By Michael Schaffer - Managing editor
Centerville residents, don't be surprised when a volunteer shows up at your house this Saturday to talk about fire safety.
The Centerville Fire Department, city, American Red Cross and state fire marshal's office are working together to bring awareness and provide fire safety information to Centerville residents in what is being described as a "City Wide Resiliency Day" on Oct. 20.
Centerville Fire Department Capt. Vern Milburn said Centerville Rotary members and other local organizations have committed to the canvassing effort.
Milburn said the more volunteers that show up at the Centerville Fire Station Saturday starting at 8 a.m. the better chance they have to canvass every residence in town — 2,241 in all.
"I'm hoping for a pretty good turnout here on Saturday," Milburn said. "That would be good not only for us but for the Red Cross and the community to see that things are getting done and we're trying to get things done."
Milburn said volunteers will have "cheat sheets" to help answer questions and will be loaded with not only fire safety literature but with storm and tornado literature to leave behind with residents. Another thing volunteers will be doing is collecting names and addresses of homes where the owner doesn't have a smoke alarm but would like to get one, for free.
Centerville firefighters will take that information and on a later date go to all of those homes with smoke alarms and install one, Milburn said.
Milburn said the idea to canvass every residence in town came from Tony Burke and the Red Cross. Milburn said he realized it was a great opportunity to spread the message about fire prevention.
"We're always heavy into fire prevention," Milburn said. "Anything we can do to try and prevent a fire, we're in to that."
A lot of volunteers are needed to make it all happen. Want to get involved to help canvass every Centerville residence in one day to talk about fire safety?
Call Mary Kruger at (515) 471-8328, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call the Centerville-Rathbun Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at (641) 437-4102 or call Milburn at (641) 856-2314 to sign up.
And if you volunteer, the American Red Cross will serve you lunch.
Last year, the Red Cross responded to about 63,000 home fires across the country by providing comfort and basic necessities to more than 82,000 families, according to a Red Cross press release.
“We respond to about one home fire every nine minutes across the country. The best thing you can do to protect your loved ones is to install a smoke alarm and develop and practice a fire escape plan,” said Tony Burke, Chapter Support Officer. “Fires can spread very quickly, so everyone at home, school and work should know what to do when they hear the sound of a smoke alarm.”
The Centerville Fire Department recommends every level of the house and inside bedrooms have smoke alarms, replace smoke alarm batteries once a year, test the alarm monthly, develop an escape plan everyone remembers and knows where to meet, practice the plan twice a year and in case of fire call 911 or the local emergency number.
And it may not be such a bad idea to download the American Red Cross First Aid App to at the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies. Or go to www.redcross.org/homefires for additional fire safety tips.
Business, too, should be prepared. Fire is the most common of all business disasters. According to the United States Fire Administration, non-residential building fires resulted in $2.4 billion in losses in 2010. Companies, schools and other organizations can learn how to prepare for fires and other emergencies by becoming a member of the Red Cross Ready Rating Program at www.readyrating.org. Complete a free, online assessment of your current readiness level and receive customized feedback with tips to improve preparedness.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.