3 Ways to Help People Experiencing Homelessness During a Heat Emergency

1. Check in with those who appear to be struggling
If you suspect that there is a medical emergency – someone is sweating profusely, their skin appears clammy or pale, they appear disoriented or dizzy, or have fainted – please call 911. If a situation does not appear to be an emergency, but you believe that someone needs help, please call 311.
For those who do not appear to be in immediate distress, offering a bottle of water or providing sunscreen, a cap, or a pair of sunglasses are all welcome acts of kindness.

2. Direct them to a cool location
Avoiding the sun by staying indoors is ideal during hot days, but implausible for those without housing. However, there are public places with air conditioning accessible to anyone, such as several public libraries. Recommending one of the many shaded areas throughout Downtown Boston where people can find respite from the sun can also be helpful. They include the Boston Common, the Public Garden, the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the mall on Commonwealth Ave and the Esplanade along the Charles.

The City of Boston also provides several cooling centers that are available when a heat emergency is declared. In addition to the city-sponsored centers, day centers where people go to escape the heat, including St. Francis House. Our fully air-conditioned facility is open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (2p.m. on Sundays and Wednesdays) and guests are welcome to stay for as long as we are open. Here they have access to cool water, food, showers, and medical care.

3. Donate to local charities and nonprofits
Many local organizations are dedicated to helping individuals who are unhoused and donating to one of them allows you to help indirectly. Donations expand what these organizations can do, whether that be supplying water, producing shelter, offering transportation, or any other activities larger in scale than what one individual is capable of.