I learned I was Anemic and Could Not Donate Blood, but I Urge Others to

Sherri Matthews

Sherri Matthews recently learned at a Hammonton, NJ Blood Drive that she is anemic and can not donate blood. Motivated by the current Red Cross blood emergency, she is urging others to donate.

I had heard about the #MissingType blood donation campaign by the American Red Cross, which brings awareness to how vital blood donations are for saving lives and treating illnesses. For example, something I learned is that every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.

The Missing Types campaign motivated me to go online to Redcrossblood.org to schedule an appointment to donate.  As I was making my appointment, I remembered that I had received a donor card from a previous donation.  As it turns out, my blood type is one of the “missing types” – A, B, & O. I was relieved to know my blood type will be helpful in fulfilling this great mission.

As I drove up to the donation site in Hammonton on JuIy 9, I must admit, I was a little nervous. It had been a long time since I gave blood. Once I walked inside, I felt at ease knowing that my donation could potentially save up to three lives. The surroundings were comforting and the Red Cross staff was accommodating, so my nervousness quickly melted away.

Once I was called by one of the intake nurses, I was excited to begin the process of giving blood. The nurse pricked my finger to test for anemia and unfortunately my blood levels were too low for me to donate. I learned that I am anemic. My heart sunk. I was disappointed for two reasons: One, because I could not donate blood and two, because it seemed like there was a low donor turnout. I was really hoping to help increase the number of donors on that day.

Something was missing. Actually someone was missing – it was YOU! The Red Cross is in dire need of blood during this time of year and donor participation is rather low. I understand that it is summertime, and people’s minds are on vacations and traveling. In addition, its summer break, so blood drives at high schools and colleges are not happening.  I recently learned from the Red Cross that those drives account for 20 percent of donations throughout the school year.

During the last two weeks, I’ve been seeing more social media posts about the #BloodEmergency the Red Cross is experiencing. It was a tough Fourth of July holiday week for donations. Donors were less available to give, and the Red Cross says more than 550 fewer blood drives were held compared to an average week as people celebrated the holiday. Right now, donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than they are coming in.

I can’t donate, but I urge you to do so. As you go about your daily routine, please take 5 – 10 minutes to go to Redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS to schedule an appointment. Blood drives and Red Cross blood donation centers are conveniently located throughout the state. The process is quick and easy! I get how busy life can be, so if you want to speed up the donation process you can complete a RapidPass online health history questionnaire or do so through the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

If you are a first-time donor, rest assured the experience is relaxing, the staff is personable and they handle you with care. Before you know it, you’re finished and your blood is on its way to save a life.

Remember, we cannot survive without BLOOD.
Various illnesses cannot be treated without BLOOD.
We cannot spell BL__D without the letter “O.”

Are you the #MISSINGTYPE? Please donate blood.


By Sherri Matthews, a resident of Pine Hill, New Jersey and volunteer with the American Red Cross New Jersey Region.

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Quick Tips for a Safe Fourth of July

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If you’re like millions of Americans, you’ll be enjoying a festive 4th of July holiday outdoors with a good ole’ family cookout or picnic while watching your town’s firework display.

The Red Cross New Jersey Region wants you enjoy the holiday while keeping safety a priority. Here are some quick and easy tips to follow:

FIREWORKS

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public fireworks show put on by professionals. Stay at least 500 feet away from the show. Leave any area immediately where untrained amateurs are using fireworks.

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PICNIC SAFETY

  1. Don’t leave food out in the hot sun. Keep perishable foods in a cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs.
  2. Wash your hands before preparing the food.
  3. If you are going to cook on a grill, always supervise the grill when in use. Don’t add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited. Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  4. Never grill indoors. Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.fourth-of-july-grill-tip-final
  5. Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.

If your holiday plans include swimming, make safety your priority and follow these water safety tips.

Heat conditions are still excessive and dangerous for some, so continue to practice good heat safety precautions.

RED CROSS APPS

The Red Cross Swim App promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The app has features specifically designed for children, including a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe by putting vital information in your hand for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts. The Red Cross First Aid App puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies at your fingertips. Download these apps by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

Safety Tips to Help Beat The Heat

Hot weather is not just uncomfortable; it can also cause serious illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year.

The Red Cross New Jersey Region wants you to be safe.  Here are some tips for beating the heat and information about recognizing the signs of heat-related illness.

Hot cars can be deadly. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.

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Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

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Avoid extreme temperature changes.

Wear appropriate clothing. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

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. If someone doesn’t have air conditioning, they should seek relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day in places like schools, libraries, theaters, malls, etc.

Excessive heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Some people are more at risk of developing a heat-related illness, including adults age 65 and older, those with chronic medical conditions, people who work outside, infants and children and athletes.

