Overconfident and Underprepared

New Red Cross Survey Shows Many Americans Mistaken About Home Fire Safety

According to a new survey by the American Red Cross, many people overestimate their ability to react to a home fire and miss critical steps to keep their loved ones safe.

In fact, 40 percent of people believe they are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than experience a home fire. Yet, home fires are the most common disaster people face in this country – the majority of the nearly 64,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to every year.

“Every day seven people in this country die in a home fire and another 36 people are hurt,” reports Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern. “To address this crisis, we’re bringing together thousands of community partners and volunteers to Sound the Alarm about home fire safety and help save lives. We’ve already installed more than 1.1 million smoke alarms, but our work will continue across the country, because many families are still underprepared when it comes to home fire safety.”

This spring, the Red Cross will Sound the Alarm through a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events in more than 100 high-risk communities in the United States, including Cleveland and Akron. In just 16 days – from April 28 to May 13 – volunteers and partners will install 100,000 free smoke alarms across the country. Volunteers are needed, learn more by visiting SoundTheAlarm.org/neo.

MANY PEOPLE MISTAKEN ABOUT HOME FIRE FACTS

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The Red Cross survey found that many Americans have a false sense of security about their family’s ability to escape a home fire. More than three-fourths (80 percent) of people surveyed believe everyone in their household knows what to do when a smoke alarm goes off. But less than half of those surveyed have a home fire escape plan in place. And only half of the families that do have a plan have actually practiced it.

Home fire experts say that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. However, the survey showed nearly 60 percent of people mistakenly believe they have much more time than is realistic.

MORE SURVEY RESULTS Even though many Americans admit to actions that could contribute to a home fire, only one out of four (27 percent) think that they are likely to experience a home fire in their lifetime. For example, about 40 percent of people have forgotten to turn off a stove or oven, even though cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. And, more than one-third (34 percent) of people have used a stove, kerosene lantern or space heater to warm their home. The fact is that heating equipment is involved in one of every five home fire deaths.

The survey does show that some progress is being made. More people are replacing batteries (a 9 percent increase vs. 2015) and testing to make sure their smoke alarms are working (an 11 percent increase vs. 2015). But there is still have a long way to go to make sure everyone is prepared for home fires.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that smoke alarms can save lives, yet one out of ten (12 percent) people have had to give up buying other essentials for their families to purchase one. These findings highlight just how critical the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is in communities across the country. Launched in 2014 to save lives and help end home fire tragedies, the Red Cross and its partners have already installed more than 1.1 million free smoke alarms and reached 1 million children through preparedness programs. These efforts are already credited with helping to save 381 lives. Learn more.

This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from national partners: Almost Family, Delta Air Lines and International Paper. The Red Cross has also received funding from FEMA through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Join the Red Cross today by volunteering to install smoke alarms in your community, making a financial contribution, or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires. Together, we can Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives. Learn more at soundthealarm.org/neo.

Supplemental Information about Survey Methodology

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross in August 2017 using the research firm Issues & Answers. The study was conducted among a national sample of 604 American adults. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 4 percent.

Work of Her Hands Comes from Her Heart

Volunteer Caseworker Also Crochets for Victims of Disaster

By Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

“I don’t knit.  I crochet.”

Stephanie Farley, a retired school teacher and long-time Red Cross volunteer, says she found a bag of yarn in her closet several years ago and started stitching.

“I couldn’t remember why I bought it, what I was going to make with it, and I had a hat pattern, so I made a hat.”

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Since then, Stephanie has stitched an untold number of hats that have been given to residents in Northeast Ohio who experience disasters like home fires.  Each time Stephanie brings a new batch of hand-stitched hats, they are distributed by Disaster Action Team members who respond to home fires.

“The first hat anyone took was bright red,” Stephanie said. “He was so excited, he was waving it around.”

Stephanie says she also received a thank you note from the recipient of one of her hats.

