Most of the country is facing dangerously cold temperatures this week, along with a winter storm from the Plains to the Northeast this weekend. The American Red Cross wants everyone to be safe and has steps they can take during this week’s record-breaking cold weather.
The frigid temperatures and snow are adding to the difficulty of collecting enough blood and platelets around the holidays and the Red Cross urges people who are eligible to give now.
“About 100 million people are facing this bitter cold weather across the country, and we want them to remain safe.” saidBrad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Some places could see their coldest December temperatures in a few years and people need to prepare now. We are monitoring the situation and will respond if necessary.”
Follow these steps to remain safe during extreme cold and snow:
• If the power goes out, use generators correctly – never operate a generator inside the home, including the basement or garage. Do not hook up a generator directly to the home’s wiring. The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment needed directly to the outlets on the generator.
• Prevent frozen pipes – open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around water pipes. Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes.
• Don’t forget family pets – bring them indoors. If that’s not possible, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they can get to unfrozen water.
• Do not use a stove or oven to heat the home. Keep a glass or metal fire screen around the fireplace and never leave a fireplace fire unattended.
• If using a space heater, place it on a level, hard, nonflammable surface. Turn the space heater off when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep children and pets away from the space heater and do not use it to dry wet clothing.
On the road:
• Stay off the road during severe weather, if possible.
• Carry an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk.
• Keep the car’s gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
• Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
• Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
• Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
• Don’t pass snow plows.
• Know that ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways.
Out in the cold:
• Wear layers of clothing to stay warm, along with a hat, mittens and waterproof, insulated boots.
• Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep feet warm and dry and to maintain one’s footing in ice and snow.
• Be careful when tackling strenuous tasks like shoveling snow in cold temperatures. Consider your physical condition, weather factors, and the nature of the task.
• Check on your neighbors, especially elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.