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Home Fire Victims Become Red Cross Volunteers

Carl Nappier and Michelle Muth have gone from receiving American Red Cross help after losing their homes in fires to becoming very active volunteers.

October is Fire Prevention Month, a time to both recognize those who have offer help after fires – as well as to remind people to take steps now to help ensure fire does not strike their home.

Nappier’s home in Moniteau County, Missouri, was destroyed by fire in 2007. Red Cross volunteers from the Capital Area Chapter in Jefferson City responded and ensured Carl received the emergency help he needed to begin to rebuild his life.

In 2009, Nappier became a Red Cross disaster volunteer and began responding to numerous home fires within the chapter’s 21-county service area. He is now a national volunteer, deploying when disaster strikes across the United States. This year he has worked on five national disasters for a minimum of two weeks away from home, including traveling to the East Coast to help those affected by Hurricane Irene.

Several years ago, Michelle Muth’s apartment was destroyed by fire. She awoke on a bitter cold morning to smoke and flames, fleeing her home with little or nothing. The Red Cross from the Nebraska-Southwest Iowa Regional Chapter was there with warm blankets, cups of hot coffee and words of sympathy and encouragement.

Over the years, Muth never forgot how the Red Cross helped her and decided it was time to give back. She became a disaster volunteer to help other victims learn they can rise from the ashes.

To help prevent a fire in your home, check each smoke alarm by pushing the test button at least once a month and replace batteries every year, or as needed. Fire escape plans should include at least two escape routes from every room in the home and a convenient meeting place at a safe distance from the home. Practice the escape plan at least twice a year and revise as necessary. Families are encouraged to pay particular attention to developing and regularly practicing escape plans for children and older adults.

Carl Nappier received help from the Red Cross when fire destroyed his home. Now he helps others when disaster strikes. (click on image for larger view) Michelle Muth never forgot how the Red Cross helped her and today helps others as a Red Cross volunteer. (click on image for larger view)

Additional recommendations include:

  • Keep matches and lighters away from and out of reach of children.
  • Don’t leave the kitchen, and don’t leave the home while you’re frying, grilling or broiling food.
  • Once you are out, stay out! Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home.

For more information on how to lessen the risk of a fire in your home, visit for more steps you can take to remain safe.