Do you hear it? Sound the Alarm is coming

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross volunteer

March 18, 2019 – Mark your calendar. It’s coming.

April 27 through May 12 are the dates for the 2019 Sound the Alarm campaign.

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This spring, the American Red Cross needs your help to install 100,000 free smoke alarms and raise funds for lifesaving services in more than 100 cities in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands during Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events.

And, to quasi-quote Smokey the Bear, “Only you can help ensure our success.” One day of your time might be the difference that saves a family’s lives.

Every day, seven people die in home fires and the Red Cross wants to do everything we can to prevent these needless tragedies. That’s why we launched our Home Fire Campaign.

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Volunteer participants work alongside fire departments and other local groups, canvassing at-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, educate families about fire prevention and safety, and fund raise to help sponsor this lifesaving mission.

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It’s a perfect time to grab your family, your friends and your neighbors to come along and do a good deed installing smoke alarms. You needn’t be a Red Cross volunteer or employee to work these events. Instructions, tools and supplies are all provided the day of the event.

Last year, during the inaugural Sound the Alarm event, more than 103,000 smoke alarms were installed in 43,000 homes nationally over a three-week period. There was also an impact locally. In Northeast Ohio, during the same three-week period, 350 volunteers installed 2,500 alarms in more than 900 homes.

To date, there are 511 lives that have been saved because of smoke alarms installed during previous Sound the Alarm events. More than 1.5 million free smoke alarms have been installed to date.

To find upcoming Sound the Alarm installation events and to sign-up to volunteer to an event near you, visit SoundTheAlarm.org/NEO.

Unable to attend?  You can always make a donation that helps educate families and children about home safety. A donation can also provide food, shelter and comfort to those who’ve lost their home to a fire.

Donate today at https://www.redcross.org/donate/home-fire-campaign.html/ or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer.

All photos by Doug Bardwell.

 

Believe it or not, daylight savings time is near- Time to turn and test

March 6, 2019- It’s time to spring forward when daylight saving time starts this Sunday, March 10. As people TURN their clocks forward one hour, the American Red Cross reminds everyone to TEST their smoke alarms.

This weekend is also a good time for everyone to take these lifesaving steps to help prepare households for home fires, the nation’s most frequent disaster:

  • Check smoke alarms and replace batteries if needed. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Test smoke alarms once a month. Change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it. Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms, and sleeping areas.
  • Create and practice your home fire escape plan. Fire experts agree that people may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late. This weekend, create a home fire escape plan with your household and practice it until everyone can escape in less than two minutes. Escape plans should include at least two ways to escape from every room and a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone knows where to meet.

 

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN SAVING LIVES

Each year, the Red Cross responds to more than 62,000 disasters—the vast majority of which are home fires. Every day, seven people die in home fires, and most tragedies occur in homes without working smoke alarms. That’s why the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign with community partners in 2014 to reduce needless deaths and injuries.

So far, the Home Fire Campaign has reached more than 1.7 million people and is credited with saving more than 500 lives across the country. The campaign’s volunteers and partners have also:

  • Installed more than 1.5 million free smoke alarms
  • Reached more than 1.3 million children through youth preparedness programs
  • Made more than 660,000 households safer from the threat of home fires

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HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN IN NORTHEAST OHIO

Here in Northeast Ohio, we have a long and successful history with the Sound the Alarm campaign. The program, then named Operation Save-A-Life began in 1992 when the Greater Cleveland Chapter Executive Director Steve Bullock teamed up with the City of Cleveland, after a string of fatal home fires across the city, to reduce injuries and deaths due to home fires by providing residents in at-risk neighborhoods with fire safety education and free smoke alarms and installations.

Today, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responds to roughly three home fires every 24 hours across the region.

Last year, as part of the campaign, the Red Cross in Northeast Ohio:

  • Installed 17,546 free smoke alarms throughout the region
  • Reached more than 4,400 area youth through youth preparedness programs
  • Made more than 6,200 households safer

You can visit redcross.org/homefires for free resources and to learn more about how to protect your family and your home from fire, or contact your local Red Cross chapter in Northeast Ohio to find out about smoke alarm installation events in their community.

