Home Fire Prevention Tips, Inspired by the TV Show “This Is Us”

By: Sue Wilson Cordle, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

Last night was a big night for NBC. And if you think it’s because the underdog Eagles upset the Patriots you’d only be partially right. It was the devastating loss after the game that has so many of us reeling. Jack Pearson, the loving, perfect-with-all-his-flaws husband and father died on NBC’s series This is Us.  

If you aren’t familiar with the show, it is a brilliantly written series about the Pearson family, told in a creative style of flashbacks from the parents and the kids’ youth, to the present day.

The generational story of Jack, his wife Rebecca and their 3 kids- triplets Kate, Randall and Kevin and how they discover deeper meaning in their present day lives after loss and tragedy is inspiring and compelling. Successful businessman and father Randall searches for information about his biological parents. Kate finds love and self-acceptance while battling obesity. Kevin pursues a more meaningful career, and battles his own demons which brings some difficult choices. Viewers have known from the beginning that Jack dies at some point while the kids were teenagers, but the dramatic episode aired last night after the big game, exposed the circumstances; that Jack died from a heart attack caused by the prolonged smoke exposure he suffered after saving his family from a home fire.

The fire started when a slow cooker with a faulty switch overheated and sparked. The Pearson home was old, with old wiring. The spark quickly turned into an electrical fire which spread rapidly to engulf the entire home. The smoke alarm did not sound because the batteries were dead. In fact, in previous episodes the fact that the Pearson’s kept forgetting to replace the batteries in the smoke alarms in the house was a set-up and hinted at how Jack’s death might unfold.

There has been some PR fallout for the company that makes Crock Pots, and NBC and the company itself has since been assuring people of the product’s safety- but the episode serves as a reminder and a public service announcement for all of us to unplug (not just turn off) our small appliances in our homes- from toasters in the kitchen to curling irons in the bathroom.

The Red Cross responds to hundreds of thousand of home fires nationally and has a number of reminders for basic fire prevention tips for your home:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. If you smoke, take precautions: Smoke outside; choose fire-safe cigarettes; never smoke in bed, when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen.
  • If you do smoke, use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use.

The Red Cross also has these 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

  1. Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  2. Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  3. Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.
  4. Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.
  5. Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.
  6. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  7. Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

For more information on preparedness resources from the Red Cross click here.

 

 Oh, (Cold) Snap! 10 Furnace Safety Tips

By: Sue Wilson, Volunteer Leader and Board Member

Two years ago, 10 kids and two adults escaped a home fire in Lorain that began in the furnace.

Take a minute to consider your furnace. Here are 10 tips to keep your family safe when the temperature outside goes down, and the heat inside goes up.

  1. Have an annual furnace check up from a service professional to make sure that your system is running efficiently and safely. They’ll make sure there are no leaks, venting issues, broken parts or frayed wires that could be a hazard.
  2. Keep the area around your furnace clear. Don’t store anything potentially flammable near the furnace or water heater; especially newspapers, clothing, boxes, rugs, paint or chemicals. Vacuum dust, dog hair or anything that could sucked into a vent or open flame of a pilot light.
  3. Clean or change your furnace filter monthly. A dirty filter will cause your furnace to operate less efficiently and cost you money. It could also block airflow and increase the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) leaking into your home.
  4. Never use an oven or stove as an alternate heating source, as there is a serious risk of CO poisoning from fumes.
  5. Purchase a CO detector if you don’t have one and test and replace batteries of the ones you have in your home.
  6. Make sure your home has working smoke detectors. Change the batteries every 6 months. If you are in need of a smoke alarm, call the Red Cross at 330-535-2030 to request free installation by one of our volunteers.
  7. The area around your furnace and water heater should be a child-free zone to protect them from potential burns from hot vents or open flames, and to insures they will not inhale dangerous fumes.
  8. Space heaters are not intended to heat an entire home. Exercise extreme caution when using unvented, electric or propane space heaters, and follow instructions to lessen the chance of a fire or carbon monoxide exposure.
  9. If you smell gas, leave the area and call the fire department, or gas company.
  10. Make sure you have a fire escape plan, and that everyone in your home knows it and a designated meeting place once out. For more information on fire prevention click on this link on the Red Cross. 

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. 

KeyBank Volunteers Help the Red Cross Make Homes Safer

About 60 homes in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood are now safer, after volunteers from KeyBank helped the American Red Cross and the Cleveland Fire Department distribute valuable fire safety information, including home escape plans on Saturday, October 7, 2017.  They also helped install more than 150 smoke alarms.

“It’s been proven that working smoke alarms save lives,” said Don Kimble, KeyBank Chief Financial Officer and member of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter. “I’m grateful to our employees who helped make a neighborhood safer by installing smoke alarms in so many homes.”

