Another holiday season – another holiday door decorating contest

And more entertaining comments from the judge

By John Bernard,  Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director

(Editor’s note: The winner of the annual Northeast Ohio Region Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) Holiday Door Decorating Contest has been announced by John Bernard, the Crossroads Division Disaster State Relationship Director.  Like last year, we found his comments to be so entertaining that we are including them, along with photos of all 9 doors entered in this year’s competition.)

door 1Emily Probst, Regional Disaster Workforce Engagement Manager
Dept of Misfits.  This is Mike Park’s office door isn’t it? But, I zoom in and see a bunch what I think are disaster personnel.  Tim as Santa Claus. That fits, given his RDO (Regional Disaster Officer) exception rate! There’s Renee as Bumble. Not sure who did this door– but Renee – you do realize they pushed Bumble over a cliff and later removed his teeth a la Old West style?

door 2Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager, Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Santa Down the Chimney.  Wonderful use of space – vertical door/chimney– Santa. Kicked it three dimensional with the smoke alarms.  Kind of ironic, isn’t it; smoke alarms down the chimney?

door 3Renee Palagyi, Senior Regional Disaster Program Manager
Birth of Hope.  To quote the late, great Stan Lee, “’Nuff said.”

 

door 4Mike Arthur, Disaster Program Manager, Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter South 
Oh wait, THIS is Mike’s door. Nope, couldn’t be, otherwise it would be white with an orange stripe and a star on it.

 

door 5Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer, AKA Batman
What am I seeing here?  Is this like Halloween costumes tacked up on a door?  Can’t decide if the door is a chimney Santa is scaling up or he’s going Airborne and parachuting with a quick release on his pack before he hits the dirt.  I was going to make Buffalo Bill/Silence of the Lambs reference but thought that might be too dark.  Moving on…..

door 6Jeremy Bayer, Disaster Program Manager, Greater Cleveland Chapter
Ah, the good ole “Wrap the door as a present – wait, it needs more – here, let me hot glue this Christmas stuff up there – perfect” routine.  This just screams “I spend an inordinate amount of time at Hobby Lobby and they call by my nickname at the checkout – ‘Craft-alicious.’”

door 7John Gareis, Regional Preparedness Manager
A Christmas Story. First off, you’ll shoot your eye out with that thing.  Second, you can expect that ATS (American red Cross Training Services) will release “How to stay safe and healthy during the Holiday Season” talking points two weeks AFTER someone has injured their tongue by sticking it to a frozen light post.

door 8Rick Whitehead, Regional Community Partner and EMA Manager
Aloha.  How very Christmas-y.  The three stockings really bring it home, ya know?  Can you feel the eye-rolling from Cincinnati?

door 9
Tim Reichel, Disaster Program Manager, Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter
Wow – two actual elves.  They sure do look seasoned…..I mean, seasonal.  I can see they took a long time to tape up that red table cloth left over from the Regional Training Institute and then add some basic Christmas stuff.

So, that’s the overview.  Now for round 2.

  1. Credit for tying the holiday to the team – build camaraderie! It’s in the TOP 3!
  2. I count four smoke alarms for that one house.  It’s supposed to be 2.5 per house.  You’re not fooling anyone, Gareis!  I’m ratting you out.  TWO POINT FIVE!
  3. As a believer in Hope, this entry took some consideration; it is, after all, the reason for the season.  What I arrived at is this; like the baby born in the manger, this door – because of its message – is set apart and therefore above judgment.
  4. 8.5 x11 worth of printed out Christmas.  Minimal effort – minimal comment.  Better hope this isn’t tied to your merit increase!

Hands down, A Christmas Story wins it! You knew it when you did it.  Fantastic job!  Second place, is the Department of Misfits! Third place – against my better judgment – Santa down the chimney…2.5.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

JB

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 14-16, 2018

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

Over the weekend, the American Red Cross was once again very active responding to the needs of the residents of Northeast Ohio.

California Wildfires 2018During the weekend of December 14-16, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to seven incidents occurring in four of the five chapters in the region. The incidents occurred in Cuyahoga, Jefferson, Mahoning, Richland, Summit and Trumbull counties, resulting in 18 individuals receiving assistance and the distribution of more than $4,000 in immediate financial assistance.

