Governor Pritzker attends Red Cross and Rockford Fire Department Smoke Alarm Installation Event

Dozens of volunteers from around the American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois chapter area gathered on Saturday, January 12 along with Governor Prtizker to help make the Rockford area safer as part of the Sound the Alarm. Save a Life. campaign. Click here to see a video from the day.

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Governor-elect JB Pritzker supported the event as part of his “Day of Service,” featuring service opportunities in cities across Illinois ahead of his inauguration on January 14.

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Volunteers gathered at the chapter office for the American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois.

Sound the Alarm is part of the larger Home Fire Campaign, an initiative to help make homes across the country more prepared for the event of a fire by having volunteers install free smoke alarms and provide fire safety education. Having a working smoke alarm in your home cuts your risk of dying in a home fire by nearly 50%.

The temperature hovered around 30 degrees as volunteer teams of 3 from the Red Cross, the Rockford Fire Department and Hinshaw Law trekked into Rockford’s Signal Hill neighborhood to begin installations.

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Governor Pritzker and the first lady joined an install team and met with a local family to go over fire safety preparednesss and ensure the home had working smoke alarms before greeting volunteers at the Red Cross chapter office.

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First Lady MK Pritzker, Governor Pritzker and Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois CEO Celena Roldan speak with Rockford homeowner Mapleine Mayweather about home fire safety

 

Overall, 41 homes were made safer with the installation of 134 new smoke alarms!

The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, the majority of which are home fires. Working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death by half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival. The Red Cross wants to end these tragedies and save lives, the reason why the organization launched the Home Fire Campaign in 2014.

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Red Cross volunteer Scott Otto drills a new smoke alarm into the wall of a Rockford home.

To learn more about the Home Fire Campaign, visit redcross.org. Please help us Sound the Alarm by volunteering to install smoke alarms, making a financial contribution, or taking steps to protect your own family from home fires.

This Spring, the Red Cross will continue to Sound the Alarm with upcoming installation events in neighborhoods and cities across the country and right here in the Chicago & Northern Illinois 21-county region including Austin, Freeport, Bolingbrook, Rockford, North Lawndale, Joliet and more!

Do you or someone you know need a working smoke alarm? Sign up to get one and have volunteers install it for free by filling out the online form at www.getasmokealarm.org.

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About the American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois:

The American Red Cross of Northwest Illinois serves 700,000 people in 10 counties including Boone, Bureau, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside 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 www.redcross.org/Il/Rockford or visit us on Twitter @ChicagoRedCross

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American Red Cross Responds to 25 Fires and Opens 1 Shelter in the Past Week

Disaster responders with the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois responded to 25 fires from Monday, October 15 to this morning across the 21-county region including fires in Naperville, Blue Island, Elmwood Park, Darien, Rockford, Machesney Park and 15 of the fires happening in Chicago.

The fires affected 134 people including 80 adults and 54 children.

The Red Cross provided resources to help address the immediate basic needs of those affected such as temporary housing, food, clothing, comfort kits with toiletry items, information about recovery services, and health and mental health services. 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.

Additionally, 18 Red Cross responders were on the scene in Waukegan as a senior living facility was evacuated on Friday evening. Just before 5PM on October 19, the Red Cross was notified by the city of Waukegan that around 250 people would be without a home that night as an expanding sinkhole made their apartment building temporarily unlivable for days and sheltering assistance would be needed.

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Red Cross trailer with supplies in Waukegan during sheltering response on October 19, 2018

A shelter was opened at Waukegan High School on Washington Street and the Red Cross provided food, health services, casework, mental health services, and cots for residents for the night and all day on Saturday. The Red Cross worked with the building management and local hotels to provide rooms for the residents and caseworkers will continue to follow up with the people affected by this evacuation.

Hurricane Florence: Hurricane Florence made landfall early on September 14 as a Category 1 storm just south of Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Florence set tropical storm rainfall records in two states, surpassing 20 inches in South Carolina and 35 inches in North Carolina. Over the course of five days, Hurricane Florence dumped an estimated 10 trillion gallons of water across the Carolinas. More than 60 volunteers and staff were deployed for Hurricane Florence including CEO Celena Roldán and this response is on-going. Sunday night, more than 260 people stayed in 7 Red Cross shelters in North Carolina.

