December 31, 2008

Saving Lives With Emergency Warming Centers

When record-breaking snow hit the Portland area last month, volunteers from the Oregon Trail Chapter didn't huddle up at home with hot cocoa. They got busy with life-saving work - ensuring that our city's homeless had a safe, dry place to spend the night.

For two weeks straight, Red Cross workers provided warm blankets, hot coffee and good conversation to hundreds of guests seeking solace from plummeting temperatures at our Emergency Warming Centers. And with the winter far from over, we may be called upon to render this vital service again.

If you're interested in offering your time to our EWCs, consider signing up for the volunteer orientation. With the new year upon us, it's the perfect way to resolve to help fellow Oregonians in their time of need.

Giving Back On Martin Luther King Day

Every January, we take time to remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work to achieve equal access for all. Here at the Red Cross, we know that this includes equal opportunity to receive a gift of blood or an organ transplant.

On Saturday, January 26, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blood and Organ Donor Registry Drive provides a chance to honor those whose lives are impacted by organ donation. People like Yolanda Holmes, who received a kidney in 2005, along with multiple blood transfusions. And Reverend Dr. T. Allen Bethel, who remains on the transplant waiting list after a year and a half.

The reality is that African-American blood donors can sometimes offer special hope to African-American patients. People with a common heritage often share blood types and may share rare blood antigens. Participate in the blood drive and find one more way to make this holiday a day on, not a day off.

Winter Weather: There's Still Time To Prepare

Though we've already had plenty of snow in Portland, it's never too late to get ready for whatever Mother Nature might still send our way. Make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit that includes these items:

Water -- one gallon per person, per day, for drinking and hygiene purposes
Food that is non-perishable and easy to prepare
Enough food for your pets
Battery-powered or hand crank radio
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit, medications and medical items
Manual can opener
Extra blankets and warm clothing
Non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways less slippery

While you should avoid traveling by car in a storm, if you must, make sure you have an emergency preparedness kit in the trunk. Keep your gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing. Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If you do get stuck:

Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna for rescuers to see.
Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
As you sit, move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in air.

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