be mindful of temperature: On extremely hot or humid days, allow time for the athlete to gradually adjust to the environments to prevent heat-related injuries or illness. Parents and coaches should pay attention to each player’s activity level, give breaks and make sure they are well hydrated and appropriately dressed. The same is true in extremely cold climates. Parents and coaches need to watch for signs of heat stroke or exhaustion and frostbite and hypothermia .

Be a good role model: No one wants to be that crazy sports parent (we all know the type) screaming at the coaches and the kids from the stands. Most coaches in youth sports are volunteers and should be supported and appreciated not verbally abused. You can help promote sportsmanship from the sidelines and the stands by being respectful not only to the coaches, but to your child, their teammates, coaches, opposing teams and the officials. As a good sports parent, you can help promote sportsmanship from the sidelines and in the stands.

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Prepare for an emergency: As a parent, coach or fan, it is always helpful to know basic first aid and CPR. The American Red Cross offers First Aid/CPR/AED classes and has an excellent First Aid App for your phone. Having this knowledge could be a lifesaver in just about any situation including and beyond sports. Find out more about classes and download one of the many free mobile apps here.