By Kirsten Korosec
Updated: October 2, 2017 1:25 PM ET

Even before gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Hotel, leaving more than 50 dead and 400 injured, the United Blood Service had warned that its blood supply was critically low. Now blood donations in Las Vegas are needed more than ever.

The City of Las Vegas said Monday that people in the area can help shooting victims by donating blood at United Blood Services locations in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, Nev. During a press conference, which was live-streamed on Monday, numerous officials including Mayor Carolyn Goodman called on local citizens to donate blood.

The Las Vegas Police Department said people who want to donate blood to help victims of the shooting can go to the local Labor Health & Welfare clinic, located at 7135 W Sahara Avenue, #100, in Las Vegas.

Just because you don’t live near Las Vegas doesn’t mean you shouldn’t donate blood. As United Blood Service noted on its website earlier this week: “Please don’t wait for the next tragedy or crisis to donate. A continuous supply of blood is needed and a slow down like this is so difficult.”

United Blood Services has blood centers throughout the U.S. and supplies blood to more than 500 hospitals in 18 states, including Las Vegas. There are numerous other blood supply organizations, including the American Red Cross, which offers a search tool so donors can find nearby blood banks and the America’s Blood Centers.

Blood donation requirements

Donors with the United Blood Services must be at least 16 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. All 16-year-olds and some 17-year-olds must have parent or guardian permission to donate.

The American Red Cross recommends getting a good night’s sleep and drinking a extra 16-ounce glass of water before you donate blood. The organization also says you should:

  • Maintain a healthy iron level in your diet by eating iron rich foods, such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals and raisins.
  • Eat a healthy meal before your donation. Avoid fatty foods, such as hamburgers, fries or ice cream before donating. (Fatty foods can affect the tests on your blood. If there is too much fat in your blood, your donation cannot be tested for infectious diseases and the blood will not be used for transfusion.)

Blood donation process

Blood donations typically begin with a brief interview and medical exam. Donors must provide basic personal information, including medical history, current medications, travel history, and health status.

For those visiting a United Blood Services center, you can download a Blood Donor Qualifications Form here, fill it out, and bring it to your donation appointment. Find out if you will qualify here.

Blood centers will check your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and blood hemoglobin level. From here, the donation process begins.

Special kits are used to take blood. These kits are sterile and only used once. While a technician takes your blood, you’ll sit in a chair. Blood donations typically take about 10 minutes, although specialty donations can take longer.

After the donation you are typically invited to relax in a chair and given juice or cookie

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