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Red Cross Kicks Off Two-Year Preparedness Initiative

Lady taking a Red Cross CPR class
Whenever disaster occurs, your local American Red Cross is here to help.

By: Matt Bertram, Chief Executive Officer – American Red Cross – Ohio Buckeye Region

There’s no worse feeling in an emergency than helplessness.

If someone has a heart attack right in front of you, would you be able to help save her?

If the tornado sirens sound, would your children know to take cover in the basement?

If your house catches fire, would they know to get out immediately and not hide in fear?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you’re not prepared. And you’re not alone.

That’s why we’re launching Project Prepare, a two-year campaign to engage at least 500,000 Ohio residents in preparing for the kinds of emergencies faced here. Our goal is to create more resilient communities that are better equipped to help each other prevent, prepare for and respond to life-threatening emergencies. Our goal is to eliminate that feeling of helplessness. Over the next two years, we want a half-million Ohioans to do one of the following: Make a Plan, Build a Kit, or Get Trained. Through extensive Red Cross programming, we will be providing training and resources to audiences of all ages and for all types of emergencies like home fires, cardiac arrests, weather disasters, and more.

The statistics are sobering. Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire. Each year, more than 300,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest in the United States. And even in Ohio, weather disasters can have a major financial and emotional impact on the community. Remember Hurricane Ike in 2008 and the derecho that swept across the state in 2012?

Whenever disaster occurs, your local American Red Cross is here to help keep you safe and provide comfort – just as we’ve been for nearly 100 years. We’re also here to make sure you’re ready to deal with disasters at any time.

Through the generous support of sponsors like Columbia Gas of Ohio, American Electric Power, Foundation, The Andersons and more, we’re mobilizing the financial and human resources necessary to achieve the highest priority of the Red Cross – activities and investments vital to building resilient communities.

Through Project Prepare, American Red Cross workers are joining with local fire departments and community groups to visit neighborhoods at high risk for fires. Those visits include educating people about fire safety through door-to-door stops and installation of smoke alarms in some neighborhoods.

Volunteers are also being equipped to provide hands-only CPR training to thousands of residents who may otherwise not know what to do. Did you know, for every minute that CPR and defibrillation are delayed, a person’s chance for survival is reduced by about 10 percent? First aid, CPR, AED and babysitter training sessions are being offered in communities across the state.

Additionally, we’re building stronger programming to help Ohio’s children get prepared through puppet shows and interactive games. We’ve also developed training to equip our senior citizens with the knowledge to stay safe during emergencies. And we have specific programming available to equip pet owners with the knowledge and tools to keep their furry friends safe when an emergency strikes. Finally, we’ve set up a special web portal here with free downloads, videos, checklists, and access to our suite of FREE smartphone preparedness apps.  Our most popular, the first aid app, has been downloaded more than a million times since its launch across the US.

We want to put a stake in the ground and help Ohioans better prepare for the types of emergencies that happen here. Through Project Prepare, we know we will be making Ohio a safer place to live, work and play.

To learn about volunteering or supporting this campaign, visit the Red Cross website at

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 or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.