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Earning a paycheck under a Code Blue Alert

Posted at 11:12 PM, Dec 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-27 23:12:06-05

Wednesday night it was cold enough to make doing anything outside painful.

The city of Baltimore under a Code Blue Alert, meaning multiple agencies in the city are working to reduce hypothermia death by protecting those vulnerable to extreme cold.

Whether it's parking a car or delivering a Christmas thank you card, there are people out earning a paycheck in it.

Joyce Harris has been working for the USPS for 12 years, she says layers of inner and outerwear and Under Armour is part of her recipe to stay warm.

“Just keep moving that body heat as well," said Harris.

She’s making overtime this week and part of the pay is fighting the elements.  She actually prefers it to sweating it out in the summer.

"When it's hot 105 degrees you can't get cool but when it's cool you moving and body heat ya know," said Harris.

Luke Eshleman has been helping people get inside to a warm meal as a valet for 3 years.

He says you don't get used to nights like Thursday.

"The wind has been the difference maker here,” said Eshleman. “It hasn't been terribly cold until the past couple days so it's kind of been a shock to the system because it was nicer last week."

It's warm in the ER unit at Union Medstar Union Memorial Hospital, but anytime it gets below 32 degrees Dr. Eric Kiechle said they get busy.

"Hypothermia has a range of manifestations in different parts of the body and it can be lethal,” said Kiechle. “Every year people die because they get to cold and they get run to the hospital and we're not able to get them back."

The Baltimore City Health Department said eleven people died in the city due to hypothermia last year and one died this year.

To avoid becoming one of those statistics Kiechle suggests drinking lots of hot water, covering your head, and getting somewhere warm as quickly as you can.

Use layers of blankets to warm up, don't use open flames like propane heaters indoors.         

The code blue is in effect until Tuesday, January 2.

During that period contact 311 if you're without heat or power so the city can help you. For more on shelter locations in the county click here, for the city click here.