For people who regularly donate blood to the American Red Cross or have considered giving that gift, the time is now.

“We have declared an emergency” of low supplies of blood products, Trish Burnett, the agency’s regional communications director for central and southern Illinois, said Monday.

Summers and holidays generally see declines in blood donations. “There’s a lot going on, and (donations) kind of get pushed to the side,” Burnett said.

This summer’s heat waves keeping people indoors and a general increase in demand throughout the area, however, have created “a critical shortage,” she said.

“We’re down to a four-day supply” of blood at the Peoria Blood Donation Center, Burnett said. Blood storage “has a short shelf life, and more is going out than coming in.”

The Red Cross is seeking donations of all blood types, but the area is particularly strapped for rarer types O, A negative and B negative. People with those types are urged to make a Power Red donation at sites where that is accepted.

Power Red donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells, allowing them to maximize their impact, according to a Red Cross statement posted on the Pekin Police Department’s Facebook page.

Type AB blood is especially needed for its platelets, or plasma, as well as for whole blood, the statement noted. Platelets are a key clotting component needed to treat injured persons and cancer patients. They must be transferred within five days of donation and are always in high demand.

The Red Cross urges those who are eligible to donate — given their ages, general health and body weight — to visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) to find and schedule appointments at donation centers and drives in their area. Walk-ins are welcome at the Peoria donation center at 405 W. John Gwynn Drive, Burnett said.

The following Pekin-area locations are accepting blood products this week:
Tuesday
• Peoria Blood Donation Center – 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., platelets.
Wednesday
• Peoria Blood Donation Center – 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., blood, Power Red; 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., platelets.
• United Methodist Church, 101 S. Sampson St., Tremont – 1 to 6 p.m., blood, Power Red.
Thursday
• First United Methodist Church, 1315 Court St., Pekin – 1 to 6 p.m., blood, Power Red.
• First Church of God, 2520 Maywood Ave., Pekin – 2 to 6 p.m., blood, Power Red.
• Peoria Blood Donation Center – noon to 6 p.m., blood, Power Red; 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., platelets.
Friday
• Alpha Park Library, 3527 S. Airport Road, Peoria – noon to 5 p.m., blood, Power Red.
• Peoria Blood Donation Center – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., blood, Power Red; 6:30 a.m., to 1:30 p.m., platelets.

Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin