Beautiful to View – Dangerous to Ignore

By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross Volunteer-Communications and Disaster Services

Candles can add beauty, fragrance and ambiance to any home.  They can even add the scent of fresh pine to a home with an artificial tree. But, home safety trumps ambiance, so keep these easy to follow suggestions in mind during the holiday season (and the rest of the year as well.)

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Photo credit: Mel Turner on Unsplash

Flickering flames can be extremely interesting to toddlers.  Keeping candles high enough to avoid their reach goes without saying, but if your toddler is ingenious enough to drag over a stool or chair, make sure that the candle will still be out of reach.

If you live in a home with cats, make sure that the candle is somewhere kitty can’t jump or climb.  One swish of a long, furry tail and your candle could come flying down.

Never place candles near draperies or other flammable fabrics. Also, consider open windows. Loose papers or blowing curtains could easily come in contact with the flame.

Candles in the bedroom can be truly romantic; but, statistics show that one-third of candle fires start in the bedroom and approximately half of candle-related deaths occur after midnight and before 6:00 a.m. Be sure to extinguish your candles before you dose off to sleep, or better yet, opt for the inexpensive, flickering, battery-operated candles.  Some even come with small remote controls.

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If there is a power outage, opt for a flashlight or other battery-powered light. Candles can easily get knocked over in the darkness.  As an alternate, consider these Red Cross nightlights which plug into an outlet, and emit a soft glow. If the power goes out, they turn to a bright white light and can actually be removed from the outlet to serve as a flashlight.  No batteries to ever worry about, since the outlet keeps them charged constantly.

Make sure the candle holder is sized properly for the intended candle. Preferably, have multiple holders for all your favorite-sized candles.  If the holder is too loose, the candle could shift and fall at any time.

Finally, a UL/NFPA approved fire extinguisher is always great to have nearby.  Make sure all family members know where it’s located and know how to properly use it. Now’s an ideal time to review your family escape plan as well.

Read on for more practical fire safety tips.

Still Writing Checks and Saving Lives

Charitable Trust Continues to Fund Smoke Alarm Installations

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In 1992, following a spate of fire fatalities, the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland partnered with the Cleveland Division of Fire to install smoke alarms, free of charge to residents who lived in neighborhoods deemed to be at high risk for home fires.

The project was made possible then, and continues now, in part because of funding from the Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust.  “25 years later, we’re still writing checks and saving lives,” said Chris Hitchcock, Executive Director of the Trust, adding, “And now it’s becoming a national program.  That’s very exciting.”

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 Chief Angelo Calvillo, Tim O’Toole, and Chris Hitchcock 

Chris joined Red Cross volunteers, members of  the Westshore Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and the Cleveland Division of Fire on a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in the neighborhood in Cleveland where a woman and her 8-year old great-granddaughter died in July.

28 homes were made safer, as the volunteers and firefighters installed 85 smoke alarms and helped residents formulate escape plans.

The Cleveland Fire Department, which has an active presence on Twitter, broadcast a live interview on the Periscope app with Chris, Chief Angelo Calvillo,  and Tim O’Toole, the Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer.

See more photos here, on our Flickr album.

 

Sounding the Alarm in Euclid

Partnership with Lincoln Electric and Euclid Fire Department Helps Save Lives

More than 50 employees, trainees and interns from Lincoln Electric fanned out in the shadow of the firm’s giant windmill in Euclid on Saturday to help make residents safer. They were taking part in a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event, for the third year in a row.

“It’s a way for our company and our employees to give back to the community,” said Chris Mapes, Lincoln Electric CEO. “Our goal is to go out and meet the community and assist them in having a safer home environment, where we can provide them with smoke alarms that have been provided to us by the American Red Cross and make this a safer community.”  IMG_4410

Lincoln Electric has been headquartered in Euclid for more than 122 years.

As in the previous two years, the volunteers were first treated to lunch prepared by Chief Chris Haddock and other members of the Euclid Fire Department,  long-time partners in our free smoke alarm installation program.  The volunteers then received instructions for sharing fire safety information with residents, and for the proper installation of smoke alarms.

Nearly 130 homes were made safer, and almost 370 smoke alarms were installed on several streets in Euclid.IMG_4428

“I’m glad you guys are doing it,” said resident Steve Washington.  As the volunteers installed new alarms with 10-year lithium batteries in his home, he said, “If you got children, even pets, if you sleep heavy you’ll hear that thing.  It’ll wake you up in a minute.  You never know when a fire’s gonna start.”

