Code Blue

Code Blue Alert Information


The Health Commissioner declares a Code Blue Alert during periods of extreme cold weather. Code Blue is a multi-agency effort to reduce hypothermia deaths during the winter months by protecting our City's homeless, seniors and other vulnerable populations.

The Health Commissioner may declare a Code Blue alert based on the following criteria:

  • When temperatures, including wind chill, are expected to be 13˚F or below. This threshold can be reached by having a temperature at or below 20˚F with 5 mph sustained winds or a temperature at or below 25˚F with 15 mph sustained winds.
  • When other conditions (i.e. strong winds, forecasted precipitation for more than two hours, extended periods of cold, sudden cold after a warm period) are deemed by the Health Commissioner to be severe enough to present a substantial threat to the life or health of vulnerable Baltimore citizens.

When possible, the decision to declare Code Blue Alert will be made by 5:00 p.m. on the previous business day or by 5:00 p.m. on Friday before the weekend in which extreme winter weather is forecasted.  When appropriate, the declaration will specify the risk period as “all day” or “night only” based on forecasted temperatures.

Individuals unsure of whether a Code Blue Alert is in effect can call 311 for details. 311 operators will provide homeless shelter locations, safety tips and information about extreme-cold related illness and risk factors.

Residents can also call 311 to report specific concerns about vulnerable neighbors during Code Blue Alerts. Call 911 if you are having a cold-related emergency.

A Code Blue declaration triggers several responses aimed at providing shelter and services for homeless individuals.

  • Private homeless shelters will be encouraged to extend their hours and keep individuals indoors.
  • Homeless Services Outreach Workers provide cold weather education, encourage homeless individuals to take shelter, and connect them to services as needed.
  • On nights when Code Blue has been declared, the Salvation Army FEEDMORE canteen provides hot drinks and other items to homeless individuals.

A list of City Homeless Shelters and Services is available in English and Spanish below.

Energy Assistance/Weatherization Services

Those without home heating are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia and other cold-related health problems. The Mayor’s Office of Human Services Community Action Partnership provides subsidies to assist low-income residents with heating bills.  Individuals who need help paying their heating bills should contact OHEP at 410-396-6406 or visit their website.

Energy Assistance Application (English)

Energy Assistance Application (Spanish)

Seniors can get assistance completing and mailing energy assistance applications by contacting the Office of CARE Services at 410-396-CARE (2273).  City residents can also get assistance completing the application at any of the City Community Action Centers (CACs).  To see a list of City CAC sites click here

The DHCD Division of Green, Healthy and Sustainable Homes also offers weatherization or energy efficiency programs for applicants with incomes at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.  For more information visit their website:

Baltimore City Weatherization Application

BGE Special Needs Program

BGE has a special needs program for seniors and other customers who require power to run life support equipment in their home.  For more information see BGE’s Special Needs Customers webpage or call 1-800-735-2258.

Resources For City Residents

Extreme Cold Weather and Preparedness Tips

Baltimore City Hypothermia Tips

Extreme Cold: A CDC Prevention Guide To Promote Your Personal Health and Safety

Extreme Cold In Maryland – DHMH Resources & Information

CDC tips on how to “Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter”

Cold Weather Tips For Pets

Cold Weather Tips (ASPCA)

Protect Your Pet During Winter and Cold Weather (Humane Society)

Cold Weather Pet Safety (American Veterinary Medical Association)

Winter Weather/Storm Tips and Information

Protecting Children During Winter Storms –Tips From the American Academy of Pediatric

Red Cross Winter Storm Safety

Red Cross Winter Storm Safety - Spanish

BCHD Safe Snow Shoveling Tips

City Transportation Snow Page

Code Blue Plan

Code Blue Plan 2015-16 (Public)

File(s) available on this page for download requires special software to view. If you do not have that software, you can obtain it from the following source(s):

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