Going into the Home Fire Campaign, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was we were going into a neighborhood to install free smoke alarms. I was there to help wherever they needed me.
When I was told I was going to be put on an install team, I was excited, but a little nervous. Being a communications intern, I had never done anything like this. Having worked on some other aspects of the campaign, I knew how important it was, so I wanted to do my best.
The volunteers were trained on their specific role before going into the neighborhood: either an installer or a documenter/educator. I was an educator, which meant I talked to the homeowners about the importance of having working smoke alarms. I talked about some important fire safety tips and the importance of having multiple escape plans in case of a fire. I also helped with the installation.
Out of every single home I went into, there was at least one single alarm that was in working order. However, we installed an extra alarm for more protection.
We also had some people in the neighborhood go to the community center and request that we go to their house. It was so rewarding to see people genuinely excited about what we were doing. Being welcomed into so many homes to help with fire safety really made me realize the impact of this campaign.
It was so incredible for me to see first-hand just how life-changing the Red Cross can be. In such a short amount of time, we were able to help so many people, many of whom were high-risk of a disaster such as a home fire.
There was one house I went to that really stuck with me. I knocked on the door and a man answered. We asked how many smoke alarms he had, and he said none. We installed a couple of alarms in his house, and he started drawing a fire escape plan before we left. This was someone who probably did not know how crucial it is to have working smoke alarms.
Hearing about something versus experiencing it is completely different. Only hearing about it doesn’t capture the feeling of seeing people waiting outside their homes for us to install smoke alarms in their house. It’s something that seems so small but has such a big impact. I’m so glad I was not discouraged by the 7 a.m. departure time. Every single part about this volunteer experience was worth it to me. I know it’s something that will stick with me for a long time.