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Red Cross Comes Knocking—with Hope by Its Side
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Shilpika Das
January 29, 2008

Millions of Americans stayed home on Martin Luther King Day, but in 10 cities, volunteers from the American Red Cross and HOPE worldwide, a faith-based relief and development organization, took to the streets—not to march, but to distribute fire safety tips.

Home Fires

In Case of a Fire

  • Crawl low under smoke

  • Feel closed doors. If the door is hot, use your second way out.

  • Go to your outside meeting place and then call for help.

  • Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.
  • Volunteers in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and six other cities walked door-to-door distributing door hangers that contain information that can help residents prevent and escape a home fire. Home fires are America’s most common disaster threat, killing more people each year than all natural disasters combined.

    The door hangers included tips about maintaining smoke alarms, using portable heaters, and cooking safely. The hangers also provided instructions for developing a household fire escape plan and conducting fire escape drills. The tips were printed in both English and Spanish.

    Enthusiastic volunteers walked the streets, distributing door hangers, talking to people, sharing important preparedness information—and never thinking twice about giving up their day off.

    “We are happy to celebrate Dr. King's commitment to community service and volunteerism in this way," says Joshua Fuss, an AmeriCorps National Preparedness and Response Corps member. "It’s a great way to connect with the community and help people prepare for disasters."

    “It was an honor to work with HOPE worldwide to reach more people, including historically underserved populations, with vital preparedness information to help them keep their homes safer from fires,” says Darlene Sparks Washington, director of preparedness for the American Red Cross.

    Spreading the word

    Volunteers turned out in surprising numbers, eager to share information about preventing home fires. In Boston, more than 600 volunteers visited 22,000 homes, targeting neighborhoods that had suffered fires in the past several months. In Seattle, volunteers reached out to more than 2,500 homes, encouraging residents to take safety precautions. Volunteers from the Seattle Chapter of the Red Cross recall meeting a woman who was so inspired by the campaign, she signed up as a volunteer for future projects.

    “This project has had a great impact on everyone involved in the campaign,” says Antonio Boyd, vice president of U.S. Programs for HOPE worldwide. “We have tapped into something special that we really need to push forward. We have a long way to go and a lot of important work to do.”

    The fire safety project grew out of a Memorandum of Understanding between the American Red Cross and HOPE worldwide. The memorandum, signed in November, encourages the two organizations to partner on blood drives, disaster preparedness activities, and youth and young adult programs and services.

    For more information on fire safety, visit www.redcross.org.

    The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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