This has been a super hot week- and we’ve even had a couple of extreme heat warnings in the southern deserts with more to come this holiday weekend (it might get to 120o Saturday).  Homeless folks have the highest risk for heat-related illness because they have limited access to cool spaces and finding water to drink can be a challenge.  A number of community organizations and behavioral health partners work overtime when there are extreme heat warnings- and one of the most important logistical challenges during their response is getting water to homeless folks so they can stay hydrated.

A few weeks ago we started our agency-wide bottled water drive to pitch in.  Our department-wide team has donated and hauled in literally tons of bottles of water during the June drive.  As of today – and there’s still one day to go-  we’ve collected more than 60,000 bottles of water (the Arizona State Hospital is still in the lead).  Volunteers from our warehouse will be loading all the water onto a flatbed truck on Friday morning and will deliver it to the community partners that will be distributing water to the homeless this summer.  They’ll be starting at the Hospital and will load the final pallets in front of the 150 N. 18 Ave. Building at around 10:30 a.m.  Thank you!

It’s not just the homeless that are risk for heat-related illnesses, everybody is.  Year in and year out, nearly 1,400 Arizonans get heat related illnesses so serious that they end up in an emergency department.  Hundreds are so ill that they end up being admitted to the hospital.  In 2008, the average per-person hospital treatment cost for heat related illnesses in Arizona was about $7,500, leading to a whopping $11M in treatment costs.  And that’s not all.  On average, between 30 and 80 Arizona residents die from heat related illnesses every summer.

The good news is that preventing heat-related illness is easy to do if you just use common sense.  You can learn how to protect yourself from heat with some resources on our website including our Heat Brochure, Heat Related Illness Tips for Schools and our newly revised Heat Emergency Response Plan.  The CDC has also created an Extreme Heat Media Toolkit for organizations to use in their outreach to prevent heat-related illness and death.