Code Blue Extreme Cold 2023-2024

Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert Information


The Health Commissioner declares a Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert during periods of extremely cold weather. Code Blue Extreme Cold 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 Extreme Cold 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, 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 make a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration 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 Extreme Cold Alert is in effect can call 311 for details. 311 operators will provide homeless shelter locations, safety tips, and information about extreme cold-related illnesses and risk factors.

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

A Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration triggers several responses aimed at providing shelter and services for individuals experiencing homelessness. 

  • City-funded shelters will shelter-in-place to ensure any individual experiencing homelessness and wanting shelter will be accommodated.  Private homeless shelters will be encouraged to extend their hours and keep individuals indoors.
  • Homeless Services Outreach Workers provide cold-weather education, encourage individuals experiencing homelessness to take shelter, and connect them to services as needed.
  • On nights when Code Blue Extreme Cold has been declared, the Salvation Army FEEDMORE canteen provides hot drinks and other items to individuals experiencing homelessness.

A list of City Homeless Shelters and Services is available through the Mayor's Office of Homeless Services (MOHS), including information about the MOHS Winter Shelter Plan

Energy Assistance/Weatherization Services

Those without home heating are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia and other cold-related health problems. The Baltimore City Community Action Partnership provides subsidies to assist low-income residents with heating bills.  Individuals who have questions or need help paying their heating bills should call 410-396-5555.

To get a copy of the Energy Assistance Application or to check your application status

Seniors can get assistance completing and mailing energy assistance applications by contacting the Office of CARE Services at 410-396-CARE (2273).  

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Division of Homeownership and Housing Preservation also offers weatherization or energy efficiency programs for applicants with incomes at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.  For more information on the Department of Housing and Community Developments Weatherizations Assistance Program.

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 homes.  For more information see BGE’s Special Needs Customers webpage or to reach BGE's special needs hotline during emergency events, please call 1-877-213-2610 

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 – MDH 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)

Cold Weather Pet Safety (American Veterinary Medical Association)

Winter Weather/Storm Tips and Information

Cold Weather Safety from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Red Cross Winter Storm Safety

Red Cross Winter Storm Safety - Spanish

BCHD Safe Snow Shoveling Tips

City Transportation Snow Page

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