Volunteers with the American Red Cross assisted 37 individuals impacted by home fires. From December 7 through today, 21 incidents took place across Chicagoland, including in Chicago Heights, Harvey, Joliet, North Chicago, Ottawa and more, with 13 of these home fires occurring in Chicago.
The Red Cross assisted 23 adults and 14 children affected with a safe place to stay, health services, disaster mental health services, financial assistance and information to help them in their recovery.
Home fires claim seven lives a day in our country, but most of us aren’t fully protecting ourselves. Here are steps that you can take immediately to protect you and your loved ones:
- Testing your smoke alarms each month helps ensure that they are working. A working smoke alarm can cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half.
- Practicing your escape plan twice a year. It increases the odds of survival.
Every second counts when there is a home fire. A fire can take a home in as little as two minutes. Therefore, escaping in less than two minutes can be the difference between survival and tragedy.
Nearly all of us have engaged in ordinary activities that can cause home fires – from walking out of the kitchen while cooking to leaving burning candles unattended.
As the weather gets colder, we see an increase in home fires. The Red Cross urges everyone to be cautious while heating their homes. A 2020 national Red Cross survey showed than more than half of us have used a space heater – which is involved in most fatal home heating fires.
How to Heat Your Home Safely
- If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, such as a ceramic tile floor. Don’t place it on rugs and carpets, or near bedding and drapes; keep away children and pets.
- Plug space heater power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
- Turn it off every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned if necessary.
If you need assistance after a home fire or disaster, please call our dispatch line: 1-877-597-0747.
Decorate Your Home Safely for the Holidays
The holiday season is here and many of us are still putting up our home decorations. If you plan to use candles as part of your holiday decorations, consider the flameless kind – as a December is the peak month for candle fires.
The risk is so common that nearly one-third of us have left the room or fallen asleep while burning candles, according to a 2020 Red Cross survey. If you must use candles, never leave them unattended, keep them away from anything that could burn and place them out of reach from children and pets.
The Red Cross urges everyone to follow these decorating safety tips to prevent fires and injuries.
- Check all holiday light cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or broken. Don’t string too many strands of lights together – no more than three per extension cord. Turn off all holiday lights when going to bed or leaving the house.
- Ensure outside decorations are for outdoor use and fasten lights securely to your home or trees. If using hooks or nails outside, make sure they are insulated to avoid electrocution or fire hazard
- Look for the fire-resistant label when buying an artificial tree. Keep it away from fireplaces, radiators and other sources of heat. Never use electric lights on metallic trees
- If getting a live tree, make sure it’s fresh and keep it watered. Bend the needles up and down to make sure no needles fall off
- Don’t light the fireplace if hanging stockings on the mantel
- Check the labels of older decorations. Some older tinsel is lead-based. If using angel hair, wear gloves to avoid irritation. Avoid breathing in artificial snow
- Have good, stable placement when using a ladder and wear shoes that allow for good traction.
STAY SAFE FROM HOME FIRES Test your smoke alarms monthly and practice your home fire escape plan until everyone can escape in less than two minutes – the amount of time you may have to get out of a burning home before it’s too late. Visit redcross.org/fire for more information. You can also download the free Red Cross Emergency app (search “American Red Cross” in app stores).
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.