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of the American public to fulfill its humanitarian mission. If you would like to support our lifesaving work, please consider volunteering or making a donation today by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 gift.

Northeast Ohio Region weekend disaster response report: December 21-23, 2018

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

Over the weekend, as people across Northeast Ohio were getting last minute tasks done to prepare for the holidays, the American Red Cross was responding to residents suffering from local disasters.

Sound the Alarm - Ohio 2018During the weekend of December 21-23, the Red Cross of Northeast Ohio responded to nine incidents in Cuyahoga, Mahoning, Summit and Wayne Counties. The incidents affected 24 adults, 16 children and resulted in the distribution of more than $8,000 in immediate financial assistance by the Red Cross.

Unfortunately, one of the nine incidents was a home fire in Cuyahoga County, which resulted in the fatality of an adult occupant and critical injuries to a two year old child. While the Red Cross is saddened by this tragedy during a time focused on happiness, the Red Cross will remain in contact with the victim’s family to provide assistance, such as support from disaster mental health workers. Louisiana Floods 2016

The vast majority of local disasters that the Red Cross responds to in Northeast Ohio are home fires. Every 24 hours, the Red Cross responds to three home fires on average. To learn how you can protect your family from home fires and to request a free smoke alarm installation, visit here.

If you would like to provide a financial donation to assist the Red Cross’ efforts to support the residents of Northeast Ohio in their time of need, visit redcross.org/donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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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Sound the Alarm a Success

Hundreds of Volunteers Install Thousands of Smoke Alarms in Three Weeks

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Volunteers for the Sound the Alarm event in Slavic Village on May 12, 2018

Residents in more than 900 homes in Northeast Ohio can sleep more soundly knowing they now have working smoke alarms, installed over a three-week period this spring by volunteers with the American Red Cross and dozens of partners.

Nationwide, more than 103,000 alarms were installed in 43,000 homes during the same three weeks, as part of a Red Cross initiative known as Sound the Alarm. Save a Live.  Read more about the national results here.

Locally, nearly 2,500 alarms were installed in neighborhoods of Cleveland, Akron and Maple Heights between April 28 and May 12.  About 350 volunteers went door-to-door, installing free smoke alarms, changing batteries in existing alarms, and helping residents create escape plans.

40277366540_81f2ea6dbd_z“We have over 20 people here from KeyBank, and we think this is a great cause,” said Don Kimble, Chief Financial Officer at KeyBank and a member of the board of directors for the Red Cross Greater Cleveland Chapter. He volunteered to help during the final Sound the Alarm event in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood on Saturday, May 12.  “There aren’t many times you can volunteer and actually help save a life. It really helps out the community.”

More than 400 lives have been saved since the Red Cross began installing alarms nationwide in 2014.

“Anything can happen.  You never know what will cause a fire,” said Richard Demming, as volunteers installed new smoke alarms in his second-story home on East 55th Street in Cleveland. “Smoke alarms alert you to get out of the house.”

 

Another resident of East 55th Street, Stanford Simmons said, “It’s good for the community.  Volunteering is important. The fire department can’t do it all.”

The Cleveland Fire Department has been working with the Red Cross to install smoke alarms in homes since 1992.  Several firefighters accompanied the volunteers in Slavic Village on Saturday.

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Jamie Evans, upper left, and other volunteers from Third Federal Savings and Loan

Jamie Evans is a human resources employee with Third Federal Savings and Loan, which is headquartered in Slavic Village.   He was with a team of volunteers from Third Federal and said, “You could definitely tell people appreciated it.  A couple of residents were outside waiting for us.  We took out lots of old alarms, people who didn’t have the means to replace them.  It’s definitely a good program.”

