Volunteers working 24 hours to help the homeless survive the heat

Toronto is facing a hot and humid summer thanks to the recent heat wave that forced Environment Canada to declare a warning. The daytime temperature is hovering around the lower to mid-30s while the humidex value has risen to the mid-40s. The night time is also no relief with temperatures soaring to 20 C. This comes at a time only when last month saw some torrential rains and storms.

It’s only going to get worse!

The oppressive heat has been harsh on the vulnerable populations and the homeless and refugees are feeling the brunt. The hot weather is going to last for some time as Environment Canada has said in its reports. Even people with health issues are finding the weather unbearable- experts warn there could be deaths from the extreme heat just like from extreme cold.

But the groups and volunteers working for the homeless people have put their efforts to make it a little better by offering summer survival kits including drinking water. Dehydration can also be a cause of death so the water is really something needful.

Some real stories

CBC News interviewed some of the homeless people and volunteers on the street handing out kits and drinking water. Omar Adan has been rendered homeless recently after he lost his job and is quite worried about the heat wave. He is not sure how he is going to handle the hot weather as the rooms in the homeless shelter get really hot during the day. He said that they have around eight people sleeping in the same room which makes matters worse. The influx of refugees has also added to the problem.

The founder of the charity organization Engage and Change, Jody Steinhauer, have been giving out blue backpacks to homeless people containing summer survival gears. She is also targeting the newly arrived refugees and helping them out with drinking water. She plans to hand out around 3,000 survival kits though they need more of them.

Steinhauer said the situation is really sad and this was the worst season she was experiencing. She has been volunteering to help the homeless people for 20 years and is concerned to find all the agencies full because of the refugee influx. Other volunteers have joined Steinhauer to deliver bottled water under the initiative Project Water. They want to hand out 300,000 bottles of water so that no one dies from dehydration during the summer.

The shelters have started to offer additional services in the wake of the heat wave. The hours of the shelters have been relaxed so that the homeless can stay indoors under shade during the day. Volunteers have also taken to the street and working 24 hours to help people in need. Cooling centers have also started operating in the municipal buildings around the country and offer water and juice.

Toronto’s weather, as is widely known, is unpredictable and we do hope that the heat spell doesn’t last long!