Health Commissioner Declares First Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert of the Season
Saturday Dec 24th, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD (December 22, 2022)— Temperatures are predicted to fall rapidly tomorrow mid-morning, accompanied by high winds. With windchills expected to fall below 0˚F through this weekend, Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa today issued a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration for Baltimore City beginning Friday morning, December 23 through Monday morning, December 26. This is the first Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert for Baltimore City this season.
“With dangerously cold temperatures expected in Baltimore, I am issuing a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration beginning Friday morning through Monday morning. I encourage residents to stay indoors, especially those most vulnerable to cold,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa. “Extreme low temperatures can be life-threatening especially for our most vulnerable populations. Please be sure to check on neighbors who you think may be at risk to ensure that they have heat and power, and take care to shelter pets appropriately.”
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 2021 through March 2022), the City experienced 19 Code Blue Extreme Cold days and the state Medical Examiner’s office recorded 19 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.
The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has reported 5 cold-related deaths in Baltimore City so far this Code Blue Extreme Cold season.
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, 2022 and lasts until March 15, 2023, 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 as part of their Winter Shelter Plan.
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.
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 410-396-5555 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 websiteor call 410-396-3023.
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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