Red Cross standing by for solar eclipse

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This shows the solar eclipse path across 12 states on Aug.  21 (American Red Cross graphic)

By Carl Manning
American Red Cross
 Millions of people are making travel plans to see the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse visible in the U.S. in nearly a century, and the American Red Cross is prepared to help them if needed.

The eclipse path is a 70-mile-wide band stretching from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina and crossing over much of Missouri. Officials estimate that more than 7 million people will travel to scores of viewing areas.eclipse sun

The Red Cross is coordinating with various emergency agencies along the path to ensure that it’s collectively prepared for any contingency. Such planning is a part of the collaboration between the Red Cross and emergency management officials with regard to large-scale public events.

For example, the Red Cross has hundreds of emergency shelters on standby in the 12 states touched by the eclipse in case of other emergencies such as severe weather that might occur while travelers are away from home.

The Red Cross also has some tips for eclipse viewers:

Looking directly into the sun is unsafe and can cause lasting eye damage except during the brief time when the moon completely blocks the sun’s brilliance. To learn how to observe the eclipse safely, check out the information from NASA at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

For traveling, pack an emergency kit that includes water, non-perishable food, medications, flashlight with extra batteries, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, infant supplies, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps and emergency contact information.

Know how officials contact people in the area you are planning to visit in case of an emergency. Be sure to let family and friends know where you are going and the route you plan to take.

Arrive to where you plan to watch the eclipse at least a day ahead of time and stay up to date with the weather forecast in the area where you will be.

Create an emergency plan including deciding a location to meet in case someone gets separated from your group, and where to go in case of severe weather.  Also, because cellular service may be overwhelmed, print out directions and have a printed map.

Know where you are staying and phone ahead before leaving to verify your reservation since lodging along the viewing areas mostly are sold out and room prices are extremely high in many areas. Plan to camp if necessary.

Keep your gas tank full so you don’t run out stuck in traffic. A good rule is not to let the tank drop below half filled.

The Red Cross app “Emergency” can help keep you and your loved ones safe with instant access to long-scale event tips, weather alerts and the location of open Red Cross shelters.

“Red Cross First Aid” is another app that puts instant access to information on handling the most common first aid scenarios. Download these apps by searching for “American Red Cross” in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

Red Cross urges blood donations during summer months

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An American Red Cross blood donation worker prepares a person to give blood. The Red Cross is urging people to donate blood during the summer months. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

The American Red Cross urges blood donors in the Western Missouri Region to give in the final weeks of summer to help overcome a chronic summer blood shortage.In August, regular donors may delay giving as final summer vacations are planned and back-to-school activities ramp up.

To fully meet the needs of hospital patients in the coming days and weeks, donations are urgently needed from new and current donors. Those who donated blood earlier this summer may be eligible to donate again. Blood can be safely donated every 56 days, and Power Red cells can be donated every 112 days.biomed_heart

As a special thank you, those who come out to give blood or platelets with the Red Cross now through Aug. 31 will be emailed a $5 Target eGiftCard™.*

Appointments can be scheduled by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

To help reduce wait times, donors are encouraged to make appointments and complete the RapidPass online health history questionnaire at redcrossblood.org/RapidPass.

Here are upcoming blood donation opportunities Aug. 15-31 in the Kansas City Metro area:

 Aug. 15, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.: Rose Estates, 12700 Antioch Road, Overland Park, KS.

Aug 16, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.: Platte City United Methodist Church, 14040 N. Highway, Platte City, MO.

Aug. 23, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Public Works Robinson Complex, 1385 S. Robinson, Olathe, KS.

Aug. 26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Spirit Zone Booster Club, 1160 SE Century Dr., Lees Summit, MO.

Aug. 27, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.: Redeemer Lutheran Church, 920 Alta Lane, Olathe, KS.

Aug. 29, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: City Wide/ODDO/BASYS, 15423 W. 100th Terrace, Lenexa, KS.

Aug. 30, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Hy-Vee, 8301 N.Saint Clair Rd., Kansas City, MO.

Aug. 31, 8 a.m.-Noon: New Directions Behavioral Health, 8140 Ward Parkway, Suite 500, Kansas City, MO.