Friday, March 28, 2014

Team Firestopper - Onyx Edition

Hello all!

A couple months ago, I met with a gentleman in the tiny town of Onyx, California to talk about fire safety and home fire prevention. He expressed a need for his community, informing me that he and a lot of other people in the town did not have proper fire prevention utilities, such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Considering that much of my duties as an AmeriCorps member deal with preparedness, this struck me as something that needed to be fixed. With the help of my supervisor, Team Firestopper sprung into action. Two weeks ago, I and a group of wonderful volunteers from the Kern River Valley canvassed the Onyx community, handing out flyers with vital fire safety information to each and every home in the area. Also on these flyers was an invitation to a Community Fire Safety and Prevention Education course that I will be leading this Sunday, March 30th at Weldon Methodist Church just down the road from Onyx. 

To make it easier for the residents to attend, I allotted three shifts of these Fire Safety courses for them to choose from, the first from 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., the second from 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., and the third from 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. At the end of their shift they will take home a bag that has a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, surge protector, and a fire extinguisher inside, and they can then install and use each of these utilities in their homes, making them more resilient to home fires. I am pleased to say that in less than two weeks over 30 Kern River Valley residents have registered to attend the course! Words can’t express how excited I am to be able to teach these people the importance of fire safety, and help them all prevent home fires in their community. One of the greatest perks of my position as an AmeriCorps NPRC member with the American Red Cross is that I get an incredible amount of those warm fuzzy feelings that one gets from helping others. Thank you AmeriCorps, thank you American Red Cross, and thank you Central Valley!

Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
Preparedness Coodinator
American Red Cross - Kern Chapter

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Family Home Evening: Earthquake Scenario

Hello friends!

I'm writing today about a very important topic: Earthquake preparedness. In every presentation I give around my community, I talk about the importance of practicing your disaster plan. The "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" drill is an excellent place to start when practicing your earthquake plan. Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, cover your head and neck, and hold on to whatever piece of furniture you are under. Now that you've mastered this drill, move on to something more complex. While perusing the internet this weekend, I came across the ultimate earthquake plan. I mean, this family really went all out. 

The mother in this family realized that most likely an earthquake will strike at a time of the day when her family members are spread around town. You know, she's at the store with her youngest child, her older children are in school, and her husband is at work. She came up with a scenario including the time of day, and the extent of the earthquake, and she also determined situations like a dam breaking, downed power lines, and a gas leak that would intensify the encounter. She gave each member of her family a sheet of paper with a different scenario written on it. This family had already determined their meeting places, and their plan revolved around them. I won't give you all the details, instead I'm going to give you all the link to this website so that you can read it in detail and mimic the drill with your own families. This is a must read for those of you who have not begun to think about your plan yet. It's always better to be prepared!

Here is the link: 

Just a friendly reminder, it's that time of year again when it's time to change our clocks. This means it's also time to check the batteries in our smoke alarms, rotate and check the items in our emergency preparedness kits, and also to practice our emergency plans. It's the perfect time to put this must-read to practice!

Samantha Minks
AmeriCorps NPRC 2013-2014
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross - Kern Chapter

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Heroes

So our President, and our presidents before, has declared March Red Cross Month. What does this mean? Does this mean that we must go out and bombard the people with Red Cross everything? NO. Does it mean we will go out and make everyone Red Crossers? Well, no, but hopefully we can make some of you Red Cross Ready for anything. So what does it mean? It means we are going to try and encourage or inspire you to possibly step out of your comfort zone and be a hero. The Red Cross is taking this month to recognize the Heroes in our communities; our neighbors, brother fire fighters, brother police officers, military, the child across the street, coworkers, and yes, possibly even a 7-eleven proprietor.
Many of us grew up thinking of heroes as having super-powers and capes, and yes, some have grown up seeing heroes as those who have laid down their lives for us. By definition a hero is someone who has done something great or has been brave. Bravery can also be seen in different ways. Being brave doesn’t require you to become David and fight off a giant; it is about stepping up and doing something right, yet difficult. I have had a few different opportunities to meet local heroes; I’m not going to tell you all their stories, because you can hear about them at our Real Heroes gala on March 21, but I will tell you a few.
Fresno Fire, as far as many know, risk their lives putting out fires. Well, after helping out a family during an emergency call, the Captain realized there was one more thing they could do to help. Some joined together to build a ramp for the elderly woman living in that home. How simple a task, yet so huge in sentiment. A young autistic child playing outside helped save a woman’s life, a woman who was being attacked by a dog. A 7-eleven owner opened a small library and encouraged learning. Different acts of heroism, not the acts you would find in a comic book, but heroic acts none the less.
On Monday, a family which lost their home in a fire bravely told their story on television. How is this an act of heroism? The family told their story, not for self-recognition or sympathy, but to encourage other families to take the proper precautions in their homes. They took something that traumatized their family, turned it around and spoke of the importance of smoke detectors, not going back into the fire, and to not be afraid to accept the Red Cross’ help after a fire emergency. For this family, they hope that by speaking out, another family may be safe in the event of a fire.
If you still need your hero to have super-powers, close your eyes and imagine this; a young boy with a magical stick that fights of villainous dogs. A firefighting super trio whose undercover disguise is helping the elderly. Or a 7-eleven owner by day, but an educating crime fighter at night. Not all heroes have to come from a comic book; we can all heroes, and we have heroes all around, some are just in disguise.
We thank all Our Heroes, and remember;  a simple note, “thank you for caring,” can go a long way.

Veronica Lases  AmeriCorps NPRC Member
Preparedness Coordinator
Community Preparedness and Resilience Services