TRENTON – A Code Blue bill signed into law last week was fashioned after a policy implemented two years ago by the Cape May County Office of Emergency Management, local officials said.
“Cape May County was one of the first counties statewide to have a policy in place,” said Marty Pagliughi, director of county OEM.
The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, requires county governments throughout the state to issue Code Blue alerts and to ensure a plan is in place to shelter at-risk individuals during a severe weather event. It was signed into law last week by Gov. Chris Christie.
“This will require a coordinated plan in each county for issuing an alert when temperatures reach certain levels and for providing shelter for homeless residents. It will better ensure that our most vulnerable are protected,” Van Drew said.
In Cape May County, a Code Blue alert is declared whenever temperatures drop below freezing at 32 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation, and below 25 Fahrenheit without precipitation, and weather conditions pose a danger to the homeless.
The new state law is similar, and requires the county office of emergency management, or another appropriate county agency, to coordinate with municipal emergency management coordinators in municipalities with a documented homeless population of at least 10 to develop Code Blue alert plans.
Under the law a county emergency management coordinator must declare a Code Blue alert when the National Weather Service predicts adverse weather conditions: temperatures will reach 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower without precipitation, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower with precipitation; or the NWS wind-chill temperature will be zero degrees Fahrenheit or less for a period of two hours or more.