BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore city’s health department announced the start of the Code Red Extreme Heat season Monday.

Code Red Extreme Heat is a multi-agency effort to address the impact of extreme heat on city residents. The city agencies will educate the public about the effects of sustained heat on their health as well as provide community outreach on energy assistance programs.

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“Excessive heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States. The effects of extreme excessive heat are exacerbated in urban areas related to population density and the heat island effect due to construction and asphalt,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. “Extreme heat is particularly dangerous to young children, older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions. I encourage all residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves as well as their families, neighbors, pets.”

When the heat index is 105ºF or greater, the city will issue a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert. This triggers the opening of cooling centers around the city. The city will make modifications for COVID-19 this year as well. Residents can call 311 for a list of cooling centers by them or go to the health department’s website.

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Heat can claim lives. People can feel ill after several days of exposure to heat. Older adults are at increased risk. There’s a potential of death from cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and stroke.

City health officials recommend residents:

  • Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty.
  • 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 heartbeat;
  • Seek medical help immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

Additional steps to prepare your home if you don’t have air conditioning:

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  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, or awnings.
  • Considering making temporary window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to place between windows and drapes.
  • With temperatures starting to climb, consider readying your household for summer by purchasing a window air conditioner and insulation.
  • Take a cool bath and stay hydrated when temperatures increase indoors.


CBS Baltimore Staff