With temperatures expected to reach in the 90s every day this week, Nashville’s homeless population is at a greater risk for dehydration and heat stroke.
This type of extreme heat can be life threatening and it’s on days like this when Nashville Rescue Mission launches “Hot Patrol.”
“The Mission’s Hot Patrol van goes out when the temperature is over 90 degrees,” said Mike Tatar, the Mission’s lead case manager. “We patrol the streets of Nashville handing out cold bottles of water to the homeless, and encouraging them to come back to the Mission for shelter, refreshment and spiritual guidance. We also make water available to our guests throughout the day to insure they stay hydrated.”
“We serve over 900 people each and every day,” said Glenn Cranfield, president and CEO of Nashville Rescue Mission. “These are just the ones who come to the Mission seeking help. It doesn’t include the men, women and children who choose to stay on the street. Our Hot Patrol offers them a bottle of cold water. It might just be the small act of kindness that convinces them to seek shelter and could potentially save their life.”
With hotter temperatures and increasing demand, the need for bottled water is enormous. Officials with the shelter said supplies are low and the need is great and that the Nashville Rescue Mission needs help from the Nashville community to build up its supply of bottled water in order to help those in need today, as well as those who will be in need throughout the summer.
“It’s not uncommon to hear of someone dying from heat exposure,” said Cranfield. “In the past, this might have happened in a city like Phoenix or Albuquerque, but it’s also happening in places like Nashville. Sadly, it’s a reality of being homeless.”
Officials also said the warmer temperatures bring along a whole set of survival concerns for the homeless: how to stay cool and hydrated in the heat.
“After a long day outside in this heat, I’m definitely irritable, disoriented and unable to eat,” said John, who’s been homeless for 3 years. “It’s nice to be able to come to the Mission where there’s air conditioning and cold water.”
“Giving these needed items to the homeless can sometimes spark enough of a connection to help get people off the streets,” said Cranfield. “You could give a homeless person a cold bottle of water and a clean pair of socks, and suddenly he decides he doesn’t want to be homeless anymore.”
Donations of bottled water can be received at the Mission’s Donation Center, located at 616 7th Avenue South in Nashville. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or you can make an online donation at nashvillerescuemission.org/donate.