From Hurricanes to Home Fires – Get Prepared in September

Hurricane Harvey 2017By now you know may think that you know all about hurricanes — massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. These large storms are called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring now, between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.

It may seem like you’re well versed on basic preparedness tips, such as:

  • Know where to go if ordered to evacuate.
  • Put together a go-bag: disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate
  • If not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
  • Make a family emergency communication plan.

And with Ohio not being a coastal state, you may feel that you don’t have to worry about any of these things!

But you should.

Hurricane Harvey 2017Coming right smack in the middle of the peak of Hurricane season, is Preparedness Month. Celebrated every September, it is the perfect time for you, your family, and your community learn how to BE PREPARED.

Prepare for the things you may experience as an Ohioan: tornadoes, flooding, extreme winter weather, power outages, or a home fire.

Step one:
Build a Kit or Do an Annual Supply Check

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, or seniors.

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Waterone gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)

Additional Emergency Supplies

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Glasses and contact lense solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers
  • Replace expired items as needed
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.

  • Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  • Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  • Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.

Follow Up: Handmade with Heart

This post is the follow-up from our May 26th Story: https://neoredcross.org/2017/05/26/blanket-made-of-red-heart-yarn-and-love/

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After a recent fire destroyed their century home in eastern Ohio, the Burton family met with Red Cross volunteers to plan out their next steps.

While this is an all-too-common story across Northeast Ohio, our volunteers respond to an average of 3 home fires a night, the Burtons have a special addition to their story.

Early this spring we received a handmade blanket and a note from Linda Evans of West Farmington, Ohio. The blanket was crocheted from on a Red Heart yarn pattern which features a red, Grecian cross on a white field.

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The Burton family was given Linda’s handmade blanket following the fire.

 

“I will treasure the blanket,” said Tracy Burton, matriarch of the family. “We had 3 other hand made afghans, each with a special story, which were lost in the fire.”

They hope to one day meet Linda in person and share with her the impact that one kind gesture, that one blanket, can have on a family.  Chances of that meeting are good: the Burtons are also from West Farmington, population 490.

 

 

 

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.

While You Were Celebrating…

By: Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

Hope you had a great New Year’s Eve and enjoyed your three or four-day weekend. It’s always great to have some time off – unless that’s when disaster strikes.

Over this past holiday weekend, disaster did strike – over a dozen times throughout the 22-county area served by the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross. Red Cross workers, mostly unpaid volunteers, responded to a vast variety of emergencies; providing physical, emotional and financial support to those affected.

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Keith Dulin receives help from Red Cross volunteers Bill Geschke and Felicia Lee after a fire damaged his apartment in Shaker Heights, Ohio. “I am trying to give back to people who are less fortunate,” Geschke said. “I volunteer for other organizations, but the work I do for the Red Cross gives me the most satisfaction.” Photo by Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

After a plane went missing in Lake Erie off Burke Lakefront Airport, a Family Assistance Center team and Disaster Mental Health were deployed to the scene to help. The Family Assistance Center was set up January 1st and continues to aid families of the passengers. Meals, beverages and snacks have been served to 12 to 30 people daily.

During the weekend leading up to and including New Year’s Day, six home fires and one carbon monoxide poisoning incident found Disaster Assistance Teams being dispatched to Richland, Mahoning, Cuyahoga, Huron, Lorain and Summit counties. Providing lodging, clothing and financial support, the teams helped more than two dozen adults and children with their immediate needs.

A power outage on New Year’s Day in Harrison county wasn’t how 120 people envisioned starting the new year. Luckily, the Red Cross was there at the Scio Fire Department’s Community Room, providing meals and snacks for those without power.

The day after New Year’s Day, four more fires broke out in Cuyahoga, Mahoning and Lorain counties; many of them affecting multiple families. Once again, Disaster Assistance Teams were there to provide aid and lodging reimbursement for the more than two dozen people affected.

While the fires, poisoning and air fatality were totally unexpected; those are the very reasons the Red Cross is always prepared to be of assistance, and why volunteers play such a crucial role helping residents in Northeastern Ohio communities.

If you have an interest in volunteering, log onto redcross.org/neo

Louisiana Floods 2016

August 18, 2016. Denham Springs, Louisiana. Tears fill Fonda’s eyes as she ran, arms opens, from her flooded Louisiana home. Her first request? “I want a hug,” says Fonda Buckley as she embraces Red Cross volunteer Cora Lee. Photo by: Marko Kokic/American Red Cross

and click on the volunteer tab, or call 216-431-3328.

‘It Was a Relief’: Red Cross Helps Residents Displaced by Fire

North Olmsted Residents Receive Red Cross Assistance

Christine Kisela needed a place to stay after her apartment building in North Olmsted recently caught fire.

A ceiling fan in one of the units sparked the blaze, which spread quickly to the building’s attic. Firefighters had to use so much water to put out the fire that all eight homes became uninhabitable.

