Red Cross Responds to Massive Winter Storm Affecting Millions from Gulf Coast to New England Blood Drives Shut Down; More Than 1,000 Canceled Since Start of 2014

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross is responding across multiple states to the massive winter storm that is affecting people from the Gulf Coast to New England and offers steps people can take to stay safe during this dangerous weather.

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The storm is already affecting people across the southern states and as many as 200 people took refuge last night from the wintry blast in numerous Red Cross and community shelters in Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. These numbers could climb throughout the week as weather experts warn of massive power outages and dangerous winter conditions from this storm.

"The Red Cross is ready to help people in the path of this storm," said Richard Reed, senior vice president of disaster cycle services for the Red Cross. "We have additional workers, relief supplies, response vehicles and shelters available. Right now, people should stay alert to the changing weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials." 

As the storm moves northward, the Red Cross has identified shelter sites and is already standing by in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Red Cross workers are also coordinating response efforts with state and local emergency officials,

People in the path of this dangerous storm should get ready now. Listen to local officials and stay off the roads if possible. Prepare for power outages with a disaster kit that includes water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and batteries, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, manual can opener and extra cash. If someone needs to find a shelter, they should follow their local media outlets or contact their local Red Cross chapter.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD This storm has already caused the cancellation of numerous Red Cross blood drives across the south and more are expected as the storm moves to the north. More than 1,000 blood drives nationwide have been canceled due to severe winter weather since the start of the year. If you are in a region unaffected by the storm, please consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets.

You can make an appointment to give blood online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. To give blood, someone must be at least 17 years of age, meet weight and height requirements and be in general good health. Donors should bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID with them. Some states allow 16-year-olds to give with parental consent.

COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS To stay safe during this dangerous weather, follow these steps:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Download 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.

HOME FIRE RISK INCREASES DURING COLD During extremely cold weather, the risk for a fire in someone's home can increase. To avoid fire danger, people should remember the following:

  • Never use a stove or oven to heat the home.
  • If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away – things such as paper, clothing, bedding, curtains or rugs. Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • If using a fireplace, use a glass or metal fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
  • Use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including in the basement or garage.
  • Don't hook a generator up to the home's wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment someone wants to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

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.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent 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, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

SOURCE American Red Cross



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