The home of Denise Miller is once again well protected, as the eight older smoke alarms in her home were replaced with new alarms.  “It’s nice to update them.  I don’t know how long they’ve actually been in our home,”  she said of the old alarms. “My husband had them put up when the kids were little.”IMG_4431

Like many people, Denise wasn’t aware that the sensors that detect smoke from a fire can fail after ten years.  “I had no idea.  I figured as long as the batteries were chirping, and you pressed the button on occasion, you were good.”

Mike Parks, CEO of the Red Cross Northeast Ohio Region, called the partnership with Lincoln Electric, “One of the best corporate partnerships we have.  We have the opportunity to save lives, make homes safer,  and make the community more resilient.”

For more pictures from the event, visit our photo album on Flickr here.

Saturday’s smoke alarm installations in Euclid preceded a nationwide effort this fall to install 100,000 smoke alarms in 40 cities across the country. The initiative is called Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.  You can join the American Red Cross to Sound the Alarm about home fire safety and help save lives by  learning more at soundthealarm.org/neo.

 

 

VA, Veterans to Help Red Cross Make Homes Safer

Home Fire Safety and Smoke Alarm Installation Event to Take Place in Honor of Flag Day

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Homes in four Northeast Ohio cities will be made safer on Saturday, June 17, 2017.  That’s when the Red Cross, employees from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System, and various veterans groups will fan out in neighborhoods in Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Parma to provide residents with home fire safety information and to install smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.

“Our Northeast Ohio VA employees are dedicated to serving those who serve day in and day out.  Their dedication carries over to their time away from work as we join forces with the Red Cross to make our Veterans homes and those of their neighbors safer,” said Susan M. Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System Director.

“This partnership with the VA and various veterans’ groups is an effort to provide continuing service to our communities,” said Jessica Tischler, Red Cross Regional Director of Service to the Armed Forces.  “We intentionally planned it in honor of Flag Day, to focus on our military and veteran connected communities.”

Brinton Lincoln, a military veteran and member of the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter Board of Directors, said, “The American Red Cross does so very much to support active military members, veterans and their families.  It is a true privilege for those of who have served within the armed forces, to give back to the Red Cross by sponsoring and partaking in this event.”

Homes to benefit by this home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event are located in areas near 4 Northeast Ohio VA facilities:

  • Akron: 55 W. Waterloo, Akron, OH 44319-1116
  • Canton: 733 Market Avenue South, Canton, OH 44702-1018
  • Mansfield: 1025 South Trimble Rd., Mansfield, OH 44906
  • Parma: 8787 Brookpark Road, Parma, OH 44129

The Red Cross and its partners have saved more than 250 lives as part of the nationwide Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries. The long-term goal of the initiative is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

More than 15,000 smoke alarms have been installed in Northeast Ohio homes by the Red Cross and its partners since July 1, 2016.  Local residents can get more information about smoke alarm installations through the by visiting http://www.redcross.org/neoosal.

 

Summit County Smoke Alarm Hotline Now Up and Running

Red Cross Volunteers and Barberton Firefighters Prepare Free Smoke Alarm Installations

Red Cross Volunteers and Barberton Firefighters Prepare Free Smoke Alarm Installations on October 27, 2015

The effort to reduce fatalities from home fires continues in Northeast Ohio, as Red Cross volunteers and members of the Barberton Fire Department teamed up on October 27th, going door to door to install smoke alarms in homes where they were needed.

Residents received not only free smoke alarms, but also fire safety information.  The Barberton Fire Safety Walk took place on a particularly busy day for Red Cross disaster workers and volunteers, who responded to seven home fires in Summit, Stark Cuyahoga, Jefferson and Wayne Counties.The fires chased a total of 18 people from their homes, including 4 children and an adult in Canton, and three children and an adult in Shreve.

The residents of these home fires received assistance from the Red Cross valued at more than $2,600.  Typical financial assistance for home fire victims includes money for emergency lodging, food and clothing. Since July 1st, the Red Cross has given nearly $200,000 to residents affected by home fires.

The Red Cross Home Fire Prevention Campaign is meant to reduce the number of fatalities from home fires by 25% over a five year period.  Upcoming Fire Safety Walks are planned in North Akron on November 4, and Cuyahoga Falls November 10.  Firefighters from both communities will join Red Cross volunteers to install free smoke alarms and provide fire safety information in targeted neighborhoods.

