BALTIMORE CITY - With a heat index for mid-afternoon predicted to reach 105 degrees, interim Health Commissioner Dr. Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey has declared a Code Red for Wednesday, July 2. The heat index measures air temperature and relative humidity to indicate how hot it feels to an individual outside.
“We want to make sure that everyone in Baltimore takes appropriate precautions to ensure their safety during the expected hot weather,” said Dr. Duval-Harvey. “Heat-related hospitalizations and deaths are highly preventable. It’s important to stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay in touch with your neighbors, especially seniors and medically frail individuals who live alone or without air conditioning.”
Staff from several city agencies 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. (Please note: Community Actions Centers, which normally open as Cooling Centers on Code Red declaration days, are closed on July 2 due to the Mayor’s Office of Human Services Community Action Partnership OHEP Energy Assistance event).
In 2013 in Baltimore City, there were six Code Red declarations issued (first was on July 7th) and two hyperthermia-related heat deaths, and in 2012, there were 17 Code Red declarations issued and 13 hyperthermia-related heat deaths.
The Baltimore City Health Department Office of Aging and Care Services will open the following senior centers as cooling centers from 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., where cold water and air-conditioning will be available:
- Waxter Center, 1000 Cathedral Street 21201
- Oliver Center, 1700 N. Gay Street 21213
- Sandtown-Winchester Center, 1601 N. Baker St. 21217
- Hatton Center, 2825 Fait Avenue 21224
- John Booth Center,2601 E. Baltimore 21224
- Zeta Center, 4501 Reisterstown Rd. 21215
The Department of Recreation and Parks (BCRP) will open the following recreation centers as cooling centers from 8:00am - 8:00pm:
- Chick Webb, 623 Eden St. 21205
- Ella Bailey,100 E. Heath Street 21230
- Herring Run, 5001 Sinclair Lane 21206
- Locust Point, 1627 E. Fort Avenue 21230
- Mary Rodman, 3600 W. Mulberry St. 21229
- Mt. Royal, 120 W. Mosher St. 21217
- Robert C. Marshall, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. 21202
- Roosevelt, 1221 W. 36th St. 21211
- Samuel F.B. Morse, 424 S. Pulaski St. 21223
On a Code Red Heat Alert Day, the Baltimore City Health Department recommends that city residents:
- Drink plenty of water or juice
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Wipe skin with cool water as needed
- Reduce outside activities
- Wear light-weight and light-colored clothing
- 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:
- High body temperature with cool and clammy skin
- Hot, dry, flushed skin
- Rapid or slowed heart beat
- Seek medical help immediately if any of these symptoms occur
City residents who want information on the closest cooling center or who are concerned about a neighbor can call 311, the city service line. Information about cooling centers is also available on the Baltimore City Health Department website at www.baltimorehealth.org/coderedinfo. Any city resident experiencing the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke should call 911.
The effects of heat are cumulative, meaning a person can become ill after several days of above average temperatures. Older adults and the medically frail are at an increased risk for developing heat-related illness. During heat waves, there is the potential for increased mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness and stroke.
Heat waves are silent killers. Heat is the leading weather-related killer according to the National Weather Service. Each year, the heat kills more people than hurricanes and other weather-related phenomena combined.