Health Commissioner Dr. Wen Declares Code Blue Alert

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Mona Rock: Office: (443) 984-2623, Cell: (410) 375-7763
Perry Meyers: Office: (410) 545-0823, Cell: (667) 216-0723

BALTIMORE, MD (January 12, 2018) — After a short period of warmer temperatures, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen issued a Code Blue declaration for Baltimore City, beginning Saturday evening, January 13 through the morning of Monday, January 15.

The previous Code Blue alert lasted for a total of 14 days.

“Hypothermia, or low body temperature, can be just as dangerous as extreme heat, and every year, there are Baltimoreans who die due to hypothermia,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Due to predicted dangerously cold temperatures, I encourage residents to stay indoors in heated areas during these periods. Please help those around you who are the most vulnerable to the cold, including children, the elderly, and people with chronic medical illnesses.”

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

Last Winter, 12 died from hypothermia in Baltimore City. So far this winter, there have been eight hypothermia-related deaths.

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 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, 2018, City agencies work together to:

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

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 the most vulnerable, including children, the elderly and/or chronically ill. For babies, follow the ABCDs of infant safe sleep (see resource guide here).
  • 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 smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they are 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.

Baltimore City Community Action Partnership centers, Enoch Pratt Free libraries, and senior centers will serve as warming centers for the public during their normal business hours.  For warming center locations and hours, visit https://health.baltimorecity.gov/emergency-preparedness-response/code-blue or call 311.    

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 https://health.baltimorecity.gov/emergency-preparedness-response/code-blue.

For other cold-related inquiries and service requests, or to find a nearby homeless shelter, residents can call 311 or 211.

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