By Tara Williams
I became part of the American Red Cross young professional group, Club Red of Northeast Wisconsin in November 2014, only to realize I loved volunteering! At my first fire safety canvassing, I helped install smoke alarms in Green Bay. Nationwide, the Red Cross launched a nationwide Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25% over the next five years and locally we are working with fire departments and community groups to install smoke alarms in communities with high percentages of fires.
I went to my second fire alarm installation in Sheboygan recently. Because of a second fire within a short time frame, the Indian Meadows mobile home park was targeted for this grassroots effort. Along with the Sheboygan Fire Department, nine Red Cross volunteers including myself came together to install free 10-year lithium battery smoke alarms & educated residents on fire safety materials & escape plans. The teams went to 243 mobile homes & installed 63 smoke alarms! The whole neighborhood was covered in just three hours!
It was an eye-opening experience to see how many people haven’t checked their fire alarms in their own homes; many didn’t even work! We also created an escape plan if there was a fire in their home. I learned, a person has as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before it’s too late to get out. The Red Cross recommends families create a home fire escape plan and practice it with every member of your household several times a year. Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes for every room and families should consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes above the ground floor. The Red Cross also recommends families pick a meeting place outside your home and make sure everyone knows where it is.
One memorable moment was when a husband and wife greeted us with wide smiles & were so excited and grateful to the Red Cross & fire department for the work we were doing. She said she needed to give me a hug! It feels so good to make someone that happy & aware of fire safety and this is why I choose to volunteer.
There are many ways to get involved with the fire campaign across the state. The first is even in your own home. The Red Cross is asking every household in America to take the two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing fire drills. Also, download our new Red Cross Emergency App which provides a guide to fire prevention and the Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns. And finally, join me in a community project by volunteering, please call your local Red Cross office or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more pictures here: http://wps.sx/1JDaNHw