Prevent and Alleviate: Providing Fire Safety Education to Everyone

You may think that preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies – the two actions our mission charges us to do – is a tall order.

With over 4.5 million residents to educate and assist, it can be a little overwhelming.

And yet, when eating an elephant – take one bite at a time.

The first bite: teaching our young community members more about how to keep themselves (and their families) safe before, during and following a disaster.

We are proud to announce that we have hit our annual goal by teaching the pillowcase project, sponsored by Disney, to 2,892 local school-aged children!

The pillowcase project teaches kids about disasters that can happen here in Northeast Ohio, and what they and their families can do to prepare for and respond during an event. Home fire education is the most prevalent piece of this program, as we respond to an average of three home fires across Northeast Ohio each night.

During the program kids are taught about smoke alarms, what to do when a smoke alarm sounds, knowing exit strategies for each room, creating a family meeting spot and so much more.

But this education isn’t just for the children of our community.

We are dedicated to sharing these safety tips with everyone. That’s the second bite of the elephant.

Through Operation Save-A-Life we are helping families learn more about fire safety as well as providing the tools necessary to put that education into practice, should the time come.

As of March, 2016, we have installed over 8,844 smoke alarms in homes throughout Northeast Ohio.

That’s just 1,156 off from the stretch goal we gave ourselves in June, 2015. Our region currently leads the nation in number of smoke alarms installed.

We are very proud of what we have accomplished. And our dedicated work and planning is paying off. We see it in the success stories of families like this one from last summer, and this one from December.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to the Red Cross workforce who made those numbers happen. Thank you to those who continue to educate, install and provide hope to families and individuals in each of the communities that we serve.

You can eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

Thank you!!

Eight-year-old honored for saving sister life

Trinity holds her sister, Londyn, at the school’s assembly in her honor.

On a cold night in March, 8-year-old Trinity Seymour woke to the sound of a blaring smoke detector.  The piercing sound of several smoke alarms was scary to her 3-year-old sister, Londyn who had run into their shared closet while covering her ears. The family had recently moved into the apartment building, however, Trinity’s grandfather, Scott Bentley would not allow his daughter’s family to move in until he purchased and installed three smoke detectors.

Trinity knew what to do.

Red Cross staff member, Tim Reichel, had recently spoken at her school about fire safety.  “Stay calm,” Trinity thought to herself. “Get Londyn and get out of here!”  Trinity went to the closet, consoled Londyn, picked her up and calmly exited the home.   “Mr. Tim says you should stand very far away from the burning building so I told everyone to stand across the street.” The Navarre Fire Department quickly responded to the apartment fire that displaced four families.  The Red Cross was on the scene and provided bedding, clothing, shoes and seasonal clothing to all the families.  In addition, Red Cross volunteers consoled the distraught families and provided much needed hugs and emotional support.

Navarre apartment fire.  Everyone escaped without injury.

Navarre apartment fire. Everyone escaped without injury

A week later, Tim received an email from Trinity’s teacher, Holly Charton.  After explaining Trinity’s home fire and her heroic act in rescuing her sister, Ms. Charton explained, “Her grandpa told me that someone at our school did a fabulous job teaching her what do when there is a fire. I told him that person was Mr. Tim from the Red Cross!”

Tim Reichel fist bumps a Fairless Elementary student.

Tim Reichel fist bumps a Fairless Elementary student.

On March 14, 2015 the Fairless Elementary school held a school assembly to honor Trinity.  As a surprise, her family was there as she received the Certificate of Recognition for Extraordinary Action from the Red Cross and an award from the Navarre Fire Department.  Her story appeared on the front page of the Massillon Independent and on Channel 5 news in Cleveland. At the assembly Grandfather Scott Bentley thanked the school and the Red Cross for educating the students on fire safety.  “Smoke detectors do save lives,” said Bentley.  “After the fire, I stood in the closet where Londyn hid and nothing survived that fire.  Thank god my little girls knew what to do and got out!” Although Trinity is very shy and was overwhelmed with the attention, she did wear her Red Cross medal for the rest of the school day.

Trinity Seymour and Tim Reichel

Trinity Seymour and Tim Reichel