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Red Cross Volunteers: Saving Lives Every Day

From the first threat of severe weather, many find peace of mind in knowing the Red Cross is standing ready to deliver help and hope for as long as needed. But some might not realize that 90 percent of work done by the Red Cross is done by volunteers. And, that these volunteers aren’t waiting around for the next big one to strike. Instead, they are out and about and working in local communities every day, to provide help and emotional support to families and individuals who have nowhere else to turn. The most common type of disaster a Red Cross volunteer responds to is, without a doubt, a home fire-related emergency. However, a 2019 American Red Cross survey showed that roughly two in five people think they have better odds of winning the lottery than losing their home to a fire. In reality though, one has a 1/1,500 chance of dying in a home fire, compared to about a 1/1,000,000,000 chance of winning the lottery. “Home fires can happen to anyone, and sadly, these crises can be caused by something as simple as cooking a meal at home,” said Jennifer Pipa, CEO for Georgia’s Red Cross. Red Cross volunteers in Georgia respond to around 2,800 home fires every year. This means that, on average, volunteers provide emergency resources so families impacted by a home fire can have a safe place to stay, food and clothing – eight times, daily. But volunteers are also helping to reduce home fire-related casualties by working with community partners to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create home fire escape plans that get every member of the household out in two minutes or less. Now called Sound the Alarm, the campaign began in 2014 and since then, efforts of dedicated Redcrossers have saved over 650 lives! “The best part about Sound the Alarm events is that the entire community has a chance to jump on-board” said Pipa. “Plus, the campaign is a lifesaver – especially since having a properly working smoke alarm increases one’s chance of surviving a home fire by 50 percent.” This spring, Red Cross volunteers will be out again in Georgia and across the U.S. – adding to the nearly 2 million free smoke alarms already installed in homes. “Of course, we rely on volunteers to get the smoke alarms up and working,” Pipa continued. “But there are dozens of additional volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross.” Red Cross volunteers play an integral role in responding to home fires and large-scale disasters like hurricanes, floods and wildfires; but, they also transport essential blood and blood products to hospital patients, teach lifesaving skills like First Aid and CPR, reconnect family members separated by war, migration, conflict or any other humanitarian crisis – across the globe, and support our nation’s service members, veterans and their families. “We want everyone at home to have a kit and a plan for a large-scale emergency and we want everyone to check the batteries in their smoke alarms and practice their home fire escape plan,” Pipa said. “But we also want anyone with a passion for saving lives to consider joining us, as a volunteer.” To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the American Red Cross, visit RedCross.org. Photo Caption: A Red Cross volunteer team heads out to install free smoke alarms, in April 2019.

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