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Winter Weather Slams Northeast - Red Cross Offers Safety Steps

Snow covered blood collection vehicle

Many areas in the Northeast were hit with heavy snowfall, and will experience potential blizzard conditions in the next few days. Winter storm warnings have been posted by the National Weather Service for all of southern New England, eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and parts of Delaware and Maryland. Boston, Providence, Hartford, New York City and Philadelphia are also included. The American Red Cross offers safety steps for those who may be affected.


  • Wear layers of clothing to stay warm, along with a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures. Consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • 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.
  • Watch for hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. Frostbite symptoms include numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

    Winter Storm Niko has forced the cancellation of about 65 Red Cross blood drives in the Northeast. Combined with severe weather cancellations since the beginning of the year, approximately 370 blood drives have now been lost, resulting in more than 14,300 uncollected blood and platelet donations altogether in 2017.

    The Red Cross strongly urges eligible donors in areas unaffected by the winter storm to make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible. These donations may be helping patients close to home or patients in areas where donors are unable to give because of inclement weather. The Red Cross has the ability to move blood products where and when they are needed most. Donors in weather affected areas are encouraged to roll up a sleeve once the storm has passed and travel is deemed safe.

    Right now, blood and platelets are being distributed to hospitals as fast as they come in. Donations are critically needed in the coming days so that patients can continue to receive the lifesaving treatments they need. Appointments can be made by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).


    With the winter storm comes cold temperatures, and often, a rise in the number of home fires. Follow these tips to help prevent a fire in your home:

  • Keep all potential sources of fuel at least three feet away from space heaters, stoves, or fireplaces - paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs
  • Never leave portable heaters and fireplaces unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters. When buying a space heater, look for models that shut off automatically if the heater falls over as another safety measure.
  • Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

    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 freeze before roadways.
  • EMERGENCY APP People should download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to advice on what to do in emergencies and disasters like winter storms. You’ll find tips on how to plan ahead in case a snow storm threatens. The app also contains weather alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends in one free, easy-to-use app for mobile devices.

    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.