Another round of arctic air will send temperatures plummeting again later this week. And the latest winter storm will leave snow and ice across the Mountain West, Plains, Midwest and Northeast. The American Red Cross has steps you should take to stay safe if you are in the path of this winter weather.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD
The cold and snow are also affecting blood donations, causing more than 1,700 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected this month after about 27,000 blood and platelet donations went uncollected during the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s. Last week the Red Cross issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations. Learn more.
With more winter weather on the way, it’s important that donors in weather-affected areas make an appointment now to give blood or platelets when the extreme weather has passed and it is safe to travel. It’s also important that donors in areas unaffected by the weather make an appointment to give blood or platelets now to help patients who need blood.
The Red Cross is also monitoring the effects of the federal government shutdown on the nation’s blood supply. To date, more than 20 blood drives have been canceled across the country due to the government shutdown, resulting in more than 700 uncollected donations. More than 4 percent of Red Cross blood collections come from drives sponsored by the military and federal, state and local government agencies. All eligible blood donors are encouraged to make an appointment at another Red Cross location in their area.
HOW TO DONATE
All eligible individuals—especially type O blood donors—are urged to schedule a blood or platelet donation today by using the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements
WINTER WEATHER – HEAT YOUR HOME SAFELY
Home heating is the second leading cause of fires in this country. To reduce the risk of heating related fires, the Red Cross recommends these steps (More home fire safety information available here):
1. All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
2. If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs, carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
3. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
4. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
5. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
IT’S FREEZING OUT THERE – STAY SAFE
6. Wear layers of clothing, a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
7. Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures.
8. Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
9. Bring pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.
10. Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
WINTER DRIVING SAFETY
Stay off the road if possible during severe weather. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:
11. Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
12. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
13. Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
14. Don’t pass snow plows.
15. Ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.
DOWNLOAD APPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.
Winter is also hard on our pets. Visit here to learn how to keep your furry friends safe during this cold, snowy weather.
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 redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.