Written by Rusty Surette, volunteer contributor
In 33 years I’ve never known someone personally who lost their home to a fire, but I’ve seen it happen more times than I care to count.
That changed last month when one of my former high school classmates and good friend, Danael Broussard, lost everything but the clothes on his back. An early more fire tore right through his apartment in the Oak Lawn district of Dallas. Thankfully, he escaped with his 7-year old son. I learned of what happened after Danael posted a picture of the fire on his Facebook page.
I admit in the past I would have worried myself sick about what happens next for my friend. However, I knew if he needed any assistance he could depend on friends, family and the American Red Cross.
I’ve been an employee and now volunteer with the Red Cross for almost two years now and I’ve seen countless fires the organization and its volunteers have responded to day and night. This fire was no different.
Like clockwork, the Red Cross was immediate on scene and met with Danael and his son and offered to provide emergency assistance.
“They gave me a card to get clothes, food and bedding,” said Danael. “They were wonderful. They also offered a place to stay, but thankfully I have friends who are helping with that.”
Danael is one of those people who would give the shirt off his back to a stranger on the street if it was needed. It’s nice to know there are so many people out there willing to do the same because that’s literally all Danael had. A shirt and pair of shorts.
His experience and story brings up two important lessons for us all.
Smoke alarms provide a few minutes of advance warning in the event of a home fire, and that extra time can save lives. The alarms should be installed on every level of the home, as well as inside bedrooms, and outside sleeping areas of the home. They should also be tested once a month by pushing the test button, and batteries should be replaced annually.
Also, families should create and practice a home fire escape plan, which should include at least two escape routes for every room in the home. They should choose a convenient meeting place outside of the home and practice their escape plan at least twice a year with all family members.
Danael and his son are now moved into their new home and ready to continue down their road to recovery. A road paved smooth with the help of loved ones and volunteers of the American Red Cross.