She’ll be crocheting for the foreseeable future, after making a request for yarn on the website nextdoor.com, a private social network for neighbors.  “I got tons of yarn.  I’m good for a year or two.”

 

You don’t have to knit, or crochet to volunteer for the Red Cross.  Your heart just has to be in the same place as Stephanie’s.  Visit redcross.org/neo and click “Volunteer” to explore the many ways you, too, can help others.

Red Cross Workers Respond to Multiple Home Fires

Nearly a dozen responses to disasters over the holiday weekend

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The lives of more than 50 residents of Northeast Ohio were disrupted over the New Year holiday weekend by disasters, the vast majority of them home fires.

Red Cross disaster workers responded to home fires in 5 Northeast Ohio counties, providing assistance to 29 adults and 24 children.  Immediate financial assistance totaling $11,415 was provided to the affected residents, to help them find suitable lodging, or to meet other immediate needs.

Other assistance, including comfort kits and initial case work was also provided.

“It’s never a good time to go through something like a home fire,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer.  “It’s especially hard on families to be chased from their homes during the holidays.  We are grateful there was no loss of life over the weekend, and we’re thankful for our dedicated volunteers who responded to these residents in need.”

Red Cross workers from the Northeast Ohio Region responded to disasters, including multiple family home fires, in Cleveland, North Olmsted, Garfield Heights, Chesterland, Sandusky, Girard, Cadiz and Monroeville.

In addition to our weekend disaster response, the Red Cross is continuing to provide support to several warming centers in the city of Cleveland, with cots and blankets as requested.

The bitter cold temperatures are expected to continue to affect millions of people this week and the Red Cross has steps they should follow to stay safe during the ongoing deep freeze:

WINTER SAFETY TIPS

  • Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

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WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you have to drive, follow these tips:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

PREVENT HOME FIRES

With the cold temperatures there is often a rise in the number of home fires. Follow these tips to help prevent a fire in your home:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs – at least three feet away from sources of heat.
  •  Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. Look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen.


DOWNLOAD APPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.

 

Christmas Season Brighter for Children Affected by Home Fire

Annual Toy Giveaway Made Possible by Employees at TravelCenters of America

“Jade is my favorite one!” It took a while before eight-year old Jamie Sullivan found just

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Jamie Sullivan of Cleveland

the right Bratz doll to take home during the annual holiday toy giveaway on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.

Right now, home is with her grandmother Lori.  Jamie, her little brother Samuel, and her mother Angela Jordan lost their home to fire just a week before, on December 15th.

86 children received toys collected during a Christmas Toy Drive by employees of TravelCenters of America. It’s the 19th year of the partnership between TCA and the Red Cross.

“We’re happy to help children who have lost so much,” said Tom Liutkus, Senior Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations at TravelCenters of America.  “The Red Cross does such great work, it just makes sense to have them distribute the toys every year.”

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Seven-year old Taneeja Terry of Cleveland finds just the right doll

“We have plenty of gifts to give to these kids who had a lot taken from them this year,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. ” This is a great opportunity to give back to them, especially at this special time of year.”

“To see everything that you had just gone, it was total devastation,” said Edna Bailey, whose home burned down in September. “I had no idea what to do, where I was going, or anything. The Red Cross came in with hugs, with encouragement, and kind of guiding me. For weeks I received phone calls with follow-up messages.  I’m so thankful.

As of mid-December, our disaster workers responded to 940 incidents, the vast majority of them home fires, in 2017.  The fires disrupted the lives of nearly 1,600 children and more than 2,500 adults in the 22 counties of Northeast Ohio.  They received immediate financial assistance totaling more than $750,000, thanks to the generosity of donors.  If you’d like to help future victims of disasters like home fires, please make a tax-deductible donation here, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

For more photos from this year’s Holiday Toy Giveaway, visit our Flickr photo album. Media coverage of our annual toy giveaway included a photo gallery from Plain Dealer photographer Lisa DeJong, a video on Cleveland.com, and a story on Cleveland 19 WOIO.  

 

 

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.

 

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.