Hurricane Michael: On October 9, the Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois began deploying local volunteers and staff to Hurricane Michael. As of today, 19 people have been deployed for Hurricane Michael and are on the ground or are on the way to the affected area. Last night, more than 1,300 people stayed in as many as 15 Red Cross and community evacuation centers across Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

HOW PEOPLE CAN HELP: After two major hurricanes in less than a month, thousands of people are looking for help. The Red Cross depends on financial donations to fund our relief services. Help people affected by Hurricane Michael by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word MICHAEL to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.

DONATE BLOOD: The Red Cross also has a critical need for blood and platelet donations to help meet patient needs. This fall, Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence have forced the cancellation of about 200 blood drives, causing approximately 7,000 units of blood to go uncollected in the Southeast. 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.

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.

Volunteers install free smoke alarms for National Fire Prevention Week

Volunteers install free smoke alarms for National Fire Prevention Week

Today, a group of Red Cross workers gathered at the Greater Chicago Chapter headquarters and reviewed the steps to properly install smoke alarms. They suited up in warm jackets and Red Cross reflective vests before heading to the nearby Little Village neighborhood, where local homeowners would be expecting them.

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Red Cross workers are ready to install free smoke alarms in local homes on October 12, 2018

 

As part of National Fire Prevention Week, these volunteers installed free smoke alarms in Chicago area homes and are encouraging people to practice their family’s fire drill at home. Having a working smoke alarm in your home can cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half. Fires are the nation’s most frequent and deadliest disaster.

Many residents had appointments with the Red Cross to have the alarms installed. Additionally, volunteers knock on doors to see if other families would like to have a free smoke alarm installed for them.

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One of the volunteers helping today is Myesha Terrell, a new volunteer to the Red Cross. She was inspired to join the Red Cross after a friend had a home fire a few years ago.

“I thought, ‘why keep waiting?’ If I can help I should help. We’re helping people in need,” Myesha said.

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New volunteer Myesha installing a smoke alarm

On average, seven people die every day from home fires, which take more lives each year than all other natural disasters combined in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association.

That’s why the Red Cross is working with community partners to install free smoke alarms, help families create home fire escape plans, and provide public fire prevention and safety resources through its Home Fire Campaign, a nationwide effort to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries. Since the campaign began in October 2014, it’s reached more than 1.6 million people and is credited with saving 472 lives nationwide.

Antonio Velez has been volunteering with the Red Cross for nearly 3 years going to fire responses, helping with smoke alarm installations and he is a part of the Red Cross Spiritual Care Team. Antonio retired after working for the CTA for 29 years and wanted to stay involved in his community.

“It’s important for every neighborhood,” he said. “We’re trying to save lives.”

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

Experts say that today’s home fires burn faster than ever, leaving people with only as little as two minutes to escape a burning residence. But many mistakenly believe they have more time, according to a Red Cross survey last year. During Fire Prevention Week, the Red Cross urges everyone to take these lifesaving steps:

  • Develop a fire escape plan with everyone in your household and practice it at least twice a year. Need help with your plan? Use these free Home Fire Campaign resources.
  • Install smoke alarms in your home, on every level and outside each sleeping area. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year if required.
  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what they should do if they hear one.
  • Make sure all household members know two ways to escape from every room.
  • Establish a family meeting spot outside.

1.6 MILLION PEOPLE SERVED—AND GROWING

Through the Home Fire Campaign, Red Cross volunteers and community partners continue to mount a nationwide effort across the country to save lives and curb fire-related injuries. Over the past four years, Red Cross volunteers and more than 4,500 partners have gone door-to-door in high-risk neighborhoods to deliver free preparedness resources through the campaign’s Sound the Alarm canvassing events. So far, we have:

  • Reached more than 1.6 million people through home visits in nearly 14,000 cities and towns
  • Installed 1.4 million free smoke alarms
  • Replaced more than 67,550 smoke alarm batteries
  • Helped families make more than 514,200 fire escape plans
  • Reached almost 1.2 million children through youth preparedness programs

Intersted in volunteering with the Red Cross and helping with events like these? Visit www.redcross.org/volunteer to find a volunteer opportunity for you!

