Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen Declares First Code Blue Alert of the Winter Season
Wednesday Dec 14th, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, Md. (December 14, 2016)—With temperatures predicted to fall into single-digits with wind chill, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today issued a Code Blue declaration for Baltimore City overnight Wednesday until noon Friday. This is the first Code Blue alert for Baltimore this season.
“Code Blue means that we encourage residents to stay indoors in heated areas,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Extreme cold weather can be just as dangerous as extreme hot weather. This is the time to watch out for those most vulnerable among us, especially children, older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions. Because the highest risk is during the early morning hours, be sure to check on your elderly neighbors to ensure that they have heat and power tonight.”
Code Blue is a multi-agency effort to reduce hypothermia deaths this winter by protecting vulnerable populations from extreme cold weather. 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.
Last winter, the state Medical Examiner’s office recorded three hypothermia-related deaths in Baltimore City.
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, the Baltimore City Health Department undertakes public messaging activities to encourage safety when outdoors. During the Code Blue season, which began November 15, 2016 and lasts until March 15, 2016, City agencies work together to:
- 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
Throughout the winter 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 children, the elderly and/or chronically ill.
- 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 carbon monoxide detector and make sure it’s 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.
- 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 Baltimore City's Code Blue plan, visit: http://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.