Monday, March 16, 2015

8 Ways to Make a Home Fire Drill Fun for Kids!

When visiting classrooms I often ask the children, ‘who has ever done a fire drill at school?’ Hands shoot up around the room with excitement. Then I ask, ‘who has anyone ever practiced a fire drill at home?’

Often we assume our children know the drill - get out and call 911. It’s important we not only talk to our children about our plans but that we also put them to practice. We recommend each household practice a home fire drill twice a year. It doesn't take much time and can be fun!

Here are a few ways to practice a home fire drill:

1. Sheet of Smoke: Get low and go full speed crawling.

Grab a bed sheet, open it up, with two people holding each side 3 feet above ground. Take turns crawling under the sheet of smoke (grown-ups too).

Smoke rises leaving the 3 feet closest to the ground with the cleanest air. Studies have shown you are three times more likely to be injured by the smoke, asphyxiation than by being burned in a home fire.

2. Too Hot to Handle: If it’s hot on the back of your hand, back away.

Shut all doors in the home and do a walk through with the children. Before opening the door to each room they must place the back of their hand on the door knob.

  • Let them know they are checking the temperature
  • Ask them, ‘if this handle were hot what would you do next?’
  • Help them to identify a secondary exit from each room

3. Can you do it blindfolded? Your alarms could go off in the middle of the night and smoke can make it hard to see. Blindfold family members and help them to navigate out of the house in the dark.

4. Somebody Call 9-1-1: Well not unless it is a real emergency but it’s great to practice mock 911 calls and the questions they may be asked.

  • What is your location? Emergency responders can’t be sent until they know your location.
  • What is your emergency? Help children articulate potential emergencies they may need to be prepared to phone 911.

5. Its Go TIME: Get your stop watches ready! Can you escape in less than 2 minutes? The only way to really know is to time ourselves.

6. Ready to Roll? Stop, drop, and roll that is. We all know these three little words but do the little ones in our household know when to act? (answer: when you’re on fire)

While practicing your drill at any time one family can yell out to another ‘YOU’RE ON FIRE’ whoever is called out must react immediately by stopping, dropping to the floor, and rolling.

7. You Can Do It! Building confidence is in large part the point of practicing fire drills. We want our reaction to smoke alarms to be quick and safe. Alarms going off can be scary and children may want to react in the same way they would react to other scary situations. Hiding under beds or in closets is not uncommon, Firefights know this and look in those places but time is limited and we want children to act with confidence and get out of the home safely.

Sit down with the kids and have them draw out all the times they felt strong. Maybe they had won a trophy or award for sports or playing an instrument. Maybe they felt strong when they did well in school or learned to ride a bike. Having a visual aid will help them to remember all the times they were strong and give them the confidence to overcome whatever obstacles they are faced with.

Kids participating in the Pillowcase Project

8. Go All Out: Out the windows even! It’s not every day a grown-up says it’s okay to climb out your window.  Anything this wild is bound to be fun, from the first floor that is. 

Over the years windows can get difficult to open. It’s easy to theorize the escape route but sometimes practicing it you find little dilemmas. Practice as if it were the real deal.

Check out our website to learn more fire safety tips. Comment below sharing other fun ways to educate children on fire safety or other disasters!

Korri Faria
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central California Region

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Latino Community Preparedness: Is This a Need?

Hi all!

Well, with less than four months left in my term, I thought I would give you a Latino Community Preparedness program update. Time has flown by and this program has been so well received. I mentioned in my blog back in November, that the Latino program was created to help grow the Red Cross presence in Latino communities. This program is so much more than the growth of our presence, or the growth of bilingual volunteers. This program isn't even really about the Red Cross; it’s about the people we serve.
Cruz Roja outreach in Chowchilla
I started a partnership last year with the Fresno County Office of Education, and I have extended this partnership with the Office of Education in Merced and Kern to present to the families of the Migrant Education program. When I started this partnership, I didn’t really know what the program was about, until I met some of the families. This program was designed to help migrant families, those families who work in the fields and move with the harvest. When I learned this, I thought to myself, “this population needs to not only know how to prepare their families in the event of an emergency, but they also need to know what to do when someone is injured.” Many times these families live in small spaces or in multi-family homes, so knowing how to escape a home in the event of any emergency was important for them.

My partnership with the Office of Education was only one of my ways to interact with the Latino communities around the Central Valley. I then began a partnership with the Community Food Bank. I reached out to them so I could reach the communities being affected by the drought, which again was much of the migrant population. No water, no crops, no work, no money to feed their families or to think of emergency preparedness. There are many factors that can cause a family to not be prepared or take the time to take a CPR/First Aid class; many of these families don’t have the money, the time, or even the knowledge that there are programs out there to help them.

