Saturday, July 18, 2009

Homeless In The Summer Heat

*Just something to keep in mind as you see the homeless out there this summer. As the article below indicates, many go without necessary medication, and are overcome by heat exhaustion. A few days ago, a homeless man died in Tulsa because of the heat.

*Update: For some reason, ads came up through this article, for which I do apologize. Yuck. Hopefully it will not happen again.


As heat rises, so does need to reach the homeless

by Connie Midey, The Arizona Republic

As temperatures rocket over 110 degrees this weekend, Ken Curry and his homeless-outreach team from Southwest Behavioral Health Services
know what they'll find.

There will be people with mental illness experiencing heat-triggered reactions to their psychotropic medicines. Diabetics who have given up even trying to keep a supply of insulin on hand. Disabled people in scalding-hot wheelchairs. Older people whose thinning skin makes them more vulnerable than most to heat-related illnesses, and perhaps even a family sweltering in a car.

Team members will distribute seven to 10 cases of water to the people they find today, many of them wrestling not simply with homelessness but with mental illness
or substance abuse. This is work that continues day and night, whether the weather is balmy or sizzling.

"Our primary mission is to get them connected with medical care, housing or whatever services they need," said Curry, coordinator of the homeless-outreach team. "But in the summertime, we're basically trying to keep them alive."

He remembers a summer when extreme heat claimed the lives of 26 homeless people, and another when 19 succumbed to unbearable temperatures. Those memories drive him and his 12 team members to scour alleys, river beds, parks and other hidden corners of Maricopa County, carrying donated chilled water, sack lunches and supplies such as hats, sunscreen and hygiene kits for the people they find.