The American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region has responded to 94 home fires in the past month. Tragically eight of the home fires had fatalities and 15 people, including 4 young children perished. Two of the fires occurred in multi-unit residences and the Red Cross opened shelters, due to the sizeable number of people displaced in those fires.
After a disaster, the Red Cross works with individuals and families to make sure they have safe shelter, food, emergency relief supplies, emotional support and healthcare. Red Cross volunteers continue to assist people affected by the recent home fires and in the past month they have helped 219 adults and 110 children.
“We’re deeply saddened for all who were impacted by these fires. It is heartbreaking for those families who tragically suffered the loss of loved ones,” said Lyn Hruska, Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross Central and Southern Illinois Region. “Winter is a high-risk time for home fires and we urge everyone to take steps immediately to minimize the risk of a fire occurring in their home.”
HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross has been working to reduce that number through its Home Fire Campaign, a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Launched in October of 2014, the campaign has already saved many lives and installed hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms in nearly 10,000 cities and towns. Here in the Central and Southern Illinois Region, the Red Cross in collaboration with local fire departments and other community partners have installed more than 10,000 free smoke alarms.
SIMPLE STEPS TO SAVE LIVES The Red Cross is calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: practice fire drills at home and check existing smoke alarms.
There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:
- If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.
- If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.
- Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.
- Practice the fire escape plan. What’s the household’s escape time?
People can visit redcross.org/homefires to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire.
RED CROSS APPS People can download the all-inclusive Red Cross Emergency app which combines more than 35 emergency alerts to help keep the user safe. And there is a special mobile app -Monster Guard – designed for kids, teaching them to prepare for emergencies at home by playing an engaging game. Users can find the apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going toredcross.org/apps.
WHAT PEOPLE CAN DO People can visit redcross.org/homefires to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved homes from fire. They can become a Red Cross volunteer by contacting Laura.Streid@redcross.org. They can also help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 64,000 other disasters every year and most of these are home fires.
About the American Red Cross:
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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.