 

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Displaced without food and belongings, Kisela had many questions and no sense of when she could return to her daily life in North Olmsted, Ohio.red-cross-volunteers-mark-cline-and-gary-grano-and-disaster-program-manager-jeremy-bayer-assist-clients-in-north-olmsted

To help Kisela and her neighbors navigate their next steps, four workers from the American Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter arrived to meet one-on-one with residents to discuss their needs and connect them with available resources.

 

“I thought it was great when the Red Cross showed up,” Kisela said. “Not knowing when we could get back into our apartments, it was a relief to get some answers and some assistance.”

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Resident Christine Kisela assisted by Red Cross volunteer Gary Grano

Her neighbor, Keith Kasprzyk, agreed.

“To see the Red Cross here was great,” Kasprzyk said. “The help they gave us will definitely be put to good use.”

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Red Cross volunteer Taylor Ley assists resident Keith Kazprzyk and dog Lola

 

 

 

The Red Cross responds to nearly 66,000 disasters every year, with the vast majority of them home fires. People can help residents in their darkest hours by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

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Resident Joan Kravetz receives assistance from Red Cross volunteer Mark Cline

After Escaping Home Fire, Family Finds ‘Great Help’ from Red Cross

Christine Stevens was making coffee on a September morning when her Cleveland home caught fire.

As the smoke alarm sounded, Stevens and her teenage son and daughter fled to safety. The Cleveland Fire Department put out the blaze, but the family was suddenly left homeless with no immediate return in sight. A sparking electrical box caused the fire, and firefighters advised that the wiring for the house—which Stevens rented—needed to be brought to code.

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“I was scared,” Stevens said. “Where am I gonna live? What am I gonna do?”

She learned that the American Red Cross was on the way to offer help, which “kinda calmed me down.”

Upon arriving, Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist Emily Probst and volunteer Mike Gaynier met with the family, providing snacks, personal hygiene items, initial financial assistance and the reassurance of follow-up support for their recovery.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Stevens, whose family is staying with her mom and a friend, was grateful for the Red Cross assistance to help get back on her feet.  “They gave me some money [and] gave me some food and toiletries, which is a great help,” she said.

All Red Cross disaster assistance is free.  We rely on the generosity of donors to respond to families like Christine’s.  If you’d like to donate to disaster relief, log onto redcross.org and click donate, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.  You can also text the words RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

October is National Fire Prevention Month.  It’s a great time to safeguard your family against home fires.  To receive a free home fire safety inspection, information about preventing home fires, help with creating an escape plan, and free smoke alarms for your home, log onto our Operation Save-A-Life page.

Residents of Cleveland can call 216-361-5535. Akron-area residents can call 330-535-2030.

And you can download the Red Cross Emergency App, which has helpful information about preventing home fires.

 

 

Red Cross, Partners Help Euclid Residents Prepare for and Prevent Home Fires

Lincoln Electric Volunteers, Euclid Fire Department Personnel Participate in Fire Safety Walk

Nearly 100 homes in Euclid now have working smoke alarms, following one of the largest Fire Safety Walks ever held in Northeast Ohio.  283 smoke alarms were installed on Saturday, August 6, 2016, with the enthusiastic help of volunteers from Lincoln Electric and our partners at the Euclid Fire Department.

“We were able to get into 95 homes and install 283 alarms. That is approximately 3 per home,” said John Gareis, Regional Manager of Preparedness and Community Planning in Northeast Ohio.

install1Combined with a similar effort last summer involving Lincoln Electric volunteers and the Euclid Fire Department, almost 650 smoke alarms have been installed in that Euclid neighborhood as part of Operation Save-A-Life, the American Red Cross initiative in Northeast Ohio to reduce the number of casualties in home fires by 25%.  John Gareis continued, “While the total number of alarms is less than last summer, our targeted area has far fewer homes in them – making this install more efficient overall!”

As was the case last summer, Lincoln Electric CEO Chris Mapes worked alongside employees to install the smoke alarms, and to provide residents with valuable fire safety information.  And Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio contributed to the effort, along with Red Cross volunteers and staff.

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Mike Parks, Chris Mapes and John Gareis

“The partnership between Lincoln Electric, Euclid Fire, and the American Red Cross is a winner to be sure and a model for others, not only in the Region but throughout the country,” Parks said.  “I know the event had an extremely positive impact, and will help prevent the loss of life due to home fires.”

Last year, more than 100 lives across the country were saved after smoke alarms were installed by the Red Cross and our partners.

Home fires remain the biggest disaster threat to individuals and families in the United States. There are three home fires, on average, in Northeast Ohio every night. Operation Save-A-Life, part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is in direct response to that dire threat, with the Red Cross committing to install 2.5 million free smoke alarms in neighborhoods at high risk for fires, and to educate those residents about fire prevention and preparedness.

More than 12,500 smoke alarms were installed in homes in Northeast Ohio last year.

If you would like a free fire safety inspection of your home, and free installation of smoke alarms, log onto redcross.org/neoosal.  You can also visit redcross.org/homefires to find out more about how to protect you and your family from fire. You can also become a Red Cross volunteer. And you can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

Euclid - Lincoln Fire Walk 2016

Click on the photo to see a gallery of pictures taken during the Euclid Fire Safety Walk.

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer