Power Outage Preparedness

That you are able to log onto this blog and read this article is a testament to the reliability of the company that supplies your electricity.  Unfortunately, stormy weather can knock out power, as it did Tuesday night for some 20,000 First Energy customers.

And as sweltering as the summer of 2016 has been, the demand for power has been great.  Sometimes, electrical equipment can be overloaded with so many air conditioners running.  That, too can cause power outages. While outages aren’t always predictable, it’s easy to be prepared and keep your loved ones safe during one.

HAVE A KIT

get-a-kitThe top items in your power outage kit should include water, a battery powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries. It is important not to use candles during a power outage because they a more likely to start a fire. Other items include:

  • Medications (7-day supply) and required medical items
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Non-cordless telephone
  • Full tank of gas

For more information on building a kit, check out our 72-hour kit blog post.

FOOD

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Use perishable food from the refrigerator first, freezer items second and non-perishable food last. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours and a freezer half-full will stay cold for 24 hours.

ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT

Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. It is important to do this because when the power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. You can protect appliances that can’t be unplugged, like refrigerators and freezers, with a surge protector.

CAUTION: CARBON MONOXIDE KILLS                CO2

Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside an enclosed area. Cooking in enclosed areas with alternate sources for electricity can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire. These tips below will help you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Always locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in your to provide early warning of any accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If you hear the carbon monoxide alarm sound, move to a fresh air outdoors or an open window or door. Call for help from that location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

For more information on what to do during a power outage please visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/power-outage.

Get more information on surviving during this summer’s relentless heat here.  And download the Red Cross Emergency App, to monitor more than 35 different severe weather an emergency alerts, to help keep you and your family safe this summer and throughout the year.

 

4th of July: Red Cross Steps for Enjoying a Safe Holiday Weekend

 

Fireworks, beach safety tips to keep everyone safe this Independence Day

Everyone is looking forward to the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend and the American Red Cross has steps you can follow to stay safe when enjoying the fireworks or taking a trip to the beach.

 “Millions of people will visit pools or lakes or watch fireworks shows over the 4th of July weekend and there are steps they can take to have a safe holiday,” said Michael Parks, Regional CEO of Northeast Ohio. “They can also download our First Aid and Swim Apps to have important safety information at their fingertips.”4th of July Firework SafetyFIREWORKS SAFETY The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Many cities and states outlaw most fireworks. If someone is setting fireworks off at home, follow these safety steps:

  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Always follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • Keep a supply of water close by as a precaution.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight “a dud.”
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures or flammable materials.
  • Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.Water Safety TipsWATER SAFETY Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. While enjoying the water, keep alert and check the local weather conditions. Other safety steps include:
  • Swim sober and always swim with a buddy. Make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.

beachRIP CURRENTS Rip currents are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year, and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:

  • If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, turn and swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

DOWNLOAD SWIM, FIRST AID APPS The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The app has features specifically designed for children, including a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. It also contains water safety information for parents on a variety of aquatic environments including beaches and water parks. The First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on a variety of situations from insect bites and stings to choking and Hands-Only CPR. People can download the apps for free by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in their app store or at redcross.org/apps.

HOME POOL ESSENTIALS COURSE The Red Cross and National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF) have developed an online safety course for pool and hot tub owners. Home Pool Essentials helps people understand the risks of pool ownership, how to maintain a safer and cleaner pool, what safety equipment is appropriate, how to prevent pool and hot tub entrapment hazards, and how to respond to an emergency.

 

Storm’s coming – 5 quick tips for responding appropriately during a Thunderstorm

  • th Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. Watch for signs of a storm, like darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind.
  • If thunder roars, go indoors! If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning. The National Weather Service recommends staying inside for at least 30 minutes after the last thunder clap.
  • Avoid electrical equipment and telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
  • If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground; water; tall, isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are NOT safe.

Prevent and Alleviate: Providing Fire Safety Education to Everyone

You may think that preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies – the two actions our mission charges us to do – is a tall order.

With over 4.5 million residents to educate and assist, it can be a little overwhelming.

And yet, when eating an elephant – take one bite at a time.

The first bite: teaching our young community members more about how to keep themselves (and their families) safe before, during and following a disaster.

We are proud to announce that we have hit our annual goal by teaching the pillowcase project, sponsored by Disney, to 2,892 local school-aged children!

The pillowcase project teaches kids about disasters that can happen here in Northeast Ohio, and what they and their families can do to prepare for and respond during an event. Home fire education is the most prevalent piece of this program, as we respond to an average of three home fires across Northeast Ohio each night.

During the program kids are taught about smoke alarms, what to do when a smoke alarm sounds, knowing exit strategies for each room, creating a family meeting spot and so much more.

But this education isn’t just for the children of our community.

We are dedicated to sharing these safety tips with everyone. That’s the second bite of the elephant.

Through Operation Save-A-Life we are helping families learn more about fire safety as well as providing the tools necessary to put that education into practice, should the time come.

As of March, 2016, we have installed over 8,844 smoke alarms in homes throughout Northeast Ohio.

That’s just 1,156 off from the stretch goal we gave ourselves in June, 2015. Our region currently leads the nation in number of smoke alarms installed.

We are very proud of what we have accomplished. And our dedicated work and planning is paying off. We see it in the success stories of families like this one from last summer, and this one from December.

Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to the Red Cross workforce who made those numbers happen. Thank you to those who continue to educate, install and provide hope to families and individuals in each of the communities that we serve.