AmeriCorps member Daniel Avina participating in the
Latino Community Preparedness Program at Kern Public Health
Now, my program is not only for the migrant community. I had to think about the Latino population that is not part of the migrant community, and do I reach them. Last year, I was placed in the spotlight and asked to represent the Red Cross on Univision’s morning show “Arriba Valle Central.” I have continued this partnership this year, but this year I have included radio and Univision events. To be honest, I didn't know if anyone was paying attention; that is until I was spotted by my friends and clients during my presentation. Positive confirmation was given after I promoted the Home Fire Campaign event in Fresno; the audiences began to call for us to go out to help their families with smoke detectors and were very thankful for this program.

AmeriCorps member Veronica Lases
participating in a Spanish radio station interview
As this year has gone by, I was noticing that I was reaching the population I really set out to reach, but was I actually helping them. My numbers were higher than last year when this program didn’t exist. I went from 222 Latinos presented to and 1,949 outreach to 670 presented to and 3,200 in outreach. But a question has lingered, “Is this program an actual need or am I making it a need?”

My answer came on February 11th when I conducted a presentation to a small group of migrant families in Fowler. As I began to talk about “Making a Plan”, I asked “does everyone here have a smoke detector?” The majority of the families shook their heads, and I gasped. I was not passing judgment, but felt this overwhelming sense of worry. So I received the names of the families that need the smoke detectors, and began to work on a plan to get them alarms.

In one instance we visited a client’s house and were instantly heart broken. They were migrant workers living in a house behind a main home, in between vineyards with no front door and so many possibilities for an emergency. We spoke with the woman and provided her with a smoke detector. When we left, we fully realizing why my program exists.

Latino Community Preparedness Program during a Mother's Symposium
The Latino Community Preparedness Program exists for those communities that feel as if there is no help for them. Yes, there is a need for Latino community outreach in the Central Valley.

If you are a Spanish speaker interested in volunteering with the Latino Community Preparedness program, click here to learn more and apply.

Veronica Lases
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Latino Community Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central California Region

Monday, March 2, 2015

Red Cross Clubs: Youth in Action!

AmeriCorps members who serve with the American Red Cross have been making a difference within their community in a variety of ways. From being present at community outreach events to responding to disaster calls, AmeriCorps members do it all!

AmeriCorps members are making a huge difference with the youth across Central California as well. The AmeriCorps members of Central California have made great efforts in partnering with local high schools and universities to create Red Cross Clubs within campuses.

Not only are students building community partnerships and are gaining useful skills by becoming members of a Red Cross Club, they are also giving back to their community.

In Santa Barbara, AmeriCorps member Clara Von Ins has established a Red Cross Club at UC Santa Barbara. In an effort to raise money for the American Red Cross, UC Santa Barbara’s Red Cross club is hosting a movie night fundraiser. Another one of Clara’s clubs, the San Marcos High School Royals will be taking their fundraising efforts to the courts as they are planning to have a student vs. teacher’s basketball tournament. The Red Cross Royals raised over $1000 at last year’s tournament and are hoping to make another slam dunk with this year’s fundraising goal!

AmeriCorps Member Andrew Basham with the Porterville Red Cross Club

Over in Tulare and Kings County, AmeriCorps member Andrew Basham has started a Red Cross Club with the Porterville High School Panthers. The Red Cross Panthers are roaring in community service as they are gearing up to help out with Porterville’s annual Spring Kid’s Festival where there will be food, carnival rides, bounce houses, and resource booths. Porterville’s club president Isaiah Mendoza is feeling the Red Cross spirit as he said, “We believe in showing our community as much support as possible.” AmeriCorps member Korri Faria has helped her Club at Lemoore High School raise money for the Red Cross through an old fashion bake sale.

Over in Fresno County, AmeriCorps member Alex Desiga has launched a Red Cross club in Clovis with the Buchanan High School Bears. The Red Cross Bears showed their appreciation to the Armed Forces by making holiday cards for veterans which were then delivered to a local veteran’s affair hospital.

The Buchanan High School Red Cross Club

Throughout Central California these clubs are making their campuses and neighborhoods stronger, more resilient communities! Starting a Red Cross Club or becoming a youth volunteer is easy as 1-2-3:

1. Click here to fill out an application
2. Attend an orientation
3. Discover how you can use your skills and strengths to support the mission of the Red Cross!

Sign up today!

Elizabeth Barragan
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central Valley Region