425 alarms were installed in Slavic Village on Saturday, making 125 homes safer. Click here for more photos from the Sound the Alarm event in Slavic Village.

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FirstEnergy employees were among the volunteers for the Sound the Alarm event in Akron on May 11, 2018.

The day before, dozens of volunteers gathered in East Akron for another Sound the Alarm event. Among them was Murphy Montler, Director of Local External Affairs for FirstEnergy in Ohio and West Virginia.  He was heading a team of more than two dozen FirstEnergy workers.

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Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Board member Charles Brown and Murphy Montler of FirstEnergy

“We have a long-standing partnership with the Red Cross,” Murphy said.  “When they’re out dealing with disasters, we’re also dealing with infrastructure issues affecting our customers.”  Murphy noted that there has been a recent spate of fire fatalities in Akron, and that FirstEnergy workers volunteered to help the Red Cross make homes in Akron safer.

“This organization is so wonderful,” he said.  “It doesn’t operate without volunteers.  It’s a mission that people really connect with.”

Greg Sell, a resident of Eva Avenue in Akron, said he didn’t know the Red Cross offered free smoke alarm installations.  “Thank God for the Red Cross,” he said.  “I’ll be telling everybody.  Continue the good work.”  Click here for more photos from the May 11th Sound the Alarm event in Akron.

Sound the Alarm events WILL continue, year-round. Residents throughout Northeast Ohio can request a free home fire inspection and free smoke alarms by visiting soundthealarm.org/neo.  You can register to become a Red Cross volunteer at redcross.org/neo.

We are grateful for all our partners who helped us Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.

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Akron City Fire Department
Almost Family
ArcelorMittal
Asurint
BCD Travel
Buckingham Doolittle & Burroughs
Case Western Reserve Students
Cleveland Central Catholic
Cleveland City Council
Cleveland Fire Department
Cox Automotive
DOVIA
First Energy Corporation
Franklin Myles State Farm
Huntington Bank
J & M Champions for Change
KeyBank
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center
Manheim Cleveland-Cox Automotive
Maple Heights Fire Department
Metro Health System
Mount Calvary Lodge
NAWIC
NLC LOANS
Ohio’s Choice Home Health
Prince Hall Masons
Red Cross Board, & Associate Board (Young Professionals)
Red Cross Club- CWRU
Robert W Baird
S&T Bank
Signet Jewelers
Stockyard Connection Block Club Metro West CDO/Stockyard Safety Committee
Team RWB
Third Federal Savings & Loan
Torchbearers
Westfield Group

 

More than 90 Homes Made Safer During First Sound the Alarm Event

Cold and rain fail to dampen the spirit of volunteers

More than 90 families on Cleveland’s west side can sleep more soundly, knowing there are now working smoke alarms in their homes.  The alarms were installed by volunteers from various community groups and corporate partners, who worked with the Red Cross and the Cleveland Fire Department on the first Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation event in Northeast Ohio on Saturday.

The goal of the nationwide program is to save lives.

“Through the combined efforts, we were able to install more than 234 smoke alarms,” said Tim O’Toole, Red Cross Regional Disaster Program Officer. “91 families in the Clark Fulton neighborhood slept safer last night due to the efforts of our combined partnership.”

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Tim O’Toole, Chief Angelo Calvillo, and Councilwoman Jasmin Santana

Chief Angelo Calvillo of the Cleveland Division of Fire and city councilwoman Jasmin Santana, who represents the neighborhood, helped kick-off the event.

“People don’t realize that when a house fire occurs, you only have a couple of minutes to get out,” said Chief Calvillo. “An alarm will actually notify you and your family to get out of the house.”IMG_5726

 

 

More than 30 volunteers dispersed throughout the neighborhood to help residents create escape plans and to install smoke alarms.  Among the groups represented by volunteers were the Metrohealth System, Prince Hall Masons, and the Red Cross Club from Case Western Reserve University.

