American Red Cross volunteers, joined by community groups and organizations, are going door-to-door in the Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side this weekend to install hundreds of free smoke alarms in homes and educate residents about fire safety. Teams will meet Saturday, April 2 at 9:00 a.m. at the Lockhart Institute, 4941 W. Chicago Avenue before fanning out into neighborhoods for the day-long installation event.
Joining the Red Cross for the community rally are volunteers from Molina Healthcare, City of Chicago Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and other partners.
Teams will install smoke alarms in homes located less than two miles away from the 1000 block of N. Hamlin Avenue where a fire Wednesday killed two people and displaced 10 others. The Red Cross provided assistance for shelter, food, clothing and other immediate needs, in addition to health services and mental health support.
“Home fires are tragic and devastating to those who experience them and communities on the West Side are some of the highest response areas where our volunteers are called to help in the city of Chicago,” said Celena Roldán, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “Our volunteers will be checking that homes have working smoke alarms, and if not, we will install them free of charge. Our aim is to arm as many families as possible with these safety measures to help save lives.”
Through the nationwide Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross and its partners have saved 77 lives and installed more than a quarter of a million smoke alarms in homes across the country since October 2014. Locally, the Red Cross will install more than 5,500 smoke alarms in Chicago and communities across Northern Illinois in the coming months. Residents who would like a free smoke alarm installed by trained Red Cross volunteers can call 312-792-6220.
The campaign is a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Working with fire departments and community groups across the country, the Red Cross is installing smoke alarms in homes in neighborhoods at high risk for fires and teaching residents about fire prevention and preparedness.
“The smoke alarms we’re installing will help protect families every day for years to come, thanks to the dedication of local volunteers and partners going door-to-door to spread preparedness information in our communities,” said Roldán.
Across the 21-county region the Red Cross serves in Northern Illinois, volunteers assist families affected by 3 to 4 home fires every day. Since March 1, the Red Cross responded to nearly 90 fires that affected more than 500 people. After a fire, the Red Cross provides assistance with food, shelter, clothing, and emotional support.
WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO The Red Cross asks everyone to take two simple steps to help prevent injury and death during a fire in their home – 1) check their smoke alarms and 2) practice fire drills at home. Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of the day. The plan should include two ways to get out of every room and a place to meet outside. Consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above.
People should also install smoke alarms on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. The alarms should be tested every month and the batteries replaced at least once a year.
There are several other things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:
• If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
• If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
• Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
• Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?
The Home Fire Campaign is powered by more than 1,800 local community partners and more than 40 national partner organizations. Key supporters include: International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA); United States Fire Administration (USFA); Rebuilding Together; Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation; Meals on Wheels America; Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS); National Council on Independent Living (NCIL); Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA); Vision 20/20; Project Paradigm; Hope worldwide; Habitat for Humanity; Portlight Strategies, Inc.; and Lott Carey.
People can visit redcross.org to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire or contact their local Red Cross to learn about the location of local smoke alarm installation events. They can also help by volunteering their time or making a donation today to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to hurricanes and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.
About the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois
The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois serves 9.5 million people in 21 counties in Northern Illinois including Boone, Bureau, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Putnam, Stephenson, Whiteside, Will and Winnebago. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit us at redcross.org/il/chicago or visit us on Twitter at @ChicagoRedCross.