When the heat index reaches 95 degrees outside or hotter, the District issues a Heat Alert.
During a Heat Alert, the District’s top advice is to:
This is impossible for many in our homeless community. We’ve talked before about how extreme heat can be just as or more dangerous than extreme cold.
With conditions becoming riskier for people forced to stay outside, we need everyone’s help to look out for our vulnerable neighbors. Here are 5 things you can do to help the homeless during a heat emergency.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion to look out for are: dark colored urine, pale skin, profuse sweating, rapid heartbeat, muscle or abdominal cramps, dizziness, confusion, and fainting.
If left unaddressed, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms include throbbing headaches, red, hot, and dry skin, lack of sweating despite the heat, muscle weakness or cramps, rapid heartbeat, rapid, shallow breathing, seizures, and unconsciousness.
If you think that someone is having a hard time, ask how they’re doing!
Introduce yourself and ask their name, and see when the last time they had water was. Have a conversation around how their feeling, and see if they are experiencing any of the symptoms above. If they are, show them where to go! DC has lots of options to escape the heat, see the map below for places in your area.
If someone is thirsty, offer water. Staying hydrated is one of the most important things to do in the heat, and you can make a big difference in someone’s day with $1.50 bottle of water.
If you run into someone who looks passed out in the heat, check to see if they’re ok. If they look like they’re sleeping then let them be, but if they’re unresponsive, remember your Red Cross training and call 911 immediately.
If someone needs help getting out of the heat, call the hyperthermia hotline at 1-800-535-7252. The United Planning Organization (UPO) will send a van and can provide water and transport to the nearest cooling station.
In the event of a heat stroke or if a person is unconscious, call 911 immediately.
Like DC says at the top of the page, the best way to avoid suffering from the heat is to stay inside as much as possible. As the map to the right illustrates, there are many resources available for the homeless to take refuge in and escape the heat.
Click on the slider in the upper left of the map to see more options.
Know the resources in your area, and be prepared to direct someone to their nearest cooling shelter, library, spray park, or shelter.
At Thrive DC, we are on the front lines helping individuals without homes to have the resources they need to survive their situation, like helping them out water bottles, sunscreen, emergency clothing, hats or bug spray.
Whether or not we have these items depends on the generosity of our donors. You can help us by donating these items either in person or through our Amazon Wishlist.
There are other ways to help out too. Supporting Thrive DC financially helps us have the resources we need to help our clients, and volunteering with us gives our staff the chance to work more closely with our clients. The more people we have helping, the more one-on-one attention we can give.
To learn more about DC’s Heat Emergency Plan, click here.
There are about 1.6 million homeless youth in the U.S., and they overwhelmingly identify as LGBT+ individuals. Less than ten percent of young people identify as LGBT+, but over 40 percent of homeless youth do, as reported from Chapin Hill.
In DC, that number is even higher at 43% of homeless youth identifying as LGBT+ which has made its way to becoming a priority of Mayor Bowser’s initiative to ensure that LGBT+ youth have access to safe affordable housing, healthcare and preventative care, case management, and support systems they can rely on when they may not have that in their biological family.
As the District dives deeper into action for the Solid Foundations DC: Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness, we recognize that the LGBT+ identifying youth in DC face barriers to success at significantly higher rates than their straight peers.
A recent article from the Washington Blade highlights the ways in which we need to further develop LGBT+ support in our social services organizations and shelters as well as feedback from listening sessions with service providers in the District.
According to service providers, additional reasons for homelessness include aging out of the foster care system, poverty, and conflict in the home. Often, it’s not one thing that causes homelessness, but a combination of many as said by the True Colors Fund.
LGBT+ people are already more likely to be targets of a hate crime than any other minority group, so being forced out of their homes due to their sexual orientation is sadly unsurprising. And this is higher among young LGBT+ parents, who are three times more likely to experience homelessness in comparison to their non-parenting peers.
While progress is slow, the action of the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Reform Amendment Act, which the D.C. Council passed unanimously in 2014 is a step in the right direction. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and then Council member Bowser (D-Ward 4) were the co-introducers of the legislation. Among other things, the measure allocates city funds for expanding existing homeless facilities, including shelters, to include additional beds for LGBT+ identifying youth.
We will continue to show our support for more comprehensive funding for the programs in the District that benefit LGBT+ homeless youth as we move forward from Pride month into the rest of the calendar year. Read more about resources in the District and how we stack up compared to other states in the US, below.
DC Resources for LGBT+ Identifying Youth & Adults in a Housing Crisis
Casa Ruby Emergency Hotline: 202-355-5155
SMYAL: Empowering LGBTQ youth
SMYAL Contact Information: 202.546.5940
How Does DC stand comparatively to other states?
True Colors Fund has a State index on Youth Homelessness which includes information based on current: Law & Policy, Systems, and Environment. You can see how DC stacks up: Washington DC Youth Homelessness Index and see their recommendations for improvement.