While Northeast Ohio is not often impacted by large natural disasters, it does not mean the difficulty of those natural disasters are not felt in the region. Over the weekend, the Red Cross provided assistance to two families in Cuyahoga and Summit counties who each lost loved ones during the recent California wildfires. The families received financial support to assist with funeral expenses, and were provided access to Red Cross disaster mental health workers to aid in the grieving process.

“The care we provided the local families who were next of kin to women who died in theCalifornia Wildfires 2018 Camp Fire in California was under our Integrated Care Team,” stated Renee Palagyi, senior disaster program manager. “Integrated Care Team allows a family to have two or three key contact people from Red Cross who are available for an in-person visit and follow-up phone calls. Assistance included a relatively small amount of money to be used for any death-related or other expenses they may encounter. More importantly, we provided a local touch, both through our caseworker and our disaster mental health professional. In talking with these women, they were incredibly grateful to receive my call and to know that they would have someone specifically assigned to talk with them over the next several weeks as they work through pain I can’t begin to imagine.”

If you would like to provide a financial donation to assist the Red Cross in continuing to support the residents of Northeast Ohio in their time of need, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Give more life this holiday season – give blood!

Community urged to help patients in need across Northeast Ohio

By Christy Peters, Manager, External Communications, American Red Cross Northern Ohio Blood Services

The American Red Cross is encouraging the community to help meet patient needs this holiday season. The winter months can be among the most challenging times of year for the Red Cross to collect blood donations. Many donors are busy with holiday activities, and inclement weather can force the cancellation of blood drives. Additionally, some donors become temporarily ineligible because of seasonal illnesses.

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WKYC Channel 3 News reporter Austin Love donating blood during a Halloween blood drive at the Warzel Donation Center in Cleveland. Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Join the Red Cross at one of several holiday blood drives happening in Northeast Ohio and help save lives this holiday season:

Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018

Hilton Garden Inn Twinsburg Holiday Blood Drive

8971 Wilcox Dr., Twinsburg, 44087

7 a.m.-7 p.m.

 

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018

Quicken Loans Arena Blood Drive

1 Center Court, Cleveland, 44115

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

 

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018

Cuyahoga Falls Holiday Blood Drive

Sheraton Suites Akron/Cuyahoga Falls

1989 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, 44221

7 a.m.-7 p.m.

 

Friday, Dec. 21, 2018

33 WYTV Holiday Blood Drives

Stambaugh Auditorium, 1000 5th Ave., Youngstown

Packard Music Hall, 1703 Mahoning Ave., Warren

9 a.m.-4 p.m.

 

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019

Landerhaven Blood Drive

Executive Caterers at Landerhaven

6111 Landerhaven Dr., Mayfield Heights, 44124

7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The Red Cross is currently facing an urgent need for blood. Blood donors of all blood types, especially type O, are needed to give now to avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients. Volunteer blood drive hosts are also critically needed to stop the shortage from continuing throughout winter.

Your blood donation may give a patient in need more time – and more holidays – with loved ones. To make an appointment for any of the blood drives listed above, download the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

 

Deck the halls and trim the tree: Tips for a festive and safe home

Written by Brad Galvin and edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteers

The holidays are approaching, so is the heightened risk for home fires. Unfortunately, this time of year is tragically one of the busiest for fire departments due to the surprising danger of holiday décor, dry Christmas trees, holiday cooking and misuse of fireplaces and chimneys.

fireplace-1024x683.jpgBeautiful, fragrant and festive, the live Christmas tree can be very risky if safety precautions are not observed. The longer the tree is in the home without being given ample water, the more it will dry out and become a fire hazard. A dry live tree can go up in flames quickly if there is an electrical mishap with a strand of lights or if an open flame gets too close to the needles. It is important to continue to give your tree plenty of water and keep it away from energy sources. Strands of lights should be checked frequently.

According the National Fire Protection Agency, between 2012 to 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 170 home fires per year that started with Christmas trees. These fires caused an average of four deaths, 15 injuries and $12 million in direct property damage annually.

