Health Commissioner Declares Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert

Health Commissioner Declares Code Blue Extreme Cold Alert Tuesday Evening Through Thursday Morning 

Media Contacts: Yianni.Varonis@baltimorecity.gov   

BALTIMORE, MD (January 15, 2024)— With winter weather impacting the region today and temperatures predicted to fall into the teens with wind chill by tomorrow night, Acting Health Commissioner, Mary Beth Haller, issued a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration for Baltimore City the evening of Tuesday, January 16th through the morning of Thursday, January 18th. 

“With dangerously cold temperatures expected in Baltimore starting tomorrow night, I am issuing a Code Blue Extreme Cold declaration. I encourage residents to stay indoors, especially those most vulnerable to cold,” said Acting Baltimore City Health Commissioner Mary Beth Haller. “Extreme low temperatures can be life-threatening, especially for our most vulnerable populations. Please be safe during the morning commute, 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 residents. 

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported three cold-related death in Baltimore City so far for 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, 2023 and lasts until March 15, 2024, 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 offers emergency shelter to individual adults, couples, and families as part of the City’s Winter Shelter Plan.Shelter seekers should contact the Baltimore City Shelter Hotline at 443-984-9540.

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 website or 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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