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.
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.
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.
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.