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For Immediate Release: Friday, December 23, 2022

Montgomery County’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security will issue a Cold Emergency Alert starting at noon TODAY, Friday, December 23 lasting through Saturday, December 24. Extremely cold weather is expected to drop temperatures into the teens and single digits. Wind chill lows during this time are expected to drop below zero and could fall to -15 degrees Fahrenheit. 

A Cold Emergency Alert is the highest level of extreme temperature alert issued by the County. It is activated when conditions—temperature combined with wind chill—are forecast to be below 20 degrees. These conditions pose a significant threat to exposed human and animal life. The conditions may include wind chill advisories or warnings from the National Weather Service and/or significant snowfall. 

The County’s updated Hypothermia Alert page has more information on steps to take before and during the extreme temperature conditions. 

The National Weather Service has also issued a Wind Chill Advisory for Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. 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 County Executive Marc Elrich. “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 spending time outside should dress in layers of warm clothing and wear a hat. Nearly half of body heat is lost through the head. Cover mouths to protect lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.  

Individuals are advised not to ignore shivering, which is 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, when open during their regular hours, can be used by anyone needing an escape from the cold. Due to the Christmas holiday, however, libraries will be closed on Sunday and Monday. Community Recreation Centers will close at 3 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday. 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 individuals who are experiencing homelessness to urge them to seek shelter during the extreme cold temperatures over the next several days. Residents concerned about the well-being of a homeless individual can call the 24-hour Line at 240-907-2688. Outreach partners will attempt to locate the individual and offer resources and support. Preparations are also being made in case emergency shelters are needed because of power outages or other emergencies.  

If a resident is facing a utility shut off, the County’s Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) may be able to help. Call OHEP at 240-777-4450 or call 3-1-1.  Apply online at 

During a period of extreme cold temperatures, the Montgomery County Office of Animal Services (OAS) enforces Executive Regulation 17-17, Anti-Cruelty Conditions for Dogs and Other Pets. The executive director of OAS, Thomas J. Koenig, is authorized to provide resident notification when animals must not be left outside unattended.  

In accordance with Executive Regulation 17-17, during a period of extreme cold temperatures, pets must not be left outside unattended. Leaving a pet outside unattended in these conditions may be considered an act of cruelty and pet owners could be charged and fined accordingly. This regulation is enforced by the Office of Animal Services, under the authority of its executive director.

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Release ID: 22-636
Media Contact: Joe Dominguez 240-743-8865
Categories: Public Safety, Snow