Despite warm weather, it is time to prepare home heating for winter

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

September 30, 2019- Do not let the unseasonably warm temperatures confuse you, winter is indeed coming to Northeast Ohio and the cooler weather will be here in no time.

heating-enAs the leaves begin to change and the air gets crisp, it is time to inspect and get your home heating ready to safely warm your home.

HEAT YOUR HOMES SAFELY 

Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in the U.S. Each year over 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters.

To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends you follow these steps:

  • Have furnaces, chimneys, fireplaces, wood and coal stoves professionally inspected Kentucky Ice Stormand cleaned.
  • Test batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering the inside of windows with plastic to keep cold air out.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that is potentially flammable (furniture, drapes, newspapers, books, etc.). If these items get too close to the fireplace, they could catch fire.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.

SPACE HEATER SAFETY

With heating costs on the rise, many Northeast Ohio residents use alternative heating  sources, such as portable space heaters, to help minimize winter heating bills. This equipment is so common that it’s involved in roughly two of every five home heating fires.

The Red Cross recommends using a space heater that automatically shuts off. Other portable space heater safety tips include:

  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic title floor.
  • All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  • Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.

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You can also help your family stay safe by testing your smoke alarms monthly and practicing your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in two minutes or less.

For more home fire safety information, visit the Red Cross home fire safety campaign page.

Safety tips to help you enjoy the end of summer fun this Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2019- Labor Day is considered the unofficial end of the summer in Northeast Ohio, and with that comes a lot of traveling and social gatherings.

Whether you are planning to host family and friends for a cookout, enjoy a day ofCentennial Campaign 2015 swimming at Edgewater Park Beach or driving to attend the Cleveland National Air Show, the American Red Cross has offered the following tips on how to safely enjoy the holiday.

Driving safety: When driving, make sure you are well rested and alert, wear your seat belts, follow the speed limit and rules of the road, make frequent stops, and don’t let your gas tank get low.

  • Pack a first aid kit and emergency preparedness kit in each vehicle.
  • If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink.
  • Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Use caution in work zones. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
  • If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.

Water safety: Be water smart. Make sure to have swimming skills and know how to help others.

  • Pay close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.Aquatics Centennial Campaign 2014
  • Prevent unsupervised access to water with adequate barriers for pools and spas.
  • Learn swimming and water survival skills.
  • Children, inexperienced swimmers and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Always swim with a buddy in a life-guarded area.

Barbecue safety: Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. You can also follow these steps:

  • Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Never grill indoors — not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

Here are a few other suggested steps to take ahead of Labor Day:

  • Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills so you’ll have the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency until help arrives. Take a class (redcross.org/takeaclass), download the free Red Cross First Aid app and open the Red Cross First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.
  • Go to redcross.org/watersafety for a variety of water safety resources and courses. Download the free Red Cross Swim app.App Icon
  • Give blood. The number of people donating blood often drops during the summer when people are on vacation and schools are closed. Visit redcrossblood.org, download the Red Cross Blood app, or enable the Red Cross Blood Skill for more information or to schedule your donation.App Icon

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Safety tips as Northeast Ohio students get ready to go back to school

August 21, 2019- The school bells will be calling students back to the classroom soon in Northeast Ohio and StayWell PHSS stock photographythe American Red Cross wants to make sure your student is safe as they head back to school for the upcoming year.

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. Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Teach your student to board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed them to get on.
  • Kids should board their bus only, never an alternate one.
  • Make sure your student always stays in clear view of the bus driver and never walks behind the bus.

GETTING TO SCHOOL BY CAR, BIKE, ON FOOT

  • If children go to school in a car, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger Typhoon Haiyan 2015children 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 text or make calls using their cell phone 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 StayWell PHSS stock photographyyellow 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.

Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.

Typhoon Haiyan 2015PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES 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.

TAKE A FIRST AID CLASS 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.

Protect pets from “dog days” heat

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

August 9, 2019- Phew! We’ve survived the wave of heat and humidity that smothered Northeast Ohio in July. Like me, my pets are enjoying the cooler temperatures. But we know more heat is on the way. The “dog days” of summer are coming, and they aren’t called that because dogs enjoy them. How can we help pets survive life-threatening conditions caused by hot weather?

Cooperative Fetching

Photo credit: Ron Bracale

Keep in mind the natural elements that are essential for life:

WATER: Animals and birds need plenty of water, especially when it’s hot. Give them free access and refill bowls as needed. Clean the bowls each day and make sure the water is fresh. Some animals enjoy sitting or standing in a baby pool filled with water. You can stick your feet in and keep them company!

AIR: Fresh air is important for our pets. Try to give them time outdoors without putting them at risk of overheating. If they’re enjoying the air conditioning indoors, provide them the ability to move into or out of the blowing air. Birds, especially, need to be protected from drafts.

LIGHT: If you close your curtains during the day to keep your house cool, give pets a chance to absorb some sunlight now and then if they choose. Access to shade is crucial. My light colored, short-haired dog loves to lie in the sun for 10 or 20 minutes. My long-haired black dog only lies in the sun on cool days. Remember that dark colors amplify the heat!

Little Bit Pool

Photo credit: Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

EARTH: Your pets are walking on bare feet. If the pavement is too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s. For those of you who walk your dogs along the beach, keep in mind how hot the sand is. The air coming off the lake may seem cool but the sand holds the sun’s heat even after it sets.

