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American Red Cross Urges Preparedness As Damaging Winter Storm Threatens About 100 Million People

Great Lakes

February 1, 2011
 

 

Blood donors needed as winter weather continues to affect supply

 

Lansing, MI-  The American Red Cross is preparing to respond to the destructive winter storm that is bearing down on the country from just east of the Rocky Mountains to the coast of New England. The storm could impact a third of the population of the United States, and it threatens to bring blizzard conditions and heavy ice and snow.

This latest winter blast could further impact the Red Cross blood supply which has already seen more than 18,000 expected blood donations go uncollected over the last several weeks due to bad winter weather. People are asked to make an appointment to give blood by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting www.redcrossblood.org. Those who live in the path of the storm are asked to schedule a donation time when it is safe to travel. All blood types are needed, but there is a special need for donors with O-Negative, A-Negative and B-Negative blood.

People have been responding to the call for blood donors, and the Red Cross is grateful to those who are stepping up to donate blood to help build the blood supply back to where it should be. The Red Cross distributes blood products to approximately 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the United States.

“We are grateful for the upswing in donations which has occurred since we issued the call for people to give blood,” said Richard Benjamin, Chief Medical Officer, American Red Cross. “However, this latest storm is expected to further impact our ability to hold blood collections. We continue to need the public’s help to rebuild our blood inventory back to a safe and adequate level.”

Red Cross chapters all across the country are preparing to respond to the storm as needed. The Red Cross is working with state and local government officials and calling disaster workers, getting them ready to respond if necessary.

Weather experts are predicting the storm could affect about 100 million people. Heavy snow will make travel impossible at times, with snow drifting as high as eight feet in some locations. Some areas will experience a crippling amount of ice which could lead to power outages for hundreds of thousands of customers. Dangerously cold air could give way to wind chills reading below zero. Southern states will not escape the storm’s fury, as severe thunderstorms are predicted to sweep across the region, accompanied by damaging winds.

The Red Cross offers these steps people can take to stay safe and warm:

  • Do not use stoves or ovens to heat the home.
  • Place space heaters on a hard, level, nonflammable surface.  Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. 
  • Turn off space heaters or extinguish the fireplace before going to bed or leaving home. 
  • Keep all flammable materials such as newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs at least three feet away from heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.

If someone must go outside, they should wear layered lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves (or mittens) and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Covering the mouth will protect the lungs. Other safety tips include:

  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain footing in ice and snow.
  • If shoveling snow, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated. Avoid overexertion.
  • Avoid traveling by car in a storm, but if someone must be out on the roads …
    • Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk.
    • Keep the car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
    • The traveler should let someone know where they are going, the route being taken and expected arrival time. If their vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along the predetermined route.

For more information on how to stay safe and warm during this latest onslaught of winter, visit www.redcross.org.