American Red Cross Shares Holiday Fire Safety Tips

December 11, 2008

As the holiday season moves into full swing, the American Red Cross-Rock River Chapter urges families to follow simple safety tips to keep the season merry and to prevent holiday fires.

First, the Red Cross recommends keeping all potential fuel sources, including decorations and evergreen trees and wreaths, at least three feet from heat sources such as candles, heat vents, fireplaces and radiators.

In addition, holiday lights and candles need to be turned off or extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed, and especially before leaving home.

If you are entertaining guests, designate a responsible family member to walk around your home ensuring that candles and smoking materials are properly extinguished once guests leave.

During the winter holiday season the incidence and severity of home fires dramatically increases. In fact, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, each year nearly 47,000 fires occur nationally during the holidays claiming more than 500 lives, causing more than 2,200 injuries, and costing $554 million in property damage. Many of these fires are caused by home heating sources, unattended cooking, and candles.

“Last year the Rock River Chapter responded to more than 100 home fires and provided families with immediate emergency assistance including shelter, food, counseling and more,” said Dave Pattengale, Director of Emergency Services. “In addition to following safety precautions with holiday lights and decorations, this is a great time for Rock River Valley families to make sure that their smoke alarms are functioning properly and practice their home fire escape plan.”

At a minimum, smoke alarms need to be installed outside of each sleeping area and on each level of your home. If you sleep with closed doors, install alarms inside sleeping areas too. Use the test button to test each smoke alarm once a month. All smoke alarm batteries need to be replaced once a year. Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes for every room in the home. Also chose a convenient meeting place at a safe distance from your home. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year with all family members.

The Red Cross recommends following the below tips to help prevent holiday home fires:

Christmas Tree Care

  • Purchase flame retardant metallic or artificial trees.
  • If you purchase a real tree, make sure that it has fresh, green needles that aren’t easily boken. Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water.
  • Use a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over.
  • Keep trees at least three feet away from heat sources, including fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.
  • Make sure that any light strings or other decorations for the tree are in good condition and follow manufacturer’s instructions for their use. Do not use anything with frayed electrical cords.
  • Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree.
  • Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Safely dispose of trees as they become dry and needles begin to drop.
  • Dispose of trees through recycling centers or community pick-up services. Dried-out trees should not be left at home or in a garage, or placed against the home or garage.

Holiday Lights and Decorations

  • Always unplug tree and holiday lights before leaving home or going to bed.
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets by not linking more than three light strands.
  • Use decorations that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
  • Place decorations at least three feet away from fireplaces, portable heaters, radiators, heat vents and candles.

Holiday Candles

  • Remember that lit candles are fire. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate a tree.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from trees, evergreens, holiday decorations, and other items that can catch on fire like clothing, papers and curtains.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won’t tip over easily, are made from a material that cannot burn, and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Place candles only where they cannot be reached or easily knocked over by children and pets.
  • Consider using battery-operated “flameless” candles that are scented and have a flickering affect.

For more information on fire safety, or to learn more about American Red Cross programs and services please visit: www.rockriver.redcross.org or call: (815) 963-8471.


Looking for a good way to remember what the Rock River Chapter of the Red Cross does? – It’s all about HERBS

October 23, 2008

It’s not the herbs your thinking of, but it’s a handy way to remember what the Rock River Chapter does in the community. HERBS stands for:

H – Health & Safety

E – Emergency Services

R – Rock’n for the RED our annual fundraiser

B – Blood Donation

S – Service to the Armed Forces


Compression-Only CPR Frequently Asked Questions from the Red Cross

April 3, 2008

Q. What is Compression-Only CPR?

A. Compression-Only CPR is giving continuous chest compressions (approximately 100 compressions per minute) without giving rescue breaths.

Q. When should Compression-Only CPR be used?

A. Based on scientific evidence, the American Red Cross supports Compression-Only CPR (continuous chest compressions) as an effective alternative when:

  • a bystander is unwilling, unable, untrained or unsure how to perform full CPR (cycles of chest compressions and rescue breaths) and;
  • a bystander has witnessed the sudden collapse of an adult.

Q. When should Compression-Only CPR not be used?

A. Compression-Only CPR should not be used for infants and children, for an adult whose sudden collapse is not witnessed or when a respiratory emergency may have caused the cardiac arrest.

Q. Is “Compression-Only CPR” the same as “Hands-Only CPR?”

A. Yes. The Red Cross uses the term “Compression-Only CPR” while the American Heart Association (AHA) uses “Hands-Only CPR.” The technique is the same – giving continuous chest compressions (approximately 100 compressions per minute) without giving rescue breaths.

Q. Do the Red Cross and AHA agree on the recommendations for Compression-Only CPR?

A. Yes. Both Red Cross and AHA hope that Compression-Only CPR will save lives by encouraging bystanders who witness the sudden collapse of an adult to get involved and have someone call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number and then start giving continuous chest compressions until help arrives or the adult shows obvious signs of life (normal breathing or movement).

Q. Do people still need to take traditional CPR courses?

A. The Red Cross encourages everyone to learn traditional or full CPR (cycles of chest compressions and rescue breaths). There are emergency situations where a person shows no signs of life (normal breathing or movement) and may benefit from full CPR. Many individuals will still need to take training that includes full CPR such as those who take CPR training for certification to meet federal, state and local requirements, lay responders in workplaces who have a duty to respond, or those who care for infants and children.

Q. What about professional rescuers?

A. Compression-Only CPR does not affect Red Cross professional rescuer level CPR/AED training programs.

Q. Do you use an AED if performing Compression-Only CPR?

A. Yes. An automated external defibrillator (AED) should be used as soon as it becomes available – regardless of whether or not the sudden collapse was witnessed. The device will not cause additional harm to the victim and will not defibrillate unless a shockable rhythm is detected.

Q. What should I do if I am trained in full CPR, do not have a duty to respond and witness the sudden collapse of an adult?

A. If you are trained in full CPR, do not have a duty to respond and you witness the sudden collapse of an adult – have someone call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. If you are comfortable doing so, give full CPR. If you are not comfortable do so, giving Compression Only CPR is an effective alternative. Continue compressions until help arrives or the adult shows obvious signs of life (normal breathing or movement).

Q. What should I do if I am trained in full CPR, have a duty to respond and witness the sudden collapse of an adult?

A. If you are trained in full CPR, have a duty to respond and you witness the sudden collapse of an adult – have someone call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number. Perform the skills according to your level of training.