UTAH

Code Blue: an idea saving lives from the Utah cold

Jan 9, 2024, 7:00 AM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 8:25 am

A candle is held during the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil in Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City in...

FILE: A candle is held during the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil in Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023. A Code Blue has been issued in Salt Lake County. The Salt Lake City Council has released a list of emergency shelters available. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Code Blue law is triggered when temperatures dip and it’s unsafe to be outside. In part, the alert opens up more resources, such as interior space, for those who live in the extreme cold.

This week, Code Blue alerts were triggered by falling temperatures in 20 Utah counties. 

What is Code Blue?

A new Utah law triggers the alerts. The law dictates that resource centers and other spaces expand their capacity. Namely, space can be increased by up to 35% if the National Weather Service predicts the temperature will fall to 15 degrees Fahrenheit or below, including wind chill.

Utah Rep. Steve Eliason was behind making Code Blue alerts a law in Utah. He credits a former intern as well as Wendy Garvin of Unsheltered Utah for sharing the idea.

“It’s been a very practical policy that has kept a lot of people out of the cold,” Eliason said.

Under the law, officials can use state-owned buildings to house homeless people during an alert.

“We do have a lot of state-owned buildings around Utah,” Eliason said, “and we just wanted to clarify in the legislation that was an allowable use, and they wouldn’t need to go back to the Legislature for approval to use it.”

He said he was unaware if officials were using state government buildings in Utah as shelter during intensive cold periods. He said other locations “pop up” during the alerts.

Word about extra shelter travels fast

People experiencing homelessness find out about these resources during extreme cold, Eliason said, because word on the street travels quickly. He added private and public agencies also have contact with the homeless to connect them with available resources.

“Now, there are also outreach bands from groups like Volunteers of America, of course [and] local law enforcement that will be out encountering people experiencing homelessness.

“They are sources of referrals, sometimes even rides, to either resource centers that are participating in Code Blue [that] will now have additional space or to other locations that are offering services during a Code Blue alert,” Eliason said. 

Related: Emergency shelters overflow as most of Utah remains under ‘Code Blue Alert’

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Listeners can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Utah

High wind speeds in Utah County caused property damage on Monday, June 17, 2024....

Emma Keddington

Portions of Utah placed on high wind alert

The Salt Lake National Weather Service warned Utahns of high wind levels Monday evening, primarily affecting those in Utah Valley.

7 hours ago

Nieghborhood in Layton across from an industrial lot, with a no outlet sign....

Heather Peterson

Concerns raised over construction of above-ground diesel tanks near Hill Air Force Base

Some Layton residents have concerns over two above-ground diesel tanks being built by Hill Airforce Base and their neighborhood.

8 hours ago

FILE: Motorists drive on I-215 in the rain in Holladay on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Al...

Alexandrea Bonilla

New lane stripes coming to Box Elder, Weber, and Salt Lake counties

The new lines, called "tiger tail striping" are intended to add contrast to the familiar white stripes.

9 hours ago

Katy Welkie, vice president of Intermountain and CEO of Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital, ...

Eric Cabrera, Amie Schaeffer

IHC to open behavioral health center in Taylorsville

Intermountain Health is expanding its behavioral health services. A new center for children and teens will open in Taylorsville in 2025.

9 hours ago

A hand is surrounded by blue surgical napkins as two other gloved hands operate on it during a carp...

Mariah Maynes

Utah Hand Center celebrates milestone in carpal tunnel surgeries

The Utah Hand Center said that is has become the first U.S. provider of orthopedic care to complete 3,000 successful carpal tunnel surgeries.

10 hours ago

Bruce Bastian...

Emma Everett Johnson, KSL.com

WordPerfect co-founder Bruce Bastian dies at 76

Bruce Bastian passed away at the age of 76. He co-founded WordPerfect and later became a philanthropist and champion of the LGBTQ+ community.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Code Blue: an idea saving lives from the Utah cold