Have you experienced a home fire?

We hope not! However, if you have, you might have used our services.

One of the American Red Cross services is to install free smoke alarms for anyone who needs them. This service is to help prevent injury and fatality during a home fire. During our Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross partners with local fire departments to install the alarms in homes.

The other service the American Red Cross offers is providing assistance after a home fire. For example, if your home is not safe to return to, then Red Cross provides you and your family with lodging.

For Daniel Demanche, he has seen and received both services through the Red Cross. He saw his son, who he lost, after a home fire. His son was visiting his grandmother during February vacation where the fire occurred. “The fire was caused by bad wiring in an outlet. There were no working smoke alarms in the house at the time of the fire,” Demanche said. He made sure when the Red Cross and Merrimack Fire Department were in his neighborhood that he had smoke alarms put in.

The American Red Cross responded to this fire back in February and has now met the father of the son. As Charles Hall, Senior Disaster Program Manager stated, “This comes full cycle. We responded to the home fire in Hampton, NH, assisted there and now we are installing smoke alarms in the house of the father. This is why I enjoy my job.”

Need assistance as disaster strikes?

Ever wonder what it would be like to train with the American Red Cross to respond to disasters?

On August 3, 2019, a team of volunteers and Red Cross staff took time out of their weekend to be trained and better informed on how best to assist their community after a natural disaster or house fire. This type of training is important in order for the Red Cross to help residents after an emergency. Those affected by a disaster, may have lost everything. It is important that Red Cross volunteers are trained, not only in how to respond to the event, but how to respond and help the people affected.

Training begins with a lecture and information on processes and procedures and then the group begins to “act” out a disaster. Today’s simulation was similar to a house fire that would happen in their community.

Three groups of DAT volunteers and staff working through a home fire. Photography by Sara Harper

Why would volunteers do this? Red Cross volunteer Janice Wilcoxson said, “I am thankful for what I have and I am a firm believer in paying it forward. This is a way I can look at people in their worse possible needs. It has put my life into perspective, and I am able to look at my own kids and say you don’t have a clue how bad things can be.”

Red Cross volunteers, similar to Wilcoxson, sign up for shifts to be available when the unexpected happens. Most volunteers sign up for three shifts a month. It may be months before a disaster volunteer is called to a response, depending on where they live and how often a disaster happens in their community. What is most important is that Red Cross volunteers throughout NH & VT (and across the nation) are ready to respond WHEN something happens. Our volunteers are paying it forward.

Intrigued to learn more? Becoming a Red Cross volunteer is as easy as starting an online application by clicking https://www.redcross.org/local/new-hampshire-vermont/volunteer.html

We look forward to meeting you soon!