(CHICAGO, IL) June 5 — This past weekend, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois saw a spike in weekend home fire responses.
For the past three months, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois has responded to an average of nine home fires each weekend. However, this past weekend (June 2 – June 4), the Red Cross responded to 20 home fires, an increase of 55% over the average weekend response for the past three months. The Red Cross provided 153 impacted residents safe shelter, food, clothing and emotional support.
Home fire responses this past weekend included a large fire in a 12-unit apartment complex in Schaumburg that displaced 12 families without injury. The Red Cross also responded to a home fire in Joliet that sadly resulted in the loss of three lives. The Red Cross is providing mental health support to those who were affected by the fires and encouraging residents in the neighborhood to make sure their smoke alarms are working properly.
Overall, home fire responses have increased slightly over the last twelve months as compared to responses the year prior.
“By far the most common disaster threat people face across the country and right here in this region is a fire in their home,” said Celena Roldán, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “When lives are lost, we are reminded of how truly devastating a home fire can be. We encourage everyone to ensure they have working smoke alarms in their home and to keep safety in mind while enjoying summer activities.”
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. From September 23 – October 15, 2017, the Red Cross is installing 100,000 free smoke alarms in high-risk neighborhoods nationwide. Learn more at redcross.org/soundthealarm.
· 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.
DEVELOP FIRE-SAFE HABITS
· Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
· Smoking materials are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. If you smoke, take precautions: Smoke outside; choose fire-safe cigarettes; never smoke in bed, when drowsy or medicated, or if anyone in the home is using oxygen.
· Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and douse cigarette and cigar butts with water before disposal.
· Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
· Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
· Never leave a burning candle unattended, even for a minute.
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.
Additional fire safety tips and resources are available at redcross.org/homefires.
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 redcross.org/il/chicago or visit us on Twitter @ChicagoRedCross.