The following was written by Howard Hanlon, who works with Red Cross Emergency Services in Mooresville, NC.
Fall is upon us. A chill is in the air, the winter clothes are coming out of the closet, the leaves are turning. It is a beautiful time of the year. It is also the time we begin to turn off our air conditioners and turn on the heat, crank up the wood stove or kerosene heaters to take the chill off. Now is also the time to think about fire prevention.
Every year you hear about the Red Cross responding to large disasters across the country and the world. What a lot of people do not hear about are the 70,000 plus local disasters we respond to every day across the country. The majority are single-family home fires. As members of the Red Cross, there are some responses we go to that are more difficult than others. As you have probably heard, this week has been one of those more difficult weeks as we have responded to fires where there have been deaths and serious injury. Most of us cannot imagine what these families are going through. It makes us think about our own families.
October is Fire Prevention Month. At the Red Cross, we have instructional sheets and brochures with safety tips. We are out in the schools and communities to talk about fire safety and prevention and try to educate as many people as we can.
However, sometimes, even with all the education and presentations, we brush off preparedness until something happens; PLEASE DON’T BRUSH IT OFF any longer. Take some time to get kit, make a plan and be informed. Take the time to learn and teach your children what to do in an emergency of any type fire, flood or something larger.
I know tonight when my daughter comes to pick up my grandson I will be talking to her, once again, about being prepared. It will be the simple things:
- Are the smoke detectors working?
- When was the last time you checked them or changed the batteries?
- Do you have an escape route planned?
- Are there stickers in the windows telling first responders where the family is located in the house?
- Do you have a kit prepared in case you have to evacuate or shelter in place at home?
So, tonight, tomorrow, or as soon as you can please take some time to sit down as a family, or even as a community, get a kit, make a plan, be informed. Spend time once a month going over the plan and practicing the escape routes. Know ahead of time what you need to do and what you need to have with you.
We understand that sometimes, even with the best plan in place things will happen. We as the Red Cross will be there, when you need us, to begin the recovery. Our volunteers respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 3 in the afternoon, 3 in the morning, a normal day or a holiday – we will be there.
Please remember that all we do as the Red Cross is done through the generous donations of time and funds from, you, the community the American people. If you can please take a few minutes ask a volunteer about becoming a volunteer or call us we would love to talk to you. Also, know that even the smallest donation can support us in helping your family, friends, neighbors, or community recover from disasters small and large should they happen.
Lastly, I am going to ask a large but easy favor today. If you see a first responder, fire, police or medic, say thank you for all you do. If you see someone in a Red Cross vest or vehicle say thank you and ask them what it is like to be a volunteer with a great organization. Please especially keep the families that have been affected by disaster this week and every week in your thoughts.