The Aftermath of a Home Fire

By: img_3035Anmol Nigam, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

Few expect a fire to destroy their home.   Wooster-area pastor, Nick Cleveland, certainly never expected his family to feel the devastation of a fire.

Nick was in the car when he received a call from his wife, Vicki.

“We’re all out of the house,” she said. “Our house is on fire. It’s bad.”

The couple tried to comprehend their loss as firefighters tackled the blaze. Thinking to the future, Nick and Vicki struggled to piece together their next steps. The fire had thrust them into a harsh reality.

“Where are we going to live?” Nick said. “Where are my kids going to be? Are they going to be okay?”

The situation overwhelmed them. They felt helpless, but they were not alone. Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie and Heartland Chapter knew they would need plenty of support. She started working right away to get them the things they would need.

“The minute that immediate tangible support shows up it is a game changer,” Nick said. “Immediate support turns helpless toward hopeful.”

The Red Cross gave them shelter when they had none, provided them financial assistance to purchase food and clothing, and began solving problems that Nick and Vicki had yet to even anticipate.

“When the Red Cross showed up… it helped turn our tragedy and helpless feelings toward hopeful ones,” Nick said. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your help when we needed it most!”

The difficulties in home fires do not end with the fire. Through the weeks afterwards, the Red Cross and our volunteers help by ensuring those in need regain some of their lost stability.

Many believe, incorrectly, that they have 10 minutes to exit a burning home. The actual time is closer to two minutes. Education and preparedness is a critical during in a home fire. Through Operation Save-A-Life, we work with local firefighters and volunteers install smoke alarms and provide fire safety education.

“I’ll never forget July the fifth. Ever,” said Nick in a sermon shortly after the incident.

For more information on Red Cross fire preparedness initiatives visit Operation Save-A-Life.

The Globetrotters and the Great Assist

Legendary Basketball Heroes Provide Help and Hope in the Face of Disasters

When you’re 6’ 8” tall, you don’t need a ladder to install a smoke alarm.

Unless your ceilings are REALLY high.

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Harlem Globetrotters forward Zeus McClurkin installs a smoke alarm in a home on Lawnview Avenue in Cleveland, as Regional CEO Mike Parks and Disaster Program Specialist Emily Probst observe.  Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Zeus McClurkin, a forward for the Harlem Globetrotters,  accompanied Regional CEO Mike Parks and other Red Cross workers and firefighters from the Cleveland Fire Department on Monday, December 12 to install smoke alarms in homes on Lawnview Avenue.

Residents who live in 25 homes in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood are now safer, after Zeus and the rest of the volunteers installed 75 smoke alarms.

“Having working smoke alarms cuts the risk of injury or death in a home fire in half,” said the eight-year veteran of the team.  “I’m happy to help the Red Cross with this lifesaving mission.”

Since 2014, the Red Cross has installed more than 500,000 smoke alarms nationwide. Nearly 13,000 smoke alarms were installed in Northeast Ohio last year. Together with the Harlem Globetrotters,  local fire departments and other community partners, our goal is to install our one millionth smoke alarm by October 2017 to help Americans stay safer from home fires.

Every eight minutes, the American Red Cross responds to a disaster, most of which are home fires, which claim more lives annually than all major disasters combined. The Red Cross and the Harlem Globetrotters have teamed up through The Great Assist initiative to help communities across America to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters big and small. Join with us as we raise urgently needed funds to support families during times of crisis throughout the year. Your donation can bring help and hope to those who need it most. Text ASSIST to 90999 to make a $10 donation now that will truly make a difference.

The Globetrotters played 2 games at Quicken Loans Arena on December 27th.

In addition, the team played at the Canton Civic Center  on January 27, and at the Covelli Center in Youngstown on January 28.

 

Smoke Alarm Requests Spike

Red Cross, Partners Hard at Work to Fulfill Requests Following Fatal Akron Fire

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating fire in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood on Saturday, December 3, hundreds of Northeast Ohio residents called the Red Cross to request free smoke alarms.

