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Monday, August 29, 2011

Quench Our Thirst

In June was the month of the Summer Solstice. And the Summer Solstice means that the days begin growing shorter and the evenings longer. But cool weather is still a long way off. A typical summer high for my area of San Luis Obispo, California can be as high as 102 degrees. That’s awfully hot!

One important lesson I learned while being homeless was the need to remain hydrated – particularly during the summer season. I’d become dehydrated on a couple of occasions and then had to deal with the consequences – which believe it or not, can last for several days afterward.

Once the human body dehydrates it can take a while for it to become sufficiently re-hydrated again. It isn’t as though you can just drink a few glasses of water and everything goes back to normal. That’s not the way it works. Because dehydration occurs at the cellular level, it can take some time for the body’s cells to reacquire the fluids they’ve lost. In some extreme instances, dehydration requires hospitalization and fluid replenishment by way of IV.

One of the disadvantages that so many homeless in our nation face – especially during the summer – is the lack of access to drinking water. Subsequently, most homeless persons actually spend most of the summer months in a constant state of partial dehydration.

Most of us, when we feel thirsty, can simply walk over to the kitchen sink, turn on the tap and fill a glass with water. During the day, as we go about our business, we can always stop somewhere and buy ourselves a bottle of water. At work, we can go to the water dispenser or water fountain and "quench our thirst." The homeless, however, do not have those options.

It’s true that there are numerous public buildings where a homeless person can find a water fountain, and yes, there are even public parks. And, of course, the homeless can get water at the homeless shelters or other homeless support services agencies. But access to those facilities is still limited. Homeless shelters generally aren’t accessible until after a certain time in the evening. Public buildings are only open during business hours.

Most of us have, at one time or another, seen a homeless person sitting in the shade somewhere during the summer months. But how often do we stop to think about whether that person may be thirsty? How often do we offer to buy them a bottle of water? In the long run, it is less costly to buy a bottle of water for a homeless person than it is to be hit up for homeless ER bills that ultimately get written off by a hospital and are passed on to taxpayers.

It’s an inexpensive price to pay to do the right thing!

Excerpt from - one man's insights into the ups and downs of homelessness.
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newguy40 said...

I completely agree. With the hurricane out east and the terrible hot weather in the southwest, there is a need to clean water.

Handing out single bottles of water is a very easy way to "get in" our corporal works of mercy.

Anonymous said...