PITTSBURGH –– The American Red Cross is responding throughout the United States as dangerous cold air and frigid wind chills continue to impact people across most of the country.
Nearly 1,000 people stayed in 100 Red Cross and community shelters across 13 states last night because of the weather. The local Red Cross is working closely with local government and county Emergency Management officials and is prepared to respond as necessary.
To stay safe during this winter storm, the Red Cross urges people to follow these steps:
COLD SAFETY TIPS
• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
• Seek medical attention immediately if you 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 your 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 keep pipes from freezing. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.
• Download the American 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. See all Red Cross apps at RedCross.org/MobileApps.
SPACE HEATERS, FIREPLACES AND GENERATORS
Red Cross workers are also responding to numerous home fires across the country. During extremely cold weather, the risk for homes fires can increase. To avoid danger, you should remember the following:
• Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
• If you are 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 you are 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 you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD
Snow and bitterly cold temperatures across many parts of the country have caused the cancellation of about 240 Red Cross blood drives in 23 states, resulting in a shortfall of nearly 7,000 blood and platelet donations. Despite the weather, hospital patients across the country still need blood.
• Donors in unaffected areas are encouraged to make and keep blood and platelet donation appointments to help offset the current shortfall.
• Donors in affected areas are urged to give blood or platelets as soon as travel is deemed safe.
• 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.
For more information on how to stay safe this winter, visit the winter storm safety information available on RedCross.org.