During the extreme cold weather we saw an increase in disasters in our region from home fires to flooding, once the weather warmed up.
Disaster responders with the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois responded to 40 fires from Monday, January 28 to today across the 21-county region including fires in Kankakee, Oak Lawn, Skokie, Rockford, Melrose Park, DeKalb, Rock Falls, Harvey, Naperville, Chicago Ridge, and 23 of those fires happening in Chicago. The Red Cross helped 155 people including 113 adults and 42 children affected by the fires.
“During extreme cold weather there is a raise in home fires due to people often using unsafe methods to heat their homes,” said Celena Roldán, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois.”
Roldán reminded residents no to use cooking range and oven to keep warm. She also explained that if residents need to use a space heater, it must be placed on a level, hard and non-flammable surface such as ceramic floor tile. Keep any space heater away from children and pets and at least three feet from things that can burn such as rugs, drapes and bedding. Turn them off if you leave the room and when you go to sleep.
Red Cross volunteers also assisted residents affected by floods across our region, after the thaw that followed snow storms and a deep freeze. The Red Cross helped 14 people including 10 adults and 4 children whose homes flooded in Crystal Lake, Glenview, Villa Park, Sauk Village, Matteson and Calumet City.
Additional information about these incidents, if available, may be obtained from the local first responding agency/fire department.
Responding volunteers are members of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, a group of specially trained volunteers who respond to the scene of a disaster when called upon any time of the day or night.
In addition, the American Red Cross and the Chicago Fire Department handed out life-saving smoke alarms to residents in the Austin neighborhood. Fire Commissioner Richard C. Ford II talked about the importance of having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at home. Red Cross volunteers also installed free smoke alarms in homes that needed them.
The Red Cross responds to 3 to 4 home fires every day in Chicago and northern Illinois. The Red Cross recommends two easy steps to help protect your home and loved ones from a fire: get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan. For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information visit www.redcross.org/prepare.
The American Red Cross is in urgent need of blood donations. The extreme cold across the Midwest also forced the cancellation of several blood drives, exacerbating the blood emergency. It is very important for people to donate blood as blood is going out to hospitals faster than is coming in.
DONATE BLOOD: The Red Cross asks eligible individuals to make an appointment today by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
HOW PEOPLE CAN HELP: The Red Cross depends on financial donations to fund our relief services. Help people affected by disasters big and small like Hurricane Michael and the California wildfires, or local home fires affecting Illinois residents by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
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