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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jeff Amoros: 667-203-1021; [email protected]

 

BALTIMORE, MD (December 18, 2019) 

With temperatures predicted to fall into the teens with wind chill, Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa today issued a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration for Baltimore City beginning Wednesday evening, December 18 through Thursday morning, December 19.  This is the first Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert for Baltimore City this season.

“With dangerously cold temperatures expected, I am issuing a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration beginning Wednesday evening through Thursday morning. I encourage residents to stay indoors,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa. “Please be sure to check on neighbors who may be at risk to ensure they have heat and power, and take care to shelter pets.”

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 2018 through March 2019), the City experienced 13 Code Blue Extreme Cold days and the state Medical Examiner’s office recorded 13 cold-related deaths in Baltimore City.  Based on historical data, populations in Baltimore City most vulnerable to cold-related death include the elderly, individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, those with a 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, 2019 and lasts until March 15, 2020, 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 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 by walking slowly and avoiding steps or curbs with ice on them.
  • 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

For more information about Baltimore City’s Code Blue Extreme Cold Plan, visit the Health Department’s website.

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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