Baltimore City Announces Beginning of Code Blue Extreme Cold Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Baltimore City Announces Beginning of Code Blue Extreme Cold Season

Media Contacts: Jack French: Jack.French@baltimorecity.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (November 15, 2021)—Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa today announced the start of Baltimore City’s Code Blue Extreme Cold program for the coming winter. Code Blue Extreme Cold is a multi-agency effort to reduce hypothermia deaths by protecting individuals experiencing homelessness, seniors, and other vulnerable populations from extreme cold weather.

From November 15th through March 15, 2022, the Health Commissioner will declare a Code Blue Extreme Cold 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 (e.g., 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.

“As the temperature drops, we will work together to ensure that vital city services remain in place for our most vulnerable residents during extreme weather events,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “If you or someone you know needs assistance during Code Blue Extreme Cold season, please reach out for available assistance. We are here to help.”

During the Code Blue Extreme Cold season, City agencies work together to:

  • Increase capacity at homeless shelters, and extend City homeless shelter hours
  • Distribute meals to at-risk senior citizens
  • Provide home weatherization services
  • Help individuals apply for energy assistance
  • Provide cold weather education and outreach efforts

Last winter (November 15, 2020 through March 15, 2021), the City experienced 8 Code Blue Extreme Cold days and the Maryland Department of Health Office of the Chief Medical Examiner recorded 19 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.

"Extremely low temperatures can be deadly and life-threatening especially for our most vulnerable populations.  We will continue to work in partnership with other agencies to ensure the safest conditions possible for residents." said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.

During the winter season, there are several services available to eligible residents to assist with energy expenses.  For more information on energy assistance, residents can call 410-545-0900 or visit the Energy Assistance Program website.  Older residents or caregivers can call Maryland Access Point at 410-396-CARE for assistance completing and mailing energy assistance applications.   The Weatherization Assistance Program helps reduce energy expenses by installing energy-conservative materials and products in a resident’s home.  To check if you are eligible for this free service, visit the Weatherization Assistance Program’s website.

Residents are reminded of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and to never use a generator inside.  Additionally, gas ovens are not safe to use for heating homes.  Residents are encouraged to install carbon monoxide detectors, which can be purchased at local hardware or building supply stores.

Baltimore City Health Department also urges owners to keep their pets inside during cold weather.  If your pet is outdoors, they must be protected by a well-constructed, raised shelter that is dry and draft-free.  Sufficient bedding and a door flap must be in place to maintain body heat.  Fresh, unfrozen, drinkable water must be provided at all times.  If the temperature falls to 10˚F or below, animals must be brought into a heated enclosure.

For more information about cold weather sheltering, contact the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services at 311, 211 or on their website.

For more information about Code Blue Extreme Cold, 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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