When turning back your clocks this Sunday, test your smoke alarms to help protect your family from home fires — which continue to be the nation’s most frequent disaster, as approximately 60,000 home fires occur annually across the U.S.
Locally, volunteers with the American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois helped 12 people impacted by home fires in Rockford from October 19 to today. In the past week, the Red Cross assisted four adults and eight children with urgent needs like emergency lodging, health and mental health services, financial assistance and recovery planning to help them get back on their feet after the devastation of a house fire.
Volunteer disaster responders also provided water, Gatorade, snacks and breakfast bars for 80 firefighters as they battled a fire at an abandoned building in Rockford on Saturday, October 24.
The need to protect ourselves from home fires hasn’t stopped during COVID-19. That’s why it’s critical to have working smoke alarms, which can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half. This weekend, take a few minutes to ‘turn and test’ to help keep you and your loved ones safe.
HOW TO ‘TURN AND TEST’ Press the button on your smoke alarms, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace the batteries if needed — at least once a year, if your model requires it. Also follow these steps:
- Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older. That’s because the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Check the manufacturer’s date of your smoke alarms and follow the instruction.
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas.
- Practice your two-minute escape plan. Make sure everyone in your household can get out in less than two minutes — the amount of time you may have to escape a burning home before it’s too late. Include at least two ways to get out of every room and select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone can meet.
Visit redcross.org/fire for more information, including an escape plan to practice with your family. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).
The Red Cross Needs Your Help
Meanwhile, the Red Cross continues to be in urgent need of volunteers due to a very active disaster season. Hundreds of volunteers are still providing assistance to communities impacted by wildfires in the West and hurricanes in the South. More Red Cross volunteers left their homes locally this weekend to help in Colorado with the wildfires that are burning there.
If you like to join our team of dedicated volunteers, please visit redcross.org/volunteertoday to find out more about opportunities, including the most-needed positions:
- Shelter Service – These volunteers help support emergency shelters by staffing different areas including reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks. We have both associate and supervisory level opportunities available.
- Disaster Health Services - We need volunteers who can work in emergency shelters to help assess people’s health and provide hands-on care in alignment with their professional licensure (RN and LPN/LVN). We also need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters; this could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies.
Blood Donor Ambassador - These volunteers welcome visitors to Red Cross facilities or blood drives and take their temperature before they enter. Visitors could include potential blood donors, people seeking help, course participants, and Red Cross employees and volunteers.
You can also find virtual volunteer opportunities at redcross.org/volunteertoday.
These are other ways that you can support those impacted by disasters:
- Make a Donation at redcross.org, calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
- Donate Blood please schedule an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 800-RED-CROSS.
About the American Red Cross of Illinois
The American Red Cross of Illinois serves 12.4 million people in 88 counties in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri including Adams, Bond, Boone, Brown, Bureau, Carroll, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cook, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, De Witt, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Franklin, Fulton, Green, Grundy, Hamilton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Jasper, Jefferson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Knox, LaSalle, Lake, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Ogle, Peoria, Perry, Piatt, Pike, Putnam, Richland, Rock Island, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Vermillion, Warren, Washington, Whiteside, Will, Williamson Winnebago, Woodford. Iowa: Lee, Muscatine, Scott and Van Buren. Missouri: Clark, Lewis, Marion and Ralls. 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/Illinois or visit us on Twitter @RedCrossIL.