Friday, December 23, 2011

Give the gift of blood and improve preparedness

Give a gift this holiday season that’s free, easy and saves lives: Donate blood.

In 2012, 4.5 million Americans will need blood, and for many recipients, it’s a matter of life and death. Blood shortages can make the need worse. Such shortages could be avoided if just 1 percent more Americans donated. One donation can help save the lives of up to three people.

After disasters such as hurricanes or other wide scale emergencies, health and emergency groups often put out calls for blood donors because of the sudden increase in need. Giving blood before a disaster strikes helps your community be more prepared.

Here are some tips for how you can help:

• Make an appointment with an organization such as the American Red Cross or find a blood center. They are often found at schools, companies, places of worship or community organizations.

• Before you arrive, drink extra water. You need to have fluid in your body or you might not feel well after giving blood. A couple of glasses of water will do the trick. Bring a list of medications you’re taking and a form of personal identification.

• Bring a friend. Going with someone will make the process more enjoyable, and if they donate, that’s potentially more lives saved.

• Make giving blood a new holiday tradition. With friends and family gathered together over the holidays, it’s an ideal time to encourage others to give blood.

Overall, just remember to relax. Donating blood is safe and healthy. Donating blood is one of the most important things you can do to help ensure the health and safety of your community. And it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give.

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