Interested in assisting those in a hurricane-affected area? Find out what it takes to help

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

September 4, 2019- As the 2019 hurricane season kicks into full gear, the Northeast Ohio Region of the American Red Cross is preparing to respond wherever needed. Each year, our community’s kindness, generosity and fortitude is evident as people seek ways to help, whether through donations, giving blood or deploying to affected areas.

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For those considering deploying to a hurricane or other national disasters as Red Cross volunteers, here is a brief overview of the requirements:

  • Deployment is a two-week (14 consecutive days) minimum commitment.
  • A two-day training session is required prior to deploying.
  • A background check is required.
  • You must be at least 18 years of age.
  • You need to be able to leave within 24-48 hours of notice once training is complete.
  • You will likely be staying in a staff shelter/dormitory-type residence and sleeping on a cot.
  • You must have no significant health limitations.
  • There may be physical requirements for certain tasks.

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The Red Cross covers travel and training expenses. Please note that there is no guarantee you will be deployed after training is completed. We send volunteers based on the needs of the affected area, which frequently change.

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If you are interested or wish to learn more, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer or contact the Volunteer Services department at 216-431-3328 or NEOvolunteer@redcross.org.

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In addition, local disasters such as home fires continue to occur even during national events, and the American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio assists people in our region daily. Volunteer opportunities are available in a number of fields, including Disaster Response. If you would like to explore these opportunities, connect with us using the contact information above or click here for the Northeast Ohio volunteer page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer 

Get ready for emergencies during National Preparedness Month

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

August 30, 2019- Are you ready for an extended power outage? Could you, for example, provide your family with food and water for two weeks if the unthinkable happened?

As Hurricane Dorian approaches the southeast coast of the U.S., with potentially 50,000 people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in need of emergency shelter, the importance of getting prepared for any possible emergency is clear.

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Most Clevelanders don’t expect a hurricane. But do you remember the power grid problems that once plagued us, right here in Northern Ohio?

Think back to August 2003

Eight U.S. states and Ontario, Canada, were left without power for up to two weeks when a power grid failure started outside Cleveland, Ohio, on Aug. 14, 2003. One of the first, dire side effects in Cleveland was that people in higher elevations would only have a three-hour supply of water.

Electric pumps could not deliver replacement water to the municipal water towers. Gas pumps did not work. Elevators did not work. Traffic lights did not work. Cash registers did not work. ATMs did not work. Business came to a halt.

Stores in my neighborhood were sold out of water and batteries in less than three hours; and they only accepted buyers with cash.

It was 14 days before all 55 million affected residents had their power restored. How would you fare if that happened today?

In honor of National Preparedness Month this September, we propose five simple tips to get ready:

  1. We are so dependent on our cellphones that you really need to consider having a backup battery source. Keeping a charged, high-capacity battery pack, like one of these, can recharge your phone multiple times.
  2. Personal emergency lights like the Red Cross Blackout Buddy are always charged and can provide a nightlight option.
  3. Do you know how to open your garage door if the power goes out? Most garage doors are controlled by an automatic garage door opener, which won’t work without electricity. However, just about all have a pull chain or cord that will release the door so you can operate it manually. Learn how it works before the power goes out.
  4. If a power surge hits your home, it could fry your computer’s hard drive and you could lose all your documents and photos. Do you keep copies of important items “in the cloud” on one of the free online storage applications like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Backup and Sync? Even if your computer is destroyed or lost, those files will always be available at a later date if stored in the cloud.
  5. Portable camp stoves come in a variety of sizes and prices. Having one on hand is great if you need to boil water for baby bottles or to make coffee or oatmeal. Many have multiple burners that can cook entire dinners. Use only outside with good ventilation.

If you’ve read this far – congratulations. To be even better prepared, watch the video, download the   and read more here. The question isn’t, “Could it happen again?” The question is, “When will it happen again?” However, the most important question is, “Will you be ready?”

Edited Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Safety tips to help you enjoy the end of summer fun this Labor Day Weekend

August 28, 2019- Labor Day is considered the unofficial end of the summer in Northeast Ohio, and with that comes a lot of traveling and social gatherings.

Whether you are planning to host family and friends for a cookout, enjoy a day ofCentennial Campaign 2015 swimming at Edgewater Park Beach or driving to attend the Cleveland National Air Show, the American Red Cross has offered the following tips on how to safely enjoy the holiday.

