With Snow Finally on the Way – Red Cross Offers 15 Ways to Stay Safe

Winter Storms – Red Cross Offers 15 Ways to Stay Safe When Winter Hits

With the first significant snow finally in the forecast, the American Red Cross wants New England residents to be ready.

Winter weather poses unique challenges to people faced with bitter cold, snow and ice. The Red Cross has steps you should take to stay safe if you are in the path of winter storms.

“A winter storm is headed to this region and we have safety tips everyone can follow to stay safe,” said Lloyd Ziel, communications director for the Red Cross in Massachusetts “Whether trying to keep your home warm or having to be outside in the cold, you can follow these steps to get through the storm.”

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HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY

It’s that time of year when many people resort to space heaters and other sources to keep their homes warm. Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in this country. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps (More home fire safety information available here):

  1. Give the heat space – All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
  2. Orient space heaters – If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
  3. Protect your home – Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace. 
  4. Abstain from the range – Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  5. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
    STAY SAFE DURING WINTER WEATHER
  1. Beware the Cold – Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  2. Remember to Rest – Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
  3. Awareness – Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  4. Dogs and Cats – Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
  5. Yield to the Frost – Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

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WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY

Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:

  1. Grip That Seat Belt – Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  2. Refrain from Tailgating –  Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  3. Oppose the Cruise –  Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  4. Never Crowd the Plow – Don’t pass snow plows.
  5. Know What Freezes – Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.

 

DOWNLOAD APPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps

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About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

 

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Volunteers, Donors Help Red Cross Serve Residents in 2018

This year, our volunteers and donors helped make sure the Red Cross was ready to respond to the needs of the citizens of Massachusetts, as well as those in need across the country.

Starting in September the American Red Cross launched a wide-ranging relief effort to help people in North and South Carolina devastated by Hurricane Florence. In October, Hurricane Michael severely impacted the Florida Panhandle, followed in November by the Woolsey and Camp Fires in California. With the Camp Fire becoming the most destructive and deadliest wildfire in California history. Our partners also help us make homes safer through our Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, help us to respond to disasters by supporting the purchase of Red Cross vehicles, help military families through our Service to the Armed Forces Programs and help us support our generous volunteer blood donors.

In Fiscal Year 2018, your local Red Cross was hard at work providing comfort and hope right here at home. The American Red Cross in Massachusetts:

  • Responded to 683 local incidents, including fires, power outages, hazardous materials releases, transportation accidents and storms in Massachusetts and provided immediate disaster assistance to nearly 5,000 residents in the form of emergency shelter; food; clothing; children’s items; and other household needs.
  • Installed more than 7,000 smoke alarms as part of the Home Fire Campaign.
  • Taught more than 23,000 Massachusetts residents how to protect themselves and their families or to help others in an emergency through classes in First Aid, CPR, Lifeguard training, Babysitter training, Community Disaster Education programs and more.
  • Provided emergency communications, support services and access to emergency financial assistance to more than 1,300 military families.
  • Collected more than 140,000 units of blood to provide lifesaving blood components, plasma derivatives and transfusion services to hospitals and acute care facilities in Massachusetts.

The Red Cross also runs one of New England’s largest food pantries, serving more than 182,000 people last year.

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About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/ma or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossma.

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Is Cooking & Heating Safety on Your To-Do List for Thanksgiving?

As families prepare for the coming holiday and all the trappings that it brings, a rash of recent home fires is a sad reminder that extra care is always a good idea around fire safety.

Since Nov. 15, Red Cross volunteers in Massachusetts responded to seven home fires across our region that displaced 19 families totaling 45 people. These fires displaced families in Amherst, Rockland, Bellingham, Plymouth, Malden and Brockton. Red Cross volunteers in Massachusetts are on call 24/7/365 to respond when the call goes out.

Home fires are more likely to start in the kitchen than any other room in the home. The second leading cause of home fires is heating sources like wood stoves and fireplaces. Fires caused by smoking are the leading cause of deaths.

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Residents should also take steps to ensure their home heating system is properly maintained and in good working order as winter quickly approaches. Furnaces and chimneys should be inspected regularly by a professional to ensure dangerous carbon monoxide gas isn’t collecting in utility and living spaces. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, all homes should have detectors placed near heating sources to ensure safety.

