Friday, June 26, 2009

It's Hot In Houston!

6/29 Update: The always great End Homelessness on has a post about heat and homelessness. Also, the heat advisory is still on for Houston today.

It was hot in Houston this week. Hot. As in 102 degrees hot on Thursday, with a heat index of 108 or so. It was hotter in Baghdad yesterday (113 degrees), but not by that much. Most people in Houston are probably finding some relief from the heat in air-conditioned offices, apartments and homes. But what about people who don't have a place to live? High temperatures like this aren't just uncomfortable when you're homeless; they can be deadly. Your body can lose up to a gallon of water each hour through perspiration in such temperatures. There is danger from heat exhaustion, stroke and other health issues resulting from dehydration.

The City has issued a heat advisory through Saturday night, and more than 1,800 CVM clients learned what they can do to stay safe from a series of messages sent from the Houston Community Voice Mail manager. On Thursday, he sent a broadcast voice message that reached everyone, a broadcast email message that reached 568 CVM clients, and posted a message on the Houston CVM blog that reached others in the area. As with messages sent to Houston CVM clients before Hurricane Ike in 2008, it's likely that these simple messages saved a life, or at least prevented someone from getting seriously ill.

Many of our clients are homeless, or may otherwise find it hard to get accurate information about important things in a timely manner. We used to think that providing our clients with a phone number made up most of the value of our service. Increasingly, it's the ability to send information to our clients, and to get responses from them, that is making all the difference. And this is happening all over the country, in 45 CVM cities.

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