Be on the look-out for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and take action.

HEAT CRAMPS: 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.

HEAT EXHAUSTION: 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.

HEAT STROKE: Heat stroke can be life-threatening and the signs to watch for include: Hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone shows signs of heat stroke. 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 cover the person with cold, wet towels or bags of ice.

For more information on what to do when temperatures rise, download the free Red Cross First Aid app. Also the free Red Cross Emergency app can help keep you and your loved ones safe with settings for more than 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts including heat advisories and excessive heat warnings. These apps are available for iPhone and Android smart phone and tablet users in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Simply search for American Red Cross.

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Water Safety Tips from The Red Cross

As students finish their school year, summer brings many opportunities for water play!  The American Red Cross New Jersey Region wants you to have fun and be safe.  We are providing tips you can follow to help have a safe summer around water.

WATER SAFETY:

Red Cross swim lessons help set the stage for a lifetime of water safety by equipping you with the knowledge and skills needed to help you and your loved ones swim safely and with confidence.

  1. Ensure that everyone in the family becomes water competent. That is, learn to swim well, know your limitations and how to recognize and avoid hazards, and understand how to help prevent and respond to emergencies around water.
  2. Adults should actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. Children should follow the rules.
  3. Fence your pool in with four-sided fencing that is at least four-feet in height and use self-closing, self-latching gates.
  4. Wear your U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket always when on a boat and if in a situation beyond your skill level.
  5. Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair – everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. If in a location with no lifeguards, such as a residential pool, designate a “Water Watcher” to keep a close eye and constant attention on children in and around the water.

BEACH SAFETY:

  1. If you plan to swim in the ocean, a lake or river, be aware that swimming in these environments is different than swimming in a pool. Be sure you have the skills for these environments.
  2. Swim only at a beach with a lifeguard, within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards and ask them about local conditions.
  3. Make sure you swim sober and that you always swim with a buddy. Know your limitations and make sure you have enough energy to swim back to shore.
  4. Protect your neck – don’t dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters. Watch out for and avoid aquatic life.
  5. If you are caught in a rip current, try not to panic. Signal to those on shore that you need assistance. Swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current. Once you are free, swim toward shore. If you can’t swim to the shore, float or tread water until you are free of the rip current and then head toward shore.

Download our SWIM APP

The Red Cross has a Swim App which promotes water safety education and helps parents and caregivers of young people learning how to swim. The app has features specifically designed for children, including a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. Download the app by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

 

 

A Pillowcase Can Make All the Difference to a Child During a Disaster

The American Red Cross has empowered one million children in grades 3 through 5 to be prepared when a disaster strikes, using something as simple as a pillowcase.

Last week, Red Cross New Jersey Region volunteers helped bring The #PillowcaseProject to nearly 200 children in the General Charles Harker School school in Woolwich.

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Third grader Gabriella from the General Charles Harker School in Woolwich decorates her pillowcase with the help of Red Cross New Jersey volunteer Nancy.

Inspired by university students who carried their belongings in pillowcases during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, The #PillowcaseProject is a preparedness education program which teaches students about personal and family preparedness, local hazards and basic coping skills.

In the New Jersey Region, the Red Cross has educated more than 20,000 children in local schools, community centers and on military bases.

Children all over New Jersey, such as this Wharton student pictured and others at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, learned how to create their own emergency supply kit by packing essential items, such as a toothbrush, change of clothes and a flashlight into a pillowcase. The students are given their own Red Cross pillowcase to decorate. Each student also brings home a “My Preparedness Workbook.”

Wharton Boy - at Wharton LibraryChildren at Military Base

The Red Cross New Jersey Region responds to more than 800 home fires a year, making it important to also educate children about fire safety. As part of The Pillowcase Project, volunteer educators also teach students like Ziare and Damian, pictured here at the Newark YMCA, about calling 911 in the event of a home fire.

Newark Student - Fire Alarms Drill

The Red Cross has engaged more than 35,000 volunteers and partnered with more than 13,000 schools, community organizations and partners to deliver this program to students across the country and at more than a dozen U.S. military stations abroad. The Walt Disney Company is the founding sponsor of the program.

The Pillowcase Project is another way that the Red Cross is helping New Jersey children and families to #BeRedCrossReady.

Additional information about The Pillowcase Project is available at redcross.org/pillowcase.

Join us at the NBC 4 and Telemundo 47 Health and Fitness Expo

Learn all about the Expo on NBC 4 New York’s page

Kick Off Red Cross Month on the Battleship New Jersey

March 4 - Battleship NJ FINAL

For more information and directions: AMERICAN RED CROSS CEREMONY AND FLAG RAISING ABOARD THE BATTLESHIP