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Wow, It’s Cold! Ten Ways to Stay Safe

Snow plow

Its cold out there and the American Red Cross is responding across several states to help people stay warm. More than 40 people spent Tuesday night in Red Cross and community shelters and warming centers in Louisiana, Florida and North Carolina.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The Red Cross is distributing blood products to hospitals as quickly as donations are coming in. This latest blast of winter has forced the cancellation of 80 Red Cross blood drives. Since the beginning of January, winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in nearly 400 blood drive cancellations which translates to almost 11,400 uncollected blood and platelet donations.

There is an urgent need for type O blood donors – especially type O negative. Blood types A negative and B negative are also urgently needed.

To schedule an appointment to donate, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS. To give blood, you 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.

COLD WEATHER TIPS Many schools are closed due to yesterday’s heavy snow coupled with the ongoing cold temperatures. The kids are home from school and our latest Red Cross blog can help you survive another snow day.

If your community is facing temperatures below zero with dangerous wind chills, here are ten ways for you to stay safe during this latest blast of winter:

1. Listen to local news outlets and follow the advice of your local officials. Emergency operations are activated in several states. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during this extreme cold.

2. Many roadways are still snow-covered and strong winds will cause drifting snow in some areas. Avoid driving if possible. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.

3. Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat. If you are shivering, go indoors. Shivering is an important sign that you are losing body heat.

4. Be careful when shoveling snow. Cold weather puts extra strain on your heart. Consider your physical condition, the weather and the nature of the task.

5. Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.

6. Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

7. Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

8. 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.

9. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid freezing 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.

10. Download the Red Cross First Aid App for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. This free app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores.

HOME FIRE RISK INCREASES DURING COLD During extremely cold weather, the risk for a fire in someone’s home can increase. To avoid fire danger, you should remember the following:

  • Never use a stove or oven to heat the home.
  • If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. 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.
  • 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.
  • For more information on how to stay safe this winter, visit the winter storm safety information available on this web site.

    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.