Code Red Extreme Heat

Code Red Extreme Heat Alert Information

Overview

The Health Commissioner declares a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert during periods of extreme heat. The decision to activate a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert on a particular day will be made before 6 A.M. of that day, if possible.

Individuals unsure of whether a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert is in effect can call 311 for details. 311 operators will provide cooling center locations, safety tips, and information about warning signs for heat-related morbidity.

Individuals can also call 311 to report specific concerns about vulnerable neighbors on Code Red Extreme Heat Alert days. Call 911 if you are having a heat-related emergency.

Those without electricity are particularly vulnerable to heat-related health problems. City residents who need energy assistance can apply through the state’s emergency assistance portal at dhs.maryland.gov call 1-800-332-6347.  Older adults who need energy assistance can call 410-396-CARE (2273) for assistance.

The Mayor's Office of Homeless Services will coordinate water distribution to people throughout the city who are homeless.

Cooling Centers

During the 2020 Code Red Extreme Heat season, the City of Baltimore is making modifications to its cooling center plans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Staff from several city agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management and the Health Department, will coordinate the opening of cooling centers around the City.  When it is safe to do so, cooling centers will offer air-conditioned space and cool water for residents without access to air conditioning.

Residents who want to visit a cooling center to seek relief from the heat are encouraged to call the cooling center prior to arrival to ensure space is available.  To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, residents who visit a cooling center are reminded to wear a cloth mask in public and maintain social distancing. 

You should not visit a cooling center if you have the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your symptoms.

Hours and availability of cooling centers are subject to change.  When it is safe to do so, the following locations will serve as cooling centers:

Senior Centers – open as cooling centers on Code Red Extreme Heat days, Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

  • Zeta Center for Health and Active Aging
    4501 Reistertown Rd.  
    (410) 396-3535 

​​​*Baltimore City Health Department Senior Centers are closed on holidays.

Community Cooling Center

ShopRite of Howard Park
4601 Liberty Heights Ave.
(410) 664-0240
Monday through Sunday, 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Additional cooling centers will be opened during extended heat events.  Please call 311 before leaving home for the latest cooling center hours and information.

Tips on Staying Cool

During periods of extreme heat, the Baltimore City Health Department recommends that city residents:

  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Reduce outside activities and stay inside in air-conditioned locations
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles, even for short periods of time
  • Check on older, sick, or frail neighbors who may need help responding to the heat

Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which include:

  • Confusion
  • Hot, dry, flushed skin or cool and clammy skin
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea

Call 911 immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

Additional steps to prepare your home if you don’t have air conditioning:

  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, or awnings.
     
  • Considering making temporary window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to place between windows and drapes.
     
  • With temperatures starting to climb, consider readying your household for summer by purchasing a window air conditioner and insulation. 
     
  • Take a cool bath and stay hydrated when temperatures increase indoors.

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