This past weekend was a hot one here in Kansas City and when we arrived in the office Monday morning, the air conditioner was broken. Working in an office building all day without AC was difficult but it was also a good reminder of what is ahead.
The summer months are a very dangerous time for the less fortunate living in the urban areas and here are a few of the reasons why:
-Kansas City, like most large cities, is built of materials like brick, asphalt, and cement that absorb heat during the day and then release it again at night. This means that the urban areas in general tend to be hotter during summer months than rural areas. (Click here to learn more about Urban Heat Islands.)
-Cities are also often where the densest population of homeless and low-income individuals live since these areas provide access to services and public transportation.
-Homeless individuals are often outside during the hottest times of day trying to get to and from various service providers either on foot, or by way of public transportation.
-Many low-income individuals live in sub-par housing without air conditioning and rely solely on fans to cool their households. Unfortunately the use of fans during times of extreme heat can also have serious health repercussions. (Click here to learn more about the risks associated with the use of fans.)
With all this disheartening information you’re probably wondering what you can do to help. My best advice is educate yourself so you can be a better neighbor to your fellow city dwellers. Here are a few helpful resources:
–United Way 211 is available across the country and can be useful for information on cooling centers where people can go during the hottest days.
-The American Red Cross also provides helpful information about Heat Wave Safety.
-You can also check with your local government to see what services may be available during times of extreme heat.
Most importantly, just be a good neighbor. Check in on those who are elderly or disabled and look out for those you encounter each day.