Home fires claim an average of seven lives and injure over 36 people each day, more than any other natural disaster combined. Seven billion dollars in property damage is attributed to them each year, yet home fires are highly preventable, and the severity of damages can be reduced by taking several safety precautions.
The CVHS American Red Cross Club has taken part in numerous initiatives over the past year that help promote home fire preparedness. While the Red Cross is traditionally known for blood drives, or CPR certification classes, growing efforts in the past few years have been made to raise awareness to home fire preparedness. Club members have helped lead this push in Castro Valley, and hope to make a difference in surrounding communities.
“It’s important that people stay prepared because, although it seems like crises always happen to others, anyone can get caught in a stressful or even dangerous emergency,” said junior Lindsey Guan.
The club has focused on supporting three main projects throughout the year: The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, The Pillowcase Project, and The 2 Steps 2 Minutes Campaign.
The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is a nationwide effort that promotes safety in high risk neighborhoods. On a specified day, teams of both adult and youth volunteers go out to areas that are prone to home fires or that have recently be affected by the disaster. Each group goes into homes and provide a free fire alarm installation to the residents, accompanied by a brief discussion with families about creating an escape plan and establishing emergency contacts.
Members also took part in a Red Cross Youth Disaster Workshop in relation to this campaign. Sophomore Chizuru Tanaka was among those that attended, and learned about the fundamentals of fire response.
“It was both informative and entertaining to be relayed new information about fire safety that I didn’t know about before and having fun while doing it,” Tanaka said.
Numerous club members have become certified to be instructors for the Pillowcase Project, a program that aims to teach elementary school aged children about fire safety. Instructors go into classrooms or after-school programs, and lead a course that teach students how to prepare for emergency situations, especially pertaining to home fires. Children are then given a pillowcase for use as an emergency kit to be filled with disaster essentials
“We learned about how to teach kids about the mechanisms for stress relief and coping in anxiety-inducing situations like an emergency,” said Guan. “In case of such events, kids are unique because they require more emotional attention.”
In addition to enabling club members to teach the course, the instructor training allowed them to learn valuable skills that make themselves even more capable of handling an emergency situation.
“I didn’t know much coming into the training other than from fire drills, but by the end I felt relaxed and confident that I could help myself and others if a fire was to occur,” said sophomore Michelle Moreno. “Being prepared allows you to feel relaxed when everything is hectic.”
The club has also played a large role in launching a local youth 2 Steps 2 Minutes Campaign, which brings awareness on fire safety to community members. Members participated in the social media campaign that promoted the two basic steps of fire safety: checking fire alarms and creating an escape plan. The campaign surrounds around the premise that you have only two minutes to safely exit a burning building.
“Many people don’t know what to do in the event of a home fire, but taking these few simple steps could potentially save entire families,” said senior Brandon Yap. “Taking the time to check your smoke alarm battery or plan out an escape route will be worth it when you actually are facing an emergency.”
Home fires are a growing issue, and we all must take steps to keep ourselves safe. The American Red Cross Club will be there to help you put out the flames.