Is That Your Christmas Tree On Fire?

By Doug Bardwell,  American Red Cross Communications and Disaster Services Volunteer

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As popular as artificial trees are, almost everyone loves the smell of a real tree during the holiday season. But, to make sure your holiday memories are nothing but wonderful, take a couple minutes to make sure your tree doesn’t cause the unexpected.

Your lovely tree can turn deadly in just seconds

Don’t let it happen to you or your loved ones.  Here are seven simple hints to keep in mind:

  1. Choose a fresh tree that you cut yourself, if possible. If not, shake the tree aggressively before buying and don’t select one that drops its needles while shaking. That’s a sure sign that it’s drying out already.
  2. If you didn’t cut the tree yourself, cut an additional two inches off the bottom of the tree to open its pores, so that it can absorb fresh water.
  3. Use a sturdy stand to prevent tipping, and make sure that the stand can hold an adequate amount of water to keep the tree as fresh as possible. Make a scheduled time to add water every day.
  4. Keep the tree at least three feet away from any ignition source, such as fireplaces, heaters, candles or high intensity lightbulbs.
  5. Use only UL-rated light strings on your tree and no more than the manufacturer’s recommended number of sets plugged together. Discard any lights with worn or frayed cords.
  6. Make sure the tree and cords do not extend into or across doorways or paths of egress.
  7. Make sure your smoke alarms are working properly and always turn off any Christmas lights before going to bed each night.

Out of control in 20 seconds – you won’t believe the speed or intensity of this fire

Watch this one-minute video from the National Fire Prevention Association showing how quickly a spark or small fire can ignite your beautiful tree.  In less than 20 seconds, you better be out of there. (You have discussed a family escape plan with your children haven’t you?)

As the video points out, a dry tree ignites faster than newspaper.  Protect yourself this season and enjoy the happiest of holidays.  If you need a smoke alarm installed in your home,  visit this page to click on your county of residence to request a free home fire safety inspection and free smoke alarm installations in your home..

Neighborhood Now Safer in Slavic Village

Firefighters, Volunteers Help Red Cross Install Smoke Alarms

More than 100 homes in the Cleveland neighborhood known as Slavic Village are now safer, following a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event last Saturday, October 14.

37740737531_3109609b4a_oCleveland Councilman Tony Brancatelli wrote the following message in an email the day after the event:

“Here is some info on the recent American Red Cross, Sound the Alarm and Save A Life event in Slavic Village on Saturday.  Volunteers from the Red Cross including many from “Hope Worldwide” and including our local Cleveland Fire Department walked throughout our neighborhood knocking on doors and installing free smoke detectors as part of a Country Wide national installation event.  

We want to thank Regional Disaster Officer Timothy O’Toole from the American Red Cross for coming into our community as part of the National “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” program and installing hundreds of smoke detectors free for our families.  Special thanks to all the volunteers from “Hope Worldwide” and our local firemen for making this event such a huge success.  Timothy O’Toole (former Cleveland Fire Chief) asks for those not home that they can still call 216-361-5535 for a smoke detector.”

We thank Councilman Brancatelli for his support of Red Cross efforts to make neighborhoods safer, and we thank the Cleveland Fire Department for their ongoing partnership, which began in 1992 as Operation Save-A-Life.

Group Shot II

See more photos here, in our album on Flickr. 

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.

 

Still Writing Checks and Saving Lives

Charitable Trust Continues to Fund Smoke Alarm Installations

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In 1992, following a spate of fire fatalities, the American Red Cross of Greater Cleveland partnered with the Cleveland Division of Fire to install smoke alarms, free of charge to residents who lived in neighborhoods deemed to be at high risk for home fires.

The project was made possible then, and continues now, in part because of funding from the Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust.  “25 years later, we’re still writing checks and saving lives,” said Chris Hitchcock, Executive Director of the Trust, adding, “And now it’s becoming a national program.  That’s very exciting.”

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 Chief Angelo Calvillo, Tim O’Toole, and Chris Hitchcock 

Chris joined Red Cross volunteers, members of  the Westshore Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and the Cleveland Division of Fire on a Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in the neighborhood in Cleveland where a woman and her 8-year old great-granddaughter died in July.

28 homes were made safer, as the volunteers and firefighters installed 85 smoke alarms and helped residents formulate escape plans.

The Cleveland Fire Department, which has an active presence on Twitter, broadcast a live interview on the Periscope app with Chris, Chief Angelo Calvillo,  and Tim O’Toole, the Red Cross Regional Disaster Officer.

See more photos here, on our Flickr album.

 

Highlights from the NEO Region in FY 17

More than 15,000 smoke alarms installed.  More than 31,000 residents enrolled in Preparedness, Health and Safety courses. More than 150,000 units of blood collected. Emergency services provided to more than 1,800 families of service men and women. More than $850,000 in financial assistance provided to more than 4,200 residents of Northeast Ohio since June 1, 2016.

These are some of the highlights of our fiscal year.  They were shared with the Board of Directors of the Greater Cleveland Chapter during the annual meeting on Thursday, June 28, 2017.  Many of the highlights were featured in  a video shown during the meeting.

Laurie Laidlaw, Donna Rae Smith and Lorraine Frankino-Dodero were recognized as Red Cross Visionaries. Lorraine was also honored as Philanthropist of the Year, for the generous gift her family foundation recently made to help us purchase a new Emergency Response Vehicle.

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Board Chairman Shawn Riley, Lorraine Frankino-Dodero and CEO Mike Parks

CEO Mike Parks recounted the response to a recent fire in Cleveland, which affected a family of 12, and introduced Gary Grano and Talib Zayed, the two Red Cross volunteers who provided assistance to the family.

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The meeting ended with a call to action: to help the Red Cross install 100,000 smoke alarms in September and October, during the Sound the Alarm. Save a Life initiative. Everyone is invited to join us, by volunteering to Sound the Alarm, when we will install smoke alarms in the homes of residents in Cleveland and Akron.  Or by providing financial support at redcross.org.

Partnership with VA, Vets Groups Makes 100+ Homes Safer

The heat couldn’t keep the Red Cross and some of its partners from installing smoke alarms throughout Northeast Ohio on Saturday, June 17, 2017.

The high temperature topped out at 93 degrees, as volunteers from the Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System and members of several veterans groups helped install nearly 300 smoke alarms in homes in four separate cities simultaneously.  The Operation Save-A-Life event was scheduled to occur during the same week as Flag Day, an observance that is held with reverence among many members of the military and veterans.

“Our Northeast Ohio VA employees are dedicated to serving those who serve day in and day out.  Their dedication carries over to their time away from work as we join forces with the Red Cross to make our Veterans homes and those of their neighbors safer,” said Susan M. Fuehrer, Northeast Ohio VA Healthcare System Director.

Homeowners in Akron, Canton, Mansfield and Parma received home fire safety information as well as smoke alarms, installed at no cost to them.

“It was an extremely hot day, but through your hard work and commitment to your communities, we were able to make 103 homes in Northeast Ohio safer by installing 297 smoke alarms,” wrote Jessica Tischler, Director of Service to the Armed Forces for the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio, in a message to the volunteers.

“I can’t get over it, this is such a nice thing you all are doing,” said Sara Janasik of Parma, as smoke alarms were being installed in her Monmouth Road home.

The Flag Day event preceded another big push to prevent home fire deaths this fall. Sound the Alarm, a home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event will take place across the country, including Northeast Ohio during the weekends of September 23, September 30, October 7 and October 14, 2017.  If you’d like to help us make homes safer, become a Red Cross volunteer.  Call 216-431-3328 for more information about Sound the Alarm and all of the volunteer opportunities the Red Cross offers.

You can also help people affected by disasters like home fires by making a donation to support Red Cross disaster relief online.  Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.  Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the words RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

Team Effort Makes Maple Heights Neighborhood Safer

 

More than 40 homes in Maple Heights are safer, after volunteers from several veteran-related service groups partnered with the Red Cross and the Maple Heights Fire Department to install smoke alarms and share fire safety information on Saturday, April 22.

Volunteers from The Mission Continues, Team Rubicon, and Team Red White and Blue went door-to-door in a neighborhood near Maple Heights High school to check existing smoke alarms, replace batteries, and install new smoke alarms where needed.  They also shared valuable fire safety information.

The Mission Continues  empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. They deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their actions will inspire future generations to serve.  The Cleveland 1st Service Platoon was launched this month.

Mikoyan Headen was grateful to have new smoke alarms installed in her home.  She survived a home fire as a child.  “Our house looked like burnt toast,” she said. “We lost everything and had to completely start over.”

Volunteers from another service group joined the Fire Safety Walk as well.  Three members of “We’re Not Famous, But We Made It” also installed smoke alarms where needed.  Volunteer James Davenport said, “Our members have hit bumps in the road along the way.  We want to make sure we give back to the community.”

It’s a perfect time to give back.  This is National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) and the Red Cross offers many volunteer opportunities.  Visit us at redcross.org/neo to begin the application process.

See more photos from the Fire Safety Walk in Maple Heights by visiting our Flickr page.