Team Firestopper Prepares Your Community From a Fire Disaster

Team Firestopper Home Visits 3.29.13 016
Imagine the place you call home, the place you share with your family, the place you grew up, gone. Fires can be one of the most devastating things to happen to a family. It can destroy homes, possessions, memories, and lives. In a matter of minutes, everything that a home holds dear can be burnt away. As you scroll through the pages of this blog you will read the stories of the people whose lives have been altered by destructive fires. The trauma of losing your home is immeasurable; something experienced by too many in the city of Chicago.

The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago responds to 1,200 disasters each year, the majority of which are residential fires. The Chicago Red Cross relief team helps assist victims of home fires every day. You cannot rewind back to the moments before a fire, but you can take steps in preventing it. There are simple ways in which you and your family can protect your home from fires and Team Firestopper can help.

Team Firestopper is a volunteer fire safety program that provides fire education and hand-on activities. Each year the program reaches over 10,000 households. This year, on March 29th and 30th, Team Firestopper of Greater Chicago visited 40 homes in the Roseland neighborhood on the south side of the city to distribute free fire prevention kits that included smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and surge protectors. Over the two days, 50 volunteers educated homeowners about fire safety and preparedness.

The team works to prevent home fires in neighborhoods with a high number of residential fires. “Unfortunately, Roseland has a significant number of home fires each year,” said Red Cross community programs director Yvette Alexander-Maxie. Last year, the Red Cross relief team responded to 70 incidents in Roseland, making it one of the highest response zones in Chicago.

The two- day home visits in Roseland helped families become better educated and ready for residential fire hazards. During one of the visits, the team went to the home of Tonya Howard, who was already well equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. “I’m a foster parent, so it’s mandatory,” she said. “We have to do an evaluation, and then we have to have a plan, too.” Team Firestopper successfully aided families in the Roseland community to help stop fires before they happen.

Team Firestopper is working hard to prepare Chicago communities so fewer families have to lose their homes to fires. Do not let your family and home be at risk, stay informed and always be prepared. For more information about fire safety and tips visit redcross.org. Team Firestopper needs volunteers to help teach preparedness techniques and canvass neighborhoods with fire prevention information. For volunteer information visit http://www.redcross.org or call (312) 729-6265.

Written by: Alyssa Barford

Fireworks! We told you so.

The Fourth of July is one of the most celebrated days in the United States, with people showing their patriotism by lighting fireworks and enjoying quality time with their loved ones. Unfortunately for Erica Lopez and her family, one week before the national holiday, fireworks lit up her house instead of the sky.

On June 28, a group of kids started the firecracker in a backyard near Erica’s home. The firecracker landed on the roof of Erica’s building and quickly spread fire to the rooms below. Her eldest son was in the shower when he smelled smoke and ran out to tell his little brother and cousins. Not having their mother, Erica, at home, the children ran downstairs to alert their aunt who later recalled that “they could have run, but they saved my life!”

When the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team arrived on scene, the firefighters were still present. The children were now huddled at a distance from their home with their family. Their anxiety was alleviated when the volunteers gave them stuffed animals and comforting smiles.

As the Red Cross volunteers prepared to provide emergency assistance, Erica was unsure whether or not to take the offered help. But those that were present assured her that the Red Cross was there to help. Her boyfriend also mentioned “They help people all around the world!” We explained to her that we operate solely on generous donations given by the public and that we were there to help her. As the Disaster Response team prepared to provide shoes to them because of the broken glass scattered over the entire place, Erica couldn’t believe that we were assisting them so much.

Erica was extremely grateful to receive American Red Cross comfort kits, aid for food, clothing and shelter. As the Emergency Response vehicle pulled out of the neighborhood, Erica held her children close as she prepared to move in with her father and start afresh.

Written By- Amisha Sud

Red Cross Month – Join Us

Today marks the beginning of Red Cross Month. This is a time of awareness, volunteerism, and generosity. Red Cross Month is a reminder that we couldn’t carry out our mission without the support of our volunteers, followers, and staff.

One disaster that goes under the radar for many Chicagoans is fires. People usually think of hurricanes, tornados or earthquakes. Home fires may seem to have minimal impact but the people that are affected in a year by fires can equal or surpass those of a hurricane or earthquake.

Last night alone, Disaster Services for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago provided shelter, food, and comfort care to over 50 individuals affected by an apartment fire. On the weekend they responded to six fires where a total of 30 adults and 20 children received assistance. In the past 3 days the Red Cross of Greater Chicago has assisted over 100 individuals.

Robert, one of the people impacted by last nights fire, stated that after seeing thick white smoke making its way through the halls of his apartment complex he knew it was time to leave everything behind and evacuate. Like people affected by a large scale hurricane or tornado individuals affected by a home fire in a matter of minutes loose everything that they hold dear.

Robert is one of many that are displaced daily by home fires. Disasters happen all around us on a daily basis. This month you can help by raising awareness, volunteering or donating to the Red Cross.

Written by: Erica Serna