Summer is now in session and temperatures are rocketing up. What does that mean for people without a home to retreat from the heat?
Unfortunately, many homeless individuals don’t have access to water or air-conditioned rooms and become at risk for severe sunburns, hyperthermia, heat stroke or other health hazards.
These risks to a vulnerable population are avoidable and there are several things we can do to help. It is up to all residents to learn how to respond in these situations.
Read below for five concrete things you can do to help the homeless you meet outside!
Don’t be afraid to hand out water bottles or critical summer necessities.
Summer necessities include travel-sized sunscreen, water bottles (with ice), bug spray, and Gold Bond. You can have a couple on you or easily store them in your car.
Not only is this helping people in a direct and tangible way, it also gives you the opportunity to talk with someone and see how they’re doing.
The better you know people you may see regularly on the street, the better you’ll be able to assess if something is wrong the next time you meet them.
Guiding a homeless person to the nearest shelter allows them to be aided by experts within the field, ones that can provide them short-term and long-term resources and help. Libraries are also great for a drink of water and a cold building.
When it’s 95 degrees or more outside, DC opens up cooling shelters to offer more relief during the day. While many homeless may know where the regular shelters are, these special cooling shelters can go unnoticed. Pay attention to DC Heat alerts to know when these extra resources are available.
See the map above for cooling shelters, homeless shelters and libraries in your area.
If you see someone in danger of heat-related stress, contact the hyperthermia hotline at 1-800-535-7252. The hotline can provide van transportation for a homeless individual to one of DC’s cooling centers.
During a heat alert, these shelters are activated on weekdays, and can provide water and a cool space for the homeless.
Not only should you locate your nearest shelter but feel free to help out!
Shelters are always in need of supplies, but some items are especially needed in the summer. You can help today with water bottles, new socks, sunscreen, bug spray, hats and visors for our clients.
To help us prepare and be ready for when our clients need us most, also consider a one-time or monthly gift. Your support helps us when we’re busiest during the height of summer and the dead of winter.
Another way to help out is by organizing a donation drive. For more information, contact our In-Kind Coordinator at (202) 503-1528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If someone appears to be unconscious or passed out, local businesses and residents should not hesitate to call 9-1-1 immediately.
Don’t ignore the situation. Especially on a hot day, dehydration can happen quickly and even lying on the sidewalk can potentially lead to severe sunburns.
If you’re wrong, and the ambulance comes when it’s not needed then it’s just a waste of gas. But if you’re right, your call could save someone’s life.