CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — American Red Cross volunteers provided assistance to 16 people affected by six house fires in Central Illinois this past week, including in Champaign and Hoopeston.

After an apartment fire in Champaign and an early morning structure fire in Hoopeston over the weekend, the Red Cross was there to assist. Homes in Peoria and Metamora were also affected by fires last week. The Red Cross provides house fire victims with emergency financial assistance, food, toiletries, health and mental health services, and one-on-one support to connect people to available recovery assistance.

“Our hearts go out to our neighbors who were impacted by these fires,” said Mark Thomas, Interim CEO of the Red Cross Illinois Region. “Because these disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, please help stay safe by testing your smoke alarms each month and practicing your home fire escape plan until everyone in your household can escape in two minutes or less.”

The Red Cross works to prevent house fires through their Home Fire Campaign, where they install free smoke alarms in high-risk communities and help families create escape plans. Since its launch in October 2014, the campaign has saved at least 1,928 lives across the country with over 4,300 free smoke alarms installed in Illinois alone.

In addition to fire safety, the Red Cross would like to remind the public that they continue to face a shortage of blood donations throughout the country. They urge everyone, especially platelet donors and type O blood donors, to schedule appointments as soon as possible and get patients the critical medical care they need. By making appointments in October, the Red Cross said donors can help ensure a stable blood supply even in the face of unpredictable fall disasters like hurricanes and severe weather disruptions.

For home fire safety resources and tips, visit redcross.org/fire or download the Red Cross Emergency App. Blood or platelet donation appointments can be made through the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org, or calling 1-800-733-2767.