Baltimore City Announces Beginning of Code Blue Season
Tuesday Nov 15th, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD (November 15, 2016)—Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today announced the start of Baltimore City’s Code Blue program for the coming winter. Code Blue is a multi-agency effort to reduce hypothermia deaths by protecting homeless individuals, seniors and other vulnerable populations from extreme cold weather.
“We’ve enjoyed a mild fall this year, but we know that the weather can turn cold quickly,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Together we can take simple measures to ensure all Baltimore City residents are safe from the cold.”
Through March 2017, the Health Commissioner will declare a Code Blue alert based on the following criteria:
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.
Other conditions (i.e. strong winds, forecasted precipitation for more than two hours, extended period of cold, sudden cold after a warm period) deemed by the Health Commissioner to be severe enough to present a substantial threat to the life or health of vulnerable Baltimore citizens.
During the Code Blue season City agencies work together to:
- Increase overflow capacity at homeless shelters and encourage private homeless shelters to extend their hours and keep people indoors
- Distribute meals to at-risk senior citizens
- Provide home weatherization services
- Help individuals apply for emergency assistance
- Provide additional cold weather education and outreach efforts, as needed
Last winter, the state Medical Examiner’s office recorded three hypothermia-related deaths in Baltimore City.
Based on the historical data, populations in Baltimore City most vulnerable to hypothermia death include the elderly, individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, those with substance use disorder, and individuals experiencing homelessness.
“As the temperature drops in the months ahead, we will monitor weather changes and urge people to stay indoors in safely heated areas to minimize the risk of hypothermia. If you must go outside in the cold, dress warmly and stay dry,” said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner.
Residents lacking heat are reminded of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from using generators in enclosed spaces or burns caused by alternate heating sources.
For more information on energy assistance, contact the Office of Home Energy Programs at 410-396-5555.
For more information about Code Blue, visit the Health Department’s website at 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.