Baltimore County News
By Monique Lyle, Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services, Public Information Officer
The combination of low temperatures and wind chill constitute a threat, especially to certain groups of people: older adults, children, and people with respiratory or other health problems. If you are in danger or experiencing severe health problems due to the weather, please call 911.
Below are some tips to help you and your family get relief from the cold and stay safe.
Be cautious and prepared!
- Make sure that you have a 72-hour kit.
- Check on those who are elderly and/or chronically ill.
- Keep infants in a warm room since they lose heat easily.
- Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor's advice about exercising or working in the cold.
- If you are hiking, camping, or skiing during cold weather, avoid becoming overtired. Be extremely careful when walking in icy areas. Many cold-weather injuries result from falls on ice-covered paths.
- Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer.
- Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages—they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly.
- Drink warm, beverages or broth to help maintain your body temperature. If you have any dietary restrictions, consult with your doctor.
Dress warmly and stay dry
Adults and children should wear:
- A hat and a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
- Sleeves that are snug at the wrist
- Mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
- Water-resistant coat and boots
- Several layers of loose-fitting clothing if you are going to be outside
Don’t leave your pets outdoors
- During extreme weather, bring your pets indoors and provide them with adequate food and water.
- Remember to have an emergency plan for your pet too. Most shelters do not allow pets.
The Baltimore County Department of Health website has more information on cold weather resources, including warming shelters and other places to stay warm.
Composting is best option
Baltimore County residents are reminded that raking or blowing leaves and grass trimmings into the gutter or street is unsafe, potentially damaging to the Chesapeake Bay, and illegal.
Leaves in the gutter can lead to fires and endanger children who might try to play in the leaves. Leaves and grass trimmings can also clog drains and, if the leaves do get to the bay, cause algae blooms. Algae blooms absorb oxygen and light that fish and aquatic plants need to survive.
Instead of raking or blowing these yard materials into the gutter, the County suggests that residents compost them. Composting leaves and grass trimmings is an easy way to produce an environmentally friendly soil additive for use in gardens.
Another option for Baltimore County residents is to simply mulch fallen leaves with a lawn mower and leave them on the ground, providing a great natural fertilizer for lawns as the leaves decompose. Mulched leaves can also be collected and used around plants, garden beds, under shrubs and hedges, and under trees. The mulch will keep the soil moist and protect the roots of the plants.
Baltimore County residents who choose to bag their yard materials should put them out where they normally place their trash, in accordance with their trash and recycling collection schedule. Residents are reminded to use paper (preferred) or plastic lawn and leaf bags to set out their yard materials, not trash cans or any other type of container.
For more information on how to handle yard materials at home, residents may visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/solidwaste or call 410-887-2000.
Steve Walsh, Director of Public Works
I am definitely not laughing out loud when a guy passes me at 70 mph and he’s texting behind the wheel. Not funny. We know what happens when you text and drive – you’re six times more likely to cause an accident than if you were drinking and driving. And, they say, one in four crashes involves a cell phone.
According to some statistics, a third of all drivers admit to reading or texting behind the wheel. I’m not the first to point out the dangers of this practice, of course, but as Director of Public Works, whose department is involved with roadway safety, I believe we all have a responsibility to speak out and to protect the innocent.
I understand the temptations of technology. I’ve got kids, so I see the lure of phones, computers, and tablets every day. But we need to remind ourselves of the statistics. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes, according to Federal data.
A driver can safely glance away from the road for only about two seconds; answering a text takes five seconds. And at 55 miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to travel the length of a football field.
It’s common sense to stow your phone when you’re on the road. We should learn safe phone protocols the way we learned to use seat belts a couple of generations ago – buckling up (perhaps unwillingly at first) until safe practices become almost second nature.