This is National Volunteer Week, and the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois honors its volunteers for their dedication and service to those in need, even during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emergencies don’t stop, and neither do local Red Cross volunteers, who are still providing care and comfort after disasters of all sizes, including home fires. The American Red Cross responds to 3 to 4 home fires every day in Chicago and Northern Illinois.
Due to this coronavirus outbreak, our volunteers have been working to respond virtually to fires whenever possible. Connecting with families by phone or video calls, we are helping to provide support with lodging, health and mental health services and information about recovery services.
There are two easy steps people can take to protect their home and loved ones from a fire: get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in a home fire in half.
Also, unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires, and a Red Cross survey shows that roughly 70 percent of people have left the kitchen while cooking. To help protect our community, below are our cooking safety tips:
- Keep an eye on what you fry! Stay in the kitchen and never leave cooking food unattended. If you must leave the kitchen, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- Clean the stove and the area around it before turning on the heat.
- Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the stove. Move items that can burn, such as dishtowels, bags and boxes, away from the stove, and avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking.
- Turn pot handles to the back of the stove to avoid spills.
- Use a timer to remind yourself that the stove or oven is on. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens and small appliances are turned off.
- When frying food, turn the burner off if you see smoke or if the grease starts to boil. Fires can start when the heat is too high. Carefully remove the pan from the burner.
- Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers. Read the article on redcross.org here: Coronavirus: Practice Cooking Safety While Staying at Home.
In addition to responding to home fires in the middle of the night, Red Cross volunteers help to support blood collections, provide emergency assistance to military members, veterans and their families and so much more.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER Our need for volunteers is constant and continues to evolve as we navigate this coronavirus health crisis. Volunteer opportunities include supporting blood donations and delivering much-needed disaster services to your community. We even have a wide variety of volunteer-from-home opportunities available. Find out more.
Interested in serving? Everyone’s safety is our top priority. Please review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, consult your healthcare provider and follow local guidance.
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.