Keep Your Pet Safe in the Event of a Home Fire

By Sue Wilson Cordle, Red Cross Volunteer and Board Member

Recent natural disasters like last year’s hurricanes, ongoing wildfires and even the volcano eruptions in Hawaii have brought pet rescue national attention. In a search and rescue situation, human safety always comes first, and pets are often left behind. We’ve all seen the heartbreaking pictures in the news of pets stranded in a life-threatening situation, making many of us realize that if we have pets, we need to make a plan to keep our pets, as well as our people-safe.

Far more common than a natural disaster, is a home fire. In fact, home fires are the most common disasters the Red Cross responds to, and the most preventable. I remember when I was in grade school, we had “Fire Safety Week” and the Fire Marshal from a local fire department came in and talked to all of us about an escape plan for our homes. We were reminded to go home and talk to our parents and perform at-home fire drills, similar to the ones we did in school, and to find a meeting spot in the yard to make sure everyone got out. I don’t recall dogs, cats or any kind of pets being in the escape planning, but they should be!

Sunday July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and the Red Cross has several suggestions to keep your family and pets safe in the event of a home fire. Most importantly, is prevention.

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Every year, pets are the cause of many preventable home fires. Curious pets can easily knock over lit candles, investigate what’s cooking on the stove, or even get into trouble if they get too close to a fire in the fireplace. Here are a few tips to keep pets safe around the house:

  • Ensure your pet is never left unattended around an open flame
  • Remove or protect stove knobs so they can’t accidentally jump up and turn on the stove
  • Invest in flame-less candles. Cats are known for batting at and knocking down lit candles
  • Secure especially active and young pets either in a crate or behind a gate in an easily accessible area

In the event of a fire, help firefighters find your pets easily.

  • Keep pets near an entrance while you are away from home
  • Invest in pet alert window clings to let firefighters know you have pets and how many
  • Keep collars on your pet so they can be leashed to escort out (cats and dog hide in fear and are sometimes difficult to capture)

Get more information  on how to keep your pet safe and learn more about pet first aid and sign up for a pet online first aid course here.

12 Safety Tips for Savvy International Travel

Summertime is vacation time. It is one of the most popular times for people in the United States to embark on international trips. If you are traveling to another country this summer, the Red Cross offers some tips to help make you a savvy traveler.

Whether you are driving across a border, setting sail for a tropical coastline, or jetting overseas, taking these 12 steps will help you stay safe. (If you’re traveling by car, don’t forget to pack an emergency kit in the vehicle.)

A little advance preparation goes a long way. So add this checklist to your itinerary:Icon App

  1. Download the first aid app. The Red Cross first aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Whether you’re home or abroad, arming yourself with basic first aid skills can save a life. Be sure to download the app while you’re still in the United States, otherwise you’ll download the local Red Cross or Red Crescent’s mobile app (which will be in the local language).
  2. Make a plan. Just like at home, it’s important to establish a time and place to meet family members in case you get separated.
  3. Know what natural disasters are possible. It’s important to research whether your destination faces emergencies you’ve never experienced. The Red Cross offers basic tips about what to do during natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes.
  4. Register your trip with the State Department. Enter your travel details with the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program online, which allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency while you are abroad. You can also get information about safety conditions in the country you are planning to visit.
  5. Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in case of emergency while traveling.
  6. Check out the State Department’s ‘What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisisand have an evacuation plan that doesn’t rely on the U.S. government.
  7. Keep your destination country’s emergency numbers handy. You know to use 911 in the United States, but how will you reach the fire department, police, or an ambulance abroad? Find your destination country on this reference sheet from the State Department—and write down the emergency numbers before you take off.
  8. Know the six-month passport rule. Some countries deny travelers entry if their passport expires in less than six months. Renew your passport about nine months before the expiration date.
  9. Let your credit card company know what countries you will be visiting and when. This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most.
  10. Pack your International Certificate of Vaccination. Also referred to as the “yellow card,” it lists your immunizations, allergies, and blood type. The “yellow card” is available from your physician or local health department.
  11. Bring medications, bug repellent. If you’re traveling somewhere with mosquito-borne illnesses—such as malaria, dengue, or Zika—be sure to spray repellent and/or cover your arms and legs with lightweight clothing at critical times of the day. Don’t forget your medications and it’s a good idea to bring other stuff like OTC pain reliever and something for an upset stomach.
  12. Check for emergency exits and evacuation routes. The Red Cross has helped many communities around the world install signs that indicate evacuation routes in case flooding or another natural disaster occurs. Be sure to identify evacuation routes at your destination and pay attention to the location of emergency exits.

Safe travels!

 

Keeping Pets Safe in the Heat

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

petfirst-appToday is the first official day of summer, although we’ve already had a number of days with temperatures into the 90’s.  Heat and humidity can be uncomfortable for us, but it is far more uncomfortable, even dangerous for our pets. Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe in hot weather.

Never, ever leave your pets in the car. It seems obvious, but we still see so many people who want to bring their dogs along for the ride. Many justify this by saying their dogs love car rides, and love to be with them. But running in to the store for “just 5-minutes” put your dog in jeopardy.

