- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 25, 2021

The Red Cross needs and deserves our help.

People displaced by a fire — like those unfortunate souls recently in Duluth, Minnesota, — are fortunate when the Red Cross kicks into gear and does what it does.

Consider the more than 3,500 U.S. fire fatalities in 2019. Also, consider that the U.S. Fire Administration said residents in 24 states and the District of Columbia had a higher risk of dying in a fire in 2019 than the U.S. general population.

Now consider this: Red Cross volunteers rose to the occasion by making it to the scene of the Duluth blaze last Friday and turned their immediate attention toward the people.

“The Red Cross is there for everybody. And I often joke that there are only [two] criteria that you have to meet: Are you a human being? And do you have a need that we can help with? And if the answer is yes, we’ll be there,” on-the-scene volunteer Tim Kratz said.

Simple and uncomplicated, eh?

But do you think about what the Red Cross needs? Do you deliver?

Do you consider volunteers like Mr. Kratz and Joel Huenemann in Duluth or in Your City, USA?

Mr. Huenemann said the Red Cross desperately needs volunteers “for office work or for going out at 2 at night to help people after a fire.”

And like Smokey Bear, the Red Cross also delivers — make that donates — fire-prevention tools by providing and installing smoke detectors. Those fire alarms are truly helpful any time of year and are special this time of year, when our homes are often accommodating relatives and friends for the holidays and we’re lighting candles, plugging in space heaters and experimenting with deep-frying turkeys.

Holiday blazes aren’t necessarily worse than fires during other times. Fatal fires are fatal fires. During the holiday season, though, parents and survivors are forced to turn from celebration to lamentation after a fire.

Naturally, the Red Cross considers whether emotional care is needed, and volunteers add that to the Red Cross’ to-do list.

That and much, much more are weighing on the hearts and minds of a family and their friends in East Baltimore, where a house fire took the lives of a mom and two of her kids, and injured six others on Monday. The family was having a sleepover at the house.

If you’ve never leaned on the Red Cross to help you or your family during an emergency, be grateful and give.

The Red Cross needs blood and platelet donations for trauma victims, cancer patients and others who need transfusions. It also needs financial donations.

If you have a loved one who depended on the Red Cross after a traumatic incident to beat back emotional demons, be thankful and give.

On its website, the Red Cross offers tips for fires, storms and other disasters; sells a variety of first-aid kits; and offers info on emergency housing and social services.

The Red Cross shows up to help even when government first responders have left the scene.

Tell them thank you and give. Red Cross volunteers are responsive angels.

• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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