You can eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

Thank you!!

Carbon Monoxide Kills, Alarms Save Lives

 

CO

Photo credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

Winter has finally decided to show up. With it has come deep snow in most areas of our region, and cold temperatures.

Given the increase in the number of carbon monoxide emergencies during cold snaps (like in this story), we want to remind you to exercise caution when heating your home.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless and silent killer that, nationally, claims hundreds of lives each year. A threat year round, carbon monoxide poisoning tends to increase when storms and power outages force people to turn to unsafe alternative heat sources such as fuel-burning appliances, gas generators, camp stoves and charcoal grills and use them in confined spaces.

The best way to keep your family safe during this time is to install carbon monoxide alarms and learn how to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Every home should have at least one carbon monoxide alarm in addition to their smoke alarms,” said Tim O’Toole, Regional Disaster Officer of the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio. “If there is only one carbon monoxide detector, it should be in or near sleeping areas. Both carbon monoxide and smoke alarms are relatively inexpensive and easy-to-maintain devices that have been proven to save lives. There are even models that feature a combined smoke and carbon monoxide alarm.”

Follow these safety recommendations:

  • Furnaces and other natural gas fired appliances should be serviced once a year.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas (avoid corners where air does not circulate). Test the alarm every month.
  • Have heating systems (including chimneys and vents) inspected and serviced annually, checking for blockages, corrosion, and partial and complete disconnections.
  • Never use a generator, grill or camp stove inside a home, garage or basement.
  • Do not use gas appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home.
  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, and confusion. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, move quickly to a fresh air location, and then call 9-1-1.
  • Treat the alarm signal as a real emergency each time. If the alarm sounds and you are not experiencing any symptoms described above, press the reset button. If the alarm continues to sound, call the fire department.

Download the Red Cross First Aid App at redcross.org/apps to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies.

For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit redcross.org/homefires.

Who Bought the Hot Dogs?

Red Cross Volunteers Treated to Lunch By Anonymous Diner

Responding to a call for action from the Red Cross to support the Martin Luther King Day of Service, more than a dozen volunteers joined Red Cross staff members from the Lake to River Chapter to offer residents of Warren, Niles and Girard fire safety tips and free smoke alarm installations.

Some of those volunteers were thanked in an unexpected, but welcome, way.

They began their day by receiving instructions from Disaster Program Manager, Scott Meeker and Disaster Program Specialist, Kristen Gallagher, and then headed out into the wintry Northeast Ohio weather, braving blowing snow and single-digit temperatures.

Several teams were formed, each visiting the homes of residents who registered with the Red Cross for free fire safety instruction and free smoke alarm installation.

 

Photo Credit: Cal Pusateri/American Red Cross Volunteer

During their lunch break, three volunteers ate at the Jib Jab Hot Dog Shoppe in Girard.

“They were all wearing Red Cross vests and were talking about the alarms they had installed that morning,” said Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Red Cross Lake to River Chapter.  “When they went to pay the bill, a good Samaritan had already paid it. How cool is that?”

The volunteers, from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and Christ Episcopal Church, were joined by Lt. Chuck Eggleston of the Warren Fire Department during the Day of Service in honor of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.  They installed 95 smoke alarms in 40 homes, making each neighborhood they entered safer.

If you live in Northeast Ohio, and would like a free fire safety inspection and free smoke alarms installed in your home, visit redcross.org/neoosal.

The Fight Against Fire Fatalities Ongoing

Icon Disaster

 

By Tim O’Toole
Regional Disaster Officer, Northeast Ohio

121 people lost their lives in Ohio last year due to accidental fires, according to information provided to the State Fire Marshal’s Fire Prevention Bureau.

Unfortunately, two counties within the Northeast Ohio Region top several lists.

  • Cuyahoga County in the Greater Cleveland Chapter led the state with 14 accidental fire fatalities. This is twice as high as the counties with the second highest number.
  • Jefferson County in the Lake to River Chapter led the state in per capita deaths, with 7 fatalities. Although these deaths occurred in just 3 events, it still is still an alarming number.

Fire deaths continue to impact the very young and the senior community.  Nearly half of the fire victims were over 60 years of age.

Smoke alarms were present in only 25% of the fire locations.  This number indicates only that they were present, and not whether they functioned correctly.

The takeaway is that the mission of the American Red Cross is an important one.  And one that isn’t going away.

4 people lost their lives last night (1/11/16) in Summit County.  Every Day, tragedy strikes our communities. But our Disaster Cycle Service processes of Prepare, Respond and Recover align perfectly with the problem these numbers dictate.  Our education and prevention programs can reduce the number of future fires and prepare people to respond appropriately when they do occur.  Daily, our response teams and caseworkers continue to provide support for those who do suffer the effects of hostile fires and help them recover from the impact.  And finally, Operation Save-A-Life, our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign will continue to help prevent the fatalities that too often occur as a result of those fires.

These numbers indicate not only the importance of our mission, but also the fact that we must increase our efforts to insure we impact them positively in the future.

I thank all Disaster Service volunteers and staff for their dedicated and sincere support of the mission.

I am proud to be part of it.

Tim O’Toole
Regional Disaster Officer
Northeast Ohio Region

Learn more about Operation Save-A-Life, the Red Cross effort to reduce fire fatalities in Northeast Ohio by providing fire safety education and FREE smoke alarm installations, at redcross.org/neoosal.

Read more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross here.