Legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union, Somerset, Morris) to help homeless individuals during severe weather events was advanced by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
“We’re in the middle of winter, and we’ve already seen some frigid temperatures,” Senator Kean said. “We cannot leave our most vulnerable residents to fend for themselves in the harsh winter weather.”
We cannot leave our most vulnerable residents to fend for themselves in the harsh winter weather. https://t.co/5g0zsJBYoT
— Senator Tom Kean (@tomkean) January 30, 2017
The bill, S-1088, The bill requires a county office of emergency management to coordinate with municipal emergency management coordinators in municipalities with a documented homeless population of at least 10 persons to develop consistent Code Blue alert plans throughout the county that provide emergency warming centers during implementation of a Code Blue alert. After a county emergency management coordinator declares a Code Blue, local law enforcement is notified so they can go out on patrols in order to locate at-risk individuals.
A Code Blue is triggered when temperatures will reach 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower without precipitation or will reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower with precipitation. It is also triggered when the wind-chill temperature reaches zero degrees or less for two hours or more.
There are 15 counties that already have established Code Blue Programs. Several municipalities also have their own programs in place. However, the protocols of each program vary, and the new legislation establishes statewide procedures and standards.
“Code Blue is about saving lives,” Senator Kean said. “This measure will ensure that anyone who wants a warm place to spend cold winter nights will have one.”