Guest writer from The Salvation Army
For most of us, in the morning, water is one of the first items we use; as we brush our teeth, shower, or make our coffee. We’re inside with fans and AC, shielded from the sun that debuted at 5:30 AM.
But for someone experiencing homelessness, they’ve experienced none of those small moments we take for granted as we get the day going; for them, they’ve never stopped. Being outside throughout the night and morning is an ongoing task of survival. The average air temperature in July is 105 degrees; asphalt temperatures can run 40-60 degrees hotter than the surrounding air temperature. That means that for an individual experiencing homelessness, the ground can easily be 145 degrees, around the second-degree burn injury level.
This is why The Salvation Army of Southern Nevada provides around-the-clock shelter and services for anyone who has found themselves in between housing. Our shelter is at 35 W Owens, off Main Street and Owens, on a five-acre campus that provides homeless services and Veterans programs. Our day shelter is open year-round, providing relief from the heat and warmth in the cold months. On average, we see 250 individuals use our day shelter a day, providing a space to cool down, do laundry, shower, and work with a case manager. The campus can house about 500 individuals at night, and every night each bed is filled with someone in need.
While we expect individuals to take shelter during the day, we often forget that when the sun goes down, it doesn’t necessarily mean the heat stops. Studies have found that sleeping with temperatures above 85 degrees during the night can lose up to half a gallon of fluids. Health experts often recommend people drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, about half a gallon. A person not used to the heat can sweat that vital half gallon of fluid in one hour.
The Salvation Army works digitality to ensure everyone’s health and safety; during the summer, we typically hand out 7,680 water bottles weekly.
We provide heat relief 24/7 for five months of the year, far longer than many other places in the country. One bottle of water can save someone from a trip to the hospital or worse and reminds them they are a person of value who deserves dignity and access to the basic life necessities.
For anyone needing shelter or assistance, call (702) 701-5369 or visit our website. If you’d like to donate vital cases of water, bring them to 35 W Owens or donate online here. Maybe you’d like to give your time instead, you can volunteer with The Salvation Army sign-up here.