WEST ORANGE, NJ - This weekend’s expected frigid temperatures and possible sub-zero readings have prompted Essex County to declare a “Code Blue” from Friday, Feb. 12 at 5 p.m. through Monday, Feb. 15 at 9 a.m.
In making the announcement on Feb. 11, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. said the county is looking out for the safety and well-being of the homeless population in the expected cold snap. "We thank our participating shelters and warming stations who are working with us to open their doors in these times of need," DiVincenzo said.
Conditions for a Code Blue are defined as when the temperature drops below 15 degrees for a 48-hour period or when the wind chill is below zero degrees. When those conditions are met, or when the weather forecast predicts these conditions, the County Executive can proclaim a Code Blue and enact the procedure. Current forecasts for our area show highs on Saturday and Sunday in the lower 20s and a possible low on Saturday night in the negative numbers. Additionally, there will be wind chill effects, which will make it feel even colder.
When a Code Blue is declared, a network of warming stations operated by the County and its municipalities and shelters operated by the community-based organizations will be opened, including the Essex County Codey Arena in West Orange, and a variety of public libraries, senior centers, civic and community centers, school buildings, houses of worship, firehouses and first aid squad buildings.
Warming stations are generally opened during the day and may not provide overnight accommodations. Shelters do provide overnight accommodations, and any that that regularly require occupants to leave during the day will suspend that practice so people can stay indoors.
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura cited the contributions by organizations running the warming stations and shelters. "Our homeless residents need a warm place to stay when winter weather gets this bad. The organizations opening their doors are providing a great service and helping us protect the safety of these vulnerable residents," Fontoura said.
A list of available warming stations and shelters is available HERE and available by dialing 2-1-1.