Health Commissioner Dr. Wen Declares Code Blue Alert in Baltimore Overnight Tonight Through Thursday Morning

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Michelle Mendes: Office: (410) 396-7286, Cell: (443) 862-0891

BALTIMORE, MD (March 14, 2017) – With temperatures predicted to fall into the single digits with wind chill, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today issued a Code Blue declaration for Baltimore City beginning tonight, Tuesday, March 14th through the morning of Thursday, March 16th.

This is the fifth Code Blue alert for Baltimore this season.

“With dangerously cold temperatures expected in Baltimore, I am issuing a Code Blue Declaration beginning tonight through Thursday morning and encourage residents to stay indoors, especially those most vulnerable to cold,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Extreme cold temperatures can permanently injure, or even kill. Hypothermia, or low body temperature, can be just as dangerous as extreme heat, so it is important to stay indoors in heated areas. Please be sure to check on your neighbors to ensure that they have heat and power. Be careful when shoveling snow. Those who have known heart disease or are at risk for heart disease should take extra caution, because shoveling in extreme cold air can trigger a potentially fatal heart attack.”

Code Blue is a multi-agency effort to reduce hypothermia deaths this winter by protecting vulnerable populations from extreme cold weather.

The Health Commissioner may declare a Code Blue alert when temperatures, including wind chill, are expected to be 13˚F or below or when other conditions are severe enough to present a substantial threat to the life or health of vulnerable Baltimore citizens.

Code Blue indicates an increased risk for cold injuries or even death for those exposed to low temperatures. Once a Code Blue declaration is made, public messaging activities are undertaken to encourage safety when outdoors and response partners work to ensure those in need find sheltering. During the Code Blue season, which began November 15, 2017 and lasts until March 15, 2016, City agencies work together to:

  • Distribute meals to at-risk senior citizens;
  • Provide home weatherization services;
  • Help individuals apply for energy assistance; and
  • Provide additional cold weather education and outreach efforts, as needed

Throughout the Code Blue season, The Mayor’s Office of Human Services’ Office of Homeless Services also works with city homeless shelter providers to extend shelter hours and to provide expanded bed capacity.

Cold Weather Tips for Staying Healthy:

  • Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing. Always wear a head covering, like a hat and/or scarf, when outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Protect yourself against falls in icy or snowy conditions.
  • Check on those who are children, the elderly and/or chronically ill.
  • Provide appropriate shelter for domestic animals.

Other Tips for Keeping Safe in Cold Weather:

  • Keep space heaters and candles away from flammable materials, such as curtains, furniture and loose clothing.
  • Check your carbon monoxide detector and make sure it’s working.
  • Do not use prohibited heat or power sources, such as stoves or generators.
  • They may cause fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Do not leave your car running in a closed space such as a garage.

Snow Shoveling Tips:

  • Snow shoveling can be a great exercise for those who are healthy and fit, but for those who have risk factors for heart disease, it can be very dangerous and trigger a potentially fatal heart attack.
  • Those who are shoveling should go slow and take frequent breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Dress in layers to avoid hypothermia or overheating.
  • Watch out if you are at risk for heart attack—if you have known heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes; if you smoke; and/or if you do not typically get exercise.
  • If you are at risk for heart disease, talk to your doctor before shoveling snow.
  • Watch for warning signs of heart attack—which include chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea, or burning in your arms, chin, and back. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.

Residents are encouraged to contact 311 if a neighbor is without heat or power so that city agencies can assist them. Energy assistance may be available to those who need it. For more information, individuals may contact one of the regional Community Action Partnership centers in Baltimore or call the Office of Home Energy Programs at 410-396-5555.

For more information about Code Blue, visit http://health.baltimorecity.gov/.
For other cold-related inquiries and service requests, or to find a nearby homeless shelter, residents can call 311 or 211.

Related Stories

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Worried about Health of Millions after Congressional Budget Office Confirms Effects of American Health Care Act

BALTIMORE, MD (May 24, 2017)Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today issued the following statement in response to the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the American Health Care Act, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4, 2017.

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Fears Proposed Federal Budget Harms Health of Baltimoreans

BALTIMORE, MD (May 23, 2017)—Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today issued the following statement in response to the release of President Trump’s proposed federal budget.

Baltimore City Announces Zika Preparedness Plan

Officials urge residents to take caution to prevent the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses

BALTIMORE, MD (May 23, 2017)—Baltimore City officials today announced citywide efforts to prevent the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses. The Zika virus is spread by mosquito bite or unprotected sex and is linked to serious birth defects.