“We’re not superheroes. We’re only humans. It’s important to be aware of the dangers of excessive heat,” explained Robert McCoy, a client at Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter.
This week, McCoy was on a mission, walking in Falls Church with a heat index of 105 degrees without water in search of a job — a relentless quest to pull himself out of poverty.
“I was out all day in the heat, I was dehydrated, and I didn’t realize it, so my legs started to cramp up real bad,” he said.
A terrifying, but not uncommon ordeal, many at the Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter have had similar experiences with just this week
“A lot of homeless people don’t have vehicles. You walk around from place to place, looking for jobs, and sometimes, it’s just too much. It gets up to 96 degrees, you walk out there for about five minutes and you just [are] done,” said McCoy.
In fact, it’s not the first time McCoy has suffered from heat-related illness.
“Being out, walking around and not being hydrated [makes you] overheated. That was it — get a headache, start feeling dehydrated, and then I was passed out,” he stated.
The Center for Disease Control said the homeless population is at a greater risk of heat-related illnesses than others.
When a heat advisory is issued, Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter is converted into a cooling station open for all with food, ice water, AC and computers to job hunt.
“I think we certainly need to better educate people that cooling centers exist so that they’re not outside. Recognizing the symptoms of heat stroke so that they’re not outside is really important,” said Bailey’s Crossroads Community Shelter Director Jimmy Rogers.
“Signs” such as being lightheaded, dizzy and thirsty.
“I just wanna tell people to put your pride to the side, if you really need help go out there and get help, because it’s dangerous,” said LaShay Hagan, shelter client.
Hagan pointed out the fact that many homeless men and women only possess clothing for cold weather, making it easier for them to overheat.
Check out all the warming and cooling centers in Fairfax County.