“Life’s most persistent question,” Dr. King once asked, “is what are you doing for others?” This Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, volunteers with the American Red Cross and its partners are serving others in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
They are distributing vital fire safety information to help residents prevent home fires, protect their loved ones and strengthen their community. The Baton Rouge and New Orleans fire departments, who are Red Cross partners in the service day project, helped identify neighborhoods with high incidents of home fires in both communities.
“We respond to house fires every day that devastate families, especially children,” said Nathan Hammett, resilience manager for the Red Cross in South Louisiana. “We know so many of the fires are preventable, but only if residents have the know-how and equipment for protection.”
Several dozen volunteers from the American Red Cross – a humanitarian organization that helps people prepare, prevent and respond to emergencies – will join volunteers from UPS, U.S. Navy Sea Cadets, National Day of Service Louisiana, Junior League of Baton Rouge Ready Hands, Capital One, Entergy, 7th Day Adventist, HandsOn New Orleans and HOPE worldwide, among others.
Volunteers will canvass door-to-door in neighborhoods, talk with residents and leave behind door hangers with fire safety information. The door hangers include information about smoke alarms, creating a household fire escape plan and tips for cooking and heating a home safely this winter.
On Saturday, Jan. 19, New Orleans-area volunteers will gather at a fire station for an orientation and kick-off celebration before canvassing in Gentilly. On Monday, Jan. 21, Baton Rouge-area volunteers will gather at the ExxonMobil YMCA before heading into Glen Oaks and other north Baton Rouge neighborhoods.
Home fires are the most common disaster to which the Red Cross responds. In the 13-parish Greater New Orleans area, the Red Cross responded to help residents affected by more than 775 home fires during 2012. In the 10-parish Capital Area during 2012, the Red Cross responded to nearly 375 fires. Every day in the United States, fires claim nine lives, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Lifesaving fire safety and prevention information is also available online, www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/home-fire.