Baltimore City Health Department Announces Beginning of 2017 Code Red Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

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

BALTIMORE, MD (May 15, 2017)—The Baltimore City Health Department today announced the start of Baltimore City’s Code Red program for the coming summer.

Code Red is a multi-agency effort to provide heat education and cooling relief to vulnerable populations in Baltimore. Throughout the summer, City agencies provide public education to residents about the effects of sustained heat on health and perform community outreach regarding energy assistance programs for senior residents and other susceptible groups through Community Action Partnership Centers.

“Heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and many thousands of illnesses nationwide each year,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Heat is a silent killer, and is particularly dangerous to those who are young and elderly, and with chronic medical conditions. Residents must take all precautions to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of family and neighbors.” 

A Code Red Heat Alert will be issued by the Health Commissioner when the forecasted heat index, a measure of air temperature and relative humidity that indicates how hot it feels to an individual outside, is greater than or equal to 105˚F.

When a Code Red Heat Alert is declared, staff from several city agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Human Services and Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, will coordinate the opening of cooling centers around the city that offer air-conditioned space and water for residents without access to cool air in their homes. Cooling centers will generally be open at five Community Action Partnership Center locations from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends. Additionally, six senior centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays. A list of these centers is available on BCHD’s website: http://health.baltimorecity.gov/emergency-preparedness-response/code-red.

The 2016 summer brought warm temperatures with eight Code Red days declared in Baltimore and five heat-related deaths in the city. 

Each year, heat kills more people than hurricanes and other weather-related phenomena combined. The effects of heat are cumulative, meaning a person can become ill after several days of exposure to above average temperatures. 

During periods of extreme heat, there is the potential for increased mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and stroke. BCHD recommends that city residents: 

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

  • Reduce outside activities.

  • Stay inside during the hottest time of day (11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).

  • Seek relief from the heat in air-conditioned locations.

  • Check on older, sick, or frail people in your community who may need help responding to the heat.

  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles, even for short periods of time.

  • Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke: confusion; nausea; light-headedness; high body temperature with cool and clammy skin; hot, dry, flushed skin; and; rapid or slowed heart beat; 

  • Seek medical help immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

City residents who want information on cooling centers on declared Code Red days can call 311. Individuals having a heat related medical emergency or who are experiencing the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke should call 911.

Information on declared Code Red days will be shared on the Health Department’s website (health.baltimorecity.gov), Health Department social media (Twitter: @Bmore_Healthy and Facebook: www.facebook.com/BaltimoreHealth), the Baltimore City 311 line, and with local news media.

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