Hidden Dangers in Fall Decorations (And Other Fall Fire Safety Tips!)

By Sarah Layton

I didn’t make it 30 feet into Jo-Ann Fabric before stopping at a shelf.

FallDecor“50 percent off decorative pumpkins and it’s not even November yet?” I said partially to myself, partially to make a case to my begrudging husband who had accompanied me craft shopping earlier this season. That pumpkin, made of twigs and festooned with ribbon, is now a perfect addition to my kitchen island.Aforementioned twig and leaf decor.



Guess what else is on my kitchen island — a candle. A yummy smelling, frequently-lit candle. Even though it may not be the ideal arrangement, that pumpkin now stays three feet from the heat. Just as any item in your home should stay three feet from heat sources, including your stove, a space heater and all candles.

If your expertly carved pumpkin has survived Halloween and you can’t resist using a real candle to make it shine, make sure the candle gets blown out when you can’t monitor it, especially when you leave your home. To light the candle, use something that will keep your appendages safe, such as a long fireplace lighter. Fun fact: My family used to deploy dry spaghetti noodles for our pumpkin-lighting purposes.


Fall Lights

Are you the proud household with gigantic spiders on your roof and orange lights illuminating every window? Maybe an inflatable turkey or two in the yard? My apartment has been reduced to one string of lights in our picture window, but even with that we are super careful to unplug them every time we leave the house.

Always remember to turn off any running electric appliances before you leave home, blow out candles and unplug fire hazards such as lights that might get too hot. Especially if they are near those new curtains you spent so much money on…



Toddler Sarah in leaf pile. Photo credit: Sarah’s mom.While I may think the piles of leaves in my yard are super festive fall decor on a grandiose scale, I understand some people out there collect leaves from their yards and dispose of them. (So many leaf pile jumping missed opportunities. But I digress). If your household is serious about leaf collection, here’s how you can also be serious about fire hazards when you dispose of them:

Use caution when burning leaves – Clear leaves away from the home and other buildings. Burn leaves only when permitted and in accordance with local laws and guidelines. Use extreme caution to ensure safety and control of the fire.

Prepare your home – Select building materials and plants that resist fire. Regularly clean your roof and gutters to remove flammable debris. Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home.

Gather firefighting tools – Set aside household items that can be used as firefighting tools: rake, ax, bucket, shovel, etc. You may need to fight a fire before emergency responders arrive.



Raise your hand if the pumpkins and gourds scattered strategically around your home are soon to be chopped up for roasted fall treats. I didn’t even carve my pumpkin this year, so it’s a perfect candidate for yummy toasted seeds. Knowing the majority of home fires start in the kitchen, I always have the Red Cross cooking safety tips in mind:

Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.

Stay in the home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food. Check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that food is cooking.

Keep anything that can catch fire—like pot holders, towels, plastic and clothing— away from the stove.

Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.

Remember, we have plenty of other fire safety tips on redcross.org, as part of the Home Fire Campaign. Stay tuned for more holiday, cooking and heat-related information to keep your family safe this fall and winter!



2nd Anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan – The Red Cross Response

Two years after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines, families are rebuilding their lives, livelihoods, and communities thanks, in part, to generous donations to the American Red Cross.

By addressing a wide range of communities’ needs, we were able to help them recover in a way that is sustainable in the long-term, such as investing in water and sanitation, school repair, and small businesses.

Here in the Gold Country Region we were able to raise $1.055M in a day-long telethon that aired on KCRA3, which always shows how great and giving our community is. That was just what was raised locally; but overall, the American Red Cross received $88 million for Haiyan’s relief and recovery efforts. As of September 30, 2015, 98% of these funds have been spent or committed.

Donors would be proud to see what their donations have accomplished in typhoon-affected communities:  beyond lifesaving supplies in the storm’s immediate aftermath, donors would see repaired schools, sturdier homes, healthier water infrastructure, new business, and neighborhoods that are better prepared for future disasters.

Besides raising funds, our board members, volunteers and staff were able to do a lot of outreach with Asian Pacific Islander community groups in our region by providing information and helping them connect with family members that were still in the Philippines. Additionally, our volunteer Kathy Pascoe was helping with the relief efforts remotely by providing Client Case Work support.

This was one of the strongest storms ever recorded and it damaged more than one million homes, so the American Red Cross is helping people repair and rebuild homes made of materials that are more able to withstand strong winds, heavy rain, and flooding.

