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(UPDATE) Montgomery County Issues Cold Emergency Alert; Community Urged to Take Precautions

For Immediate Release: Monday, January 21, 2019

Due to expected temperatures Sunday, Jan. 20, into Tuesday, Jan. 22, in Montgomery County falling into the single digits with a wind chill of 0 to minus 10 degrees, the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is issuing a Cold Emergency Alert to go into effect Sunday at 1 p.m. until Tuesday at 9 a.m. Visit the County’s updated Hypothermia Alert page for more information on steps to take before and during the extreme temperature condition.

A Cold Emergency Alert, the highest level of extreme temperature alert, is issued for the County when conditions, temperature combined with wind chill are forecast to be below 20 degrees; and there are other conditions that pose a significant threat to exposed human and animal life. Those may include wind chill advisories or warnings from the National Weather Service and/or significant snowfall.

Wind Chill Advisories are issued when wind chills are expected to be below minus 5 degrees or lower at times.

“Exposure to cold temperatures, even for a short time, can carry significant health risks to include hypothermia,” said Dr. Earl Stoddard, director of the County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “All residents should take extra precautions to stay warm, particularly our most vulnerable residents, including elderly and individuals with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease that may increase their risk of side effects related to cold temperatures.”

There is always a particular concern during periods of extreme cold for children, seniors, homeless individuals, and animals. Everyone spending time outside should take necessary precautions against the extreme cold. Frostbite can occur with as little as 30 minutes of exposure to the cold. Anyone being outside should dress in layers of warm clothing and wear a hat. Nearly half of body heat is lost through the head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves. Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.

All Montgomery County facilities, such as libraries, recreation centers, and senior centers open during their regular hours can be used by anyone needing an escape from the cold. Public shopping centers are also available as warm locations during their hours of operation.

Montgomery County Health and Human Services staff, as well as community-based providers, will continue to reach out to homeless individuals in the community to urge them to seek shelter during the extreme cold temperatures being forecast for the next several days. Anyone who has a concern about the safety of a homeless individual should call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000, to report the location and provide as accurate a description of the person in need as possible.

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Release ID: 19-033
Media Contact: Ohene Gyapong 240-997-4153