Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Preparedness - Get to know us before you need us

Part 1 of a multi-part series

Written by: Erwin Stierle, Executive Director for Loudoun County

For sure, we are blessed to be in an area like ours where natural disasters aren't as prevalent as in other parts of the country.  But, it doesn't mean being prepared shouldn't be a priority for us all.  To help reduce the risk of home fires, households need to be vigilant with their preparedness.  Home fires are our nation’s largest national and local (Loudoun and Prince William) disaster threat that we face right now – more than any natural disaster.

Home fires devastate families and communities.  When a home fire hits, our local first responders ensure that the families are safe and that the threat of fire to a family's safety is removed.  The Red Cross responds to those fires to ensure the family has a resource for shelter, food, clothing and comfort.  When the fire is put out, what happens then?  It makes no difference if the family is insured or not.  When there is a home fire, there is an immediate family need that only the Red Cross can fulfill.  Whether it's medication needs; food, shelter, clothing needs; psychological needs; etc., the Red Cross stands ready to help during these times of disaster.

The preparedness effort devoted to reducing home fires includes our Home Fire Campaign, which takes Red Cross volunteers into community neighborhoods to canvass with preparedness information and to even install smoke alarms in homes where they are needed.  The nationwide goal is to reduce home fire related deaths and injuries by 25% in the next 5 years.

For our youth, preparedness education comes in the form of our Pillowcase Project, a Disney-sponsored initiative to teach students in grades 3-5 how to prepare for local disasters like home fires and to utilize their personally decorated pillowcases as their disaster bag, which is stuffed with their preparedness items as well as their favorite blanket, toy or stuffed animal.

To further prepare our community, the Red Cross offers our residents, local companies, nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations and community organizations the opportunity to prepare their constituents and employees with First Aid, CPR and AED training - lifesaving skills that can be used at any time in the case of emergency.  Locally, one of our Prince William Leadership Council members needed to use CPR immediately after her husband’s massive heart attack while in their home.  In the end, she saved her husband's life using the lifesaving skills training she learned from the American Red Cross.  Over the course of the last year, we trained nearly 15,000 people across Loudoun and Prince William Counties in lifesaving skills training like CPR, First Aid, Babysitter Training, Lifeguarding and Water Safety.

This is all part of your Red Cross community preparedness effort throughout Loudoun and Prince William Counties.  We’re active, we’re preparing our community, and we’re here for you to get to know us before you need us.

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