How to help homeless people during the heat wave

Water, water, cooling shelters ... here's a guide to helping people on the streets survive record temperatures

Yesterday, San Francisco broke an all-time high in temperature records and hit 106 degrees. It was hot, really hot—and it still is. The heat wave continues on this weekend, with Saturday slated to reach up to 93 degrees and Sunday, 83 degrees. While housed folks may complain about the rising temperatures—especially since most homes in San Francisco have no air conditioning, it’s crucial to remember and support the folks on the streets living in tent encampments, shelters, sidewalks, and parks who have no relief from the heat or easy access to water. The heat can be similar, or worse, than freezing temperatures. Being exposed to heat for long periods of time without access to shade or water  can cause serious health concerns, including dizziness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, and, in some cases, even death. Here are some ways that you can take care of your community and support houseless folks this weekend:

  1. Check-in with folks.

    Ask people what they need and how you can support. Most  people know what they need already; they just might have some trouble getting it. Support homeless folks this weekend by providing exactly what they need, which often times may be very different from what you think they need. If they want to share, also ask how people are feeling. Elderly folks, children, pregnant women, people with health conditions, and people who use drugs and alcohol will be most affected by the heat wave.

    Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone you know is having a medical emergency or showing signs of a heat stroke. Be sure to state that this is a medical emergency and that police should not be involved. 
     
    Symptoms include: 
    ·         Extremely high body temperature 103°+ 
    ·         Difficulty breathing 
    ·         Red, hot, dry skin (with no sweating) 
    ·         Rapid, strong pulse 
    ·         Throbbing headache 
    ·         Dizziness
    ·         Nausea
    ·         Mental Confusion 
    ·         Delirium
    ·         Hallucinations
    ·         Chills
    ·         Unconsciousness

  2. Distribute water! 

Buy a case of water and hand it out to people on the streets and at encampments. You can purchase a case of water from Walgreens, Target, Costco, Safeway and many other grocery stores, often for less than $5. It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated while it’s hot, and often homeless folks do not have easy access to drinking water, especially if they are living in a tent encampment and cannot leave because they must guard their belongings. Let us know if you need to know location sites and where to drop off water and other supplies by emailing [email protected] The Dept of Emergency Management recommends hats as well as damp, cool clothes to put on the heck and forehead to cool down.

   Provide resources about San Francisco’s cooling centers and indoor spaces.  

The following City and County of San Francisco facilities will act as cooling centers due to the high temperatures expected tomorrow, September 2. For information about cooling centers and city services and information call 3-1-1.
 
San Francisco Recreation and Department Swimming Pools 
All pools will be open and free to the public Saturday, September 2:
·         King Pool – 5701 3rd Street 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
8:30AM–4PM
·         North Beach pool – 651 Lombard Ave 8:15AM–5:30PM
·         Coffman Pool – 1701 Visitation Ave 9:30AM–5PM
9:00AM–4:45PM
·         Garfield Pool- 26th9–10AM, 3:30–5PM
 
San Francisco Public Libraries 
The following libraries have air conditioning:
·         San Francisco Main Library – 100 Larkin Street 10AM-6PM
·          Bay – 960 Fourth Street 10AM-6PM
·         North Beach – 850 Columbus Avenue 10AM-6PM
·         Potrero Hill  – 1616 20th Street 10AM-6PM
·         Chinatown – 1135 Powell Street 10AM-6PM
·         Glen Park – 2825 Diamond Street 10AM-6PM
 
Additional City and County of San Francisco Cooling Centers
The following cooling centers will be open in partnership with non-profit partners:
·         The Salvation Army, 1156 Valencia Street 10AM-6PM
·         The Salvation Army, 360 Fourth Street 10AM-6PM
·         The Salvation Army, 1450 Powell Street 10AM–6PM
·         Jewish Community Center of San Francisco -3200 10AM-6PM
·         Yerba Buena Ice Rink, 750 Folsom Street (12:00 pm to 11:00 pm Only for Seniors)
 
For East Bay resources, click here. 
Your solidarity with homeless folks this weekend is crucial is supporting people’s livelihoods and wellbeing. Grab some friends and get out there!