Low temperatures prompt Philadelphia to enact Code Blue
Here’s what you should know as Philadelphia enters an early protocol for cold weather.
In a cold turn of events fall seems to have shortened its lifespan bringing winter-like weather a month early.
It’s prompted the City of Philadelphia to enact Code Blue from Tuesday, Nov. 12 to noon on Thursday, Nov.14
On Wednesday, The National Weather Service warned: "an early blast of cold arctic air will consume much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. over the next few days, making it feel like the middle of winter."
That might not be a problem if you have daily access to a source of heat in your house.
However, for the 5,700 homeless people living in the poorest big city in the U.S. weather conditions like these can be life-threatening.
A city emergency that enacts special measures to protect the safety of homeless Philadelphians when temperatures decrease near or below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Office of Homeless Services (OHS), the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBH), and Project Home oversee its implementation.
Though the alert usually runs December through March, OHS and DBH have the authority to implement the code anytime “winter conditions pose a threat of serious harm or death to homeless individuals without shelter.”
All homeless people in the city have access to transportation to shelters, which stay open 24-hours. The Philadelphia Police aid the mobilization effort, to prevent weather-related deaths.
Here are some other protocols to know:
- In addition to 24-hour shelters, the city’s homeless also have 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 on-call City Solicitors and Common Pleas Court Judges.
- OSH funded emergency housing providers allow people to remain indoors for the whole day.
According to the OHS website, Philadelphia has increased the number of beds and shelters by 304 and added 124 café slots for hot coffee during Code Blue.
But if you want to help, the Office of Homeless Services urges the public not to offer sleeping bags, food, mattresses, tents or similar items to homeless people while the alert is in place.
“Providing these items can be dangerous as doing so enables and encourages persons living on the street to remain outside during emergency temperatures instead of coming inside where there is refuge from the cold,” reads the OHS website.
Instead, they urge Philadelphians to call Homeless Outreach at 215-232-1984 if you see someone who is homeless and sleeping on the street, no matter the day or time.