(HealthDay News) -- Blood isn't needed only in times of crisis or natural disaster, although many of us think about donating during these times.
Every two seconds in the United States someone needs blood, yet only 5 percent of the U.S. population makes a donation each year, the American Red Cross says.
If you'd like to donate blood, the Red Cross offers these suggestions:
- Before the donation, eat foods rich in iron -- red meat, fish, poultry or beans -- and drink plenty of water. Be sure to eat a good breakfast or lunch on the day of the donation.
- Avoid high-fat foods, as they may skew some of the tests that the blood must undergo. Too much fat from these foods in your blood may render your donation useless.
- At donation time, wear loose-fitting clothing with sleeves that can be easily rolled up above the elbow.
- Rest for a few minutes after the blood has been drawn, and eat a snack before you leave the site.
- Take it easy for a few hours. Keep strenuous physical activity, such as heavy lifting, to a minimum.
- Lie down with your feet elevated if you feel dizzy.
- For a day or two after the donation, drink plenty of water to rehydrate yourself.