January is National Blood Donor Month, a critical time when the American Red Cross and other organizations strive to increase awareness of the need for blood in local communities. Blood donations tend to drop off during the winter, but the need often increases at this time due to inclement weather and travel around the busy holiday season. Here are a few good reasons to consider donating blood this winter.

Giving blood saves lives
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Donations not only help patients undergoing surgery, people with traumatic injuries and those receiving treatment for cancer or other conditions, they also keep our nation’s blood supply ready and available when emergencies occur. A single blood donation (about one pint) can save up to three lives. 

It is easy, fast and convenient
Blood drives are often held around the holidays and throughout the winter due to the increased need for donations. Visit redcrossblood.org to find a drive near you. The blood donation process—from filling out paperwork to recovery—takes about an hour. The blood collection itself takes only eight to ten minutes, during which the donor is seated comfortably or lying down.

Blood donations have a limited shelf life
According to the American Red Cross, red blood cells must be used within 42 days, and platelets must be used within five days. Therefore, there is always a need for new and repeat donors—especially those with Type O negative blood, which can be used in transfusions for any blood type. People can give blood every eight weeks if they are healthy and meet eligibility requirements.

You’ll receive a mini check-up
After providing a brief health history, donors will have their temperature, pulse, hemoglobin level and blood pressure checked by a medical professional. Following collection, blood is sent to a lab to be tested for infectious diseases such as HIV. If a test result is positive, the donation will be discarded and the donor will be notified confidentially.

Giving blood gives others a chance at life. But bad weather, busy schedules and holiday travel can contribute to fewer blood donations during the winter. If helping others is one of your resolutions this year, January is the perfect time to become a blood donor.