Interim Health Commissioner Declares First Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert of the Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Mona Rock: Office: (443) 984-2623, Cell: (410) 375-7763

BALTIMORE, Md. (November 21, 2018)—With temperatures predicted to fall into the teens with wind chill, Baltimore City Interim Health Commissioner Mary Beth Haller today issued a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration for Baltimore City all day Thursday, November 22 through Friday morning, November 23. This is the first Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert for Baltimore this season.

“With dangerously cold temperatures expected in Baltimore, I am issuing a Code Blue Declaration beginning Thursday through Friday morning and I encourage residents to stay indoors, especially those most vulnerable to cold,” said Mrs. Mary Beth Haller. “Extreme cold temperatures can permanently injure, or even kill. Hypothermia, or low body temperature, can be just as dangerous as extreme heat, so it is important to stay indoors in heated areas. Please be sure to check on your elderly neighbors to ensure that they have heat and power.”

Code Blue Extreme Cold 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 Extreme Cold 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 (November 2017 through March 2018), the City experienced 20 Code Blue Extreme Cold days and the state Medical Examiner’s office recorded 21 cold-related deaths in Baltimore City.  Based on the historical data, populations in Baltimore City most vulnerable to cold-related death include the elderly, individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, those with substance use disorder, and individuals experiencing homelessness.

Code Blue Extreme Cold indicates an increased risk for cold injuries or even death for those exposed to low temperatures. Once a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration is made, public messaging activities are undertaken to encourage safety when outdoors and response partners work to ensure those in need find shelter. During the Code Blue Extreme Cold season, which began November 15, 2018 and lasts until March 15, 2019, City agencies work together to:

  • Distribute meals to at-risk senior citizens

  • Provide home weatherization services

  • Help individuals apply for energy assistance

  • Provide additional cold weather education and outreach efforts

Throughout the Code Blue Extreme Cold 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 most vulnerable including 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 inside your home, 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 their nearest Community Action Partnership (CAP) Center.

  • Northern CAP Center (5225 York Road, 21212) – 410-396-6084

  • Northwest CAP Center (3939 Reisterstown Road, 21215) – 443-984-1384

  • Southern CAP Center (606 Cherry Hill Road, 21225) – 410-545-0900

  • Southeast CAP Center (3411 Bank Street, 21224) – 410-545-6518

  • Eastern CAP Center (1731 E. Chase Street, 21213) – 410-545-0136

CAP Centers will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving but will reopen on Friday at 8:30am.

Click here for more information about Baltimore City's Code Blue Extreme Cold plan.  

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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