Regardless of winter weather conditions, disaster responders with the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois responded to 29 fires from Monday, February 4 to today across the 21-county region including fires in Plainfield, Hazel Crest, North Chicago, South Holland, Bourbonnais, Rockford, Freeport, Aurora, North Chicago, Naperville, Carol Stream and 13 of those fires happening in Chicago. The Red Cross helped 120 people including 71 adults and 49 children affected by the fires. Red Cross volunteers assisted people with shelter, medications, financial and emotional support.
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.
Also, the Midwest is bracing for another round of winter weather with the possibility of freezing rain and more snow coming our way. Here is some winter preparedness advice to keep you and your family safe:
Minimize travelling outdoors during extreme weather conditions. However, if travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle. This kit should include:
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Rain gear, extra set of dry clothing, mittens, socks, and wool hats
- Newspaper for insulation
- Plastic bags for sanitation
- Canned fruits, nuts, and high energy snacks (include a non-electric can opener if necessary)
- Warm broth in thermos and several bottles of water
- Keep a cell phone or two-way radio with you. Make sure the battery is charged.
Plan to travel during daylight, and, if possible, take at least one other person with you. Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
Before leaving, listen to weather reports for your area and the areas you will be passing through, or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Be on the lookout for sleet, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and dense fog, which can make driving very hazardous.
In addition, when going outdoors, dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, wear mittens and hat (preferably one that covers your ears).
If you need to stay at home during a winter storm, have ready-to- at food and water and medications (7-day supply) and any other special supplies such as personal hygiene items, flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, and a battery-powered or hand crank radio.
In case of a power outage use a flashlight, do not use candles due to extreme risk of fire.
Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can't be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY - DO NOT DELAY.
Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of death during the winter.
Make sure to bring pets inside and if this is not possible ensure that their access to food and water is unimpeded by drifted snow, ice, or other obstacles.
Extreme winter weather conditions have also caused the cancellation of several blood drives. Therefore, the American Red Cross continues to be in urgent need of blood donations. 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. Follow us on Twitter @ChicagoRedCross.