• Winter weather “has forced the cancellation of American Red Cross blood drives in approximately 30 states — impacting approximately 16,000 blood, platelet and convalescent plasma donations this month.”
  • The Red Cross is also responding to the crisis of millions of people affected by the winter storm.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the nation’s blood supply; now the brutal winter weather that’s being blamed for multiple deaths and widespread power outages is negatively affecting blood donations.

The American Red Cross today is reporting a decrease in blood donations, which is critically needed to help COVID-19 patients, accident and burn victims, cancer patients and people in the hospital for heart surgery and organ transplants.

The hard-hitting winter weather “has forced the cancellation of American Red Cross blood drives in approximately 30 states — impacting approximately 16,000 blood, platelet and convalescent plasma donations this month,” according to Jessa Merrill, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross.

Merrill implores, “The Red Cross is urging healthy individuals in unaffected areas, especially those with type O blood, to give now.”

In addition, the Red Cross is responding to people needing shelter. In Texas, which has been hard hit by the storm, Keith Rhodes, CEO of the American Red Cross North Texas Region, says, "Amid below freezing temperatures, tens of thousands have lost access to gas and water, and millions have lost power leaving residents looking for alternative ways to keep their families warm. With additional extreme winter weather forecasted, the Red Cross is working with government and community partners to support warming centers across the region for temporary relief from the elements.”

The American Red Cross reports it is supporting at least 35 warming centers in areas especially suffering from dangerous winter weather. You can go to redcross.org/shelter or download the free Red Cross Emergency App to find open Red Cross shelters near you. At those locations, people will be provided with cots, blankets and hygiene items.

With continued severe weather being forecast in many parts of the country, the Red Cross offers these safety tips if your power goes out:

  • If using a generator, keep it outside in a well-ventilated area away from windows.
  • Prevent power overloads and fire hazards. Unplug appliances and electronics. Use flashlights in the dark – not candles.
  • Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer to preserve cold temperatures. Eat your fresh, perishable foods first. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Monitor alerts and local weather reports. Let people in your support network know if you are OK or not, and check to see if they are all right. 

If you are healthy and living in an area unaffected by the severe winter weather, where it’s safe to travel and give blood, the Red Cross appreciates your donation and is offering a $5 Amazon gift card to those who donate between now and Feb. 28. You can go to redcrossblood.org or call 1800-RED-CROSS to schedule a blood donation appointment.

Published on Feb 17, 2021