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Chicago homeless face dangerous heat this summer

By Liz Palisin
On July 25, 2012

Hot summers are a breeze for most people in Chicago.

But what happens when you don't have a cool air conditioned apartment to go back to? What happens if you don't have a full Brita pitcher to drink from every time you want to quench your thirst? What happens when you don't have light cool clothing?

This is the scenario for many of the men and women in Chicago who are homeless in this scorching summer.

CBS Chicago reported a three day consecutive period of temperatures in the 100s, which is the second warmest three day period in Chicago history.

With temperatures reaching higher than average, it isn't hard to see why living without a break from the heat can be dangerous. If not met with the proper precautions heat like this can kill.

"Extreme heat can lead to sunburn, heat cramps, dehydration, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and sunstroke, and possibly even death," said David R. Legates in his reference "Applications of Climatology."
Already, 18 deaths in the Chicago area have been related to the extreme temperatures.

So what does this mean for people that are homeless?

"Many of these men and women have health problems and mental illness that are aggravated by the weather. It's crucial to have air conditioned spaces for them," said Sandy Ramsey, the executive director at Cornerstone Community Outreach, or CCO, a shelter for the homeless.

"Many of the seniors sit outside and are like frogs in a frying pan, it's a serious situation," said Ramsey.

We need to be more aware of the threat that heat poses for the people in our community and be ready to help.

CCO recommends handing out cold water to homeless, especially those who are mentally ill and may not choose to go to a shelter to avoid the heat. We can't ignore the fact that people are dying because they do not have access to resources.

So, next time you pick up a jumbo Slurpee at the 7-11, think about grabbing extra water and giving it to a person who is homeless or even volunteering at a shelter like CCO for a couple hours. Every bit of awareness helps.
 


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