When It’s Not Easy to Respond

By: Renee Palagyi, Senior Program Manager Disaster Cycle Services

Today as I put together our internal daily report, I was struck, as I am many days, by the number of fire fatalities in our region. We have had 18 fatalities since our fiscal year began in July. This compares to seven in the same time frame last year.

We always hope the number will decrease each year. There is not an easy or accurate explanation for such a change. We know that we are being notified of more cases and being called to assist in areas where we previously had no requests. We know that many of our counties have aging housing which probably includes old electrical wiring. We know that as we move into the colder months, fires increase with the use of unsafe heating.

Of course, those facts do nothing to ease the burden when horrible things happen to a family. Our Disaster Action Teams, those dedicated volunteers who go out to each fire call we receive, provide immediate assistance and our professional mental health and health service volunteers work with the families to aid in recovery.

One piece our daily report never covers is the third piece of the “Disaster Cycle”. Our response and recovery work receive attention through our work on large-scale or individual disasters. But the third arm of the cycle, preparedness, is where our mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering all begins.

The home fire preparedness campaign is one way that we, and each of our communities, can address the loss of human life in a truly constructive way.  Do smoke alarms save lives? Not by themselves. The bigger piece of this entire campaign is the education which MUST happen to ensure safety in the home. That education may occur during the installation of alarms, with young children during a “Pillowcase” presentation in schools or youth groups, or it may be a Red Cross presenter speaking to a service group such as Exchange, Rotary or Kiwanis. Regardless, there are key points which can make a difference, which can possibly save the next life.

A few simple facts:

  • Cooking fires account for 43% of all home fires
  • Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related fatalities
  • Adults over 65 are more than twice as likely to die in home fires compared to younger adults
  • Nearly two-thirds of all fire-related deaths occur in homes with no functioning smoke alarms
  • Almost one-quarter of smoke alarm failure is due to dead batteries
  • Smoke alarms should be tested monthly
  • All smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years of use
  • Every family should develop and plan escape plans, with two different exits, in case of fire
  • Families need to exit the home within 2 minutes of smoke alarm sounding

To learn more about our program to help save lives in Northeast Ohio, or to learn how to join our mission, visit http://www.redcross.org/local/ohio/northeast/home-fire-safety.

Assuring Financial Aid and an Amazing Volunteer when it is Needed Most

There are a vast number ways that the Red Cross partners with organizations, both regionally and nationally.

Take for instance, the relationship between the Red Cross and Asurint, a developer and designer of an integrated system of background screening products, which is headquartered in Cleveland.

Asurint runs the background checks for each and every registered Red Cross volunteer.

“Because so much of our work is done with the public, including children, it is vitally important that we know who our volunteers are,” said Gail Wernick, Regional Volunteer Services Officer for the Northeast Ohio Region. “We are sending volunteers to work with people during, what has to be, the worst period of their lives, and, sometimes, in the most intimate of settings, such as a shelter. We have to be sure that the volunteers don’t have something on their record that would exclude them from such work.”

Recently, Asurint gave back in a different way –  with a $10,000 donation for those affected by disasters.

Thank you, for being such a valued partner!

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Red Cross Volunteer Now a Member of Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

IMG_4813 (2)Brook Harless, a U. S. Army veteran from Stark County, is now a member of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

The Red Cross volunteer and board member was inducted, along with 19 other military veterans, as a member of  the Class of 2017 on Thursday, November 9th, just two days before Veterans Day. She is a member of the Board of Directors in the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter, and volunteers as a caseworker for Service to the Armed Forces (SAF).

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“The service Brook provides to members of our military and their families is invaluable,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional SAF Director.  “She helps them connect during times of personal and family crisis.”

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Richard DeChant, Jr. sings the U.S. Coast Guard anthem during the 2017 Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Also inducted, Richard DeChant, Jr. a veteran of the U. S. Coast Guard and a community partner with the Red Cross, as the Executive Director for the Veterans’ Initiative for Cuyahoga Community College.

According to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame guidelines, the Hall of Fame recognizes Ohioans who served in the military and then continued to contribute to their communities, state and nation in an exemplary manner.IMG_4876

 

Other members of the class of 2017 from Northeast Ohio include Cloyd McNaull (USAF) of Ashland County, John Evans, Sr. USAF and Army) and Holly Koester (Army) of Cuyahoga County, David Taylor (Army) of Medina County. Howard Friend (Army) of Mahoning County, Frona Liston (Navy) of Stark County, James Campbell (USAF) of Trumbull County, and Robert Hershey (Army) of Wayne County.

 

Daylight Savings Ends – Check Your Smoke Alarms!

Graphic of November Fall Back

Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, November 5 and the Red Cross reminds everyone to ‘turn’ their clocks back an hour and ‘test’ the batteries in their smoke alarms. The Red Cross recommends that all residents in Northeast Ohio have working smoke alarms on every level of their home, including inside and outside bedrooms.

Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer. “Turn and test is a reminder to set your clocks back and take a few minutes to push the test button to make sure all alarms are working.”

 It’s also an opportunity to make sure all households are prepared for home fires and other emergencies:

  • Create and practice a fire escape plan. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes. Select a location outside for everyone to meet.
  • Keep disaster supplies in an easy-to-carry bag to use at home or carry in case ordered to evacuate. A variety of emergency preparedness kits and supplies are available at redcrossstore.org
  • Download the Red Cross Emergency App which includes content on how to prevent home fires and what to do if one occurs. The Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App is a game designed for kids. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN The Red Cross responds to about 64,000 disasters across the country every year and most of these are home fires. Tragically, some people lose their lives in these fires and countless others are injured. The Red Cross has launched the Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to home fires by 25 percent over the next five years.

Since October of 2014, the Red Cross and partners have saved more than 110 lives as part of the Home Fire Campaign. The Red Cross is committing to install 2.5 million free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires, and to educate those residents about fire prevention and preparedness during the multi-year campaign.

Since the Home Fire campaign began, more than 530,000 smoke alarms have been installed in all 50 states and four territories, and it has reached more than 597,000 children through campaign youth preparedness education programs, such as The Pillowcase Project.

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween

Its the time of year when children take to the streets for some Halloween fun!

If you or your family members are enjoying the festivities over the next couple of days, here are some safety tips to help stay safe.

DECORATION FIRE SAFETY*

  1. Use battery operated candles or glow sticks in jack-o-lanterns.
  2. Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.
  3. Teach children to stay away from open flames including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.
  4. Remember to keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes. Make sure all smoke alarms in the home are working.

SAFETY TIPS FOR TRICK-or-TREATERS

  1. Use only flame-resistant costumes.
  2. Plan the trick-or-treat route – make sure adults know where children are going.
  3. Have a parent or responsible adult accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.
  4. Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen. If going out in the evening, give them a flashlight to light their way. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing to help be seen.
  5. Instead of masks which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see, use face paint instead.
  6. Be cautious around animals.
  7. Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
  8. 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.
  9. Make sure a grown-up checks the goodies before eating. Remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards. Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.
  10. Drivers – use extra caution. The youngsters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing.

TIPS FOR WELCOMING CHILDREN ON HALLOWEEN

People, who are planning on welcoming trick-or-treaters to their home, should follow these safety steps:

  • Sweep leaves from sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.
  • Restrain pets.
  • Light the area well so the young visitors can see where they are going.

DOWNLOAD RED CROSS APPS People can download the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies. They can use the Red Cross Emergency App for weather alerts and to let others know you are safe if severe weather occurs. The apps are available in app stores or by going to redcross.org/apps.

*Information provided by National Fire Protection Association

 

Neighborhood Now Safer in Slavic Village

Firefighters, Volunteers Help Red Cross Install Smoke Alarms

More than 100 homes in the Cleveland neighborhood known as Slavic Village are now safer, following a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event last Saturday, October 14.

37740737531_3109609b4a_oCleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli wrote the following message in an email the day after the event:

“Here is some info on the recent American Red Cross, Sound the Alarm and Save A Life event in Slavic Village on Saturday.  Volunteers from the Red Cross including many from “Hope Worldwide” and including our local Cleveland Fire Department walked throughout our neighborhood knocking on doors and installing free smoke detectors as part of a Country Wide national installation event.  

We want to thank Regional Disaster Officer Timothy O’Toole from the American Red Cross for coming into our community as part of the National “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” program and installing hundreds of smoke detectors free for our families.  Special thanks to all the volunteers from “Hope Worldwide” and our local firemen for making this event such a huge success.  Timothy O’Toole (former Cleveland Fire Chief) asks for those not home that they can still call 216-361-5535 for a smoke detector.”

We thank Councilman Brancatelli for his support of Red Cross efforts to make neighborhoods safer, and we thank the Cleveland Fire Department for their ongoing partnership, which began in 1992 as Operation Save-A-Life.

Group Shot II

See more photos here, in our album on Flickr. 

Media Partners raise money to help people affected by Hurricane Harvey

Communities in Northeast Ohio are filled with the most generous people in the country. And if you didn’t believe it before this week, you now have your proof.

Three local news stations are devoting airtime today to sharing the mission of the Red Cross in Texas and Louisiana, and driving financial donations that will help people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

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A digital first for Northeast Ohio, the Hurricane Harvey Digi-thon is being carried on WKYC’s digital and social outlets including their website, Facebook page (www.facebook.com/WKYC.Channel3) and mobile apps.

 

WKBN will host a telethon from 5 to 8 p.m. Covelli Enterprises has generously agreed to donate $10,000, and they hope the community will step up to match at least that amount. To donate, call 866-782-4581. Calls will not be answered until 5 p.m.

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Taking Action for Texas: WEWS News 5 hosts phone bank to help hurricane victims. Phones will be open all day Thursday, through the Cleveland Browns game. Call 800-658-5370 to donate.

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And all we can say is:

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