Baltimore City Health Department Announces Beginning of 2022 Code Red Extreme Heat Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Baltimore City Health Department Announces Beginning of 2022 Code Red Extreme Heat Season

Arinze Ifekauche: Arinze.Ifekauche@baltimorecity.gov  

BALTIMORE, MD (May 16, 2022)—The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) today announced the start of Baltimore City’s Code Red Extreme Heat season. The Code Red Extreme Heat Program is a multi-agency effort to address the impact of extreme heat on Baltimore City residents. 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 older adults and other susceptible groups through Community Action Partnership Centers.

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 105ºF.

When a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert is declared, staff from several city agencies, including the Health Department, Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, and the Office of Emergency Management will coordinate the opening of cooling centers around the city to offer air-conditioned space and water for residents without access to cool air in their homes. Cooling centers will generally be open at six BCHD senior centers, four Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services sites, and ShopRite of Howard Park.  A list of these centers is available on BCHD’s website: https://health.baltimorecity.gov/emergency-preparedness-response/code-red. Residents seeking relief from the heat are also encouraged to visit their local library. 

In 2021, Baltimore City experienced above normal temperatures with 19 Code Red Extreme Heat days and 3 heat-related deaths. Officials today remind residents to take proper precautions to be ready for hot weather. 

Heat has claimed more lives in the U.S. on average over the past ten 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, children up to 4 years, and those who are sick are at an increased risk for developing heat-related illness. During periods of extreme heat, there is the potential for increased mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and stroke.

The Baltimore City Health Department recommends that City residents: 

  • Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty.
  • 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: confusion; nausea; light-headedness; high body temperature with cool and clammy skin; hot, dry, flushed skin; and rapid or slowed heartbeat 
  • Seek medical help immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

Additional steps to prepare your home if you don’t have air conditioning:

  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, or awnings.
  • Consider making temporary window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to place between windows and drapes.
  • With temperatures starting to climb, consider readying your household for summer by purchasing a window air conditioner and insulation. 
  • Take a cool bath and stay hydrated when temperatures increase indoors.

City residents who want information on cooling centers on Code Red Extreme Heat Alert days can call 311. Individuals having a heat-related medical emergency or who are experiencing 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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