Kamloops social service agency feeling the heat from sweltering temperatures - InfoNews

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Kamloops social service agency feeling the heat from sweltering temperatures

August 09, 2019 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS — Extreme heat has put pressure on the homeless population in Kamloops as well as the agencies that serve them.

This week, Kamloops and much of the Okanagan saw some of the hottest temperatures of the summer with highs hitting the high-30s.

“Similar to the cold, it affects people,” Diane Down, managing director of The Mustard Seed in Kamloops, says.

Yesterday, Aug. 8, The Mustard Seed served 70 people during the lunch hour which is nearly double what they usually experience.

“Definitely there has been an increase,” she says. “We are the only social service agency that is open like a drop-in.”

Although The Mustard Seed normally sees big groups around lunchtime they have also been seeing more people later, between 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“That is usually the hottest part of the day so folks come in and get their lunch with us regularly but what we do see is an increase in the number of folks in the later evening,” she says.

The managing director says for individuals who are using The Mustard Seed services, staff are making sure when they do stop in they are hydrated and are taking water bottles with them when they leave.

When the weather hits extremes like this week, Down says staff pay more attention to clients coming into the building.

“The heat really exacerbates other health issues that are already existing,” she says.

This past week, Down says a homeless man who is known for walking around the city on foot was waiting at The Mustard Seed to speak with the street nurse and fainted.

“We called the ambulance and now there was a lot of complicating health factors but certainly walking around in the heat exacerbated that,” she says.

Sue Pollock, a medical health officer with Interior Health says for anyone who identifies as homeless, some recommendations to keep cool include doing less strenuous activity during the heat of the day.

“There are lots of parks that would have shady spaces and tree cover where people could seek refuge from the heat so that would be an option,” she says. “Use water to help the body cool down so that might be going to the lake or creek or whatever is available."

She also says people should take advantage of public water fountains, community recreation centres when during the hottest hours of the day and use wet a towel with cold water to cool off the skin.

Some early symptoms of heat illness could include heavy sweating, nausea, headaches, feeling weak, pale skin, red hot skin, and feeling confused.

“Certainly those are indications to seek medical care and reach out for some help,” she says.

For anyone wishing to donate water bottles or hats to The Mustard Seed can do so by visiting their website here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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