IT’S SUMMER, SUMMER, SUMMERTIME (cue Will Smith’s smash hit).
For a lot of us this summer tends to be an anticipated time of the year. The weather is hot, the pools are cold, the parties are plenty, and memories are made that will last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for the people in our communities who currently do not have access to reliable shelter. The summer season can be a difficult time to navigate when there isn’t adequate resources for people experiencing homelessness.
Here are 3 potential hardships our unhoused community faces during the summer months.
Summer months have the potential to be more lethal for people experiencing homelessness than winter months. People experiencing homelessness do not have consistent access to water and during extreme heat the likelihood of dehydration is greatly increased. Symptoms of dehydration are sometimes not visible which can include fatigue, dry mouth, decreased urination, dizziness,
and headaches. In some cases, extreme heat and dehydration can lead to death.
When the body is attempting to cool itself and regulate body temperature, it sweats. Sweating through clothing can have dangerous health effects on people who are unsheltered. Sweat soaked clothing can lead to infections and rashes. Foot care is among the dangers of prolonged exposure to heat. Trench foot is a condition that is occurs when feet are exposed to wet/damp conditions for a prolonged amount of time. If untreated, symptoms like swelling, numbness, and tingling can occur and in extreme cases gangrene can set in.
Medication can have dangerous side effects when people have prolonged exposure to the sun and heat. According to the Washington Post, “Some drugs, taken when it’s hot, can provoke serious, sometimes life-threatening reactions. These include drugs widely used for many common conditions, including blood pressure, asthma, depression and allergies, among others. When the temperature rises, they can impair the body’s ability to cope with heat.”
That’s scary right? But there are steps we can take as a community to help alleviate some of these hardships and potential dangers of the summer for the people in our community navigating homelessness.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP.
1. Travel with water: Keep water in your vehicle to pass out to people you see in need as you are out and about this summer.
2. Heat care kits: Get together with a group of friends and create heat care kits to pass out to the unhoused people in your communities. Kits could include items like sunscreen, bug spray, electrolyte packets, ball caps, etc.
3. Support An Organization: Support organizations that provide resources for people experiencing homelessness (cough, cough Community Suds). Supporting programs that provide resources for the unhoused can have a significant impact on communities. Support can include monetary, supply donations, or by volunteering your time.
4. See something, Say Something: If you see someone who is unsheltered this summer and it appears that they are struggling in the heat, ask them if they need help. This small act of kindness could be the difference between life and death for them.
Let’s come together this summer and help protect and support our unhoused community! We can all do our part in... Ending homelessness one load at a time.