Festive décor should be installed with common sense in mind. Décor such as candles and lights can catch their cheerful counterparts such as garland, bows and wreaths on fire if they aren’t properly inspected and used correctly. Do not overload sockets and connect too many extension cords.

Hams, casseroles and delicious cookies are staples on the holiday plate but use caution 240_F_146531964_rcj4af3xtTm2f3nW8aoKU9G6Y14fPSt6when using the oven and cooking range. FEMA recommends a common-sense practice of simply staying in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling or cooking on the stove top or broiling food. The idea of “set-it and forget-it” is dangerous. Additionally, FEMA recommends to never use a turkey fryer in a garage or on a wooden deck. It’s imperative to watch the fryer carefully, as the oil will continue to heat until it can catch on fire. To avoid oil spillover, don’t overfill the fryer.

The holidays are the perfect time to enjoy the crackling of a fire in the fireplace. Stockings hung from the mantel is an iconic holiday image. While picturesque, it is critical to be smart when operating the fireplace. Some suggestions from the American Academy of Pediatrics include:

  • Even if the chimney is not due for cleaning, it is important to check for animal nests or other blockages that could prevent smoke from escaping.
  • 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 leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house. If you leave the room while the fire is burning or the fireplace is still hot, take your small child with you.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher nearby.

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The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with friends and family. The excitement can often divert our attention and distract us from our usual diligence. It’s imperative to use these common-sense suggestions to decrease the risk of a dangerous home fire.

You can learn more about preventing home fires with tips from the American Red Cross at redcross.org. The Red Cross offers simple safety tips that take you safely through the holidays and into the new year. Read  them here.

Young lifeguards receive Red Cross award for saving man’s life

By Sue Wilson, Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter board of directors. Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

Four lifeguards trained by the American Red Cross have been honored for saving a man’s life. Ryan Grimesey, Andrew Bachie, Nathaniel French and John Porch jumped into action after finding a man lying unresponsive on the floor of the Middleburg Heights Recreation Center last July. They called for EMS and performed CPR with an AED until medics arrived.

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L to R: Tim O’Toole, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio regional disaster officer, Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr, Ryan Grimesey, Nathaniel French, Andrew Bachie, Jeff Minch, Middleburg Heights recreation director, and Jessica Rockhill, aquatics/facilities director

The lifeguards were honored with the American Red Cross Lifesaving Award at a Middleburg Heights City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 11, 2018. This is one of the highest awards given by the Red Cross to an individual or team for saving or sustaining a life by using skills and knowledge learned in a Red Cross course.

The team of young men were on duty at the Middleburg Heights Community Center on July 5 when a call came across the radio that a man was lying on the floor in the locker room. All four moved in, each handling a specific aspect of the lifesaving techniques they had been trained for with precision.

Ryan Grimesey said they all knew what they needed to do. “I have been training with Andrew, John and Nathaniel for a few years now, and our chemistry is extraordinary, as are each of them. Everyone knew their part like it was the back of their hand. It was a team effort, and they were the best team I could have asked for.”

We often hear stories of “heroes” who step in and handle a situation in a way many of us fear we would not have the confidence to do, and these young men were no exception, expressing humility about their efforts; each crediting the other.

“It’s easy to have confidence in your actions when you are surrounded by great people,” said Ryan.

Nate French concurred: “This whole situation was held together by my coworkers. The people I worked with are not only well qualified and prepared, but level-headed and team players as well. Ryan, John and Andrew all kept their composure and acted efficiently. I wouldn’t have asked for anyone else to be on a team with.”

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Left to Right: Ryan Grimesey, Nathaniel French, Andrew Bachie and Tim O’Toole during the presentation of the Lifesaving Award during the Middleburg Heights City Council meeting.

It is preparedness that is key. All four were trained in the extensive programs available through the Red Cross, like the Water Safety and Lifeguarding courses that gave them the knowledge and skill to deliver critical care services like CPR, first aid and AED administration for situations such as this. Once in the training room, the lifeguards saw what was happening and did what needed to be done.

“We communicated with each other on what we were doing and instructed one another on what should happen next,” said Nate.

“It’s gratifying to know that Red Cross training played a part in helping save a life,” said Tim O’Toole, American Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer, who presented the awards during the ceremony on behalf of the American Red Cross Board of Governors. “The swift and decisive actions of these four lifeguards exemplify the Red Cross mission to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.”

