By Brittany Bush, AmeriCorps Member, American Red Cross
I’m a new member of AmeriCorps with Red Cross, and this is an account of my experience at my first Home Fire Campaign.
Two of the many services that the American Red Cross provides are disaster preparedness education and preparedness resources. Oklahoma ranks as one of the top states in the country for home fire deaths. To help decrease the number of deaths in Oklahoma, the Red Cross provides free smoke alarms to homes that don’t have them. This is all part of a much larger American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which has a goal to reduce home fire deaths across the country by 25 percent by the year 2020.
I knew a little bit of background of how this worked, but I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.
For this Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross partnered with the Shawnee Fire Department. Once the firefighters and Red Cross volunteers arrived, we were split into teams of four to six people. Each team had a bucket that consisted of a drill, door hangers (in case nobody answered), educational materials and of course – the smoke alarms.
The fire department and the Red Cross created a map that marked clear routes for teams to take as much of the area was canvassed earlier in the week to let residents know we were coming.
While some people on the team did the installation, others get to talk with the members of the household.
After a few times of watching the different teams interact with the families, I was ready to take some of the lead in the educational piece in some of these houses.
We were able to provide information about what to do during a home fire, and also got to help some of the families come up with a fire escape plan. Escape plans are important for families as the average family has two minutes to exit a burning building.
We were able to install more than 300 alarms in these homes, which is awesome! Smoke alarms don’t put out fires, but they are often the first line of defense to keep your family safe during a fire. Many of the families we worked with were grateful that we were able to help them be more prepared and safe, but most of all, they were happy that we took time to help them.