I Have The Red Cross to Thank for Me Being Alive Today.

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I Should Be Deadwww.arcgloucesterco

Thanks to the American Red Cross in Gloucester County, New Jersey I have the breath in my body to be able to use my fingers to type these words.

Late in the summer of 2009 I was living in a small town in Southern New Jersey when a fire broke out in my apartment while I slept.  I didn’t know about it until I woke up in a room full of black smoke and flame.  I lived in an apartment complex and my unit wasn’t the only one that was on fire.  I used to sleep with earplugs in as I hear every little sound.  Well, that wasn’t such a good plan on this night.

As I woke up choking and coughing I remembered something I learned when I was a kid in school.  It was actually a lesson that was taught by a firefighter and a member of the Red Cross, it was called “Stop, Drop and Roll”.

Funny how these things just happen to come back to you.  Well…not funny.

My subconscious must have really paid attention to that presentation because I hit the ground and just looked for a way out.  I managed to make it to the door and then a pair of firefighters crashed thru narrowly missing me.  They got me out of there and I was taken to the hospital with second degree burns. It’s all a blur.

My family was on the other side of the country and my mother and father rushed out.  Thankfully I was ok even though 3 people lost their lives in that blaze.

The one thing that helped me with recovery and my minor burns was the American Red Cross specifically the Gloucester county chapter. The support they showed me in the weeks afterward was something that I can never truly repay.

I’m taking the time here to write about my life and the things that I experience and I wanted to acknowledge the fact that it was because of them that this is all possible.


Protecting Yourself

Here is are some tips the Red Cross puts out to let us know how to handle a situation where a heating hazard may be deadly.

Protect Yourself from Home Heating Hazards With Red Cross Safety Tips

With a dramatic rise in apartment and house fires during the cold weather months, the American Red Cross urges families to stay safe in their efforts to stay warm.
Home heating hazards are typically to blame. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four out of seven home fires occur during the coldest months of December, January and February, and about half of these fires are caused by using candles and overloading electrical circuits. With temperatures dropping early this year, many families are turning to alternative heating sources out of necessity or to avoid the rising cost of oil and gas.

The Red Cross urges families to take the following precautions…

  • Be aware of overuse of electrical outlets.Don’t overload your electrical outlets. Be careful of extension cords that present hazardous walkways.
  • Be cautious with portable space heaters. Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people. Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don’t leave children or pets unattended and be sure everyone knows that drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire hazard .
  • Be careful with candles. Do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights or battery powered lanterns. Keep candles away from combustible materials. Don’t leave children unattended in a room with lit candles. Never display lighted candles in windows or near exits.
  • Inspect fireplaces and woodstoves. Have your chimney connections and flues inspected by a professional and cleaned, if necessary, prior to the start of every heating season. Use a sturdy screen when burning fires. Burn only wood – never burn paper or pine boughs. Do not hang holiday decorations from or on your fireplace if you plan to use it as a heat source.
  • Check smoke detectors. Make sure detectors are working properly and that new batteries are installed.
  • Use generators carefully.If you have a portable generator and the power goes out, always plan to keep the generator outdoors – never operate it inside, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to your home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Connecting a cord from the generator to a point on the permanent wiring system and back feeding power to your home is an unsafe method to supply a building with power.
  • Use clothes and blankets to build layers against the cold. Have extra blankets, scarves, hats and sweaters on hand.


American Red Cross