Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I sluggishly drag myself out of bed. I am not a morning person, but the opportunity for community, the potential for saving lives, and the chance to educate people about preparing local disasters, are always more desirable to me than sleeping in on a Saturday morning. When I arrive at my local American Red Cross building we give quick greetings, load up the vehicle, and speed off to home base for the next Home Fire Campaign event.
The Red Cross began the Home Fire Campaign in 2014 to reduce the number of home fires, the most common of all disasters in the United States. When we go out into our local communities, we install smoke alarms and educate the public about fire safety. Part of this education is encouraging residents to make an escape plan they can use in case disaster strikes and they need to get out of their home quickly. The reward of knowing another family is armed with tools and knowledge that might someday save their life is a feeling like no other.
When we first arrive, volunteers are making new friends or getting caught up with old ones. Everyone engages in small talk. It is usually fairly early in the morning, so coffee and a doughnut are definite musts! We all look very official in our Red Cross vests and lanyards. It is a very neat experience!
As we progress through the morning, we have our meeting, split up into teams, and head out to our section of the neighborhood. I get excited about opportunities for community as I connect with people in the Red Cross, the fire department, and the neighborhood. During every canvasing event there is at least one new story, one new friend, and dozens of people educated about disaster preparedness. People tell their life stories, connections are made, and funny moments take place.
During my most recent installation event, we came upon an elderly woman in her late 80s who was living by herself and going strong! She had such an entertaining and upbeat temperament that we really had fun conversing with her. We installed a smoke alarm for her and made sure she knew about disaster preparedness. After talking for a bit with her, we moved on to the next house.
Stories such as these are what keep me signing up for more installations. I love to see people coming together to help people, and that is what happens when we go out for a Home Fire Campaign event. It is always rewarding to know that what we are doing is directly impacting a whole neighborhood – and possibly saving lives!
You too can help save lives! The staff of the American Red Cross is 94 percent volunteers, so you and your talents and interests are needed! Go to http://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer#step1 to find out how to volunteer to install smoke alarms or in one of the dozens of other opportunities with the American Red Cross.