First, of all, what if you get distracted? What if there is a long line at the check-out? 5 minutes turns into 10 while the temperature in your car soars. On an 75-degree day, temps can reach over a 100 within 30 minutes, even with the car window cracked.   

If you see a pet in a hot car, take action. Take down the make, model and license of the car and go into the place of business to report it. Call the non-emergency number for the police to report the situation. And you can get involved by asking store managers at local restaurants, malls, and businesses to put up signs asking customers to not leave their pets in their cars.

The Humane Society has things you can do if you see a dog in a hot car.

Some dogs are more prone to have difficulty in hot weather than others. Dogs with short snouts, heavy fur, that are overweight, or breathing issues are are higher risk of heat stroke. If you notice heavy panting, fast pulse or any of these symptoms, take immediate action to cool down your pet. Dogs with white colored early are more susceptible to skin cancers, so keep your dog out of direct sunlight in the summer for long periods.

Hot asphalt is dangerous to pads. A dog’s feet pads are tender, and burn easily. The rule is, if it is too hot for your bare feet, do not walk your dog on it as it is too hot for their feet too. Walk your dog on the grass. Dogs sweat through their feet so their paws are an important temperature gauge and their pads must be protected.

Provide shade and water  Keep plenty of fresh cool water available for your dog inside and out. Carry a water bottle with you on walks and keep a portable collapsible pet bowl with you to keep your dog from dehydrating. If your pets spend lots of time outside provide a spot with plenty of shade. Tarps or tree shade are better than a dog house, as they provide air flow. Dog houses often make the heat worse. In excessive heat, many dogs love a small baby pool filled with water to cool off.  Add ice to water bowls.

Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid App for more information on how to include Pets in emergency preparedness plans, in case of a natural disaster or other emergency situations. The app also features instructions for first aid emergencies. Find the app in your app store or you can text GETPET to 90999 for a link to download or go here redcross.org/apps. You can also take the Red Cross First Aid online course. Access the course here  redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at your own pace.

  

 

Top Ten Tips for Fireworks Safety

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

Every Fourth of July there are invariably some headlines about those who lost fingers or limbs due to accidents involving firecrackers or fireworks.  It needn’t be that way if safety is as much a consideration as celebrating.

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Fireworks photo credit: Paul Wadowick/American Red Cross volunteer

In order to celebrate responsibly, consider these ten tips:

  1. Leave it to the professionals – go watch a city display instead of trying it at home. [Okay, there are 10 more since many of you just won’t take this advice.]
  2. Never give fireworks to small children or let them attempt to light them.
  3. Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  4. Never place a firecracker in a container – flying shrapnel can result.
  5. Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  6. Keep a supply of water and first aid kit close by as a precaution.
  7. Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  8. Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  9. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place – locked away from children and pets.
  10. Alcohol and fireworks are a recipe for disaster. Save the drinking for after the fireworks.
  11. Consider your pets – they really aren’t going to enjoy all the noise – some will be terrified – so find them a safe interior room or space in the basement where they won’t hear as much noise.

Regarding tip #10, if you’ve successfully enjoyed your own fireworks, consider yourself lucky.  Someone else certainly won’t be so lucky, and they may need blood in the emergency room.

Consider donating during the week of the Fourth.  Blood drives see a big decrease during the holiday week, but the need never decreases.  If you’ve been blessed enough to not need it, be the donor that someone else needs.

Check your Red Cross Blood Donor app or go to RedCrossBlood.org to locate a donation time and site convenient for you. You’ll receive a special edition Red Cross T-shirt as a special thank you (while supplies last.)

For more tips on safely enjoying your holiday weekend, see this article at RedCross.org.

 

Stay Safe This Summer

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is the unofficial start of summer when all of us will be enjoying the outdoors and sunshine. The American Red Cross wants everyone to have fun and offers 20 things you can do to be safe all summer long.

“Summer is finally on the way and many of us will travel, grill delicious food and cool off in the pool or at the beach,” said Mike Parks, Chief Executive Officer for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “We want everyone to enjoy the summer and be safe at the same time, so we are offering these 20 safety tips people should follow.”

DRIVING SAFETY

  1. Be well rested and alert, use seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. Clean your headlights and turn them on as dusk approaches or in inclement weather.
  2. Don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver available.
  1. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones. 
  2. Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways.
  3. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.

WATER SAFETY

man wearing blue shorts performing back flip over body of water

Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

  1. Ensure that everyone in the family becomes water competent. That is, learn to swim well, know your limitations and how to recognize and avoid hazards, and understand how to help prevent and respond to emergencies around water.
  2. Adults should actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. Kids should follow the rules.
  3. Fence your pool in with four-sided fencing that is at least four-feet in height and use self-closing, self-latching gates.
  4. Wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level.
  5. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. If in a location with no lifeguards, such as a residential pool, designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on children in and around the water.

BEACH SAFETY

group of people playing on the beach

Photo by Archie Binamira on Pexels.com

  1. If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool. Be sure you have the skills for these environments. 
  2. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.
  3. Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. Know your limitations and make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  4. Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
  5. If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

 GRILLING SAFETY

charcoal grill with sausage

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

  1. Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  2. Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  3. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  4. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, 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.

apps

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

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.