Don’t be a statistic: It’s National Fire Prevention Week

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

A home can be rebuilt. Human lives, pets and mementos can’t.

For those with insurance, a home fire a major disruption. For those without insurance, it’s devastating. The good news is that most home fires are preventable.

As a member of the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team, I’ve seen numerous fires that didn’t have to happen:

  • A kitchen fire was caused by unattended grease left in a pan on the burner; another was caused by loose papers left too close to the gas burner; and a third by a plastic highchair overhanging an electrical element.
  • Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wiring contributed to the loss of a beautiful century home.
  • An unattended burning candle and a young child playing alone in the home displaced two families.

I could go on, but the good news is that no lives were lost. However, with a modicum of prevention, they could have all been avoided.

Here are 10 simple tips to share with members of your family during National Fire Prevention Week:

  1. Make sure to have working smoke alarms and replace the entire unit if it’s more than 10 years old. Even with a good battery, the sensor in an old alarm wears out in 10 years.
  2. Create an escape plan and make sure every child and adult knows that they must be outside within two minutes of hearing the alarm. Practice the plan with your children so they know the official meeting place outside.
  3. Never smoke in bed or when extremely tired or intoxicated.
  4. Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  5. Keep lit candles away from flammables, children and pets.
  6. Take care that nothing can blow over or into your kitchen gas burners.
  7. Keep frying pan handles turned away from the front edge of the stove so they aren’t tipped by children or pets.
  8. Electric space heaters can easily start fires if clothes or newspapers are tossed on top of them.
  9. Keep a working fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.
  10. Keep gas cans outside if possible; but, never in a basement or near a furnace or water heater.

Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, recognized the huge loss caused by fires, both to property and human life. To address the problem, he proclaimed the first Fire Prevention Week in 1926, with the hope it would become an annual event.

He wrote:

“While efforts should be made constantly to reduce fire destruction to a minimum, in pursuance of a well-established precedent, one week is set aside each year during which the urgent need of preventing fires is forcibly stressed.

“If every individual will adopt and practice the simple precautionary measures advocated as fire prevention safeguards, fire hazards and their consequences will be materially reduced.”

Make Calvin proud, and use caution to avoid unnecessary fires.

For more resources, visit the American Red Cross Home Fire Safety page for videos, tips and mobile apps to help you safeguard your family.

On October 6, volunteers from the Red Cross, Parma CERT, Hope World Wide Ministries and the Parma Fire Department held a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event. The volunteers installed 171 smoke alarms making 61 home safer.

To view photos from the Parma Sound the Alarm event, visit our Flickr page. Furthermore, to learn more about home fire safety and to request a smoke alarm, visit the American Red Cross Northeast Ohio Home Fire Campaign page.

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Partners Help Make Parma Homes Safer

Young Professionals Help Protect People in Parma from Home Fires

A new partnership proved to be fruitful for residents in a neighborhood of Parma on Saturday, May 6.  Members of the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club joined forces with the Red Cross and members of the Parma Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to install more than two-dozen smoke alarms in homes where needed. The volunteers also performed home fire safety inspections and offered valuable fire prevention and safety education.

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The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club is the longest-running young professional association in Northeast Ohio. The mission and vision is to enrich the lives of young professionals, to foster the future leaders of Cleveland. The group is independent, open and inclusive, and membership represents a wide range of cultures, backgrounds and professions, and touching the lives of more than 1,000 young professionals through its programs on an annual basis.

“Our volunteers from The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club enjoyed working together with the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland and Parma Cert to help install free smoke alarms in people’s homes,” said Melanie Raese, Philanthropy Director of the Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club.  “It was a fun, team building experience and we learned about fire safety.  We are grateful to serve our communities and to work alongside those dedicated to building safer neighborhoods.”

Since 2014, Red Cross volunteers, along with fire departments and other partners, have visited homes installing free smoke alarms, replacing batteries in existing alarms and providing fire prevention and safety education to prevent needless tragedies. More than 26,000 smoke alarms have been installed in homes in Northeast Ohio in the past two years. This fall, the Red Cross will celebrate the program with Sound the Alarm, a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events nationwide. Volunteers will install 100,000 free smoke alarms in high risk neighborhoods in Akron, Cleveland, and more than 100 other cities across the country, culminating in the installation of the one millionth smoke alarm!

If you would like to help us Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives, visit us at redcross.org/neo and click on the Volunteer tab.  More information about Sound the Alarm is located here.

See more photos, taken by Red Cross volunteer George Scherma, on Flickr.

Parma Neighborhood Now Better Protected from Home Fires

Fire Walk

Photos provided by Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

Smoke Alarms Installed in Dozens of Homes

While many of us were preparing to “Turn and Test”…turn our clocks back an hour, and test our smoke alarms on Saturday, November 5, the last day of Daylight Savings Time for 2016, several Parma residents got new smoke alarms installed in their homes.Fire Walk

The Red Cross and its partners with the Parma Fire Department and Parma CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) visited 38 homes, and installed 116 smoke alarms that day as part of Operation Save-A-Life.

Residents were also given valuable fire safety information, including ways to develop escape plans in the event of a home fire.

Last year, the Red Cross and its partners installed almost 13,000 smoke alarms in homes throughout the Northeast Ohio Region.

If you would like to help the Red Cross make Northeast Ohio a safer place to live by partnering with us to install smoke alarms, or if you need smoke alarms in your home, visit our Operation Save-A-Life page at redcross.org/neoosal.