The American Red Cross provides the means for families to get immediate emergency support such as clothing, food and shelter in the first few days after a fire. Volunteer Client Caseworkers then work with the families to help them navigate the days and weeks following to recovery. The American Red Cross is a charitable organization, not a government agency. It depends on volunteers and the generosity of people like you to perform our mission.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

The Red Cross asks everyone to take two simple steps to help prevent injury and death during a fire in their home – check their smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home. Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of the day. The plan should include two ways to get out of every room and a place to meet outside. Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above.

People should also install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. The alarms should be tested every month and the batteries replaced at least once a year.

The Red Cross and community partners around the country are participating in a campaign called the “Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.” If you, or someone you know doesn’t have smoke alarms installed in your home, Red Cross is working with local teams to install them free of charge. If you are in need of someone to install smoke alarms, please contact the American Red Cross to arrange for a free smoke alarm installation or battery check by going to redcross.org/ma or by calling 1-800-564-1234.

In Massachusetts, a family is displaced by a disaster – most usually a home fire – on average every two hours. You can help people affected by disasters like home fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org/MA, call

1-800-564-1234, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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A Note of Thanks for a Good Deed

The Red Cross is in communities everyday 3helping people affected by disaster, be it a flood, tornado or fire. Home fires account for much of the disaster work the American Red Cross does every day.

Since 2014, the Home Fire Campaign has been making homes safe across the United States. Four years and one million smoke alarms later, volunteers with the Red Cross have helped save nearly 250 people, people who didn’t have working smoke alarms in their homes and were alerted to danger by one of those million smoke alarms.

Here in Massachusetts volunteers installed more than 7,000 smoke alarms in homes across the Commonwealth. Our most vulnerable communities are densely populated areas with multi-family homes and the elderly. Our volunteers are hard at work finding those in need and making homes safer for residents and their local community.

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Our Central Massachusetts Executive Director Kim Goulette, received the following hand-written thank you note from a resident who benefited from the Home Fire Campaign.

Together we can help make more home safer with fire education and smoke alarms.

 

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Dear Ms. Goulette,                                                                                         May 7, 2018

Thank you for sending two Red Cross men to my home to install the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide devices!

Chief D’Amico of the Marlborough Fire Department came also to assist them in making my home safe and protected from smoke and fumes.

I appreciate the “Lunch & Learn” info workshop very much.

 

Sandra M.

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After a busy day, Red Cross reminds you to be prepared for home fires

May went out like a lion this year, with Red Cross volunteers responding to eight separate fires across Massachusetts May 31 alone, affecting 32 people.

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While there were no fatalities reported, it emphasizes the message the Red Cross stresses year-round, being prepared for a fire can save your life.

“Having a working smoke alarm in the home is the number-one way to keep your family safe,” said David Lewis, regional executive for Massachusetts. “The Red Cross will not only install free smoke alarms in your home, we’ll sit down with residents and go over safety measures every family member can use to get out of a burning home alive.”

These simple safety measures below can prevent fires from happening, and get you out alive if a fire does break out. Most people don’t know, but on average a person has two minutes to exit a home before toxic smoke and flames become fatal.

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  • “Keep an eye on what you fry.” Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or using an open flame.
  • “3 feet from the heat.” Furniture, curtains, dish towels and anything that could catch fire are at least 3 feet from any type of heat source.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Large and small appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets.
  • Matches and lighters are locked away
  • Change smoke alarm batteries every year unless it has a long-life battery.
  • Replace smoke alarms every ten years.
  • Test your smoke alarms each month. If they’re not working, they can’t get you out the door.
  • At least twice a year, practice your fire escape plan with all family members.
  • Practice makes perfect! After each fire drill, mark down your escape time.

For more information about keeping your home safe and for free installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, call 800-746-3511. An operator will take your information and a Red Cross volunteer will follow up and schedule the installation. This is a free service brought to you by the American Red Cross.

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Making Lowell homes safer with Sound the Alarm

A devastating fire brought Dionisio Quadros to the Red Cross in 2007. His apartment, along with those of three other families, burned on a cool November night in the Highlands section of Lowell, Mass.

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“I remember being woken by the smoke alarms on the floor above me,” said Quadros. “I thought maybe someone had burned something in their kitchen, it didn’t cross my mind that it was an actual fire.”

