Baltimore City Health Department Announces Beginning of 2019 Code Red Extreme Heat Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (May 15, 2019) Today, the Baltimore City Health Department is announcing the start of Baltimore City’s Code Red Extreme Heat season. Code Red Extreme Heat is a multi-agency effort to address the impact of extreme heat on residents of Baltimore City. Throughout the summer, City agencies provide public education to residents about the effects of sustained heat on health and perform community outreach regarding energy assistance programs for senior residents and other susceptible groups through Community Action Partnership Centers.

“Excessive heat is the leading weather related killer in the United States.  The effects of extreme excessive heat are exacerbated in urban areas related to population density and the heat island effect due to construction and asphalt,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. “Extreme heat is particularly dangerous to young children, older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions.  I encourage all residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves as well as their families, neighbors, pets.”

A Code Red Extreme Heat Alert will be issued by the Health Commissioner when the forecasted heat index, a measure of air temperature and relative humidity that indicates how hot it feels outside, is greater than or equal to 105˚F.

When a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert is declared, staff from several city agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Human Services, the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, and the Baltimore City Health Department, will coordinate the opening of cooling centers around the city that offer air-conditioned space and water for residents without access to cool air in their homes. Cooling centers will generally be open at five Community Action Partnership Center locations from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Additionally, six senior centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. A list of these centers is available on the Health Department’s website or by calling 311.

In 2018, Baltimore City had above normal temperatures with 11 Code Red Extreme Heat days and 12 heat-related deaths. Today, officials remind residents to take proper precautions to be ready for hot weather.

Heat is a significant threat to public health in the United States. Heat has claimed more lives on average over the past 10 years than any other severe weather event. The effects of heat are cumulative, meaning a person can become ill after several days of exposure to above average temperatures. Older adults and the medically frail are at an increased risk for developing heat-related illness. During periods of extreme heat, there is the potential for higher levels of mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and stroke.

During the Code Red Extreme Heat season, the Baltimore City Health Department recommends that City residents:

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

  • Reduce outside activities.

  • Stay inside during the hottest time of day (11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).

  • Seek relief from the heat in air-conditioned locations.

  • Check on older, sick, or frail people in your community who may need help responding to the heat.

  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles, even for short periods of time.

  • Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Seek medical help immediately if these symptoms occur:

    • Confusion

    • Nausea

    • Lightheadedness

    • High body temperature with cool and clammy skin

    • Hot, dry, flushed skin

    • Rapid or slowed heartbeat

City residents who want cooling center information on Code Red Extreme Heat Alert days can call 311. Individuals having a heat-related medical emergency or who are experiencing the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke should call 911.

Information on declared Code Red Extreme Heat Alert days will be shared on the Health Department’s website, Health Department social media (Twitter: @Bmore_Healthy and Facebook: @BaltimoreHealth), the Baltimore City 311 line, and with local news media.

 

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