Extremely cold temperatures are blasting across two-thirds of the country, forcing the cancellation of American Red Cross blood drives in 26 states. The Red Cross has tips people can follow to be safe as the frigid weather continues and asks people who are eligible to give blood now.
The dangerous weather is affecting millions of people, including residents of the Deep South who are not used to snow, sleet and freezing rain with below-zero wind chills. Red Cross chapters throughout the region are standing by to help if needed.
COLD WEATHER TIPS Here are ten ways for you to stay safe if brutally cold temperatures are plaguing your area:
1. Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
2. Listen to local news outlets and follow the advice of your local officials. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during this extreme cold.
3. Avoid driving on snow-covered roads if possible. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle
4. Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
5. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia.
6. Don’t forget your pets – bring them 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.
7. Avoid frozen pipes - run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children. Keep the garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.
8. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home. If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed. If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
9. Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage. Don’t hook a generator up to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment someone wants to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The Red Cross is distributing blood products to hospitals as quickly as donations are coming in. More than 500 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled this month in 26 states and Washington, D.C. because of the weather, resulting in nearly 16,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. This latest round of severe winter weather has forced the cancellation of more than 200 additional Red Cross blood drives.
Eligible donors with all blood types are needed now. Thousands of people from across the country responded to the call for blood and platelet donations issued earlier this month, but there continues to be an urgent need for blood donors with type O, especially type O negative. Blood types A negative and B negative are also urgently needed.
Anyone interested in scheduling an appointment to give blood can visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.