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Staying warm as bitter cold blasts region

Posted at 11:17 PM, Jan 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-20 23:17:00-05

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Blistering cold wind chill kept many inside Sunday, but that's not an option for everyone and with the drop in temperature comes the fear of frostbite.

"The most vulnerable folks are the elderly, young children and people with chronic health conditions. Depending on the temperature and the wind chill, it can happen in a matter of 10 minutes, 20 minutes," Howard County Health Officer Maura Rossman said.

The State Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has already reported three cold weather-related deaths in Baltimore City since November. Rossman says to stay safe, minimize your time outside and dress in lots of layers.

"We lose 50% of our heat through our head so cover up. If you don't have some place to stay warm tonight, please seek out your shelter, wherever you live," Rossman said.

MORE: Warming centers opening with freezing temperatures expected

Most counties in the area have designated warming shelters. The Weinberg Housing and Resource Center is the main one in Baltimore. Operated by Catholic Charities, they will be open 24/7 through the code blue, not just to provide a warm place to sleep, but also a safe place to stay during the day.

"This is something we do to really make sure that people are staying out of the cold, don't have the risk of frostbite, having other kinds of health issues that may come along from being in the bitter cold," Catholic Charities administrator Sue De Santis said.

That will be helpful for some on Monday. Many of the libraries and city and county buildings that would usually be open as places to warm up will be closed to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"Tomorrow is a challenge because typically when folks get let out of the shelter, they can go to the libraries and 50+ centers, but since it's a holiday, it may be harder to find places," Rossman said.

Howard, Harford, Carroll and Anne Arundel counties also have shelters that will be open Monday.

BGE crews are also ready to respond to outages caused by the continued winds.