Trim Your Home with Care this Holiday Season

By Samantha Pudelski, American Red Cross Volunteer

December 4, 2019- As we enter the holiday season here in Northeast Ohio, many will be trimming trees and putting up decorations. As you hang your stockings with care, make sure to keep in mind these holiday decorating safety tips from the American Red Cross.

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  1. Candles: Use battery-operated candles whenever you can. If you do use candles, never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn, and place them out of reach from children and pets.
  2. Lights:
    1. Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken.
    2. Don’t string too many strands of lights together—no more than three per extension cord.
    3. Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
    4. Don’t use electric lights on metallic trees.
  3. Outside Decorations: Make sure all decorations hung outside are marked for outdoor use. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid an electrocution or a fire hazard.
  4. Trees: If buying an artificial tree, look for the fire-resistant label. If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and water it often to keep it from drying out. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off. Keep the tree away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat.
  5. Indoor Decorations:
    1. If using older decorations, check their labels. Some older tinsel is lead-based.
    2. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow.
    3. If hanging stockings on the fireplace mantel, don’t light the fireplace.
  6. Ladders: Make sure to have a good, stable placement of the ladder before use. Wear shoes that allow for good traction.

Christmas Story

Home Fire Campaigns Saves Lives

Home fires take seven lives each day in the U.S. To prevent fire tragedies, the Red Cross works with community partners to install free smoke alarms and help families create escape plans through its Home Fire Campaign — which has saved at least 658 lives nationwide since launching in October 2014. In Northeast Ohio, Red Cross volunteers and partners have:

  • Installed 62,656 smoke alarms.
  • Reached 16,273 youth through preparedness programs.
  • Made 22,308 households safer from the threat of home fires.

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You can help save lives by making a financial donation to support our mission, registering to become a volunteer or by taking steps to protect your family from home fires. Visit redcross.org to learn more.

Stay safe this winter with these tips to keep warm

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

November 14, 2019- Did you know that heating fires are the second leading cause of home fires, and fixed and portable space heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in 74 percent of fire-related deaths?

As the cold weather continues to creep into Northeast Ohio, residents continue to take efforts to keep their homes warm from the freezing temperatures. Unfortunately, some of those efforts can lead to tragic consequences.

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Over the past two winter-like days, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to 8 home fires, several related to alternative home heating sources, resulting in 23 residents being assisted and $3,695 in immediate financial assistance.

Nearly half of American families use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, fireplaces or wood/coal stoves to stay warm. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year, more than 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home.

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If you and your family use alternative heating sources to stay warm, here are some prevention tips to help keep you safe this winter:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
  • Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended.
  • Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard, nonflammable surface, like a ceramic tile floor, and away from bedding and drapes.
  • Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
  • When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • NEVER use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces professionally inspected and cleaned once a year.

Kentucky Ice Storm

How to keep family and friends safe from carbon monoxide?

  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move quickly to a fresh air location and then call 9-1-1.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Test the alarm every month.
  • Treat the alarm signal as a real emergency each time. If alarm sounds and you are not experiencing any symptoms, press the reset button. If the alarm continues to sound, call the fire department.

Visit redcross.org/homefires for more information on how to prevent heating fires.

Safety advice for Halloween

Trick-or-treaters will be out tonight in some communities

Halloween is just days away! Masses of kids will be out in our neighborhoods, dressed as super heroes, cartoon and television characters for trick or treat fun. The American Red Cross has complied a list tips parents can follow to help keep the kids safe while enjoying the festivities.

California Wildfires 2017

  1. Trick-or-treaters need to see and be seen.
    – Use face makeup instead of masks which make seeing difficult.
    – Give trick-or-treaters a flashlight to light their way.
    – Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
    – Have everyone wear light-colored clothing.
  2. Use flame-resistant costumes.
  3. Make sure adults know where the kids are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door.
  4. Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
  5. Walk, don’t run.
  6. Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go Superstorm Sandy 2012inside.
  7. 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.
    – Drivers – use extra caution. The youngsters may forget to look both ways before crossing.
  8. A grown-up should check the 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.

If you are planning to welcome trick-or-treaters to your home, follow these safety steps:

  1. Light the area well so young visitors can see.
  1. Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over. If your steps or walkways are ice covered, make sure to lay down salt- this is Northeast Ohio after all!

Superstorm Sandy 2012

Trick or treat times vary; many communities have established tonight as the night for trick or treating, including Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Ravenna. Visit your city’s website for exact dates and times, or visit this for a pretty extensive list.

Superstorm Sandy 2012

Download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert first aid advice right at your fingertips. Use the free app Emergency 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.

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