LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Summer means fun for most of us, but it’s business per usual in Kentucky’s hospitals. Blood donations can’t take a summer break like the rest of us.

Blood donors stepped up in January and February after the American Red Cross declared a national blood shortage. However, appointments typically drop off during the summer months since school is out and families travel.

High school and college blood drives make up about 20% of blood donations for the American Red Cross, but when it’s summer, those drives don’t happen. This makes it difficult to keep pace with hospital patient needs since volunteer donors are the only source of blood for patients.

The American Red Cross found the number one reason people don’t donate blood is that no one asked them to. So, they are now asking, before your summer vacation, will you donate blood?

“You never know when it could be you or a family member,” said Remy Kennedy, Kentucky’s Communications Manager for the American Red Cross. “So donating right now is going to help someone in the future.”

At the moment, the national blood supply is stable, but blood banks typically see fewer blood donors from June to November. To prevent a drastic drop, the American Red Cross is giving away gifts.

All donors, from now until May 19, will get a $10 e-gift card and automatically be entered to win a camper. From May 20 until the end of the month, donors will get a water bottle while supplies last.

Kennedy said when she talks to donors, they do not care for the incentives.

“They say, ‘I’m not here for that. I’m here because I had a family member who had cancer and needed blood products,'” said Kennedy.

It’s important to make an appointment to donate blood now because the American Red Cross said it’s the blood already on the shelves that saves lives, and blood banks don’t want to see supplies drop to concerning levels again.

“They might think, ‘Oh I can donate today to help someone today in the hospital.’ Not necessarily,” said Kennedy. “Somebody who donated last week or last month is probably helping someone right now.”

Before donating in the summer, the American Red Cross recommends drinking plenty of water and eating iron-rich foods at least two days before your appointment.

To schedule an appointment, download the American Red Cross app or visit their website.