Life is slowly returning to normal on the East Coast as people dig out from the weekend’s historic snow storm, but some still need help and the American Red Cross is hard at work across multiple states, lending a hand.
The Red Cross still has shelters open in several states to help people affected by the storm. In New Jersey, Red Cross workers are helping assess the damage after the flooding in the southern end of the state.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The extreme weather has created an emergency need for blood donations and platelet donors, as many donation centers had to be closed during the blizzard. All eligible blood and platelet donors of all types are urged to make an appointment to give as soon as possible. See full details here about how you can help.
WINTER DRIVING Many highways and streets are still snow-covered. The Red Cross urges people to avoid driving if possible. If someone has to drive, they should have a window scraper, kitty litter or sand, extra clothes and a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk in case they get stuck. 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.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.If you do get stuck, make sure your tailpipe is not buried in the snow. Dangerous carbon monoxide can get in the car if it is. 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.
POWER OUTAGE If you are without power during the cold, you should go to a designated public shelter. If you are going to use a generator, never use it indoors, even in a garage, carport, basement or crawlspace, as fumes from the generator can be deadly. 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.
Other safety tips include:Use flashlights for light, not candles. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Check refrigerated food for spoilage and if in doubt, throw it out. Your refrigerator will keep cold for about 4 hours. If the freezer is full, it will keep its temperature for about 48 hours.Have coolers on hand and surround your food with ice in the cooler or refrigerator to keep food cold for a longer period of time. Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and any appliances, equipment or electronics to avoid damaging them when the power is restored.Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.Watch animals and keep them under your direct control.Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.Place space heaters on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
AFTER THE STORM As people begin to dig out from the snow in the coming days, the Red Cross cautions them to be very careful. Shoveling snow is very strenuous work and people should consider their physical condition before taking it on. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Other safety steps include: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. Check on those who might need special help, such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm.
DOWNLOAD RED CROSS EMERGENCY APP Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for winter weather alerts and warnings and location of shelters. The app’s Winter Storm section contains expert advice for what to do before, during and after winter storms.
HOW TO HELP You can help people affected by disasters like winter storms or countless other crises by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.