Heat Wave Safety Checklist

In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity. Generally temperatures are 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region during summer months, last for a long period of time and occur with high humidity as well.

Know the Difference

Excessive Heat Watch—Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.

Excessive Heat Warning—Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).

Heat Advisory—Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).

Appeal For Donors – How Blood Helped Two Women Survive

The American Red Cross is urging people who are eligible to schedule a time to give blood as soon as possible to help ensure a safe and adequate supply of blood for patients who need it.

The number of people giving blood has dropped this summer and the Red Cross reminds people that hospital patients need blood seven days a week, 365 days a year, no matter what time of year it is.

Some people learn firsthand how important it is to have an adequate supply of blood on hand. Traci was involved with the Red Cross for years, well before she discovered she would need blood to help save her life. Her father worked for the Red Cross as a career member of the military in Korea. Her grandmother received blood when undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Traci began coordinating her employer’s blood drive. On the day of the blood collection, Traci tried to give blood but was deferred. The level of iron, or hemoglobin, in her blood was very low and the Red Cross staff advised her to see her family doctor. She did, and was admitted to the hospital where she received nearly a dozen units of blood.

Today, Traci takes routine shots to control her health condition and is doing well. She hopes to donate again someday soon, but until then, she volunteers at Red Cross blood drives and shares her story about how blood donors helped save her life.

Stan and Tracey also learned how important it is to have blood available when a patient needs it. The couple traveled 200 miles to go snowmobiling. The trails were smooth. The scenery was beautiful. Then Stan saw a deer dart from the woods and knock Tracey from her snowmobile and into a tree.

Tracey was transported to the hospital and immediately taken into surgery. Her femur was broken. Her kidneys and lungs were damaged. Doctors removed her gall bladder and spleen. And she received 100 units of red cells and platelets to control profuse internal bleeding.

Tracey was in the hospital for four months. She had a stroke and drifted into a coma. Then one day, with Stan by her side, she opened her eyes. The next day she moved her finger. She was ready, Stan says, to start her recovery.

Doctors say Tracey’s life is a miracle. Tracey agrees, and takes simple pleasure in being able to walk, talk and even breathe. Both Tracey and Stan say the experience gave them a new outlook on life. And each says, too, they’ll donate blood or platelet every chance they get, simply to help others the way blood donors helped them.

To help build the blood supply back up to where it should be, all blood types are needed. There is a particular need for donors with Type O-Negative blood, the universal blood type. Type O-Negative blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is often used in emergency situations when doctors don’t have the time to type a patient’s blood.

Traci needed transfusions to build the iron level in her blood.
Traci needed transfusions to build the iron level in her blood.
Tracey received nearly 100 blood products after being injured.
Tracey received nearly 100 blood products after being injured.

Type O-negative blood donors can make the difference between an adequate blood supply and a lingering summer shortage. A drop in blood donations often occurs during the summer months when many people go away on vacation, schools are on summer break and companies are hosting fewer blood drives. This summer, the heat is keeping many people indoors out of the sweltering humidity, away from blood collections.

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Accident victims, as well as cancer patients, patients with sickle cell disease and other blood disorders, burn victims and many others receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.

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 general good health may be eligible to give blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visitredcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and make an appointment.

Give Blood

Service To The Armed Forces Supports Military Members And Their Families

 The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) provides important support to members of the United States military, help that includes financial assistance, counseling and a commitment to support our veterans – the sick and disabled men and women who have served our country through the Armed Forces.

But perhaps the most important support SAF provides is emergency communications to link members of the military with their families back home. SAF provides that vital link between families and their member of the military 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no matter where in the world service members are stationed.

Ohio mother Angela Blair learned how important the SAF emergency communications program is when her son, Chad, was stationed overseas in 2009 and there was a death in the family. She contacted her local Red Cross chapter, the Hancock County Chapter in Findlay, Ohio, about the possibility of getting Chad home to be with his family. Angela reports she made that call on a Thursday and Chad was home Sunday night.

The military mom later began to learn all she could about the Red Cross SAF program and found it very helpful to her during Chad’s time overseas. Since then she has become an SAF volunteer and recently completed training to become a volunteer caseworker for the program.

Red Cross emergency communications services keep military personnel in touch with their families following the death or serious illness of an immediate family member, the birth of a service member’s child or grandchild or when a family experiences other emergencies. Red Cross-verified information assists commanding officers in making a decision regarding emergency leave. Without this verification, the service member may not be able to come home during a family emergency.

“My Red Cross friends helped me through this latest situation with Chad,” Angela said. “I would encourage everyone who is going through the same life event I did to give the SAF program a try. It is so helpful, especially during a deployment.”

Chad on patrol in Afghanistan.
Chad on patrol in Afghanistan.
American Red Cross
Chad receives his third Purple Heart for service in Afghanistan.
Chad receives his third Purple Heart for service in Afghanistan.
American Red Cross

“It’s very important to educate yourself about what help and information is available,” she continued. “Service to the Armed Forces can help family members and new members of the armed forces with that. Taking the orientation is even beneficial for parents whose child is considering joining the military.”

Chad has just returned stateside from Afghanistan. Since his first deployment in 2009, he has been injured three times and received just as many Purple Hearts, the award presented to members of the armed forces who are wounded by an instrument of war at the hands of the enemy.

“My son asked if I would keep on going with my SAF volunteering when his time with the military is over and I told him I will do it for as long as I can,” Angela said. “It’s important for people to have a place to go to get an education about what help is available when someone is in the military.”

