Be prepared for emergencies—American Red Cross observes National Preparedness Month

The American Red Cross is among a coalition of organizations encouraging Americans to observe the Eighth Annual National Preparedness Month this September by doing simple things that make a difference when every second counts.

The Red Cross recommends three things most everyone can do to prepare for disasters or other emergencies: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

Supporting blood donation or giving blood is also critical to any community preparedness plan since hospitals need blood on the shelves to respond to patient need. Hospital patients need about 40,000 blood donations each day for ongoing or emergency medical needs. And when adequate supplies of blood are available every day of every week, the Red Cross can help ensure a swift response when and if blood needs intensify.

Blood is typically available to patients 24 to 48 hours from the point of donation because of the various steps involved in testing, processing, and distributing components like red cells, platelets and plasma. While many people roll up their sleeves during times of disaster, the key to a strong blood supply, Red Cross officials say, are steady and consistent donations throughout the year.

“It’s human nature to want to help when disasters strike,” said Sharon Jaksa, CEO for the Great Lakes Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross. “By taking some precautionary steps today—like donating blood—you’ll be helping, too, since you’re empowering yourself and our nation to face the unexpected.”

As an added incentive for donors, everyone who attempts to donate blood or platelets in August has a chance to win a $250 Meijer gift card, a $125 Meijer gas card, and a $500 Best Buy gift card. Every person who attempts to donate in September will have a chance to win a $250 Meijer gift card and a $125 Meijer gas card. For more information about these promotions or to make an appointment to donate, call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit

Two American Red Cross blood drives are scheduled for Kent County in September. The first takes place at American Red Cross, 1050 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1. The second will be at Cornerstone University, 1001 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, from noon until 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

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