Baltimore’s Interim Health Commissioner Mary Beth Haller declared a Code Blue cold weather advisory for Thanksgiving — a day when many of the city’s designated warming centers are closed for the holiday.
The alert, the first of the season, will last through Friday morning. Thursday’s high is 33 degrees, but with winds of up to 21 miles-per-hour. After dark, the temperature is expected to fall to as low as 17 degrees.
“With dangerously cold temperatures expected in Baltimore, I am issuing a Code Blue Declaration beginning Thursday through Friday morning and I encourage residents to stay indoors, especially those most vulnerable to cold,” the interim commissioner wrote in a statement. “Extreme cold temperatures can permanently injure, or even kill. Hypothermia, or low body temperature, can be just as dangerous as extreme heat, so it is important to stay indoors in heated areas. Please be sure to check on your elderly neighbors to ensure that they have heat and power.”
A network of Community Action Partnership Centers, Enoch Pratt Free Libraries and Senior Centers typically serve as warming centers during these frigid days. But on Thursday, these centers are scheduled to be closed for the federal holiday.
Mona Rock, a spokeswoman for the health department, said the city is encouraging residents to call 311 if they need assistance. Operators will provide homeless shelter locations, safety tips and information about cold-related illnesses. People can also call 311 to report concerns about people especially vulnerable to the cold, including the elderly, people with a substance abuse disorder, those with heart conditions and people who are homeless.
The Mayor’s Office of Human Services has also activated its winter shelter status, and has pledged to provide emergency shelter to all people experiencing homelessness on freezing nights.
People looking for adult-only shelter should go to the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center at 620 Fallsway. They can call 443-478-3777.
Families with young children can call 410-627-4280 for shelter and transportation availability.
The medical examiner’s office recorded 21 cold-related deaths in Baltimore last winter.
Maryland has already seen its first hypothermia-related death this year. An elderly man died in Garrett County, the Department of Health and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner announced Wednesday.