Resolve to be Prepared

by: Melissa Papini, Disaster Program Manager

As we spend time reflecting on the closing of 2017, celebrating the season with our loved ones, being thankful for all the little things that bring us joy like safety and security, let’s also take time to think about (and say prayers for, if you’re so moved) our friends and family all over the world whose safety and security was threatened this year by natural disasters.

12292-409.jpgI recently heard an interview on the radio about a couple who moved from Brooklyn, NY to Ventura, CA this year. The interview was about the mandatory evacuations in their neighborhood related to the Thomas fire. They talked about how different it is to live in a community that has to be prepared at all times to flee their homes. Everyone they know has an emergency kit ready for not if, but when the wildfires get too close. That observation struck me. We live in a part of the country where very few people have natural disasters on their minds regularly. How many people do you know in Northeast Ohio that have an emergency kit ready at home?

Through my recent career move to “all things disaster,” my 10-year-old daughter has picked up on the idea of disaster preparedness. She has heard me talking about the Pillowcase Project and has created her own emergency kit that she’s packed in a pillowcase. She has a change of clothes, a flashlight, and a first aid kit ready to go if we ever need it. After reviewing the checklist in the Pillowcase Project booklet, I may suggest she add things like toiletries, markers and paper, a blanket, and a favorite toy.

For a detailed list of items that you can put together to create an entire household emergency kit please refer to our previous posts. There are also many Red Cross apps that can help you be prepared for and alerted about local disasters.

One other thing I’ve realized about preparedness through follow-up casework with our clients who’ve had home fires is how important it is to create an inventory of the contents of your home. If you are ever in a situation where you have a fire, your insurance company cannot begin to help you start replacing things until you’ve created a detailed inventory list for them. This is a daunting task for people who have millions of other things on their minds after a home fire. The easiest way to do this is take videos in each room of your home. Be sure to open drawers where you may have valuables too. Keep a copy of this video somewhere safe like an external hard drive in a fire proof lock box, the cloud, or you can even email it to yourself.

If you are like me and can’t wait to crack open your new planner for 2018 and start making lists of goals, be sure to add preparedness to your list of resolutions!

Coming Up: 2017

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Happy New Year everyone!

2017 has a lot of great events and happenings already lined up, and it’s only January 1st. Let’s look ahead at the coming year.

March is Red Cross Month – March was first proclaimed as Red Cross Month in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a way to raise awareness of the organization and its humanitarian mission in the midst of war. Since then, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month.

This year is particularly special as we will be celebrating 100 years of serving many of our communities!

Acts of Courage (Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter)- On March 2 we will celebrate the extraordinary and courageous acts of ordinary community members at our 21st annual Acts of Courage event in Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties. The event is the primary fundraiser for the chapter. We will also honor Kevin Thompson of PNC Bank with the H. Peter Burg Award for community service.

If you are interested in obtaining tickets or sponsoring the event, please visit the event page here.

Fire and Ice Ball – The semi-annual Red Cross Ball will take place in Cleveland on March 25th. This year’s theme highlights the importance of fire prevention and safety information that the Red Cross provides to our community. We respond to an average of 3 home fires a night throughout the 22 counties we serve. Proceeds from this event will allow us to continue to educate Northeast Ohio families about fire safety and help us protect local homes through Operation Save-A-Life, our amazing program that installs smoke alarms – for free!

If you are interested in obtaining tickets or sponsoring the event, please visit the event page here.

BASH – Our smash hit event of the spring – the BASH in Stark and Muskingum Lakes is a themed auction to benefit the disaster services in Stark, Harrison, Carroll, and Tuscarawas Counties. For more information on tickets, sponsorship, or donating to the auction, please call the Stark and Muskingum Lakes chapter.

Acts of Courage (Lake to River Chapter) – This summer we will honor individuals whose extraordinary acts of courage make them someone’s hero. Those everyday people who have put themselves in harm’s way or have risked their lives to save another. For more information, please call the Lake to River Chapter or visit our NEO Heroes page.