The American Red Cross offers training programs in various areas from first aid, CPR, AED administration, water safety, babysitting and more. The programs use methods designed by a team of nationally recognized experts with the latest evidence-based data to create training programs to help save lives. Learn more about Red Cross lifesaving courses here.

Visit our Flickr page to view photos from the Lifesaving Award presentation.

Romance scams: don’t fall for one

By Jim McIntyre, Regional Communications and Marketing Manager, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

We’ve been warned by the Better Business Bureau, law enforcement officials and others about the proliferation of scams this time of year.  Sadly, not everyone has the holiday spirit.  A scam that recently caught our attention involves a scammer impersonating someone in the military, finding a sympathetic soul online, and asking for cash under false pretenses.

“It happens too often,” said Jessica Tischler, Regional Director, Service to the Armed Forces, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio.  “Scammers try to take advantage of vulnerable people who think they’re giving assistance to a member of the military.”

Armed Forces 2011Romance scams are the most commonly reported scams, according to the U. S. Army.  The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) receives hundreds of allegations a month from victims who say they got involved with someone who claims to be a U.S. soldier online, on a legitimate dating website or other social media website.

Suspicions should arise if:

  • There are requests for money
  • If social media is the only means of communications
  • If the .mil suffix is not a part of an email address.

Other red flags include the scammer saying he/she is on a peace keeping mission, saying he/she can’t talk on the phone due to security reasons, and professes his/her love almost immediately, using terms of affection like “my love” or “my darling.”

An obvious warning sign is when someone who claims to be a U.S. military member does not have English and grammar skills that should match those of someone born and raised in the United States.

“While the Red Cross can’t help someone who has been victimized by a scam, we do offer vital services to members of the military, veterans, and their families,” Jessica said.  Among those services are emergency communications, for members of the military who are currently serving on active duty. Armed Forces 2011

“Loved ones must have some specific information about the family member they need to contact, like name, rank, branch of service, social security number or birth date, and the address of their military unit. Non-disclosure of this information is another red flag that you may not be dealing with a legitimate service member.”

The Army CID urges anyone who feels they have been scammed by a someone claiming to be a member of the military to contact the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission.  The FTC Identify Theft Hotline is 877-ID-THEFT (438-4338.)

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 7-9, 2018

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

Year in and year out, when there are large national disasters, such as hurricanes Florence and Michael and the California wildfires, the focus of the news and viewers is high, and attention is on the American Red Cross and their efforts to assist those in need. Currently, the Red Cross and partners are operating 16 shelters and assisting over 200 residents in North and South Carolina following a winter storm that resulted in widespread loss of power in the Southeast United States.

However, even when the camera are not rolling, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is still active and assisting residents in need and helping to support them as they overcome a tragic low in their lives, which was evident this past weekend.

Flint Michigan Water Crisis 2016During the weekend of December 7-9, 2018, the Red Cross responded to 10 incidents in Cuyahoga, Huron, Mahoning and Stark Counties, with disasters ranging from a carbon monoxide leak to home fires. The response included assisting 23 adults and 15 children and distributing more than $7,000 in immediate financial assistance.

One incident included a fatal home fire in Youngstown involving five young children. The Red Cross of Northeast Ohio is deeply saddened by this tragedy. Professional disaster mental health volunteers are on-call ready to provide support and assistance to the family of the victims in this time of grief and difficulty.

In Northeast Ohio, the most frequent disasters the Red Cross responds to are home fires. Sound the Alarm North Carolina 2018On average, the Red Cross responds to three home fires every 24-hours. The Red Cross wants to ensure everyone in Northeast Ohio remains safe, which is why the Red Cross developed the home fire campaign, where volunteers go door-to-door to install free smoke alarms and help families create home fire escape plans. In 2018, the Red Cross installed 17,546 smoke alarms in Northeast Ohio. To learn more about home fire safety and tips to help keep your family safe during a home fire, visit redcross.org/homefires.

To continue to provide support and disaster relief to residents in their time of need, the Red Cross relies on the continued generosity of Northeast Ohio. If you would like to provide a financial donation, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.