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Summit and Wasatch counties have protocols to keep people safe in severe weather, but they haven’t been needed

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Summit and Wasatch counties qualified for Code Blue Alerts this week, which are meant to help keep people safe when temperatures plummet. But the counties haven’t had anyone in need.

Code Blue comes from legislation passed in the 2023 session. It requires large counties to issue alerts when temperatures drop to 15 degrees or below for 2 hours or more in a 24-hour period. That temperature includes wind chill effects.

When a Code Blue Alert is in effect, homeless shelters can expand their capacity limit by up to 35% to provide temporary shelter. Officials can also provide new locations to protect people experiencing homelessness.

Summit and Wasatch counties have their own protocols for Code Blue. Chris Smoot from the Wasatch County Health Department said the county established a Code Blue committee after the law was put in place.

“That committee has coordinated with a Summit County shelter to be able to house people who don't have anywhere to go when we're in a Code Blue situation,” he said.

While Wasatch and Summit counties don’t have any local homeless shelters, they have coordinated places to provide shelter if the need arises. Shelters could be set up in churches, schools or the Christian Center. When someone needs shelter from the cold, law enforcement in both counties will transport them to one of these locations.

However, both Wasatch and Summit counties reported they had no instances this year of anyone in need of shelter, even when a Code Blue Alert was in effect.

Kacey Bates, the chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Office in Summit County, said that’s pretty normal.

“If we were to come across somebody who needed shelter, or needed transportation or anything like that, we would definitely act on that," she said. "Our primary goal, obviously, is to ensure everyone's safety.”

Stephanie Cheng from the Summit County Health Department said they are working with the Christian Center of Park City and Mountainland Continuum of Care to get a more permanent solution for people experiencing homelessness.

If someone needs shelter during severe weather, they can contact law enforcement or click here to find nearby shelters.