Code Blue Extreme Weather Plan Activated for Jan. 26-31

Sign of Code Blue

With frigid air moving into the area, bringing forecasted wind chills in the teens and below, Cecil County Health Officer Lauren Levy has issued a Code Blue Extreme Weather Alert from 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, until 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. 

“The dangerously cold temperatures expected in Cecil County warrant a Code Blue Extreme Weather Alert declaration for Wednesday night through Monday morning,” said Levy. “I encourage residents to stay indoors, especially those most vulnerable to cold.” 

Based on the current weather forecast, temperatures will be at or below 13°F, including the wind chill. Precautions should be taken to avoid cold-related injury. The Code Blue Extreme Weather Alert means there is an elevated risk for cold-related injuries and even death for people who are exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Members of the public are advised to avoid outdoor activities and remain sheltered during this period of extreme weather. Pet owners should also remember to bring pets inside. If you cannot bring your pet inside, make sure they have fresh, unfrozen water to drink and a shelter with adequate warmth. Do not leave your pets in a car in cold weather.

People who do not have access to shelter may contact the Coordinated Entry Line for Homelessness Services, managed by Meeting Ground, at 410-996-3096, between the hours of 8 a.m – 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. During weekends or outside of business hours, the on-call caseworker at the Cecil County Department of Social Services may be contacted at 410-996-5350 for assistance.

The health department recommends the following tips for staying healthy:

Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing;
Wear a head covering when you’re outdoors;
Drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol;
Walk slowly outside and avoid ice-covered steps or curbs;
Check on vulnerable neighbors and loved ones;
Make sure your pets have warm shelter.

Cecil County’s Freezing Weather Plan goes into effect when:

∙ Temperatures, including wind chill, are expected to be 13°F or below. This threshold can be reached by having a temperature at or below 20°F with 5 mph sustained winds or a temperature at or below 25°F with 15 mph sustained winds. Other conditions that may be considered include precipitation for more than two hours, an extended period of cold, sudden cold after a warm period, etc.

Cold weather can lead to serious health issues.

Exposure to cold may lead to low body temperature, frostbite, hypothermia, and even death. Shoveling snow or exercising in the cold could lead to heart attacks and stroke. Members of the public, particularly those with risk factors identified below, are advised to avoid outdoor activities and remain sheltered during this period of extreme weather. Also, remember to bring your pets inside. If you cannot bring your pet inside, make sure they have fresh, unfrozen water to drink and a shelter with adequate warmth. Do not leave your animal in a car in cold weather.
Factors that put individuals at increased risk for cold-related illness include:
∙ Age (young children and elderly adults)
∙ Underlying chronic medical illnesses and diseases, such as psoriasis or extensive skin burns, an under-active thyroid gland, and an under-active adrenal gland ∙ Alcohol use
∙ Poor physical condition
∙ Medications that can affect an individual’s judgment, such as Valium and
∙ Over-exertion and sweating while outside
To help prevent cold-related illness, dress in layers when going outdoors:
∙ Base Layer: Wear fabrics that keep your skin dry.
∙ Insulating Layer: Wear a vest or shirt made of fleece or wool. This may be added or removed depending on how cold you feel.
∙ Windproof and Water-Resistant Outer Layer: Wear a jacket, preferably with a hood.
∙ Briefs: Wear briefs made of synthetic fabric. Cotton or cotton-blend fabrics hold moisture and won’t dry quickly.
∙ Tights or Long Johns: A pair of tights or winter-weight pantyhose may be helpful when temperatures are below 30°F, especially when it is windy. Long john bottoms are best. Tights or pantyhose can also help prevent chafing and chapped skin on the thighs and calves.
∙ Hands: Keeping your hands warm is essential for cold-weather comfort. Mittens are much better than gloves. If you keep your fingers together, they all help warm each other.

Socks and Shoes:
It is important to protect your feet from the elements when you are walking in cold weather.

Wear hiking socks under wool socks. You may prefer a non-itchy wool sock that is machine washable. Be careful that you don’t buy a sock so padded and bulky that it crowds your toes in your shoes.
Wear light hiking boots or trail running shoes that are waterproof. Be sure the shoes have a flexible sole.
Protect your eyes, lips, skin, neck, and face:
Wear sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm.
Sunscreen is especially important in winter, as the sun’s radiation is more intense and less expected.
Lip balm with sun protection will prevent chapped lips. Both can also help protect your skin from wind and cold.
Wear a hood that goes over your head and neck, protecting your ears and leaving only your face exposed. This can also be pulled up over your mouth or nose if necessary.
What are Hypothermia and Frostbite?
Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature falls below 95ºF. Nearly 600 Americans die each year from hypothermia.
Symptoms of hypothermia may include:
∙ Uncontrollable shivering
∙ Cold, pale skin
∙ Numbness