Extreme heat season begin in Baltimore City

May 15, 2018

The Baltimore City Health Department Tuesday announced the start of Baltimore City’s Code Red Extreme Heat season. Code Red Extreme Heat is a multi-agency effort to address the impact of extreme heat on residents of Baltimore City. 

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 senior residents and other susceptible groups through Community Action Partnership Centers.

“Heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and many thousands of illnesses nationwide each year,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Heat is a silent killer, and is particularly dangerous to those who are young and elderly, and with chronic medical conditions. Residents must take all precautions to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of family and neighbors.”

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 105˚F.

When a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert is declared, staff from several city agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Human Services, the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, and the Health Department will coordinate the opening of cooling centers around the city that offer air-conditioned space and water for residents without access to cool air in their homes. Cooling centers will generally be open at five Community Action Partnership Center locations from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends. Additionally, six senior centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays. A list of these centers is available on the Health Department’s website or by calling 311.

In 2017, Baltimore City had above normal temperatures and five Code Red days without any heat-related deaths. Officials today remind residents to take proper precautions to be ready for hot weather. Heat is a significant threat to public health in the United States. Heat has claimed more lives 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 and the medically frail 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.
  • 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 heart beat;
  • Seek medical help immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

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 the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke should call 911.