NORRISTOWN, PA—The Montgomery County Commissioners, with the support of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announce a change to the threshold for which a Code Blue Cold Weather Emergency is declared. Effective December 18, 2023, a Code Blue will be declared when overnight temperatures or wind chill are at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more.
Winter weather can be very dangerous and deadly for those who do not have adequate shelter. During the winter season from November through March, Montgomery County implements a winter weather, or “Code Blue,” emergency plan. In periods of severe weather based on forecasts from the National Weather Service, HHS’s Office of Public Health issues a Code Blue in order to provide temporary shelter, food, and clothing to those in need.
“Winter can be hard for many people, particularly the unhoused, seniors, and others who are more vulnerable in our society,” said Jamila H. Winder, Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “By changing the Code Blue threshold from 20 degrees to 32 degrees, we’ll be able to activate more Code Blue Shelters and offer a higher standard of safety for those who are unhoused.”
By raising the threshold, multiple County agencies and private health and social organizations will be able to offer expanded services for those who are unhoused and without adequate shelter. It could mean an additional 42 days or more of shelter operations for our unhoused population, based on the winter forecast.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Public Health is responsible for declaring Code Blue emergencies based on monitoring of National Weather Service forecasts. Code Blue declarations will be issued for a specific duration, usually based on 24-hour increments. A Code Blue will end as initially declared unless formally extended based off the National Weather Service forecast.
Residents of Montgomery County who need shelter during a Code Blue can call the Your Way Home Call Center at 2-1-1 or text 898-211
WHAT TO DO IN CODE BLUE CONDITIONS
- Check on elderly friends and neighbors frequently to ensure their homes are adequately heated.
- If you see someone in need of immediate emergency assistance, call or text 9-1-1.
- If you or someone you know needs help with temporary shelter from the cold weather or a longer-term housing issue, call Your Way Home at 2-1-1 or text 898-211.
- Make sure your car is winterized with antifreeze, a full tank of gas, properly inflated tires, and is stocked with an emergency kit.
- Check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Wear appropriate clothing and avoid prolonged exposure when going outdoors in winter weather.
- Limit pets' time outdoors during extreme temperatures.
- Report power outages directly to your utility company; DO NOT call 9-1-1.
For general cold weather information, please visit www.montgomerycountypa.gov/codeblue.
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