In recent weeks, the American Red Cross has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood products — well below the ideal five-day supply.

As our community and nation adjust to the new normal of this pandemic, a convergence of relentless factors such as blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations initiated this blood shortage.

The Red Cross — which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood — has had to limit blood product distributors to hospitals as a result of the shortage.

Fortunately, there is hope in ending this blood emergency in our community with a simple act of kindness — donating blood. Every community in America needs blood on a daily basis and we want to ensure that those who count on blood product transfusions can receive lifesaving care without delay. You can make an appointment to give blood by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

The need for blood is real and has life-and-death consequences for our community. When donors give blood, they could be helping family, friends, co-workers and neighbors, locally and across the country. Every unit of blood can save someone’s life. There is no other way to get blood to hospitals other than donations. The need is real, and the need is immediate.

We understand that our donors want to help as soon as possible and appreciate their patience as we navigate unique pandemic challenges. Please do not feel discouraged if there is not an immediate opportunity available to donate — patients still need you. Eligible donors are encouraged to make and keep appointments in the days, weeks and months ahead to ensure the Red Cross can replenish and then maintain a sufficient blood supply now and throughout the winter.

It’s important to remember that blood is perishable, requires three days of testing and cannot be stockpiled in advance, but the Red Cross blood supply can be replenished when generous volunteers roll up a sleeve to give. We are working with our volunteer blood drive sponsors, generous donors and dedicated employees and volunteers are doing everything they can to overcome this blood crisis.

There are few things we can do in an hour that can save so many lives. Blood donation can fill you with a feeling of community and giving, knowing that you have helped people in need. When you give you give blood you give hope and get so much more in return.

Please consider giving at regular intervals in the future. Your business or community organization can also make an impact by considering hosting a blood drive.

Heidi Ruster is CEO of the Utah/Nevada Region of the American Red Cross