Driving safety: When driving, make sure you are well rested and alert, wear your seat belts, follow the speed limit and rules of the road, make frequent stops, and don’t let your gas tank get low.

  • Pack a first aid kit and emergency preparedness kit in each vehicle.
  • If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink.
  • Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Use caution in work zones. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.
  • If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.

Water safety: Be water smart. Make sure to have swimming skills and know how to help others.

  • Pay close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.Aquatics Centennial Campaign 2014
  • Prevent unsupervised access to water with adequate barriers for pools and spas.
  • Learn swimming and water survival skills.
  • Children, inexperienced swimmers and all boaters should wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Always swim with a buddy in a life-guarded area.

Barbecue safety: Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use. You can also follow these steps:

  • Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Never grill indoors — not in your house, camper, tent or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.

Here are a few other suggested steps to take ahead of Labor Day:

  • Learn First Aid and CPR/AED skills so you’ll have the knowledge and skills to act in an emergency until help arrives. Take a class (redcross.org/takeaclass), download the free Red Cross First Aid app and open the Red Cross First Aid Skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.
  • Go to redcross.org/watersafety for a variety of water safety resources and courses. Download the free Red Cross Swim app.App Icon
  • Give blood. The number of people donating blood often drops during the summer when people are on vacation and schools are closed. Visit redcrossblood.org, download the Red Cross Blood app, or enable the Red Cross Blood Skill for more information or to schedule your donation.App Icon

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Safety tips as Northeast Ohio students get ready to go back to school

August 21, 2019- The school bells will be calling students back to the classroom soon in Northeast Ohio and StayWell PHSS stock photographythe American Red Cross wants to make sure your student is safe as they head back to school for the upcoming year.

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY

  • If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Teach your student to board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed them to get on.
  • Kids should board their bus only, never an alternate one.
  • Make sure your student always stays in clear view of the bus driver and never walks behind the bus.

GETTING TO SCHOOL BY CAR, BIKE, ON FOOT

  • If children go to school in a car, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger Typhoon Haiyan 2015children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
  • If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not text or make calls using their cell phone and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
  • Some students ride their bike to school. They should always wear a helmet and ride on the right in the same direction as the traffic is going.
  • When children are walking to school, they should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

DRIVERS, SLOW DOWN!

Drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Motorists should know what the StayWell PHSS stock photographyyellow and red bus signals mean. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.

Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.

Typhoon Haiyan 2015PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES Know what the emergency plan is at your child’s school in case a disaster or an unforeseen event occurs. Develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know who to contact and where to go if something happens while children are at school and parents are at work. Details are available at redcross.org/prepare.

TAKE A FIRST AID CLASS The Red Cross First Aid App provides instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies whether it be before, during or after school. Download the app for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps. Learn and practice First Aid and CPR/AED skills by taking a course (redcross.org/takeaclass) so you can help save a life.

Snapshots: Moments from disaster response

By Tim Poe, American Red Cross volunteer

August 12, 2019- I have been a part of the American Red Cross’ Disaster Relief team for 18 months, which has been exceptionally challenging and rewarding. Here are a few of the many moments lingering in my memory:

Tim Poe

Tim Poe

I hand an information packet and financial assistance card to a woman in tears. I see astonishment followed by relief on her face as I explain what it is. She looks out the window, breathes deeply and begins planning her family’s recovery.

An enormous, isolated tree stands in a field. Near the top, a remnant of a house is embedded in twisted limbs. Other pieces of homes and people’s belongings lie scattered across the field as people work to clean up and recover.

Assisting a large number of clients after a major fire, people from the community come in throughout the day, bringing supplies, offering comfort, asking how they can donate, finding ways to help.

In an ER, a woman lifts her oxygen mask, says it’s her birthday, and asks for cake.

Interviewing a client as her grandson plays with a stuffed toy, I ask if she’s a veteran and the grandchild declares he is. “No you’re not, sweetheart,” she says. He answers, “I am too. I don’t even like meat.”

On Christmas Eve, standing on the porch of what remains of a house, helping a family plan their recovery, the mother makes a joke and laughter warms the winter air. I feel the mood lighten as they look to the future.

2019 Euclid fire responseAt a community event with the Emergency Response Vehicle, I let children use the public-address system. Some shyly say, “hi,” others say their names and a few words. One yells, “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! … and ice cream!” Nearly all smile as their voices amplify.

