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Red Cross Responds as Winter Again Takes Aim at Eastern U.S.

Don’t drive if you don’t have to.

Millions of people are in the path of the latest blast of snow, sleet and freezing rain affecting most of the eastern half of the country. The storm is causing hazardous travel conditions, road closures, delayed flights, flooding, mudslides and ice jams. The American Red Cross is providing shelter where needed and is working with local and state officials to open more shelters if needed.


In Pennsylvania and West Virginia, melting snow caused flooding, forcing some residents from their homes. In West Virginia, Red Cross workers opened shelters and are providing food, health services and meeting with those affected. In Pennsylvania, the Red Cross distributed cleaning items and is helping people plan their recovery from the flooding. In both states, the Red Cross is standing by to provide more help if needed. Experts say flooding in the region will continue and could spread into Kentucky and Tennessee.


The continuous winter onslaught has led to highway accidents everywhere. The best way to remain safe is to stay off the road during severe weather, if possible. If you have to drive in snow or freezing rain, follow these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm:

  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses will freeze before roadways.
  • Carry winter necessities such as a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.
  • Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast where you are traveling. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If you become stuck in the snow or icy conditions, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it.
  • If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running to help rescuers see the vehicle.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.

    The weather is also causing an uptick in frozen pipes in homes as the frost line goes deeper underground. If you are faced with this problem, the Red Cross has steps you can take.


    For more information, visit the winter storm safety section of this web site. You can also 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 in your app store. See all Red Cross apps at


    Since February 1, more than 800 Red Cross blood drives in 27 states were canceled because of inclement weather, resulting in more than 27,300 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Eligible blood and platelet donors who live in areas where it is safe to travel are encouraged to make an appointment to give now, and those in areas affected by severe weather are asked to make and keep appointments when it is safe to do so. Donors with blood types O negative, A negative and B negative are especially needed and are encouraged to donate double red cells where available.


    You can help people affected by disasters like winter storms and countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

    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.