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Be prepared for severe weather and emergencies

Red Cross volunteers help 216 people affected by home fires in past week

Severe weather events are part of a worsening national trend. The Red Cross has responded to nearly twice as many large disasters across the country as it did a decade ago. Furthermore, the climate crisis is taking a heavier toll on frontline communities, who are often left vulnerable.

“That’s why it’s critical to not only prepare yourself for risks like severe storms, but to also help families in need – both in our region and in other parts of the country. Please join us by becoming a volunteer or making a financial donation to support our disaster relief efforts,” shared Mark Thomas, Interim CEO for the Illinois Red Cross.

Take steps now to be ready if a weather emergency threatens your community. Planning is the key.

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water—one gallon per person, per day for drinking and hygiene purposes
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit, medications and medical items
  • Copies of important documents (proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Extra cash
  • Talk with household members about what you would do during emergencies
  • Plan what to do in case you are separated, and choose two places to meet – one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate
  • Choose a contact person from out of the area and make sure all household members have this person’s phone number and email address – it may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service
  • Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year – drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable
  • If you must evacuate, make arrangements for your pets – keep a phone list of “pet-friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes
  • Know the risks where you live, work, learn and play
  • Arm yourself with information about what to do in case an emergency occurs – emergencies like fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them
  • Find out how you would receive information from local officials in the event of an emergency
  • Learn first aid, CPR and how to use an AED so you have the skills to respond in an emergency before help arrives, especially during a disaster when emergency responders may be delayed

You can find safety information for many types of emergencies at or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. Information is available on what to do before, during and after the storm or other emergency or click the links to find helpful safety tips for you and your family from the American Red Cross when thunderstormstornadoespower outages and flooding are in the forecast for your area.

HOME FIRE RESPONSE Red Cross volunteers responded to 21 home fires in Hazel Crest, Bellwood, Batavia, Dixmoor, Harvey, Buffalo Grove, Warrenville, and Chicago including the apartment building fire on Jeffery in the past week and provided assistance to 216 people, by supplying them with basic items to meet immediate needs after a fire, and additional support in the form of health and mental health services and one-on-one support.
If you or someone you know needs assistance after a home fire or local disaster, please call 1-800 Red Cross.

Teach children what a smoke alarm sounds like and talk about fire safety and what to do in an emergency. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including inside and outside bedrooms and sleeping areas. Test alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year if your model requires it. Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older; the sensor becomes less sensitive over time. Check the date of your smoke alarms and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Visit for information on setting up your home fire escape drill and to learn more about home fire safety. Download our free Emergency app by searching for “American Red Cross” in app stores or visiting

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 or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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