Blood and platelet donation encouraged
Submitted by the American Red Cross
With severe winter weather in the Western New York region, the American Red Cross encourages eligible blood and platelet donors to make an appointment to give before travel conditions become hazardous or, for those in unaffected areas, to make an appointment to give as soon as possible to help restock the blood supply.
During times of inclement weather, road conditions and power outages often result in the cancellation of blood drives and a shortfall of blood and platelet donations. The Red Cross must collect more than 2,600 platelet and nearly 13,000 blood donations every day for patients at about 2,500 hospitals and transfusion centers nationwide.
“The need for blood does not get a snow day,” said Hanna Malak, Red Cross WNY regional donor services executive. “It is the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits.”
Eligible donors are asked to make an appointment to give blood or platelets before the approaching storm or in the days following, once it is safe to do so. To schedule an appointment to donate, please use the American Red Cross blood donor app, visit www.RedCrossBlood.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
The Red Cross is also encouraging vigilance when it comes to personal safety and staying warm. Fires linked to home heating are a leading cause of home fire deaths. Tips on winter storm safety as well as home heating safety are below. More information on emergency preparedness can be found at www.redcross.org/prepare or by downloading the Red Cross emergency app.
Cold Weather & Winter Storm Safety
•Listen to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio station or other local news channels for critical information on snowstorms and blizzards from the National Weather Service (NWS).
•Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain, snow or dense fog.
•If travel is necessary, make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes: a shovel, blanket, flashlight, water, snacks, first aid kit, extra batteries and a sack of sand or cat litter.
•Keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
•Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors, and the nature of the task.
•When shoveling snow, take frequent breaks to avoid risk of injury or cardiac arrest.
•Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
•Bring pets inside during winter weather.
•Make sure coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and warm clothing are available for all household members, along with extra blankets.
•Eat regular meals and stay hydrated, but avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
Home Heating Safety
•Keep all potential sources of fuel – like paper, clothing, bedding or rugs – at least 3 feet away from space heaters, stoves or fireplaces.
•Portable heaters and fireplaces should never be left unattended. Turn off space heaters and make sure any embers in the fireplace are extinguished before going to bed or leaving home.
•If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
•Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
•Keep the fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
•It is critical that households have working smoke alarms and that families practice their fire escape plan.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% 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, visit www.redcross.org.