Red Cross Responds, Offers Safety Steps As Bitter Temperatures Cover Much of U.S.

cold-thermometerThe American Red Cross is helping people impacted by the frigid cold air covering two-thirds of the country, and offers steps people can take to stay safe during this dangerous weather.

Red Cross workers are opening shelters and warming centers for people affected by the extreme cold, and working with local emergency officials to respond if needed as the cold weather moves to the east. Officials report as many as 117 million people are living under dangerous wind chill warnings, advisories and watches.

Sunday night 280 people stayed in 19 shelters in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Massachusetts because of the weather. The Red Cross has helped people in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts since the current winter onslaught began last week.

PLEASE GIVE BLOOD The bitterly cold weather has already caused the cancellation of nearly 125 Red Cross blood drives in 17 states, resulting in almost 4,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. Despite the weather, hospital patients across the country will still need blood. Please consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets when it is safe to do so in your area.

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 As this latest outbreak of cold air moves across the country, people could experience wind chills as cold as 60 degrees below zero in some areas. 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 Red Cross workers are also responding to numerous home fires across the country. During extremely cold weather, the risk for a fire in someone’s home can increase. To avoid fire danger, you 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.

In Memory: Volunteer and Friend – Dr. Mark Reinke

By Jody Weyers, Director of Volunteers:

Today, after work, I will be attending the visitation service for Dr. Mark Reinke, friend and volunteer. Mark passed away Christmas night surrounded by his family following a courageous fight with pancreatic cancer.

Mark’s courage, positive attitude and willingness to give back, is a lesson we can all learn from him and incorporate into our daily lives.

(section from his obituary)

Mark retired immediately from his medical practice upon learning of his diagnosis in December 2012. During his last year Mark embarked on a bucket list of adventures. The most rewarding adventure was being able to form closer relationships with a number of friends. He often shared with all of them, “it is not about the length of your life but about the depth of your life”. It was his strong-will to live, unwavering faith, love of our Heavenly Father, and prayers from family friends that carried him through these last 13 months of treatments and endless doctor visits.

In September, Mark called me and he wanted to volunteer. He had friends that drove for our transportation services program, and he wanted to be able to give back while he was in this fight. As a matter of fact, the last time he drove for us, was only a few weeks prior to his death. Physically you could see he didn’t feel good, but being able to help people, gave him the strength to keep fighting.

While Mark was going through this battle, he wrote about the ups and downs on a Caring Bridge site.

Here was his post on September 22, 2013

523f62620dad100702823f68Mark has a job…about time!

For those of you who are wondering what I do with ALL my spare time, I have finally ventured out of the house. Kathy has been after me for the past several weeks to find something to occupy my time. I am now an official Red Cross volunteer. Once a week, I spend about 4 or 5 hours driving people around town.

I get a Red Cross Chevy Impala with about a million miles on it, plug in the GPS and crisscross Green Bay several times. I usually put on at least 70 miles in a morning. This is a service provided by the Red Cross and enables people to go to their doctor’s appointment, go to work and do errands such as grocery shopping, etc. The majority of people I transport are disabled and I find this work to be extremely gratifying. The people are so appreciative, friendly and courteous. If I am 15 or 20 minutes early, more often than not, the clients will be sitting on their front step waiting for me. And boy, do they love to talk!

Sometimes I think I’m their social contact for the day. I get the lowdown on their doctors, the Packers and their neighbors. They are a hoot! Anyway, this is a great experience for me and I would highly encourage everyone to consider volunteering in your community. It’s a win-win for everyone. I feel so much better about helping others and the 4 hours are a minuscule part of my week. I know we’re all busy, some more than others. Believe me, I was there. If you get a chance, at least consider giving back to your charity or community. You won’t be sorry and the rewards to yourself and others outweigh any inconvenience.

Our thought and prayers go out to Mark’s family and friends and we thank you for sharing him with us for his last few months.

The New Year is upon us, and if you are looking to make a change, or a “resolution” think about volunteering. I know someone who will have a big smile on their face from above if you do!

What’s your resolution?

photo 2It’s a new year. Time for putting the past behind and looking forward to the future. Time for resolutions. This year set a resolution you can keep.

Resolve to give something that means something. Make it your goal to give blood or platelets just one more time than you did last year. This small commitment of time could help save the lives of multiple people and you’ll get a tremendous feeling of gratification from doing more for patients in need.

The average blood donor gives less than two times each year. If everyone increased their donations by one, it would have a huge impact on our blood supply.

Happy New Year!!!