Homeless People and the Extreme Heat

This has been a rough week in Cleveland for those who are homeless and do not want to go into shelter.  Five days of heat advisories have been tough on the population.  On Monday evening, a man died outside of the main shelter, and we are waiting for the Medical Examiner to make a decision on the cause of death of this 70 year old homeless individual.  The men’s shelter has opened earlier in the day all this week, and is trying to keep the lines down and has offered water to everyone around the facility.  The Volunteers of America outreach are handing out gallons of water this week as they conduct their outreach on the streets.  Care Alliance found a gentleman in an abandoned house who was near death because he was not able to get around and there was no running water in the house. 

 Anyone who wants to go into shelter in Cuyahoga County is admitted.  We will find a place for everyone inside.  It may be a matt on the floor at first, but they will have access to a bed in a couple of days. You will have access to water, showers, and food inside.  There are still hundreds who will not go into shelter because they don’t want to deal with the rules, the hundreds of “roommates” or feel like they are accepting charity.  Many will stay outside no matter if there is a shelter space available.  We have a wonderful team of agencies which send outreach staff out to help those living outside. 

I found this useful article from the Boston Department of Public Health on tips for the public in a time of extreme heat.  I think that it applies to Cleveland as well:

Be Our Eyes and Ears

If a person in need approaches you or you observe someone needing help, and you believe this may be a medical or safety emergency, please contact 911 immediately.

Passed Out or Suffering from the Heat and Sun?

If a person appears passed out, do not assume they are “just drunk,” instead call 911. People can become dehydrated rapidly in extremely hot weather and anyone “passed out,” lying in the sun or badly sunburned is medically at risk.

Water, Water Everywhere

Many homeless people do not have ready access to water. It is both compassionate and helpful to offer bottled water to homeless persons in addition to sunscreen or hats for sun protection.  Suggesting moving into shaded areas may also help someone with sun or heat exposure.  If you do not feel comfortable with approaching a homeless person staying outside, but you worry about them, you can call NEOCH to make sure that an outreach worker makes contact 216/432-0540.   You can deliver water to NEOCH, Care Alliance, any of the Volunteers of America sites or 2100 Lakeside shelter.  Any of these agencies will get the water out to people in need. 

A Place to Stay Inside

Homeless shelters listed on our Street Card offer people who are particularly vulnerable or at risk of heat-related health problems the option of staying in for the day on these hot days.  With the introduction of Central Intake, men go to 2100 Lakeside and women go to 2227 Payne Ave. to get a shelter bed anywhere in the city.

Brian Davis

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