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CWRU Red Cross Club volunteers Austin Zhang and Tobi Oshomoji

A Tobi Oshomoji, a sophomore from Nashville, Tennesee, and Austin Zhang, a freshman from Houston, Texas were on a team of installers going door-to-door on Trent Avenue.

“It’s about stepping outside University Circle and interacting with the community,” said Austin. “Cleveland has welcomed us, and we’d like to give back.”

You can see more photos from Saturday’s Sound the Alarm event here, in our Flickr photo album.

The city of Cleveland is one of more than 100 cities nationwide where Sound the Alarm events are taking place between April 28 and May 13.  Volunteers and partners will also help install alarms in Akron, Maple Heights, and Slavic Village during the next three weeks.  For more information or to volunteer, visit soundthealarm.org/neo.

 

Overconfident and Underprepared

New Red Cross Survey Shows Many Americans Mistaken About Home Fire Safety

According to a new survey by the American Red Cross, many people overestimate their ability to react to a home fire and miss critical steps to keep their loved ones safe.

In fact, 40 percent of people believe they are more likely to win the lottery or get struck by lightning than experience a home fire. Yet, home fires are the most common disaster people face in this country – the majority of the nearly 64,000 disasters the Red Cross responds to every year.

“Every day seven people in this country die in a home fire and another 36 people are hurt,” reports Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern. “To address this crisis, we’re bringing together thousands of community partners and volunteers to Sound the Alarm about home fire safety and help save lives. We’ve already installed more than 1.1 million smoke alarms, but our work will continue across the country, because many families are still underprepared when it comes to home fire safety.”

This spring, the Red Cross will Sound the Alarm through a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events in more than 100 high-risk communities in the United States, including Cleveland and Akron. In just 16 days – from April 28 to May 13 – volunteers and partners will install 100,000 free smoke alarms across the country. Volunteers are needed, learn more by visiting SoundTheAlarm.org/neo.

MANY PEOPLE MISTAKEN ABOUT HOME FIRE FACTS

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The Red Cross survey found that many Americans have a false sense of security about their family’s ability to escape a home fire. More than three-fourths (80 percent) of people surveyed believe everyone in their household knows what to do when a smoke alarm goes off. But less than half of those surveyed have a home fire escape plan in place. And only half of the families that do have a plan have actually practiced it.

Home fire experts say that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. However, the survey showed nearly 60 percent of people mistakenly believe they have much more time than is realistic.

MORE SURVEY RESULTS Even though many Americans admit to actions that could contribute to a home fire, only one out of four (27 percent) think that they are likely to experience a home fire in their lifetime. For example, about 40 percent of people have forgotten to turn off a stove or oven, even though cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. And, more than one-third (34 percent) of people have used a stove, kerosene lantern or space heater to warm their home. The fact is that heating equipment is involved in one of every five home fire deaths.

The survey does show that some progress is being made. More people are replacing batteries (a 9 percent increase vs. 2015) and testing to make sure their smoke alarms are working (an 11 percent increase vs. 2015). But there is still have a long way to go to make sure everyone is prepared for home fires.

Americans overwhelmingly believe that smoke alarms can save lives, yet one out of ten (12 percent) people have had to give up buying other essentials for their families to purchase one. These findings highlight just how critical the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign is in communities across the country. Launched in 2014 to save lives and help end home fire tragedies, the Red Cross and its partners have already installed more than 1.1 million free smoke alarms and reached 1 million children through preparedness programs. These efforts are already credited with helping to save 381 lives. Learn more.

This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from national partners: Almost Family, Delta Air Lines and International Paper. The Red Cross has also received funding from FEMA through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

Join the Red Cross today by volunteering to install smoke alarms in your community, making a financial contribution, or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires. Together, we can Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives. Learn more at soundthealarm.org/neo.

Supplemental Information about Survey Methodology

The national public opinion survey was conducted for the Red Cross in August 2017 using the research firm Issues & Answers. The study was conducted among a national sample of 604 American adults. The total sample is balanced to be representative of the US adult population in terms of age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 4 percent.