URBANA — Buy food for the cookout. Wipe down the lawn chairs. Go give blood.
Consider adding that last one to your to-do list as you get ready for Friday's July 4 festivities, or find a time to donate blood next week, a local blood service urges.
That's because the holiday weekend tends to leave blood donations in short supply, and that comes at a time blood donations are already dwindling due to summer vacations.
The American Red Cross says it's already seeing a seasonal decline in appointments for blood donations and has scheduled a series of blood drives in the area.
"Right now, we're encouraging eligible donors to come out and give to prevent a shortage," said Red Cross spokesman Ben Corey.
Community Blood Services of Illinois has dozens of blood drives in the area scheduled for July and is also asking for potential donors to come in today and next week to make up for what is likely to be a decline in donations because of the holiday.
"Basically, we're not in a shortage position yet," said Carrie Johnston, manager of donor relations for that agency. "We are certainly trying to prepare ourselves for the Fourth of July holiday. The fact that it falls on a Friday, and so many people traveling for the holiday weekend, makes us nervous."
Community Blood Services and the Red Cross need all blood types, but Community Blood Services says it is especially in need of the universal blood type, O negative, and AB plasma, which can be given to patients of all blood types and is often used to treat trauma victims who need transfusions before their blood types are known.
The Red Cross also has a big need for O negative, along with B negative and A negative types, Corey said.
Anyone donating blood in Illinois must be at least age 17, but 16-year-olds can donate with written permission of a parent or guardian.
Community Blood Services
— Main donation center is at 1408 W. University Ave., U, with donation sites in Rantoul, Danville and Mattoon. For hours and locations, see: bit.ly/1lzyalo.
— For a list of 41 upcoming blood drives in the area (including one at Market at the Square, Urbana, from 8:30-11:30 a.m. July 12), see Community Blood Services of Illinois on Facebook and check out events. Or call 217-367-2202.
American Red Cross
To make an appointment to give blood or find a drive in your area (including several coming up at the University of Illinois), go to redcrossblood.org and enter your ZIP code or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-27677).