5 Ways to Help People Experiencing Homelessness in the Summer
While summer welcomes blue skies and warm weather, it can also produce spells of intense heat. At best, abnormally high temperatures are merely uncomfortable, but at worse, they are deadly. Our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness are especially vulnerable, lacking shelter to shield themselves from the heat. This makes it critical that people in the community remain vigilant and consider how they can help people who are experiencing homelessness during the summer months.
Here are some simple ways:
1. Provide bottled water
Giving a bottle of water (or two) is a cheap, but hugely important, way to help individuals who are unhoused combat the heat. As most of the human body is composed of water, replenishing it with water is essential to staying hydrated. Frozen water bottles can also serve dual purposes of both cooling and hydrating. Make sure to avoid sodas or drinks high in sugar as they, despite being fluids, can dehydrate the body.
2. Direct them to a cool location
Avoiding the sun by staying indoors is ideal during hot days, but implausible for those without housing. However, there are public places with air conditioning accessible to anyone, such as several public libraries. Additionally, during the record-breaking heat wave, the city of Seattle opened cooling centers for members of the public to drop by. Directing a person who is experiencing homelessness, who may be unaware of these resources, to the nearest place they can seek refuge can be critical to their health.
3. Offer helpful supplies
Hand fans, hats, spray bottles, and umbrellas are some items that allow people who are experiencing homelessness to autonomously keep cool during hot days. These items have the advantage of being limitless in their use, in contrast to a bottle of water or access to a cooling station. An umbrella will even be useful when the hot days turn into the rainy season.
4. Donate to local charities and nonprofits
Many local organizations are dedicated to helping individuals who are unhoused and donating to one of them allows you to help indirectly. Donations expand what these organizations can do, whether that be supplying water, producing shelter, offering transportation, or any other activities larger in scale than what one individual is capable of.
5. Check in with those who seem to be struggling
If a person who is experiencing homelessness appears in pain or losing consciousness, reaching out to them could be lifesaving, especially in the summer. One should not assume they are inebriated or on drugs, as they may very well be succumbing to the heat. Asking how they are doing not only creates social contact, but allows them to communicate what they need, whether that be simply some water, or medical attention.
Summer is as beautiful in the northwest as it is anywhere in the country. Yet, we should not forget how dangerous it can be, especially for those who already have so little to protect themselves. These simple acts can go a long way to helping men and women who are combatting homelessness, and strengthening our community.
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Seattle, WA 98121