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.

American Red Cross Seeking AmeriCorps Team Members

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois is currently seeking individuals to serve as full-time AmeriCorps team members.  There are currently 21 full-time positions available at offices across the state of Illinois. Anyone looking for an opportunity to make a difference in the community while gaining new skills and experiences is encouraged to apply.

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Safe Families AmeriCorps member Jessica Chencinski says joining AmeriCorps was a great opportunity for professional development as well as her own personal growth. People who have an interest in public health and helping others will thrive here gaining experience serving local communities.

“There is no greater feeling than knowing you can help someone even in the slightest of ways. My service with Safe Families allows me to work with the whole population including children and the elderly,” Chencinski said. AmeriCorps members say the work is rewarding because they have daily interaction with community members regarding safety and emergency preparedness while also serving people of all ages through teaching lifesaving skills.

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Safe Families AmeriCorps members will serve to organize community members across Illinois in making their cities, schools, organizations and households more resilient to emergencies. The member’s primary responsibility will be to present free American Red Cross courses on emergency preparedness, disaster-specific safety, and basic first aid and CPR to both youth and adults in Illinois’ most vulnerable and under-served communities. Safe Families members will also work with local disaster clients to deliver Red Cross services to impacted individuals.

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Illinois’ Disaster Corps

Disaster Corps members will support impacted communities with spontaneous volunteer management and donation coordination in the event of a local or state disaster. Members will work hand-in-hand with local and state government entities, non-profit organizations, and other community organizations to provide timely and meaningful service opportunities to those seeking to assist their own communities after a disaster strikes. Though these positions will be based out the Chicago American Red Cross office, members will have the opportunity to train for and respond to disasters across the state of Illinois. Members will also be involved in local or statewide disaster response activities, community preparedness education, and may be deployed for up to two weeks at a time in the case of a disaster.

There are currently up to 6 full-time positions available, served as 1700 hours in an 11-month period.

BENEFITS:

  • Invaluable experience from a nationally and internationally-respected organization for school, a future job or new career
  • Educational grant of $5920 at completion of service (or max yearly Pell grant, subject to change)
  • Living stipend paid bi-weekly ($15,500 total over 11 months)
  • Basic Health Insurance for AmeriCorps member
  • Subsidized childcare
  • Student loan forbearance (on qualifying loans)

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Successfully serve in the position, serve 35-40 hours a week and meet the 1700 minimum requirement for a full term of service
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Must be 18 years of age at the start date of service
  • Have a valid Driver’s License & clean driving record
  • Pass required criminal background checks
  • Members should also be comfortable working with a wide variety of people from all walks of life and backgrounds, and respect the American Red Cross fundamental principles.

TO APPLY: Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis. Please apply at https://rdcrss.org/2PMar9y

The Pillowcase Project: Reaching the One Millionth Child

Next week, the American Red Cross Pillowcase Project will reach its one millionth child! This program aims to increase awareness of natural disasters and teach safety, emotional coping and personal preparedness skills to students in grades three through five (eight to 11 years old).

Learn, Practice and Share 

In this program, trained Red Cross volunteers help students learn how to create an emergency supply kit by packing essential items into a pillowcase, which makes it easier to transport items in the event of a disaster or emergency. Students are also given the opportunity to personalize their pillowcase and encouraged to share what they’ve learned with their loved ones.

Making a Difference

Leading up to reaching The Pillowcase Project’s one millionth child, Pillowcase Project teams are holding events throughout the Chicago and northern Illinois region, most recently in Will County’s Bolingbrook through a partnership with Will County EMA.

Vanessa Murray was the presenter from Will County EMA.

“I’ve always been interested in preparedness and being safe,” Murray said. “And that is what really draws me to presenting Pillowcase Project on a regular basis.”

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As the children decorated their pillowcases and learned about preparedness, they were able to be a part of the One Millionth Student milestone through a celebration and received special certificates.

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Since the project’s first pilot launched in 2013, teams have engaged 35,000 volunteers to partner with more than 13,000 schools, community organizations and partners to reach students. As a result, 11 lives have been saved. The American Red Cross has also supported international pilot programs in six countries abroad.

