Some of the unhoused in Phoenix are putting themselves in harm’s way to stay cool

Some of the unhoused in Phoenix are putting themselves in harm’s way to stay cool

Phoenix rescue crews have had several water rescues in just a day, and many of these people feel like they have no other way to cool down.

“It’s really hard to live out here. It’s 114, and it’s hard to breathe and people are dying,” a homeless woman said. “I’ve been going through a lot, and it’s not easy to be homeless out here.”

People on the streets are struggling to surviveespecially as Phoenix hit the hottest day of the year on July 11.

Desperate times often call for desperate measures, it seems.

MORE: Homeless advocates work to keep community cool, hydrated and safe during Phoenix heat wave

SO: Maricopa County heat deaths on the rise as blistering summer temperatures persist

Phoenix Fire Capt. Evan Gammage says many homeless people are doing whatever they can to cool down, and sometimes that means getting into bodies of water not meant for humans, like canals.

“Some of our most at-risk citizens here in our city, our homeless community, at times try to get into the canals to cool off on these extremely hot days,” he said.

However, Gammage says this is extremely dangerous, not only for the people getting into the canal but for the rescue crew members who have to get them out.

“Even though that water can look calm over the top, the undercurrent is much stronger,” Gammage said. “You have algae at the bottom of those canals and those steep slopes can make it very difficult for people to get in and out.”

The fire department has seen drownings and near-drownings. With the added safety threat for first responders, they’re pleading with the public to stay out of the canals, and so are local nonprofits.

“That’s not safe. That’s not where we want them to be. We’d love for them to be at the heat relief sites. Maricopa County has a list of them and they’re wonderful places with folks that are really interested in trying to help people stay cool,” a spokesperson for Circle the City said.

If you see someone in a canal, you’re asked to call 911 immediately.

More information on homeless resources in Arizona can be found here.

Heat Relief Network:

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