Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Make Preparedness Your Holiday Gift and Resolution!

Coming off a large-scale disaster like Western New York's recent #WinterStormKnife, this may be hard to believe. But the Red Cross responded to more house fires this year than any other type of disaster. Combined.

In the past week, the Central New York Chapter has provided assistance to 46 people who have been displaced from theirhomes by fires. In the past 24 hours, the Greater Rochester Chapter has responded to three separate fires, helping ten people. Yesterday afternoon, I joined Disaster Action Team volunteer Dennis as we assisted two people after a fire in Buffalo. While there was no media coverage like we saw during "Snowvember", all you had to do was look up at the sky where their roof was before the fire to realize this was truly a disaster for these people, especially coming so close to the holidays.

Between January 1 and December 1, 2014, the Red Cross provided food, clothing, shelter, comfort and hope to 3,381 people in Western and Central New York who had nowhere else to turn after a house fire. Tragically, we have also had 34 fire-related deaths in 2014. 

Disaster Action Team volunteer Dennis at a fire on
Bissell in Buffalo December 22
The Red Cross has launched a campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries nationwide by 25 percent over the next five years. We are asking every household to take two simple steps: check your existing smoke alarms, and practice fire drills at home.

Don't have a smoke alarm? Part of the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign is to work with fire departments and community groups nationwide to install smoke alarms. Call (585) 241-4405 for more information about how you could have a free smoke alarm installed in your home!

As we prepared to flip the calendar to 2015, why not resolve to make your family better prepared for emergencies, including house fires? The Red Cross has also partnered with New York State to offer the Citizen Preparedness Corps program. In just 15 minutes, this online course will give you the knowledge and tools to prepare for disasters (just make sure you choose "Red Cross" from the referral dropdown menu!). You can also schedule a free, in-person Prepare, Respond, Recover: What to do When Disaster Strikes presentation at your school, business or organization. A trained representative will present the one-hour program, providing a comprehensive overview on how to prepare for, respond to and recover from natural and man-made disasters.

As if making your loved ones safer isn't enough of a holiday gift, all Western & Central NY Region in-person Citizen Preparedness Corps class registrants before March 31 will be entered to win one of two FREE generators! For more information on the Home Fire Preparedness campaign, Citizen Preparedness Corps, and how you could get a free smoke alarm or win a free generator, contact Individual and Community Preparedness Specialist Veronica Chiesi Brown at (585) 241-4405.

Let's work together to make 2015 Western and Central New York's safest year yet. That would truly be a gift that keeps on giving!