The American Red Cross is among a coalition of organizations encouraging Americans to observe the Ninth Annual National Preparedness Month this September by doing simple things that make a difference when every second counts.
The Red Cross recommends three things most everyone can do to prepare for disasters or other emergencies: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.
“The beauty is, those steps can be taken in advance, helping most everyone to be prepared,” said John Hagins, CEO, for the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross.
Supporting blood donation or giving blood is also critical to any community preparedness plan since hospitals need blood on the shelves to respond to patient need. Hospital patients need about 40,000 blood donations each day for ongoing or emergency medical needs. And when adequate supplies of blood are available every day of every week, the Red Cross can help ensure a swift response when and if blood needs intensify.
Blood is typically available to patients 48 hours from the point of donation because of the various steps involved in testing, processing, and distributing components like red cells, platelets and plasma. While many people roll up their sleeves during times of disaster, the key to a strong blood supply, Red Cross officials say, are steady and consistent donations throughout the year.
“It’s human nature to want to help when disasters strike,” said Hagins. “By taking some precautionary steps today—like donating blood—you’ll be helping, too, since you’re empowering yourself and our nation to face the unexpected.”
Donors of all blood types are currently needed, in particular blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative.
He also offered these preparedness tips:
- Create and maintain a family disaster plan.
- Download the Red Cross preparedness apps, available for iPhone and Droid.
- Be Red Cross Ready is an online tutorial that teaches people to be ready for emergencies.
- Red Cross Ready Rating™ is a free, web-based membership program that measures how ready businesses, organizations and schools are to deal with emergencies and helps them improve their readiness level.
- The Ready When the Time Comes program trains employees from businesses so they can be used as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes.
- Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training courses provide participants with the knowledge and skills to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed.
- People can visit redcross.org for information on what to do before, during and after emergencies and disasters.
For more information on being Red Cross Ready and for preparedness fast facts, visit redcross.org.
How to Donate Blood
To schedule an appointment to donate please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org for more information. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.