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Dangerous Cold Threatens Much of U.S.; Red Cross Issues Lifesaving Steps to Combat Weather

Snow plow

Critical need for blood and platelet donations now

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 14, 2016 — Most of the country is facing dangerously cold temperatures this week, along with a winter storm from the Plains to the Northeast this weekend. The American Red Cross wants everyone to be safe and has steps they can take during this week’s record-breaking cold weather.

The frigid temperatures and snow are adding to the difficulty of collecting enough blood and platelets around the holidays and the Red Cross urges people who are eligible to give now.

“About 100 million people are facing this bitter cold weather across the country, and we want them to remain safe.” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Some places could see their coldest December temperatures in a few years and people need to prepare now. We are monitoring the situation and will respond if necessary.”

Follow these steps to remain safe during extreme cold and snow:

At home:

  • If the power goes out, use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to the home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment needed directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Prevent frozen pipes - open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes.
  • Don’t forget family 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.
  • Do not use a stove or oven to heat the home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended.
  • If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep children and pets away from the space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
  • On the road:

  • Stay off the road during severe weather, if possible.
  • Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk.
  • Keep the car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • 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.
  • Out in the cold:

  • Wear layers of clothing to stay warm, along with a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain one’s footing in ice and snow.
  • Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures. Consider your physical condition, weather factors, and the nature of the task.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • EMERGENCY APP People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to safety tips for winter weather and power outages. 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. The app can be found in the app store for someone’s mobile device by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to

    BLOOD, PLATELET DONATIONS NEEDED Bitter cold weather and snow storms on top of the busy holiday season can all impact the availability of donors to roll up a sleeve for patients who need it. The Red Cross has a critical need for blood and platelet donations now and throughout the holidays. Eligible blood and platelet donors not in the path of this winter weather are urged to make an appointment as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). To encourage donations, all presenting donors December 22, 2016, through January 8, 2017, will get a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

    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.