By Marytha Blanchard
What do you think of when you think of Wisconsin? Beautiful lakes, tranquil forests, the Packers, Badgers, cheese, brats and beer? House fires probably don’t make your list. Unfortunately, they should.
As One Red Cross serving Wisconsin, between January 1 and March 31, 2015, we have responded to 391 fires alone! That’s an average more than four households being assisted each day! During the first three months of the year, disaster responders have helped individuals and families in 81 cities and towns across 44 counties and 1,040 people have received Red Cross financial assistance to help them start rebuilding their lives after a fire. Assistance can include lodging, food, clothing, emotional and medical support, information and referrals, a shoulder to cry on, a hug, guidance on where to begin to start picking-up the pieces and more. All assistance is provide free of charge and is delivered by caring volunteers that respond day or night, rain or shine to help neighbors and strangers alike.
So what can you do?
- Check your smoke alarms at least twice a year. Seven times a day someone dies in a home fire. Every 40 minutes an injury from a fire is reported. Working smoke alarms will alert you to a fire and allow you the maximum amount of time possible to escape. Going to have dinner at a neighbor’s? Visiting your kids or parents? Help them test their alarms while you are there. They might think you’re odd but who cares, smoke alarms save lives!
- Make an escape plan and practice it. From the time a fire starts, you will have two minutes maximum to safely exit your home. Make an escape plan. Determine two ways to exit from every room in your home. Practice your plan regularly. Include all members of your family.
- The Red Cross is always accepting new volunteers. There are many different volunteer roles. You could respond to fires and other disasters and work directly with those affected to provide comfort and assistance. You can work behind-the-scenes, helping to make sure volunteers are trained and have the supplies needed to respond.
JOIN our preparedness team! Take part in activities like our door-to-door smoke alarm installation events http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/prevent-home-fires
Teach youth to be prepared for disasters through the Pillowcase Project http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/school/preparedness-education/the-pillowcase-project).
To learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross and to start an application visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.
- Contribute to the #GIVEWHATFIRETAKES (https://www.crowdrise.com/givewhatfiretakes) campaign.
Fires are devastating and scary events for anyone who experiences one. There are steps you can take to make you and your loved ones more prepared and should you, your family, or your neighbor experience a home fire the Red Cross will be there, giving back what fire takes.