Helping Your Homeless Neighbors in the Summer
For the homeless, summer is not filled with lazy beach days, vacations and BQQ’s – the warm weather brings with it a unique set of threats:
- Dehydration – According to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, “Persons who live on the streets or in shelters are at increased risk for dehydration in warmer climates, particularly during summer months.” Without the proper amount of fluids, a person’s body is thrown into dehydration. Many homeless people are on medication and/or drink alcohol, exposing them to an even higher risk of dehydration. Dehydration can become severe, including delirium, seizures, brain damage, and even death.
- Exposure-Related Illnesses – Without relief from the heat, homeless neighbors may suffer sunburn, cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Hygiene Dangers – The inability to use clean bathroom facilities and take showers is another threat to homeless people’s welfare. Sweating is a natural way for our bodies to maintain body temperature by cooling us down. However, sweating quickly becomes life-threatening for homeless men, women and children that only have one pair of clothes, under garments and socks. Clothes and socks soaked with sweat can lead to rashes, infections, and other health problems. Trench Foot is a condition caused by prolonged exposure to damp, cold, unsanitary conditions. If untreated, gangrene can set in.
While permanent housing is the solution to these threats, many local nonprofits offer care kits designed to support the many homeless individuals and families who are on streets or sleeping in cars while waiting to top the long list for housing assistance. Consider reaching out to your local dropin center or homeless assistance team and offering to donate supplies such as water bottles, sunscreen, clean socks, woven or cotton hats, lip balm, nonperishable food items. And don’t forget to ask for suggestions of other items they may need to put together hygiene or care packages for the homeless families or individuals living in your area.