Code Red: Extremely high temperatures affecting the homeless population


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The heat advisories may be over for now, but there’s still a long stretch of summer ahead. Temperatures in the 90s cause major concern for the homeless population.

Anna Valeria-Iseman with the Open Door Mission says they’re ready to meet emergency needs for anyone at anytime, that includes during a heat wave. You don’t have to be without a home to reach out for help.

“So if someone were to call us and say, ‘my air conditioning is out, I don’t have the funds to pay for a box fan,’ we would absolutely help them out with that,” she said.

She says a lot of people in the shelter have medical or mental health issues. You never know what effect extreme heat could have.

“Whether the heat is the issue, or just knowing people have a place to go, we just like people to know that we’re here,” she said.

They also help with transportation and bus passes. Some may walk miles in heat to go to job interviews, or doctors appointments.

Daniel Palermo with Heaven for Homeless says it doesn’t hurt to stash a water bottle or two in your car. Small gestures go a long way.

“Have a water bottle, and if you see someone, a lot of times that means more than money, believe it or not,” said Palermo. “Only because they’re really thirsty. Also foods that have a lot of calories to sustain them, nuts granola, things like that.”

And sometimes there’s a true medical emergency.

Mark Philippy, Operations Manager with Rochester AMR says if they’re called to a shelter, they’ll be checking to make sure everyone is okay.

“When we go to these places we look around and see who is there who may need some assistance,” said Philippy. “Most of the calls in the last several days have been these street corner calls – good Samaritans are calling 911 asking us to check on folks.”

He says most of the time, people are just sleeping and staying cool under a tree. But other times, they’re suffering from heat exhaustion, in which medical assistance is needed right away.

Philipy some signs to look for before calling 911: Is the person pale? Is their complexion off? The person may be sweating too much or not at all. And of course if a person is completely unresponsive, call 911.

Philippy says heat can affect how the body processes medication, too. Another reason why finding shelter in a cool area and drinking water is extremely important.

Both Open Door Mission and Heaven for the Homeless are accepting donations.

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