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.

IMG_5387

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.

 

 

Operation Save-A-Life Lives Up to its Name, Again and Again

More Lives Saved Across the Country Thanks to Smoke Alarms, Education

159.  That is the number of documented lives saved as of the close of 2016, thanks to the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross rolled out nationwide in 2014.

The campaign is modeled after Operation Save-A-Life, which began as a partnership between the Cleveland Fire Department and the Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Red Cross in 1992.

The 25th anniversary of Operation Save-A Life will be recognized at the 2017 Red Cross Fire and Ice Ball, which takes place on March 25 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Cleveland.
Together with corporations, community groups and other partners, the Red Cross provides residents with valuable fire safety information and installs free smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.32318085516_522639e1c2_z

“Thanks to the tireless work of our volunteers, employees, local fire departments, and other partners in the Home Fire Campaign, today we celebrate 159 documents lives saved,” said Harvey Johnson, Senior Vice President, Disaster Cycle Services.

Partners helping the Red Cross achieve its goal of reducing deaths and injury due to home fires by 25% range from the employees of Lincoln Electric to a group of missionaries from the Akron Stake of the Church of  Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Eight elders of the  church recently installed 60 alarms in the homes of people in need.

“The group is very dedicated, said Debbie Chitester, Disaster Program Manager for the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter.  “I have worked with missionaries on disaster operations across the country. They always come through for us and the people we serve.”

Your group can be a part of Operation Save-A-Life in Northeast Ohio by sponsoring a smoke alarm installation project.  Log onto redcross.org/neoosal, and click on your county to register.

The smoke alarms you install could be the next ones that save a life.