With American Red Cross support, 10,000 families are now living in safer shelter. This includes more than 3,200 families who are now living in new homes and more than 6,600 who received cash, materials, and technical support to reconstruct their houses to better withstand future disasters.

The Red Cross moved quickly to address people’s immediate needs after the typhoon. After two years, we are still in the Philippines, ensuring that families’ recovery is sustainable and helping people prepare for future disasters that may come their way.

For more information on this relief effort, pictures and video click here.

American Red Cross Seeking Nominees for Heroes Recognition Event

Heroes_WebBannerSACRAMENTO, Calif., Tuesday, November 3, 2015 – The American Red Cross Gold Country Region is seeking out the local heroes of Sacramento and Yolo counties to be honored at the annual Heroes Recognition luncheon – to be held on Friday, January 22 in Woodland.

The Red Cross is asking community members to nominate individuals who they consider heroes. Do you know someone that who has demonstrated an act(s) of heroism in the last year? Now is your chance to place them in the spotlight. Submit the story of your hero and why they should be recognized.

Candidates for nomination can be anyone that lives or works in Sacramento, Yolo  and Placer counties who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to exhibit a true act of selflessness. There are seven different categories for nomination including adult and young good Samaritans, animal rescue, first responder, workplace, military and all-around Red Cross hero.

The Heroes event is an opportunity to not only honor those who are not ordinarily recognized for their courage, but also offer an opportunity to recognize the bravery that surrounds us and our communities everyday.

The deadline to submit nominations for this year’s event is Thursday, December 3, 2015. Nominations can be filled out and submitted online at http://bit.ly/Heroes2016.

Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer Opportunities Available!

We believe there is a singer in everyone. But, you don’t have to be a baritone or a tenor to enter the world of volunteerism especially for a non-profit that is known around the world!

The American Red Cross is currently looking for volunteers to join the Public Affairs team!

The Public Affairs volunteer will support the Communications and marketing staff by sharing the Red Cross story, coordinating special projects and large scale public affairs activities targeting external audiences as well as researching campaigns.

The American Red Cross Gold Country Region serves a 24-county area with a population of 4.8 million residents. We are dedicated to providing exemplary customer service when delivering the Red Cross mission to our constituents and we need YOU to share the good work that we and our partners do to help our community.

Red Cross relies on the donation of time, energy and skills from our volunteers to help us achieve our goals. Please take a look at available volunteer positions on volunteer connection and sign up!

The following new positions have been added to volunteer connection. Log in to your volunteer connection account, click on opportunities then click on Interact with the Media which will take you to the “New” opportunity positions below:

  • Blogger/Feature Writer
  • Graphic Artist
  • Media Relations / Disaster Public Affairs
  • Photographer
  • Social Engagement (Social Media)
  • Spokesperson
  • Visual Storyteller (Videographer)

Why volunteer in Public Affairs? You can benefit from volunteering with the Red Cross by developing strong networks, work portfolios and career employment opportunities. Sharing skills, resources, services, counsel and talents creates a stronger profession.

We’re proud to recognize outstanding individuals and achievements each year with the Red Cross Leadership Awards.


We welcome you to join our team.

Questions may also be sent to Lilly.Wyatt@redcross.org

Are You Ready for Some Football?

50thsuperbowl_raffle2015RaffleYou don’t want to miss this great opportunity to purchase your own Super Bowl Raffle tickets for only $100.  This is the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl and the big game will be played at the new home of the 49ers, Levi Stadium, located in nearby Santa Clara on February 7, 2016.

Super Bowl Raffle PrizesThere are no losers in our Super Bowl Raffle, as everyone who buys a raffle ticket has just helped improve lives all over San Joaquin County.  For every tickets purchased, at least $90 goes towards participating non-profit agencies to use as they serve our community’s most needy, in this case your local chapter of the American Red Cross.

There are six grand prizes each consisting of two tickets to the 50th Super Bowl and $2,000 spending money.  In addition to the six grand prizes, there are dozens of other prizes totaling more than $50,000 in cash and other valuable items.

Please contact Liza Cruz at 209-986-0890 to purchase your Super Bowl Raffle tickets today! Drawing date is December 15, 2015! Don’t forget to read the Super Bowl Raffle Rules!

A big thank you to the Spanos Family for donating these tickets!