Monday, July 19, 2010

Lessons From a Fire

Photo by H. Tillis.

This past weekend Chicago Tribune reporter William Hageman published a story documenting his life after an electrical fire destroyed his home. You can check out his story here.

While I hope you never have to go through the trauma of a fire in your home like the Hageman family, preparing can ease your mind. But, how do you prepare for a fire? Learn to Be Red Cross Ready!

What were the first things that Bill and his family needed after the fire? Food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene items, important documents, and emotional support all made his list.

Getting a KIT is a great way to account for a good number of these needs - and happens to be Step 1 in becoming Red Cross Ready. Just take a simple backpack and start packing it with emergency supplies. Add some non-perishable foods, a few bottles of water, an extra toothbrush and hair comb, a few days worth of clothes, and a copy of your home insurance policy. You can even add a list of emergency contacts so you know how to get a hold of friends and family who can provide you with some emotional support. Check out our entire list of kit items at

Step 2 is to Make a Plan. Talk to everyone in your household. Choose a place to go in the event of a fire, and make sure everyone knows it. Practice makes perfect – so try testing out the plan every 6 months. Oh, and don’t forget to include your pets in the plan!

Finally, Be Informed. Find out what disasters can occur in your community, and how local authorities will let you know a disaster is happening. The more you know, the more prepared you will be!

And remember, the American Red Cross is here to help! If you are affected by a disaster like a fire, give us a call at 312.729.6100. We can provide you with your immediate needs – food, shelter, clothing, and emotional support - to get you through the first 48 hours.

These safety tips are brought to you by the local Red Cross program, Team Firestopper! We’re working to stop fires before they start in your community! For more information or fire tips, visit

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