Washington D.C. - The American Red Cross in the National Capital Region urges local residents to prepare for the impending winter storm. This includes downloading the 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.
WINTER DRIVING SAFETY TIPS
If you can avoid driving during this storm, do so. However, if you have to drive, the Red Cross offers these tips about how to drive safely during a winter storm or what to do if you become stuck in your vehicle:
• Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter with a window scraper, kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk. Pack high-protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, small battery-operated radio, an emergency contact card with names and phone numbers, extra prescription medications, blankets and important documents or information you may need.
• Fill the vehicle’s gas tank and clean the lights and windows to help you see.
• Find out what disasters may occur where you are traveling and pay attention to the weather forecast. Before you leave, let someone know where you are going, the route you plan to take, and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
• If you have to drive, 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 will freeze before roadways.
• Don’t run your engine and heater constantly to help avoid running out of gas. Don’t use things like lights or the radio without the engine running so the battery doesn’t conk out.
• If you can, move your vehicle off the roadway. Stay with it – don’t abandon it. If you have to get out of your vehicle, use the side away from traffic.
COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS
Follow these steps to stay safe as the winter onslaught continues:
• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
• Someone should seek medical attention immediately if they 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.
• Be careful when shoveling snow. Cold weather puts extra strain on your heart. Consider your physical condition, the weather and the nature of the task.
• Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
• Don’t forget family 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 to help avoid freezing pipes.
To help ensure patients have needed blood, Red Cross Blood Services workers have moved blood products to hospitals before the storm. Severe winter weather since the start of the year has forced the cancellation of more than 1,000 Red Cross blood drives from coast to coast and this latest storm has already brought more cancellations. The extraordinary number of blood drive cancellations since the start of the year has resulted in about 35,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations.
HOW TO GIVE
For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in 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