What Do Homeless Need When a Heatwave Comes?

by | Aug 19, 2021 | Formation, Homelessness, Reflections

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s getting really hot out there.

Extreme high temperatures are sweeping throughout most of the United States and Canada.

If you’re someone who mostly just bounces between the air-conditioned house, car, and office, you may not have noticed very much. But I’ll tell you who did – the unsheltered people in your community without access to air-conditioned spaces for much of the day and night.

When a cold snap hits, people usually spring into action. Emergency shelters open up, warm coats are given out, and lots of people band together to help alleviate the effects of extreme weather on their unsheltered neighbors.

Writing for Invisible PeopleKayla Robbins Robbins, freelance writer, asks what can we do when a heatwave comes?

Here are some highlights…

The Dangers of a Heatwave

She notes that hot weather is statistically the deadliest form of extreme weather event in the United States, ranking high above hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

Here are some things she suggest you can do to help homeless people in a heatwave:

Give Out Bottled Water

Dehydration can be deadly, and it happens faster than ever during a heatwave. People who are homeless often find themselves in a catch-22 during hot weather. They may need water, but if they have to walk a long way to get it, they could end up sweating and exhausting themselves faster than just staying put.

Put an end to that vicious cycle by supplying bottled water to anyone you can. If you have a way to keep it cold as you’re handing it out, that’s even better!

Supply Sun Protection

On even a regular summer day, the sun can be brutal. During a heatwave, it’s even worse. Not everyone will have the ability to stay indoors or in a shady spot all day. So sun protection items like sunscreen, sun hats, sunglasses, and even umbrellas can be extremely valuable.

These items all help prevent things like sunburn, sunstroke, and skin cancer, as well as keeping you a bit more comfortable during the day.

Bring On the Baby Wipes

Have you ever gone to the gym, worked up a good sweat, and not had time to shower afterward? You spend the rest of your day in a sweaty, smelly funk until you can finally rinse off, right?

Now imagine what it would be like to spend your day outside in the middle of a heatwave. Not the most comfortable.

Baby wipes can help people freshen up in between showers to keep them more comfortable. It may not last long, but the brief bit of respite is worth it to many. If you start offering baby wipes to people you meet on the street, you may be surprised by the positive reaction you get!

Hand Out Hand Fans …

Give Money…

Pressure Your City to Open Up Emergency Shelters…

Look Out for Each Other…


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