GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., January 3, 2014 – Millions of people from the Midwest to the Northeast and right here in West Michigan are facing extremely cold temperatures, high winds, and heavy snow over the next few days, and the American Red Cross has safety tips for the cold weather and home fire risks.
More than 100 million people are under storm watches and warnings in this early January winter storm, Weather experts predict the storm could bring as much as a foot of snow or more to some areas, combined with gusty winds, extremely low temperatures and coastal flooding.
The Red Cross is watching the storm and is prepared to respond as necessary. To stay safe during this winter storm, the Red Cross urges people to follow these steps:
COLD AND SNOW
• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
• After the storm, be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
• Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
• Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.
• 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.
• 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.
• Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
• Download the American 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. See all Red Cross apps at redcross.org/mobileapps.
SPACE HEATERS, FIREPLACES AND GENERATORS
Heating systems are running at full force and many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm. To avoid fire danger, you should remember the following:
• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
• If you are 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 you are 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 you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD
This storm could result in the cancellation of Red Cross blood drives in those areas impacted by the weather. Despite the storm, hospital patients across the country will still need blood. If you are in a region unaffected by the storm, please consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets.
• Appointments can be online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 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.
• 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 redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.