This blog post is sponsored by the American Red Cross. All opinions are my own.
A while back, I received an email asking me if I would be interested in working with the American Red Cross. While many people are well aware that the American Red Cross aids in disaster relief, there are so many different ways that the Red Cross helps not just Americans, but WORLDWIDE. Yep! As a Hurricane Andrew survivor (as well as many other hurricanes, although I didn't need any assistance with any of the subsequent storms), I knew about the Red Cross's disaster relief, and of course, as we ALL know, Red Cross blood donations. That's it. I was excited to head to Washington, D.C. and visit the American Red Cross headquarters and find out All of the Ways the American Red Cross Can Help You!
All of the Ways the American Red Cross Can Help You!
Let me first begin with a program that I had NO idea that the American Red Cross was involved with: The Sound the Alarm program. While you may know that you can contact the American Red Cross for assistance after you are the victim of a home fire, their assistance goes WAY beyond helping with temporary housing and emergency assistance.
Get a FREE Smoke Alarm Installed in Your Home!
As you may know if you have ever had a home fire, or known someone who has suffered a home fire, home fires are the NUMBER ONE disaster that most American families suffer. THE NUMBER ONE. I learned that on average, seven people die every.single.day due to a home fire. Many of these are due to homes not having smoke alarms. To be honest, I teared up during this part of the presentation because I had no idea that this happened so often, or that so many children died in house fires every day. It is absolutely heart breaking.
The Red Cross works with local fire departments, Red Cross volunteers and other community partners in order to:
- Canvass at-risk neighborhoods
- Install free smoke alarms
- Replace batteries in existing alarms
- Provide fire prevention and safety education
Yes. You read that correctly: the Red Cross will come to your home and install a FREE smoke alarm. They don't just GIVE you a smoke alarm, they install it for you, to ensure that it is working properly. To request this service, please visit: https://getasmokealarm.org/.
One thing I would love to point out (because I was not even aware of this before) is that the American Red Cross doesn't just help a family with temporary housing and assistance right when a disaster happens. For instance, we heard a story of a fire in an apartment complex that happened in July...and the American Red Cross was still housing all of those families as of my visit on August 15th. They don't just walk away after a crisis, they are there to help and provide support for as long as they can. They are truly an organization that cares.
You Can Receive Help From The Red Cross With Preparing for Emergencies!
I had never heard of this before - as I am sure you haven't either! The "Red Cross Ready" philosophy offers advice and even supplies to help you get prepared for an emergency. They gave me one during my visit, and it includes water, blanket, poncho, items for first aid, and to attract help. As Hurricane Dorian showed up on the radar less than two weeks later, you can imagine how ironic I found this gift, in hindsight.
You can also buy all kinds of supplies for your own emergency kit at RedCross.org/store.
The Red Cross Has Apps To Help You!
Of course there's an app for that...for a lot of that! The Red Cross First Aid app has several sections covering everything from teaching you how to handle certain things (like treating burns), to walking you through first aid and helping you to prepare for natural disasters and things like every day emergencies. It's an amazing app full of resources! You can find all of the apps - including the Hurricane app - here.
You Can Donate Blood and ALSO Volunteer with the Red Cross!
Of course we all know that we can donate blood to the American Red Cross - and we all line up when there is a natural disaster. But you can actually donate blood any old time - and there are several different ways to donate. You can even make an appointment to donate blood through the American Red Cross Website or app!
In addition to donating blood, there are several ways that you can help the American Red Cross. I was so moved by my experience at the Red Cross headquarters that I applied to become a volunteer once I returned home. I am just waiting for the background check to verify and then figure out which opportunity I am best qualified for. Recall that I mentioned that volunteers help with installing smoke alarms? Well, that is not something that you need to know how to do before volunteering. They will teach you!
The Red Cross Can Help Reunite You With Loved Ones!
I had absolutely no idea that this was a thing, but the Red Cross has an international program that helps reconnect families. We learned of two sisters - one in the USA and one in Russia - that were reunited through assistance by the Red Cross! Find out more about this service here.
Have you heard of the American Red Cross mission?
The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the American Red Cross. I will say that for me personally, the Sound the Alarm campaign and disaster relief are the most important to me, because these are things that hit home for me, as I have personally received disaster assistance through the Red Cross after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I was 14. It was terrifying. My family prepared, but that did not matter in the face of a catastrophic hurricane. Our supplies were destroyed. Most stores were destroyed. EVERYTHING WAS DESTROYED. Between the National Guard and the American Red Cross, we were fed. If you have never been in a situation where the only food you had access to came from disaster relief, you may not understand how happy one is to see a vehicle like this.
These Disaster Relief Vehicles are prepared and on stand-by in the event of natural disasters. They provide food and water to those who so desperately need it! When we visited the Disaster Operations Center (DOC) in Fairfax, VA on our second day there, we got to see just how prepared the Red Cross is...they don't just wait for a natural disaster. They actually work every single day, monitoring situations and preparing in case their services are needed.
It looked like something out of a movie! We had a brief tour of the facilities and got to sit in on a morning briefing, which was incredibly interesting!
I will be sharing more information about the American Red Cross - and the Red Crescent Organization, which does relief and humanitarian work around the world - in the next few weeks. In the meantime, please take a second and follow Red Cross on social media...and maybe sign up to donate blood and be a volunteer!