“Sound the Alarm. Save a Life”

A Story to Learn From

Less than a year ago, some family members of mine woke up in the middle of the night. Outside, their dog barked over and over again, and for a moment, they tried to ignore the dog and go back to sleep. But he kept barking, until finally one of them got up and looked out of their window. In their backyard, a huge pile of wood had caught fire.

The two of them rushed outside and they threw bucket after bucket of water onto the fire, narrowly avoiding the rusty nails sticking out of the wood. They kept the flames at bay until the fire department arrived. The next day, the fire extinguished, they learned that it had been started by some ashes and embers that were thrown on the wood. Their young child had assumed that the ashes had cooled down enough to be safely disposed of, but they were not.

In this instance, everyone was fine, and nothing besides some old wood was damaged. Still, the story is a reminder that fires start and spread quickly, and nobody can fully insulate themselves from the risk of such a tragedy.

Misunderstanding House Fires

Still, people often don’t accurately predict their own safety from fires. House fires constitute the majority of disasters that the American Red Cross responds to. The danger of house fires is heightened by the knowledge that forty percent of people admit to having forgotten to turn off a stone or oven, which are the leading cause of fires. And more than a third of people use stoves, kerosene lanterns, or space heaters, and heating equipment is involved in a fifth of all home fire deaths.

To add to this, the majority of people overestimate how much time they will have to flee a burning home. According to experts, some people will have as little as two minutes to safely exit. When a house is burning, every second matters, especially when babies, children, or the elderly are involved. Every day, seven people die in the United States as a result from a home fire. Tragically, many of these happen in homes without working smoke alarms.

Many of these deaths would have be preventable if victims had working smoke alarms in their house.  The sound of a smoke alarm can make the difference when warning people within moments if a fire had started in their house. Smoke alarms give people time to gather their children and ensure that everyone leaves the house quickly. Property may be damaged, but people will survive.

How You Can Help

The Red Cross is teaming up with local fire departments and other agencies to Sound the Alarm, installing free smoke alarms across the country in homes that need them. It is part of the larger Home Fire Campaign, which since beginning in 2014, has installed over one million alarms nationwide. And it has been credited with helping to save over 400 lives.

This Spring, you can help be a part of this. Sound the Alarm is only made possible by volunteers. It is our volunteers who installed one million smoke alarms, and our volunteers who have helped save over 400 lives. We are so thankful to anyone who signs up to volunteer to help Sound the Alarm.

The event kicks off on April 28 in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, and volunteers will be installing smoke alarms for the next five Saturdays. For more information on how to volunteer for Sound the Alarm, you can contact visit www.soundthealarm.org/northernIL.

Thank you for serving and saving lives with us.

Written by Gordon White, Communications Intern for the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois

Learning how to save a life

Learning how to save a life

One of the best things you can do to prepare yourself for an emergency is to get CPR certified. As a Red Cross intern, I could see different classes being set up and knew that this was definitely an opportunity I should take advantage of.  My high school had required me to get certified as a freshman, but that was almost eight years ago, and my current medical understanding was largely based on fictional medical TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy. I realized that was far from sufficient and began to worry that I would find myself in a life or death situation with no idea what to actually do. So, after looking through the available classes, I signed up for the Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED class at the Red Cross’ 2200 W Harrison location.

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The class was scheduled for a cold Tuesday morning in March. When I got there, I found a classroom with around a dozen people from a variety of professions and backgrounds, paper packets, and a DePaul grad student named Kelly as my instructor. Over the next five and a half hours the class covered how to respond to a wide variety of different medical emergencies. With so much information in one day I was a little worried about getting overwhelmed and retaining everything. However, that was not the case at all. The combination of instructional videos, interactive exercises and practice on CPR dummies made everything easily digestible and memorable.

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I cannot recommend taking the CPR/AED training enough. In just a few hours, you’ll learn how to react to emergencies ranging from a sprained ankle to cardiac arrest. I left the class with a newfound confidence and sense of preparedness. Signing up takes five minutes or less. Just go to www.redcross.org/courses to find the class and location that best suits you. You never know when you’ll be the person others look to in an emergency. You could be the one to step up and save a life.

Written by Hannah Nicholson, Communications & Marketing intern for the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois