Although not quite at crisis levels, Ventura County's blood supply is far below normal and blood banks are scrambling for new donors.
"There are 700,000 people living in Ventura County, and we only have 40,000 donors in our books," said Carolyn Tyner at United Blood Services, the county's nonprofit community blood bank.
Tyner said a number of factors, including winter vacations at many of the region's high schools and colleges and donors canceling appointments due to January's gloomy weather, have eaten away at the county's supply.
"People don't want to go out when we have terrible weather, and it keeps chipping away at us every day," Tyner said. "Every day it gets worse instead of better, and if we keep losing donors through attrition we're going to end up in the same shape as Los Angeles County."
Tyner said the neighboring county frequently suffers from drastic shortages, leading to the cancellation of surgeries and hurting the overall quality of health care in the area.
Although Ventura County doesn't face the same deficit in its blood supply, residents shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security, Tyner said.
"The blood supply is very boring unless there isn't any," she said, adding that the county's blood bank is especially in need of type O-positive and O-negative donors.
To replenish the county's blood supply, which is nearly 200 pints below its normal 1,500-pint level, donation centers in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Ventura are staying open extra hours until the deficit disappears.
United Blood Services' Ventura location will remain open on Martin Luther King Day to accommodate individuals with the day off, and a mobile blood donation van has also been rolled out to the parking lot of Camarillo's Kmart, near the corner of Arneill Road and Ponderosa Drive.
"There are a lot of ways people can donate," Tyner said, adding that people wishing to give blood can make an appointment with United Blood Services by calling 654-8104.