The Red Cross offers free smoke alarms, free installation, and free home fire safety inspections for every residence in need in Northeast Ohio.  This initiative, known locally as Operation Save-A-Life, began in Cleveland in 1992.  It has since been rolled out nationwide, with the goal of reducing serious injury and death due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

On Tuesday, December 6, the Red Cross and the Akron Fire Department went door-to-door in the neighborhood where the fatal fire occured, offering to install smoke alarms in every home.  Many media outlets covered the effort, including the Akron Beacon Journal, WEWS, WJW, and WOIO.

“It’s very unfortunate that it takes something like this for the community to say, ‘Yes, we need smoke detectors,’ ” Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter told the ABJ.

If your home doesn’t have a working smoke alarm on every floor, log onto the Operation Save-A-Life page on the Red Cross website, or call 330-535-2030 in theAkron area, 216-361-5535 in Greater Cleveland, or 866-319-7160 in the Youngstown area.

Smoke Alarms Installed Ahead of Holiday Cooking Time

With the holiday season in full swing we can not stress enough the importance of…

SMOKE ALARMS.

Let’s face it, winter in NEO is C-O-L-D! It’s prime time for home fires, between holiday cooking and trying to stay warm. And that’s why our Operation Save-A-Life program is so vitally important.

We applaud the volunteers and fire department personnel of Olmsted Twp. who braved our first real cold snap last Saturday to install smoke alarms in one Olmsted Township neighborhood. Through their work, we were able to install more than 320 smoke alarms in 130 homes!

(Click on the photo below to view our album on Flickr!)

Olmsted Twp Fire Walk

If you or someone you know need smoke alarms installed, please visit www.redcross.org/neoosal and click on your county to learn more about this free program.

Thanksgiving is almost here!!

If you are like my family members, you can already taste the pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. But with children and pets (and let’s face it – some grown-ups, too) running around and through the kitchen, paying close attention while preparing the feast is vital to having a safe holiday.

“Cooking is the number one cause of home fires,” said Mike Parks, Regional CEO. “Last year over 40 individuals – more than a dozen of them children – experienced a home fire over the holiday weekend. Education is key in preventing cooking fires.”

TOP TEN COOKING SAFETY TIPS

1. Don’t wear loose clothing or sleeves that dangle while cooking.

2. If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended – stay in the kitchen. If you just leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

3. If you’re simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food, check it regularly.

4. Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on.

5. Keep kids and pets away from the cooking area. Make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.

6. Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.

7. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.

8. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.

9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.

10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year. We can help! Learn more about our free smoke alarm and education program, Operation Save-A-Life, at www.redcross.org/neoosal!

 

Bonus Tip

Download the American Red Cross First Aid App. The app provides users with quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. See all the Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.

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.

Ashtabula Residents Get Free Smoke Alarms for Their Homes

Ashtabula Fire Department, Aqua Ohio Workers Help Red Cross Make Neighborhoods Safer

Residents who live in close to 100 homes in Ashtabula now have working smoke alarms, thanks to the efforts of the Red Cross, the Ashtabula Fire Department and Aqua Ohio.

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More than 20 volunteers fanned out throughout Ashtabula on Thursday, October 20 to provide residents with fire safety information and to install, at no cost to the residents, smoke alarms featuring batteries with a 10-year lifespan.

“We urge residents to check the batteries in their smoke alarms, especially at this time of year, when we’re about to turn the clocks back,” said Karen Conklin, Executive Director of the Lake to River Chapter of the Red Cross. “And even if the batteries are good, if the alarm is more than 10 years old, it should be replaced because the sensors are out-of-date.”

Gary Offerdahl, the Red Cross volunteer who coordinated the installation event, called it a success. “We’re protecting more people from smoke and fire casualties and possibly fatalities, which is the motivating factor.”

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Ashtabula resident Carmen Rocco receives fire safety information in his home from a Red Cross volunteer on Octiber 20, 2016

Now in its second year, the Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is meant to reduce the number of fatalities caused by home fires by 25% over a five year period.

The Red Cross has more smoke alarms to install, thanks in part to the generosity of the United Way of Ashtabula County and the Ashtabula Foundation.  Companies interested in helping make residents safer in their homes by allowing their employees to participate in similar smoke alarm installation events can call 866-319-7160.

Photo credit: Paul Wadowick/American Red Cross Volunteer