The massive winter storm that dumped almost two feet of snow in the Midwest is moving eastward and the American Red Cross has steps people can follow to stay safe during the storm.
The snow, sleet and freezing rain is moving into the upper Great Lakes, Central Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic and New England regions over the weekend and people who may be in the path of the storm should prepare now. These are steps they can take to get ready:
RED CROSS RESPONSE In Kansas and Missouri, the Red Cross opened shelters as needed and had workers and other shelter sites on stand-by as the storm passed through. More than 30 people took refuge in shelters in Kansas during the storm. As the storm moves to the east, Red Cross chapters are working with local officials and have workers and potential shelter sites ready if needed.
BLOOD DONORS NEEDED The severe winter weather has already caused the cancellation of as many as 80 blood drives in 12 states, resulting in a shortfall of more than 3,100 units of blood and platelets unable to be collected due to the storm. More cancellations are possible as the storm moves eastward. The cancellations come on top of the more than 7,100 blood donations that went uncollected during the blizzard that hit the Northeast earlier this month.
The Red Cross encourages those who live in areas unaffected by the storm to schedule a time to give blood or platelets. There is a particular need for eligible donors with O-positive, O-negative, A-negative and B-negative blood types. To schedule an appointment to give blood, people can call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org
A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent 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.
WINTER STORM SAFETY If you are in the path of this storm and must go outside, wear layered lightweight clothing to keep warm. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs. Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
If traveling, try to avoid driving during the storm. If you have to drive, plan to arrive at your destination before the storm hits. Watch weather predictions for your entire route so you know what to expect along the way. Make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit in the car, and keep your car's gas tank full 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.
If you do get stuck in the snow:
SAFETY AT HOME If the power goes out, use flashlights to provide light. Do not use candles for lighting. Don’t forget your pets – bring them indoors. If that’s not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water. Other tips include:
More information on what steps you can take to stay safe during storms and other emergencies is available on this website.