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Homeless Population Struggles To Beat The Summer Heat

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

On the first official 100-degree day this summer, health risks are high for those who are unable to find a place to keep cool.

This time of year, the Homeless Alliance day center is filled with people trying to cool off during the hottest hours of the day. They can relax and have some lunch, but closing time is 4 p.m. when there is still plenty of sun beating down.

“It’s like everywhere I go, we get either kicked out or asked to leave, and it sucks,” says Aisha, who stays at the day shelter as long as possible.

The Homeless Alliance and other agencies do their best to stay loaded up with water bottles to hand out as clients leave, and outreach teams check on people in the streets when they can, but supplies go fast. Executive director Dan Straughan says, “Our outreach team at Be The Change is limited by both the number of staff they have and the funds that they have.”

While many transients say it is hard to come up with an all-day game plan for keeping cool, they do find their own ways to make it work. Allen Sprouse says, “That’s when you buy a bag of ice and sleep with it.”

Otherwise, they could face imminent danger. EMSA has responded to more than 50 heat-related emergencies in the past week, saying one of the main problems they see is a lack of pre-hydration. Having access to water, however, is just one piece of the puzzle.

“Even hammering a 12-pack of water, ain’t no guarantees you’re not getting heat exhaustion,” says Sprouse.

The Homeless Alliance is looking for donations of sunscreen and bug spray, as well as bottled water, which goes fast.

The agency just announced a partnership with Whole Foods that allows customers to fill out a voucher for a water donation, and the store will deliver it to the day center. Ask your cashier for details.

To donate directly to the agency, click here.

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