No, no the soda.
If you’ve never been in DC when a code red was declared before, here’s the long and short of it: it means air quality will be poor and you should limit your outdoor activities.
If you have been in DC before you might have remembered getting to ride Metrobus routes for free on code red days. That program has been discontinued, as confirmed to me by phone by a WMATA spokesperson. A number of cynical twitter users have commented that you’re likely to get a free ride based on a non-functional fare box anyway. Free or not, get out of the heat and stay safe.
If you want more detail about how a day gets called Code Red, read on.
A Code Red day isn’t actually about heat, though who could blame you for thinking so? They almost always coincide with high temperatures. Code Red is a designation the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments gives to days where air quality is going to be sufficiently poor that everyone should avoid strenuous outdoor activities. In their words:
Everyone may experience health effects and should limit their outdoor activity; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.
The determination is made by Clear Air Partners, a non-profit who does this for our area as well as Baltimore and other nearby regions. You can always see the current status and immediate forecast on their website. As it stands they predict Saturday will also be code red before dropping back to orange – unhealthy for sensitive groups – on Sunday.
So if you’re a runner you’d be best advised to stick to the treadmill. Mow your lawn another day, particularly if you have a gas mower – more hydrocarbons in the air isn’t what any of us need.