Summertime may be the season for beach outings but it's also a time when blood donations can take a dip and the American Red Cross is appealing for donations due to an 8 percent decline over the past three months.

The dip represents about 80,000 fewer donations than the organization was expecting at this time of the year and it could lead to an emergency situation in August.

"All eligible donors are encouraged to make and keep donation appointments to prevent an emergency situation. Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed at this time," states the Red Cross in a public release issued this week.

The organization said the July 4 holiday, which fell on a Friday this year, was one factor in the decline of blood drives typically scheduled in July.

"Many sponsors did not host drives because people took vacations either over the long weekend or for the entire week. In an average summer week, about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives are scheduled, compared to Independence Day week when only 3,450 drives occurred," notes the release.

The group is describing the blood donation decline as "urgent" and is appealing to donors to keep donation appointments. The biggest blood demand is for eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients, states the release.

Also in demand are platelets, which are a key clotting factor of blood. A steady supply is necessary as they must be provided to a patient in need within five days of donation. Platelets are usually in demand for burn victims, bone marrow recipients and cancer patients.

The Red Cross is currently at the half-way point of its "100 Days of Summer. 100 Days of Hope," campaign and reminds donors that blood can be given safely every 56 days and platelets can be donated every seven days.

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