CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Local American Red Cross volunteers helped 20 people in nine Central Illinois fires last week, including ones in Decatur, Mattoon, and Springfield.

Volunteers provided assistance to those 20 individuals by supplying them with basic items to meet immediate needs after a fire. They also gave additional mental health services and one-on-one support.

Red Cross said home fires are the most frequent disaster, claiming seven lives every day in the U.S. Working smoke alarms can cut the risk of death in a home fire by 50 percent.

They also shared the following tips to help avoid frostbite and hypothermia, two cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life-threatening:

  • Be aware of the wind chill.
  • Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold for too long.
  • Wear a hat and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing.
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold.
  • Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Stay active to maintain body heat.
  • Take frequent breaks from the cold.
  • Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear.

More information about home fire safety can be found here.

You can also call the Red Cross dispatch line at (877) 597-0747 if you or someone you know needs assistance after a home fire or local disaster.