During extremely bitter cold conditions, (this is when the temperature, wind chill and precipitation combined together result in real feel temperatures near or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit), the City implements extraordinary measures to preserve the lives of chronically homeless individuals. A Code Blue emergency triggers the following:
- Twenty-four hour outreach coverage, to include the teams extending hours until 12 am or later.
- Access to beds that are vacant within the existing emergency housing network funded by the Office of Homeless Services.
- Outreach teams and the police will be able to implement the COTS (Court Ordered Transportation to Shelter) procedure by alerting the on-call City Solicitor and Common Pleas Court Judge.
- OSH funded emergency housing providers will allow clients to remain indoors throughout the day.
Activation of Code Blue
During the winter initiative months, generally starting Dec and ending the end of March,
OHS in consultation with DBH will call a Code Blue when winter conditions pose a threat of serious harm or death to homeless individuals without shelter. DBH will consult with the OCC.
A Code Blue will be called when the National Weather Bureau predicts a wind chill temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below or precipitation with temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In the event that the weather report lacks clarity or specificity, OHS/DBH will seek clarification from the On-Duty Meteorologist at the National Weather Bureau.
When such weather conditions are expected, OHS and DBH, after receiving the official weather prediction, will concur. DBH will contact the OCC to notify them in advance of the expected Code Blue.
OHS will contact Municipal Radio to notify them that a Code Blue has been designated. Municipal Radio will then notify those on the Code Blue Contact List. The OCC will notify outreach staff of building openings for Code Blue and will direct that word be spread to homeless individuals on the street. The first priority will continue to be the use of outreach-designated resources for the homeless, including Somerset and Our Brothers Place. If necessary, police stations and/or other public buildings may also be made available for homeless persons during Code Blue conditions.
A Code Blue will be deactivated when OHS declares an end to the weather emergency based on information from the National Weather Service that indicates the severe weather conditions no longer exist. OHS will initiate notification process.
Code Blue: Allows clients to remain indoors during the day and prohibits evictions or termination from emergency housing during the Code Blue. Denial only occurs under very serious circumstances and is addressed on a case-by-case basis.
Code Gray is declared when the National Weather Bureau predicts high winds and or heavy rains or frozen precipitation with temperature above 32°. As with Code Blue the same notification process will be implemented. Code Gray permits clients to remain indoors during the weather event.