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Red Cross Home Fire Response Soars

Two steps can help save lives: Check smoke alarms & practice fire safety drills

CHICAGO, IL (Dec. 21, 2016) – The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois has responded to more than 100 home fires so far in December 2016. This number is higher than the region has seen in at least the past seven years. The region has helped 520 people, including 216 children affected by home fires. 

“Home fires increase during the colder months. We’ve found that winter months bring more instances of home fires due to burning candles, leaving the oven on to help heat a home, and smoking in bed. A home fire is often a devastating loss to families,” said Harley Jones, Regional Disaster Officer. “We encourage families to be prepared.”

The Red Cross, on average, responds to four home fires everyday across Northern Illinois. The Red Cross provides safe shelter, food, clothing, heath services, and emotional support to aid in long-term recovery for the affected families.

HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN The Red Cross and partners are on a mission to reduce death and injury from home fires by 25% by 2020. Each year, the Red Cross responds to nearly 66,000 disasters, the vast majority of which are home fires. 

On average:

  • 7 people die every day from a home fire
  • 36 people suffer injuries as a result of home fires every day
  • Over $7 billion in property damage occurs every year

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 – check their smoke alarms and 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.

People can visit 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, calling 1-800-RED CROSS.

For a photo slideshow depicting the devastation caused by a home fire, please click here.

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 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 or visit us on Twitter @ChicagoRedCross.