When Quadros fully woke up he could hear more than one smoke alarm sounding in the three-story house. The upper portion of the 60-year old wooden structure was fully ablaze when Quadros made it safely to the sidewalk.

“I remember grabbing my keys and nothing else.”

Quardros and the three other families spent the next few hours with Red Cross volunteers at a near-by restaurant, the manager keeping the lights on late so that Red Cross case workers could assist those affected by the fire.

“I found a new apartment about 10 days later. Between the money from the Red Cross, friends and family, I was luckier than some in the house.”

Flash forward to May 5, 2018. The American Red Cross Sound the Alarm event drew more than 50 volunteers in Lowell to make homes safer. Volunteers were wrapping up a training session and rally at the Lowell Senior Center that morning before hitting the streets for STA appointments when Quardros walked into the recreation area at the center.

“Dionisio was noticed when he walked in, he wasn’t your average senior citizen with his leather vest and bandanna,” said Deb Duxbury, disaster program manager for the Northeast Massachusetts Chapter of the Red Cross. Duxbury said Red Cross volunteers asked him if he’d like a home safety check and for volunteers to test his smoke alarms. He gave his address and phone number to a group of volunteers and was added to the afternoon appointments.

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Volunteers replaced and installed seven smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the three-unit home where Dionisio lives, making an apartment safer where three young children lived with their mother and grandmother.

Dionisio went on to say how glad he was to stumble onto the program that morning at the senior center on his morning coffee run.

“The Red Cross helped me in my hour of need many years ago. I’m glad they’re with me now. I feel safer with the carbon monoxide detector in the basement,” said Quardros.

Lowell volunteers went on to install 703 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during the 12-day Sound the Alarm event in Massachusetts’ third largest city.

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Red Cross & NBC Boston Partner to Make Boston Homes Safer

by Jeff Hall, American Red Cross of Massachusetts

NBC Boston and the American Red Cross of Massachusetts have partnered to make Boston homes safer through the Home Fire Campaign.

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Over the next several months, Red Cross volunteers and members of the Boston Fire Department will install smoke detectors donated by NBC Boston in homes across city neighborhoods. The winter months especially pose a troublesome time for home fires as temperatures dip and people look for alternative heating methods in their homes.

“As temperatures dip, space heaters become one of the leading causes of home fires across the nation,” said Edward Blanchard, interim disaster program manager for the Red Cross in the Boston metropolitan area. “Heaters can overload an electrical outlet or one placed too close to curtains or drapes become an instant fire hazard,” said Blanchard.

NBC Boston received a donation of 500 combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors from First Alert, a manufacturer of home fire safety products, and contacted the Red Cross of Massachusetts to identify residents who could use the new safety equipment.

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“As part of our commitment to the community, NBC Boston, Telemundo Boston and necn couldn’t be more proud of our month-long fire safety campaign with the American Red Cross, First Alert and the Boston Fire Department. We hope through our messaging of the generous First Alert donations, and installations in homes across the city, we were able to make at least one home, safer.”-  Maggie Baxter, Vice President of Programming, NBC Boston, Telemundo Boston & necn.

“The partnership is a great fit for the Red Cross,” said Blanchard. “With the detectors donated by NBC Boston, our Home Fire Campaign can continue to identify families who need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make their homes safer.”

Boston Fire Department officials stress that best way to keep your home or residence safe is to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and near every bedroom. An existing partnership with the Boston Fire Department has already allowed more than 1,000 smoke detectors to be installed across Boston.

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“Fires today are much more dangerous than they were 30 years ago. They reach flash over more quickly,” said Joseph Finn, Boston Fire Commissioner. “When people get an early warning from a smoke detector, they are out of the building before the fire reaches a deadly stage. That early warning is vital for survivability,” said Finn.

This continuing outreach is part of the ongoing Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, in which Red Cross volunteers and partners canvass high-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans. Through another program called the Pillowcase Project, Red Cross volunteers are educating children in elementary schools on how to be ready for a home fire or other dangerous natural disasters. This work is made possible thanks to generous financial donations from national partners: Almost Family and Delta Air Lines. The Red Cross has also received funding from FEMA through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

In early November, Red Cross volunteers installed the one millionth free smoke detector in the United States as part of the Home Fire Campaign.  To date, the campaign has saved the lives of 285 people who were alerted to smoke or carbon monoxide in their residence.

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