The Red Cross, an organization dedicated to providing comfort, food and support in times of disaster, revitalized an October 2014 campaign focused on decreasing the number of home fires in the United States. Last year, the effort saved five lives and installed 60,000 smoke detectors in homes across the United States.
According to Gail McGovern, the CEO of the Red Cross, concentrated urban areas saw more home fires than rural or suburban locations. Home fires also caused more than seven billion dollars in property damages alone in 2014.
"We’ve got to be prepared and we’ve got to keep ourselves sharp because you never know when disaster will strike," she said.
Part of that preparation comes from the public who, McGovern says, could help with volunteering, donations or just helping to install a smoke alarm in a home. The Red Cross continues to urge homeowners and families in 2015 to practice fire safety by identifying an escape plan and installing smoke detectors.
Last year, the Red Cross also focused its efforts towards helping victims of hurricane sandy as well as those hit by floods in Colorado and wildfires in Montana and California. Support by the Red Cross was provided in the form of shelter, food and monetary donations.
During the holiday season, the Red Cross intended to give the gift of life through donations of blood to the chronically ill, premature babies and victims of life-threatening accidents. It’s notoriously difficult to collect enough blood donations during the winter because of holiday activity, seasonal illness and family time, according to McGovern.
"Our biggest challenge is keeping supplies stocked and ensuring that we can get these items when they are needed," said McGovern
Photo Credit: RedCross.org
McGovern has worked with the Red Cross since 2008 and is currently stationed in Arlington, Texas at a Red Cross Warehouse. According to McGovern, there are several warehouses in the United States designed to support a major metropolitan area in case of disaster. The warehouses are filled with enough beds, supplies and non-perishable items to house 100,000 people.
Looking to the New Year, McGovern retains an avid sense of generosity and urges people to do what they can to help. Besides monetary donations, volunteers can always be used to make a lasting impact on the people and places disaster has struck.
Learn more about the Red Cross and how you can donate, volunteer or help in other ways here.