Red Cross volunteers help Lents neighbors prepare

Not only can you find out how dozens of folks helped their neighbors be more prepared for disasters, but also learn how you can get a FREE valuable resource guide. Take a look …

Checking in the volunteers are Trish Osilla and Tiffany Sevier – as American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Communication Manager Stephanie Watson looks on.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Many volunteers, 55 in all, made their way to the Lents Baptist Church on SE Woodstock Boulevard on the blustery morning of March 14 with a common goal: Helping neighbors prepare for disasters, large and small.

“The Oregon State Fire Marshall has identified various areas across the state that are at high risk for residential fires and fire incidents,” explained American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Communication Manager Stephanie Watson.

“The American Red Cross is in a five-year campaign to help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries due to fires by 25% within the next five years,” Watson told East Portland News.

American Red Cross Preparedness & Partnerships Manager Melinda Davis shows holds a sample of the smoke alarm and guide volunteers will take into receptive homes.

“Our teams are going out to this outer East Portland neighborhood, and they’re primarily sharing home fire-safety information,” Watson explained. “Also, in any homes that need new home smoke alarms, we are installing them for free, at the request of the resident.”

Almost as valuable as the fire safety information, Watson added, is giving people at each residence they visit a copy of their “Prepare! Resource Guide”. “It provides a wealth of information about avoiding, and dealing with, all of the different kinds of hazards that can affect us in this area.”

Event Leader Jessica Chapman shows maps outlining the streets volunteers will canvas.

Guide topic include:

  • Learning disasters most likely to affect the family;
  • Making a “Family Evacuation Plan”;
  • Getting certified in CPR and First Aid;
  • Practicing an Escape Plan; and
  • Creating Family Emergency Supply Kits.


The volunteers were briefed and grouped into three-person teams, after which the teams headed out into the neighborhoods.

Volunteers load up with supplies, and get ready to visit neighbors in Lents.

“We see this in an excellent way to help these communities,” Watson said. “We respond for those involved in home fires more than we do any other disaster. So, hopefully, we can help our neighbors prevent a fire disaster, instead of our just responding to help after the damage is done.”

Free guide available
Spending a few minutes planning to prevent fires, and learning how to respond to other disasters, can save a family from misery, and perhaps death, according to Red Cross officials.

To get a FREE Prepare! Resource Guide, a PDF electronic document published by the American Red Cross Cascades Region – it includes resources specific to our area – CLICK HERE to download it.

View their Prepare! homepage: CLICK HERE; or, check out their general website at

In the rain, volunteers load up vans, ready to spread their safety message.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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