The latest winter storm on the East Coast is causing more blood drive cancellations and the American Red Cross is urging people in unaffected areas of the country to schedule a blood donation in the coming days.
Earlier this week the Red Cross issued a nationwide appeal for blood donors to boost a dwindling blood supply. Winter weather caused the loss of thousands of blood and platelet donations throughout the eastern half of the country. The latest snowfall has worsened the situation, with more blood drives cancelled and a total of about 16,400 blood and platelet donations not collected over the last several weeks. The Red Cross has not seen its blood supply drop this dramatically at this time of year over the past ten years.
People have been responding to the call for blood donors, and the Red Cross hopes that support will continue. Despite the weather, patients continue to need blood. After a prolonged drop in blood donations, it takes time to build the blood supply back to an adequate level.
Everyone who is eligible is urged to make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the coming days by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by visiting www.redcrossblood.org.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), 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. Individuals should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when coming to donate.
All blood types are needed, but there is a particular need for people with negative blood types – O-negative, A-negative and B-negative - to give blood now.
Meanwhile, Red Cross chapters all along the eastern seaboard are on alert, ready to respond to the storm if needed. The Red Cross has steps people can follow to stay safe and warm during the latest winter onslaught:
- If possible, people should stay inside and avoid unnecessary travel.
- Prevent frozen pipes - when the weather is very cold outside, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature.
- Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If you can’t bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.
If you must go outside, layered lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs. Other safety tips include:
- Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
- Walk carefully on snowy, icy, sidewalks.
- If you shovel snow, be extremely careful. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Avoid overexertion.
- Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if you must ...
- Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk.
- Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
For more information on winter storm safety, visit www.redcross.org.