From Minnesota to New England, millions of people are dealing with cold temperatures and below-zero wind chills as they dig out from the heavy snow that buried much of the country. The Alabama Red Cross is working with emergency officials and prepared to respond as necessary.
The storm has already caused the cancellation of dozens Red Cross blood drives across the country, resulting in a shortfall of thousands of blood donations. Despite the storm, hospital patients across the country will still need blood. If you are in a region unaffected by the storm, please consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
COLD SAFETY TIPS: Some parts of the country are experiencing low temperatures and winds that make it feel as if it is far below zero outside. To stay safe during this winter storm follow these steps:
• Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.
• After the storm, be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. It is physically strenuous work, so take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.
• 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. 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: Heating systems are running at full force and many people are resorting to other sources to keep their homes warm. To avoid fire 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.