From Heath Wakelee – Red Cross Volunteer
I have been a Red Cross volunteers for a number of years and are part of a Disaster Action Team that responds to calls to assist clients after a home fire. None of those calls are easy to experience, especially when there are major burn injuries and/or loss of life (human or pets.)
But a few weekends ago, I received a request to be more proactive in our Red Cross preparedness mission and to work with some outstanding young people. The thought of preventing burns and suffering was even stronger than my desire to assist someone who had just experienced a home fire.
If I had it within my power to assist someone to get out of a burning home filling with smoke and fire, that would be forever rewarding.
Home fires are American’s biggest disaster threat. Every day the Red Cross helps people affected by more than 200 home fires. More than 90 percent of the 70,000 disasters the Red Cross respond to each year are fire related. Unlike other disasters, most home fires can be prevented. So, the Red Cross is committed to helping people understand how they can prevent home fires and protect themselves should they experience a fire.
The outstanding young people were volunteers with FEMA. Many giving up school or delaying careers to help others. It truly gives you faith in the future that not all of our youth are misguided. The crew that I worked with is hardworking, bright-eyed and sincerely interested in preventing human suffering.
So what were we doing that day? Going door-to-door asking for permission to check residents smoke alarms, to install free batteries if needed, to install free smoke alarms where needed and to install free carbon monoxide detectors.
Too often we entered a home to find the smoke alarm bracket in place, but the smoke alarm had been removed. Other homes needed batteries replaced and while our installation team moved quickly, others educated the homeowner about being prepared in the event the family needed to evacuate quickly.
In the Gold Country Region have had success with this nationwide campaign.
- Smoke detectors installed – 1,131
- Emergency plans developed – 781
- CO Monitors installed – 436
- Batteries replaced – 339
- Homes canvassed – 2,190
We have a lot of volunteer opportunities in the Red Cross and few are as rewarding as preventing suffering. So keep current in your CPR training and I hope to work with you on a future preparedness event.