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Red Cross Installs 400 Hundred Smoke Alarms in One Day on Chicago's South Side


The American Red Cross, joined by community volunteers from the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation, went door-to-door in the Auburn-Gresham community on the city’s South Side and installed more than 400 smoke alarms in a single day on Saturday, July 23. More than 60 volunteers from both organizations also educated residents about fire safety and helped families create a personalized escape plan to exit their home during an emergency. Download photos of the event here

“The event was quite inspiring,” said Carlos Nelson, Executive Director of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation. “Connecting with so many residents including a large number of seniors to bring fire safety education and install new 10-year smoke alarms was a tremendous experience. The Red Cross volunteers, the GAGDC volunteers, and the elected officials all had a hand in saving lives, one smoke alarm at a time.” 

Community leaders including Ald. Derrick Curtis, Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr., Ald. David Moore, and State Senator Jacqueline Collins also participated in the community safety event. 

Every eight minutes and other family is affected by a disaster, the most common is a home fire. Through the nationwide Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross and its partners have saved more than 90 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 6,600 smoke alarms in Chicago and communities across Northern Illinois in the coming months. 

“Because of the tremendous efforts of our volunteers working alongside our partners like the Greater Auburn-Gresham Community Development Corporation, hundreds of families in our community are now safer and know how to escape their home in less than two minutes if a fire should occur,” said Harley Jones, Regional Disaster Officer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. 

The Red Cross Home Fire 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. 

Across the 21-county region the Red Cross serves in Northern Illinois, volunteers assist families affected by 3 to 4 home fires every day. 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. 

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.