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Blood donors needed as winter weather continues to affect supply

Southeastern Michigan

February 1, 2011
 

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

Blood donors needed as winter weather continues to affect supply

Blood Services Contacts: Martha Roemer Kurtz, 313-494-2745 ;  Bridget Tuohey, 313-576-4184  

Chapter Contacts (Emergency Preparedness):  Allison Koenigbauer, 248-302-2930;  John Mozena, 313-460-7441                                 

Detroit -- 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.

How to Donate Blood

To schedule an appointment to donate please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org for more information. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

 

About the American Red Cross

The Southeastern Michigan Blood Services Region serves five counties, and needs to collect about 900 units of blood a day to meet patient need in 43 hospitals.In addition to supplying nearly half of the nation’s blood, the American Red Cross teaches lifesaving skills, provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization—not a government agency—and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.