For at least the next month and half, we’ll all be talking about the heat. With temperatures likely to go above triple digits off and on for weeks, this is an important time to make sure our unhoused neighbors are able to stay cool and hydrated.
An estimated half of Americans who die from heat-related causes every year are without homes. The lack of access to cool spaces, water, and treatment for heat stroke and exhaustion is fatal.
And two factors make it more than probable that more people will continue dying without significant change: Summers are getting hotter due to climate change, and more people go without housing every year.
Boise’s in a unique position. We’re small enough, with few enough people chronically unhoused, to build a practice of ensuring that as few people die of heat-related deaths as possible. Here are some ways we can move toward that goal:
The most recent calls for donation from Boise Mutual Aid include ice chests, sun screen, and gear to protect against the sun. (@boisemutualaid / Instagram)
Engage in Mutual Aid
The responsibility to keep our community healthy is a shared one, and thanks to incredible work from mutual aid organizations, the wheel is already working.
Boise Mutual Aid shares weekly asks from community members and distributes food, survival gear, clothes, and more every Monday at 5 p.m. at Rhodes Skate Park. Look at what they’re asking for, and offer what you can.
Boise Kitchen Collective offers free home cooked meals to anyone who needs them at Rhodes Skate Park, on Wednesdays at 5:15 p.m. They also ask for support and donations beyond meal-makers.
Kitchen Collective 2C does the same in Lloyd Square in Nampa every Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Staff at the Interfaith Sanctuary compiled this list of commonly requested items. (Jodi Margolin - Peterson / Facebook)
Offer What You Can
It’s amazing what a conversation can do — if you see someone in the heat outside for a long time, ask them what they might need. If you can get them water, do that; better yet, if you work at a business with a lobby or have an empty couch, offer them a space to get out of the grueling heat, even just for a couple hours.
Keep some frozen water bottles (or even popsicles) at home or at your office, and bring them with you when you go outside. Lowering internal body temperature can help fight off the worst of the dangers posed by heat.
Prepare and keep “Summer Lovin’ Kits” to hand out. These kits are recommended by the folks at Interfaith Sanctuary, and include anything you also might need on an outing in the heat: a hat, sandals or flip flops, sunscreen, sunglasses, reusable water bottles, and more.