Homeless need refuge from rising temperatures

Many students complain about how small dorms are or how bad dining-hall food is. Some Phoenicians, however, are more concerned with their survival as the temperatures begin to rise.

Temperatures have already begun to reach into the low 90s this spring and, as usual, they will continue to rise well past 100 degrees. For local homeless people, the summer heat can be life threatening.

A 2005 heat wave killed 18 people in Phoenix, most of whom were homeless, according to the Associated Press.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,442 people died in the U.S. from 1999 to 2003 resulting from exposure to extreme heat.

With more than 2,700 homeless people in the county, including 236 homeless children, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments, support for the homeless is vital during the summer. Whether they have a place to sleep, eat or just find refuge from the heat, any place with air conditioning is an oasis.

Ryan Narramore, communications director for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, said there is a definite increase in attendance at St. Vincent de Paul locations throughout the Valley, particularly at the Phoenix dining hall.

“Water is really hard to come by for homeless people,” Narramore said.

Droughts are nothing new to Arizona, and while many people will struggle to maintain their lawns, those without a home will struggle to make it through the day.

Phoenix average high temperatures hover around 107 degrees throughout much of July, according to Weather.com, and 115-degree days are not uncommon. But they say it’s a dry heat, right?

In addition to its physical effects on people, the heat can put those with mental disorders into even more trouble. Salt-based medications like lithium, which is used as a mood stabilizer, can be especially thrown off by dehydration. Even without medical issues, anyone out in the Arizona sun for an entire day can be affected negatively.

Volunteers and donators may not be the solution to the problem, but they help. The St. Vincent de Paul Society in Phoenix has around 250 volunteers per day at various locations, Narramore said. But as the temperatures rise, volunteers are increasingly valuable. This is the best way to save lives without giving blood, and it’s far less gross.

“People like to help during holidays,” Narramore said. “[Homeless people] don’t just go away for the year. Financial donations are the best way to help.”

Jack will stop complaining about the dorms now. Contact him at jlfitzpa@asu.edu

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