NEO Red Cross kicks off Sound the Alarm campaign in Parma

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

April 24, 2019- Have you ever lay awake at night worried about a loved one and their well-being? Are you ever worried about how prepared they are in the event of an emergency? This is how Luba Bar feels every day.

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L to R: Valentina Twaskiewych, Luba Bar, John Twaskiewych

Luba lives in Las Vegas, but her elderly parents, John and Valentina Twaskiewych, live 2,072 miles away in Parma. Even though she visits whenever she can to make sure everything is well with her parents, she worries about their safety, especially in case of an emergency, like a home fire. Yesterday, during the 2019 Sound the Alarm kickoff event in Parma, American Red Cross volunteers and partners lent a helping hand to bring Luba peace of mind, by installing two smoke alarms in her parents’ home.

“I feel so much better, knowing that when I leave them again, they’ll be safe,” exclaimed Luba.

Following volunteers installing smoke alarms at no charge to the family and teaching them the importance of having an escape plan in the event of a home fire, Luba was pleasantly surprised and expressed her gratitude by adding, “Who does anything for anyone anymore? I’m so blessed that you do this.”

 

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Home fires kill more people in a typical year in the United States than all other natural disasters combined. Most deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. In Northeast Ohio, the Red Cross responds, on average, to three home fires every 24 hours.

The Parma installation event kicked off Sound the Alarm, a two-week event during which volunteers and partners will visit local homes to help install 100,000 free smoke alarms nationally to help combat home fires. Yesterday, 132 free smoke alarms were installed in 55 Parma homes.

Sound the Alarm events are part of the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross launched in 2014 to reduce fire deaths and injuries. So far, it has reached more than 1.7 million people and saved more than 580 lives nationwide. Since 2014, the Red Cross and local partners in Northeast Ohio have:

  • Installed more than 42,800 free smoke alarms
  • Made more than 11,200 households safer
  • Reached more than 15,300 children through youth preparedness programs

There are more than 20 Sound the Alarm events remaining in Northeast Ohio fromIMG_6304 Saturday, April 27 to Saturday, May 11. Volunteers are still needed to install free smoke alarms and help families create home fire escape plans in high-risk communities.

To find a smoke alarm installation event near you to help local residents like John and Valentina Twaskiewych, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO.

To see more photos from the Parma installation event, please visit our Flickr page.

Family Feels Safer After Fleeing Puerto Rico

Smoke Alarms Give Mom and Dad Piece of Mind

By Jim McIntyre, American Red Cross

Neysha Santiago is back at work.  Her broken ankle has healed, after she slipped on Northeast Ohio ice this winter.

“We don’t have ice in Puerto Rico!”IMG_5385

Neysha arrived in Cleveland with her husband Brian and their six-year old son last fall, after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.  “We lost everything,” she said, while Red Cross workers installed smoke alarms in her new home in Cleveland.

A cousin, Randy Rivera, told the family to call the Red Cross for smoke alarms.

Cousin Randy also brought the newly-settled family to his church, Smyrna Christian and Missionary Alliance, where they met Gabe Bruno, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Lincoln Electric.

He found Neysha and Brian jobs.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet a couple of needs,” Bruno said.  “They needed employment and we needed workers in our electronics factory.”

Coincidentally, the Chairman and CEO of Lincoln Electric, Chris Mapes, is the current Chairman of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors.

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Neysha Santiago, Katherine Ramos and her son Gadielys

Neysha was nursing her broken ankle, sitting at the kitchen table with her sister-in-law Katherine and her baby, dinner simmering on the stove, when Red Cross workers installed a smoke alarm on each level of her home in March.  They also showed her how to develop an escape plan for her family.

She said the alarms make her feel safer.

 

 

Kelly Fraser of AmeriCorps helps Neysha Santiago create an escape plan for her home

Red Cross workers and volunteers from various fire departments, community groups, and corporate partners have been installing smoke alarms in homes across the country since April 28, when the Sound the Alarm campaign began.  Since then, more than 1,300 alarms have been  installed in more than 450 homes in Cleveland, Akron and Maple Heights. IMG_5375

The three-week campaign ends locally on Saturday, when volunteers will install smoke alarms and offer fire safety information to residents in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood.  But residents can still request smoke alarms, and have them installed by the Red Cross and its partners all year long by visiting redcross.org/neo.