Standing in the rain, clearing the scene of a very large fire, the family’s father grasps my hand, holds on, begins to say something, then simply nods.

Leaving a scene, a three-year-old child runs up and gives me a hug.

Volunteers like me  carry out 90 percent of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross. Whether helping displaced families or teaching others how to respond in emergencies, the time and talents of volunteers can make a real difference. Explore the Red Cross’ many volunteer opportunities here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Protect pets from “dog days” heat

By Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

August 9, 2019- Phew! We’ve survived the wave of heat and humidity that smothered Northeast Ohio in July. Like me, my pets are enjoying the cooler temperatures. But we know more heat is on the way. The “dog days” of summer are coming, and they aren’t called that because dogs enjoy them. How can we help pets survive life-threatening conditions caused by hot weather?

Cooperative Fetching

Photo credit: Ron Bracale

Keep in mind the natural elements that are essential for life:

WATER: Animals and birds need plenty of water, especially when it’s hot. Give them free access and refill bowls as needed. Clean the bowls each day and make sure the water is fresh. Some animals enjoy sitting or standing in a baby pool filled with water. You can stick your feet in and keep them company!

AIR: Fresh air is important for our pets. Try to give them time outdoors without putting them at risk of overheating. If they’re enjoying the air conditioning indoors, provide them the ability to move into or out of the blowing air. Birds, especially, need to be protected from drafts.

LIGHT: If you close your curtains during the day to keep your house cool, give pets a chance to absorb some sunlight now and then if they choose. Access to shade is crucial. My light colored, short-haired dog loves to lie in the sun for 10 or 20 minutes. My long-haired black dog only lies in the sun on cool days. Remember that dark colors amplify the heat!

Little Bit Pool

Photo credit: Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

EARTH: Your pets are walking on bare feet. If the pavement is too hot for your feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s. For those of you who walk your dogs along the beach, keep in mind how hot the sand is. The air coming off the lake may seem cool but the sand holds the sun’s heat even after it sets.

TEMPERATURE: Monitor the temperature of your pet’s environment, keeping in mind its specific needs. Reptiles need to stay warm. Mammals need a way to cool off when it gets too hot. If your hamster is in an aquarium, it’s going to get hotter more quickly than if it’s in a cage. Of course, NEVER leave any pet in a car during the summer! Car temperatures can reach over 120 degrees in just a few minutes.

What if your pet does overheat? The American Red Cross now offers online training in First Aid for Dogs and Cats at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/first-aid/cat-dog-first-aid. Sign up now and be prepared!

keets on hand

Photo credit: Beth Bracale, American Red Cross volunteer

The Red Cross also offers a first aid app for pets. It provides instant access to expert guidance on how to maintain your pet’s health, what to do in emergencies and how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Red Cross volunteers provide Hall of Fame care during induction ceremonies

By Eric Alves, Regional Communications Specialist, American Red Cross of Northeast Ohio

 August 8, 2019- Fans who enjoyed the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony events in Canton, Ohio, were treated to top-notch care and attention from the American Red Cross.

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It’s important to stay safe and hydrated while outside on hot summer days. That’s why Red Cross volunteers were present to give those enjoying the festivities a cold bottle of water and provide medical attention if needed.

Events began July 21 during the community parade. As crowds were enjoying the procession, volunteers from the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter passed out cooling towels and water and provided medical attention at a first aid tent.

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Festivities continued Aug. 2 with two events. The first event was a fashion show luncheon, where 17 Red Cross volunteers were on hand. Later in the day, 18 volunteers staffed the enshrinement gold jacket dinner. At both events, the Red Cross volunteers where present in areas where food was served and worked with the hosts to spot anyone who needed medical attention.

The Hall of Fame enshrinement celebration came to an end Aug. 3 with two final events.

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The day began with the grand parade. As fans enjoyed local bands and floats, 26 Red Cross volunteers handed out water and cold towels to help beat the heat. The Red Cross also provided an inside cooling room and a first aid station at the Malone University Johnson Center.

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The day ended with a roundtable discussion luncheon featuring this year’s inductees. Inside the Canton Memorial Civic Center and Cultural Center, 17 Red Cross volunteers were present to spot and provide any necessary medical attention.

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If you’re interested in learning how you can volunteer for the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/volunteer or call 216-431-3328 to learn about all the different opportunities in your area.

To view photos from the grand parade, visit our Flickr page.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Photo credit: Tom Newman, American Red Cross volunteer