The Weather Network

Above: check out our Weather Network interview on youth homelessness and extreme heat.

When it comes to weather and homelessness, we often think about winter, snow, and sub-zero winds. But young people experiencing homelessness face risks to health and well-being in periods of hot weather. Here are essential facts that can help you support someone in situations of extreme heat.

1. Signs of heat-related illness.

Stereotypes about youth experiencing homelessness can cause people to miss the signs of heat-related distress (such as heat stroke) or attribute them to something else. Signs and symptoms to recognize include dizziness; fainting; nausea and vomiting; headache; rapid breathing and heartbeat; and extreme thirst.

2. Immediate steps to reduce heat-related illness.

You can assist someone affected by heat illness by:

  • helping them get to a cooler location (e.g. shaded area, air conditioned area).
  • applying cold water to large areas of skin or clothing.
  • fanning them to help cool them down.
3. Helpful community resources.

During Heat Alerts, the City of Toronto opens cooling stations in community centres, libraries, and other public places. These are places you can go to reduce body temperature. For instance, during Heat Alerts, the drop-in service at Eva’s Satellite helps people get reprieve from the sun.

Shelters and drop-ins may offer free sunscreen during the summer. It’s important to note that sunscreen can be helpful for all skin tones, and those of us with darker skin can also face sun-related risks such as skin cancer. Participants of summer programming at Eva’s Place are given access to sun gear (e.g. hats, caps) and sunscreen to help reduce sun risks. At Eva’s Satellite, the outreach team that proactively goes out into the community to support youth and others experiencing homelessness provides water and useful hygiene items.

Finally, Street Helpline is a great service to know about. It is a free telephone line for people in Toronto experiencing homelessness and provides tips, support, counselling, transportation to shelters, food, and sleeping bags. You can call toll-free at 1-866-392-3777.

It’s your donations that enable Eva’s to help youth experiencing homelessness across all seasons, including the often-forgotten periods of heat. Thank you for making a difference all year round.

Source: City of Toronto Website

Image credit: “Toronto” by Robert Lowe is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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