ANNAPOLIS, MD — With bitter cold temperatures in the weather forecast, Anne Arundel County will open warming centers beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 25, through 9 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 27, a news release said. The National Weather Service predicts temperatures and wind chill values in the teens and low 20s.
Anne Arundel County Police will designate district station community rooms at the following precincts as warming centers Christmas Day through Sunday:
Northern District: 939 Hammonds Lane, Baltimore
Eastern District: 204 Pasadena Rd, Pasadena
Western District: 8273 Telegraph Road, Odenton
Southern District: 35 Stepneys Lane, Edgewater
All centers are accessible and have water and restroom facilities. Medical care is not available and anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 9-1-1.
Pets are not allowed in any warming centers. Accommodations will be made for service animals. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. COVID-19 guidance must be adhered to including social distancing and wearing face coverings.
The Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to use caution during extremely cold temperatures.
Advanced hypothermia (decreased core body temperature) can be accompanied by stiffness, excessive shivering, confusion, slurred speech, numbness, or a weak pulse.
Watch for changes in levels of consciousness and motor coordination, indicated by stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles. Symptoms of frostbite (skin damage due to cold temperatures) include gradual numbness, pale or purple skin, hard (wooden) skin, or a tingling or burning feeling in the impacted area. Call 9-1-1 if you or someone you know may be suffering from hypothermia or frostbite.
Children, older adults, and people with poor circulatory systems are at particular risk for
hypothermia or frostbite. The Department of Health has tips to help residents cope with winter conditions when outside:
● Layer your clothing to have more flexibility and control over how warm you stay. Avoid cotton clothing for winter activities.
● Prepare for the unexpected. Most hypothermia cases occur due to an unexpected change in the weather or temperature.
● Wear a warm hat; up to 50 percent of body heat is lost through the head.
● Avoid getting wet when the temperature dips.
● Wear waterproof boots or shoes to keep your feet dry.
● Drink plenty of water. Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol.
Residents should also be aware of the risks cold weather poses when inside homes and buildings. The Anne Arundel County Fire Department shared tips to help residents remain safe in their homes during cold weather:
● Store several days’ worth of non-perishable food and bottled water.
● Keep several days’ worth of medications.
● Keep fireplaces and wood-burning stoves clean.
● Never leave space heaters on and unattended.
● Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are operating properly.
● Check on older adults and neighbors and relatives with disabilities.
In accordance with § 12-4-809. Severe weather emergencies and alerts, the county executive has issued a Severe Weather Animal Alert. That means any dog left unattended outside must have the following items:
fresh, clean and drinkable non-frozen water at all times in a non-tip bowl;
dry bedding or resting board inside a dog house;
if the dog is in an enclosure, the minimum enclosure size must meet county minimums, which are 100 square feet for dogs under 80 pounds, 150 square feet for dogs over 80 pounds and an additional 50 square feet for each dog under 80 pounds in the same enclosure and an additional 75 square feet for each dog over 80 pounds in the same enclosure;
a dog house with no interior metal surfaces that protects the animal against wind, snow and cold that is raised at least two inches off the ground.
From Dec. 1 through March 15, the dog house must have an accessible covered entry or an off-set door to act as a windbreak.
Dogs cannot be tethered unless temperatures are above 33 degrees and the dog is supervised at all times.
Failure to comply with these requirements can result in civil citations with fines ranging from $125 to $1,000, removal of the animal and/or criminal prosecution.
According to Anne Arundel County Animal Care and Control, this law does not apply to cats.
"Anne Arundel County law requires all pets be kept on leash or confined to the owners property. Generally speaking, those owners who allow their pet cats outside allow them roam freely (thereby violating the leash or confined) because those pets are not confined they are not prohibited from accessing protection from the weather," the department posted on its Facebook page.