Festival of Trees – We realized you are probably in the midst of putting away your own holiday decorations, but it’s never to early to start thinking about how you can participate in our annual holiday tradition in Wooster. For more information, call the Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter.

And – of course – we invite you to assist us in providing our services every day of the new year by going to www.redcross.org/neo and clicking on volunteer. It’s amazing to serve the people in our communities and you’ll be so glad you did (plus it may help you tick off one of those pesky New Year’s resolutions!)

Volunteer With the Red Cross-The Perfect New Year’s Resolution!

by Pat Buckhold, Regional Volunteer Services Officer, Northeast Ohio

As 2015 winds down and 2016 looms on the horizon, I can’t help but think of over 2,000 Red Cross volunteers in northeast Ohio who continue to make a difference every day in the lives of those who live in our community.  The Red Cross has many faces- Disaster Services Team Member, Blood Donor Ambassador, CPR/First Aid Instructor, Services to the Armed Forces Community Outreach Worker, Operation Save-A-Life Smoke Alarm Installer and yet all have one thing in common-  the desire to save lives and alleviate human suffering in the face of disaster.  I am humbled by the genuine caring and compassion of our volunteers and their selfless giving to others.  While many of us will be enjoying holiday gatherings and New Year’s celebrations over the next week, somewhere in northeast Ohio disaster volunteers will be giving up their time to respond to a fire or other disaster and help someone in need.

So when the last of the bowl games is over and the last of the holiday treats are gone, don’t let those New Year’s resolutions end too!  The New Year offers opportunities to make new choices and take new chances in life. Things that were on your back burner, such as volunteering, can take on new meaning so why not consider joining the Red Cross as a volunteer.  And if you didn’t know, volunteerism has countless benefits.  Volunteering has been linked with increased levels of happiness and decreased depression.  People who volunteer report physical, mental, and emotional health benefits.  Volunteers help create and support healthy communities.  I can’t think of any better reasons to volunteer (and spoken like a true volunteer services officer)!

For more information on volunteering, please contact NEOvolunteer@redcross.org , call 216-431-3328 or begin your on-line volunteer application here.

 

Wising you a safe and happy 2015!

With the new year quickly approaching, many people will reflect on the current year and how they can improve their lives in the coming one.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with some Red Cross Resolutions that will help you, your family and your community in 2015.

#1: Get a Kit

Whether you call it your disaster kit, a survival kit or a 72-hour kit – every household should have one. This kit should include everything your family would need to survive if you needed to shelter-in-place for at least 3 days.

For an in-depth look on how to build a kit for your home and auto, take a look at this blog post (home), this one for auto or visit www.redcross.org/prepare

#2: Make a Plan

Experts agree, an individual may have as few as 2 minutes to exit a burning building.

It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another.

Here are some basic steps to make sure you remain safe:

  • With your your family or household members, discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.
  • Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
  • If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.
  • Choose two places to meet:
    • Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.
    • Outside your neighborhood (such as a relative or friend’s house in a different part of town), in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

For more information on how to make a plan for your home, visit www.redcross.org/prepare

#3: Volunteer

There are many ways to help your community with the Red Cross. You could volunteer to assist donors at a local blood drive, turn heartbreak into hope as a Disaster Action Team member, help connect emergency communications for military families or by giving your time and talents in any of the many volunteer positions available. To get started, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer

#4: Learn CPR

Would you know what to do in a cardiac, breathing or first aid emergency? The right answer could help you save a life. With an emphasis on hands-on learning, our First Aid/CPR/AED courses give you the skills to save a life.

To view local courses, visit www.redcross.org/takeaclass

#5: Give Blood

There’s no one reason to give blood. Maybe you or a family member received blood, or you think that one day you’ll be in need of it. Maybe your friend or colleague asked you to give blood. Maybe you think it’s the right thing to do. No matter the reason, your getting involved helps the Red Cross maintain a healthy and reliable blood supply.

To find a Blood Drive or donation location near you, visit www.redcross.org/blood