The Sound the Alarm Home Fire Safety and Smoke Alarm Installation Event took place on the day before the start of National Fire Prevention Week.  The Red Cross promotes fire prevention all year long, offering safety tips that can help make your home safer.

“There’s no better time to develop a fire safety plan for your family than this week,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO, Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “And working smoke alarms cut the risk of serious injury or death due to home fire in half.”

See our photo album of the event on Flickr.  For more information on the Red Cross Home Fire Safety Campaign, visit our website at redcross.org/neo.

 

Partners Help Make Parma Homes Safer

Young Professionals Help Protect People in Parma from Home Fires

A new partnership proved to be fruitful for residents in a neighborhood of Parma on Saturday, May 6.  Members of the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club joined forces with the Red Cross and members of the Parma Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to install more than two-dozen smoke alarms in homes where needed. The volunteers also performed home fire safety inspections and offered valuable fire prevention and safety education.

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The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club is the longest-running young professional association in Northeast Ohio. The mission and vision is to enrich the lives of young professionals, to foster the future leaders of Cleveland. The group is independent, open and inclusive, and membership represents a wide range of cultures, backgrounds and professions, and touching the lives of more than 1,000 young professionals through its programs on an annual basis.

“Our volunteers from The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club enjoyed working together with the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland and Parma Cert to help install free smoke alarms in people’s homes,” said Melanie Raese, Philanthropy Director of the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club.  “It was a fun, team building experience and we learned about fire safety.  We are grateful to serve our communities and to work alongside those dedicated to building safer neighborhoods.”

Since 2014, Red Cross volunteers, along with fire departments and other partners, have visited homes installing free smoke alarms, replacing batteries in existing alarms and providing fire prevention and safety education to prevent needless tragedies. More than 26,000 smoke alarms have been installed in homes in Northeast Ohio in the past two years. This fall, the Red Cross will celebrate the program with Sound the Alarm, a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events nationwide. Volunteers will install 100,000 free smoke alarms in high risk neighborhoods in Akron, Cleveland, and more than 100 other cities across the country, culminating in the installation of the one millionth smoke alarm!

If you would like to help us Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives, visit us at redcross.org/neo and click on the Volunteer tab.  More information about Sound the Alarm is located here.

See more photos, taken by Red Cross volunteer George Scherma, on Flickr.

Team Effort Makes Maple Heights Neighborhood Safer

 

More than 40 homes in Maple Heights are safer, after volunteers from several veteran-related service groups partnered with the Red Cross and the Maple Heights Fire Department to install smoke alarms and share fire safety information on Saturday, April 22.

Volunteers from The Mission Continues, Team Rubicon, and Team Red White and Blue went door-to-door in a neighborhood near Maple Heights High school to check existing smoke alarms, replace batteries, and install new smoke alarms where needed.  They also shared valuable fire safety information.

The Mission Continues  empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. They deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their actions will inspire future generations to serve.  The Cleveland 1st Service Platoon was launched this month.

Mikoyan Headen was grateful to have new smoke alarms installed in her home.  She survived a home fire as a child.  “Our house looked like burnt toast,” she said. “We lost everything and had to completely start over.”

Volunteers from another service group joined the Fire Safety Walk as well.  Three members of “We’re Not Famous, But We Made It” also installed smoke alarms where needed.  Volunteer James Davenport said, “Our members have hit bumps in the road along the way.  We want to make sure we give back to the community.”

It’s a perfect time to give back.  This is National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) and the Red Cross offers many volunteer opportunities.  Visit us at redcross.org/neo to begin the application process.

See more photos from the Fire Safety Walk in Maple Heights by visiting our Flickr page.

Smoke Alarms Installed on MLK Day of Service

Austintown, Boardman Residents Receive Fire Safety Information Along with Smoke Alarms

Among the many community groups taking part in the 2017 MLK Day of Service was the Red Cross.  Volunteers from the Lake to River Chapter visited homes in Austintown and Boardman to distribute valuable information meant to keep families safe in the event of a home fire. They also installed smoke alarms where needed.

Four teams of volunteers fanned out to install more than 60 alarms in 27 homes.  Their efforts were covered by WKBN.

Smoke alarms cut the risk of serious injury or death due to home fire in half.  The Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign, know locally as Operation Save-A-Life, in 2014, with the goal of reducing the number of fire-related deaths by 25%  over a fire year period.

So far, more than 130 lives across the country have been saved because residents were alerted to fire in their homes by smoke alarms.

If you are in need of smoke alarms in your home, log onto the Operation Save-A-Life page.

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Photo credit:  Paul Wadowick/American Rede Cross volunteer