While providing service to 1.4 million active duty military personnel and their families, the Red Cross also reaches out to more than 1.2 million members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families living in nearly every community in America.

Treacherous Heat Lingers

A dangerous heat wave is covering a large part of the country, from North Dakota to Texas and is expected to move eastward as the week goes on. The American Red Cross encourages people to take steps to safely endure the soaring temps.

With a heat index making it feel as hot as 110 degrees in some areas, the hot weather has closed down government buildings, damaged crops and caused numerous water main breakages. Weather experts are predicting the excessive heat will move east and cook the country through the end of July.

The extreme temperatures can feel like walking into a wall of heat when venturing outside. Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To help avoid problems, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

If someone is experiencing heat cramps in the legs or abdomen, get them to a cooler place, have them rest, lightly stretch the affected muscle, and replenish their fluids with a half a glass (about 4 ounces) of cool water every 15 minutes.

If someone is exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion (cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness exhaustion), move them to a cooler place, remove or loosen tight clothing and spray the person with water or apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Fan the person. If they are conscious, give small amounts of cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Watch for changes in condition. If the person refuses water, vomits or begins to lose consciousness, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Signs include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the person’s body by immersing them up to their neck in cold water if possible. Otherwise, douse or spray the person with cold water, or you can cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

People should get ready to deal with the heat now. Follow these additional steps to stay safe during the heat:

  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Ensure they have water and a shady place to rest.
Heat Wave Safety Checklist
Learn more on how to prevent and respond to heat emergencies by taking first aid and CPR training. Contact your local Red Cross or visit redcross.org/training to schedule a class.

For more information on what to do during this heat wave, visit the Red Cross web site.

Blood Donors Needed To Build Blood Supply

Pam Fagan is a first-time donor who received blood and now wants to 'pay it forward'.

The country has been responding to the urgent appeal for blood donors recently issued by the American Red Cross, but that support is now diminishing in spite of the fact that the blood supply has not returned to adequate levels.

Fewer people are making appointments to give blood now than were a week ago. The Red Cross reports the blood supply has not grown back to a sufficient level because the majority of the blood that has been donated since the appeal was issued on July 11 has already been delivered to area hospitals.

“We need those who are able to continue to give until we can build the blood supply back up to a safe and adequate level,” said Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the Red Cross.

At Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., the Department of Anesthesiology is sponsoring a blood drive later this month and encouraging all of its members to participate. “Our department chose to sponsor this blood drive to give back to the Red Cross donor pool, as well as to visibly acknowledge the incredible need for life-saving blood products,” said Warren S. Sandberg, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Anesthesiology. “We are encouraging our own members, as well as everyone who is able, to step up and donate. The Red Cross is facing a critical shortage of blood products, particularly type O negative, and we want to do our part to meet the need in our region.” The medical center is one of 57 hospitals supplied by Red Cross Blood Services, Tennessee Valley Region in Paducah, Ky.

Pam Fagan spotted a billboard about the need for blood donors put up by Red Cross Blood Services, Southwest Region, Tulsa, Okla. She then gave blood for the first time. Pam reported she has received blood and wanted to give to “pay it forward”.

April Morgan is a school nurse from Arkadelphia, Ark., and heard about the need for blood donors during a CPR class at her local Red Cross chapter. She donated blood after the class. April, a mother of two, gave blood for the first time in high school “because it got you out of class.”

Mother and daughter Jennifer Naylor and Calien Whitney of Little Rock, Ark. answered the call for blood donors after hearing about it on the radio and passing a billboard about the blood appeal. Calien first gave blood when she was a nursing student at St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock. She is now an Army National Guard Combat Medic, as is her husband. Her mom, Jennifer, had not given blood in many years. Both gave blood recently in Little Rock. Calien has decided to return to the Red Cross to donate platelets during an apheresis donation and is encouraging her friends to give blood now.

Red Cross staffers are also supporting the appeal for blood donors, giving at blood drives all over the country. In Washington, D.C., Peter Macias, communications director for Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces, said he first gave blood on a dare in the early 80’s. “After doing so, I realized that it’s such an easy way to make a difference and I’ve been doing so ever since,” he said. “In the time that it takes to watch the evening local and national news, you can save more than one person’s life. It’s amazing how something so simple can make such a huge impact in someone’s life.”

Pete Macias is one of many Red Cross staffers answering the call for blood donors.Warren Sandberg is helping organize a blood drive at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The Red Cross provides blood products to nearly 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country.  Accident victims, as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.

Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visitredcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and make an appointment. To give blood, individuals must be 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 be in generally good health.  Those giving blood are asked to bring their Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when they come to donate.

Blood Donor Credits Red Cross with Saving His Life

 Esteban Zapiain had been giving blood regularly in California for more than five years and made his last visit to the Red Cross Blood Services of Northern California in April of this year. A phone call afterward from the region’s medical staff may have helped saved his life.

Dr. Debra Callahan told Zapiain his white blood count was extremely elevated, that he should see his doctor that day. Although Zapiain had just had his annual physical, he went back to his doctor, who ordered blood work after being told what the Red Cross had found.

Zapiain was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) and is now going through chemotherapy. “I am pleased to report my body is responding amazingly well to the targeted chemotherapy,” he said. “My white blood count is within the normal range. I walked into the Red Cross donation center hoping that my blood might save a life. Instead, the Red Cross saved mine.”

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Accident victims, as well as cancer patients, patients with sickle cell disease and other blood disorders, burn victims and many others receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.

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 general good health may be eligible to give blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS(1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and make an appointment.

I give blood, will you?