Anyone in Summit County can request a free inspection of smoke alarms in their homes. If the alarms are not in working order, or if they are more than 10 years old, they will be replaced. Residents of Summit County can call the Smoke Alarm Hotline at 330-535-2030.

In Cleveland, residents can call the Operation Save-A-Life hotline 24 hours a day at 216-361-5535 to request a free fire safety inspection and smoke alarms for their homes.  More information is available for all residents of Northeast Ohio here.

Operation Save-A-Life Volunteers Help Protect Euclid Residents From Home Fires

A neighborhood in Euclid is measurably safer today, after volunteers from the American Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter teamed up with employees from Lincoln Electric and the Euclid Fire Department to educate, check smoke alarms, replace old batteries, and install new alarms where needed.

It was the largest one-day installation event in the history of the Northeast Ohio Region.

Part of the Red Cross Operation Save-A-Life program, the Euclid Fire Safety Walk targeted homes on five streets west and north of Euclid High School on E. 222nd Street.  10 teams of volunteers fanned out across the neighborhood to go door-to-door, sharing fire safety information with nearly 700 households.

The enthusiastic volunteers were briefed by John Gareis, Regional Training Coordinator for the Northeast Ohio region of the Red Cross. Leading the dozens of volunteers from Lincoln Electric was CEO, Chris Mapes, who offered a prayer prior to the start of the walk, as volunteers gathered at the Euclid Fire Department.  Team leaders were chosen, team members were assigned, and the volunteers were dispatched, many working for several hours to make sure every house in the neighborhood was covered.

“Because smoke alarms cut the risk of death from fire in half, the efforts of the volunteers will help prevent human suffering,” according to Mike Parks, CEO of the Northeast Ohio Region.  Mike also joined volunteers, asking residents to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills with their families.

Chris and Mike both worked diligently to determine fire safety needs and install smoke alarms when needed.  After seeing a group of children playing on Westport Ave., Chris traveled to the nearest Dairy Queen and bought Dilly Bars, taking them back to the kids who were grateful for the cool treats on a warm, sunny summer day.

Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late.  But a recent national survey shows more than 60% of Americans mistakenly believe they have five minutes or more to get out of a burning home.  And nearly 20% think they have at least 10 minutes to escape.  The poll also shows fewer than one in five families with children have actually practiced a home fire drill, and that nearly 70% of parents think their children would know what to do or how to escape a burning home with little help.  Those are some of the potentially deadly myths that were dispelled during the Fire Safety Walk.

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By the end of the day, 354 new smoke alarms had been installed, and many more existing alarms had fresh batteries, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers from the Red Cross and Lincoln Electric.

The goal for fiscal year 2016 is to install 10,000 smoke detectors in the 22 county Northeast Ohio region, and we’re right on target:  by the end of September (the end of the first quarter of FY ’16) 2,585 smoke alarms had been installed.

If you would like to volunteer, or learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.

Red Cross partners with TeamSmile at Progressive Field Event

On July 15, the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio partnered with TeamSmile to present the Pillowcase Project to nearly 300 children. The event, organized by TeamSmile, featured a group of local dentists, hygienists and educators who volunteered their time and talents to provide free dental care to underserved children during the one-day event at Progressive Field.

The children were moved through stations that included a preliminary exam, x-rays, cleaning and other work deemed necessary. While waiting for their turn in a dentistry chair, each child had the opportunity to learn more about being prepared for a disaster through the Red Cross Pillowcase Project.

“The ability to partner with TeamSmile presented the perfect opportunity to give back to our community by teaching the children who participated in the program how to be prepared for an emergency,” said Steve Trisler, Regional Disaster Officer for Northeast Ohio.

The Red Cross Pillowcase Project, sponsored by Disney, is a preparedness initiative created for children ages 7 to 11. It teaches the basics of how to stay safe during an emergency, what to have in an emergency kit and how to cope during an emergency. The program is fully customizable to the region; in Northeast Ohio the Red Cross teaches children about home fire safety, tornado safety, flooding safety and winter weather safety. At the end of the course each child is given a pillowcase and the opportunity to illustrate their own emergency kit needs.

TeamSmile is the nation’s premier oral health advocacy group. They partner with sports organizations across the nation to promote the message that oral health care is vitally important to long-term health.

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