TEMPERATURE: Monitor the temperature of your pet’s environment, keeping in mind its specific needs. Reptiles need to stay warm. Mammals need a way to cool off when it gets too hot. If your hamster is in an aquarium, it’s going to get hotter more quickly than if it’s in a cage. Of course, NEVER leave any pet in a car during the summer! Car temperatures can reach over 120 degrees in just a few minutes.

What if your pet does overheat? The American Red Cross now offers online training in First Aid for Dogs and Cats at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/first-aid/cat-dog-first-aid. Sign up now and be prepared!

keets on hand

Photo credit: Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

The Red Cross also offers a first aid app for pets. It provides instant access to expert guidance on how to maintain your pet’s health, what to do in emergencies and how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

How to beat the heat

Tips for preparing for – and staying safe during – a heat wave

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Beaches will no doubt be busy places this weekend, as temperatures in Northeast Ohio are expected to soar into the 90s (don’t forget the sunscreen!)

Here are some tips for preparing for extended periods of excessive heat:

  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Be aware of both the temperature and the heat index. The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined.
  • Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time— home, work and school—and prepare for power outages.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in First Aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.

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During a heat wave, we encourage you and your family to:

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

More helpful information, including how to treat heat-related illnesses and preparing for power outages can be found here.

And if you find relief from the heat at a beach, whether it be at Atwood Lake, Pymatuning State Park, or along the shores of Lake Erie, be sure to observe the rules of water safety.

And have fun!

 

Stay safe this Fourth of July with these safety tips

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

July 3, 2019- With Fourth of July celebrations almost under way, the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross has some fireworks safety tips to make sure everyone stays safe this holiday.

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“Fourth of July is a great holiday for families to enjoy the summer weather but we want everyone to stay safe, especially when it comes to fireworks,” said Tim O’Toole, regional disaster officer for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “These safety tips will ensure that everyone can have an enjoyable and safe Independence Day, including pets.”

Attend a Public Fireworks Show

The safest way to enjoy fireworks this Fourth of July is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Make sure to stay at least 500 feet away from the show and leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

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If you or someone you know is setting off fireworks at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials, and make sure to light them a safe distance away.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Always have an adult supervise any fireworks activities, even sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees — hot enough to melt some metals.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Many communities in Northeast Ohio are hosting fireworks shows throughout the Fourth of July weekend. Click here for a full listing of shows in the area.

Pet Safety

Hurricane Florence 2018

July 5th is the busiest day at local animal shelters due to animals being scared by fireworks and running away. Here are some tips to keep your furry friends safe this Independence Day:

  • Keep your pets inside on the lowest level of your home.
  • Turn on a television or radio to help cover some the loud noises that may be outside.
  • Before fireworks and other festivities begin, get your pet to be active, such as going on a long hike. A pet that is mentally and physically exhausted is less likely to react to fireworks and other loud noises.
  • Provide your pet a distraction, such as a delicious treat or toys, to keep them occupied.
  • Comfort them. Sitting close to your pet, petting them gently and offering quiet words of reassurance during scary events like fireworks can help to center them and might even reduce their fearfulness.
  • Make sure your pet has access to a favorite and comforting area, such as a bedroom.
  • Try an anxiety vest. Much like swaddling helps to calm infants, a snug garment that puts gentle pressure on your pet’s torso can reduce fireworks anxiety. Get your furry  friend used to wearing a pressure wrap before fireworks so that by the time the event arrives, they will be comfortable with the garment.
  • Just in case your pet does escape, make sure your pet’s identification is up to date and that you have a current photo ready.

Fireworks aren’t the only things that pose a home fire risk – this video can help you avoid home fires due to cooking accidents:

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Sizzling summer safety tips for traveling

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross volunteer

July 1, 2019- It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Northeast Ohio; and with summer comes vacation plans. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, keep these few tips and resources in mind from the American Red Cross for a safe and fun summer.

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Prior to your trip:

  • Visit the U.S. Department of State website, State.Gov, for information on what you need to know when planning a trip abroad.
  • Going to a remote destination? Make sure you are up to speed on your first aid and CPR training. Find a class in Northeast Ohio to take before you go.
  • Are you going somewhere near the water? Make sure everyone knows how to swim and proper water safety practices. Register for a class near you.
  • Make sure you have the proper vaccinations for the area you are traveling to, especially if your trip is taking you internationally. Some countries require travelers to have certain vaccinations prior to entering their country, while other vaccines are recommended for your safety. Visit the CDC website for a full list and additional details.
  • Pack a first aid kit in your luggage to make sure you have basic supplies to treat cuts and burns and be prepared in case of emergency. You can get a first aid kit from the Red Cross here.
  • Make sure you bring all proper identification and medical cards that you may need, including personal ID, passport and insurance cards. Take a photo of them just in case one gets lost on your trip.

Aquatics Centennial Campaign 2017When you arrive, make sure you are prepared in case of an emergency by:

  • Locating smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire escape routes in your hotel or home.
  • Make sure everyone knows where the nearest police, fire and medical facilities are, or at least knows who to call in case of an emergency.
  • If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you know where the nearest U.S. Embassy is located and keep its contact information on you at all times.

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For more information on programs in the Northeast Ohio Region of the Red Cross and to learn how you can get involved to help your local community, visit https://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northeast.html.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer