Dangerously cold in NJ: Where to get help — and stay warm
New Jersey's latest round of record setting spurred all of New Jersey's 21 counties to issue Code Blue alerts through at least Friday and into the weekend.
"This is near-record cold. A full 20+ degrees below normal for late January. The combination of arctic cold and a fierce wind poses a significant hazard to human health if you don't protect yourself," New Jersey Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said. "Homeless and pets are especially at risk. Car breakdowns and water main breaks will be common during this cold snap. Everything from collecting garbage to delivering mail to fighting fires will be made much more difficult."
Zarrow advises to bundle up in layers, stay in a warm place as much as possible, and take the extreme cold seriously.
Through the state Code Blue law, signed in May 2017, counties issue alerts whenever the temperature drops below 25 degrees without precipitation, or below 32 degrees with precipitation. Code Blue procedures also apply when the National Weather Service wind chill temperature is at 0 degrees or less for a period of two hours or more.
A Code Blue Alert "enables authorities to take homeless adults to shelter programs that have agreed to make additional beds available," according to the state's NJ211 site. Warming centers are also opened and advertised through local media and social media.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services has shared a list of hotlines by county, for help finding emergency shelter in bitter conditions:
- Atlantic County: Atlantic City Rescue Mission 609-345-5517 (daytime and after hours)
- Bergen County: Bergen County Board of Social Services 888-3-BERGEN (888-323-7436, daytime and after hours)
- Burlington County: Burlington County Homeless Hotline 856-234-8888 (daytime and after hours)
- Camden County: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton 833-254-9801 (daytime and after hours)
- Cape May County: Cape May CWA 609-886-1325 or 877-886-1325 (daytime and after hours)
- Cumberland County: Cumberland Family Shelter 856-825-3144 (daytime and after hours)
- Essex County: Salvation Army-Montclair 973-718-9488 (daytime and after hours)
- Gloucester County: Gloucester Center for Family Services 800-648-0132 (daytime and after hours)
- Hudson County: Hudson CWA 800-624-0287 (daytime and after hours)
- Hunterdon County: Hunterdon CWA 908-788-1300 (daytime), Hunterdon Helpline 908-782-4357 or 800-272-4630 (after hours)
- Mercer County: Mercer CWA 609-468-8296 (daytime and after hours)
- Middlesex County: 211 (daytime and after hours)
- Monmouth County: Monmouth CWA 732-431-6000 (daytime and after hours)
- Morris County: Morris CWA 800-640-9783 (daytime and after hours)
- Ocean County: Ocean CWA 732-240-6100 (daytime and after hours)
- Passaic County: 211 (daytime and after hours)
- Salem County: Salem CWA 856-299-7200 (daytime), 877-283-8486 (after hours)
- Somerset County: Somerset CWA 800-287-3607 (daytime, after hours answered by Hunterdon Helpline)
- Sussex County: County Division of Social Services 973-383-3600 (daytime), Sussex Homeless Response Service 973-940-8869
- Union County: Gateway YMCA, Elizabeth 908-249-4815 (daytime and after hours)
- Warren County: Warren CWA 908-475-6218 (daytime), NORWESCAP 977-661-4357 (after hours)
Previous reporting by Erin Vogt was used in this report.