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Extreme heat poses risk to homeless

Posted: 10:47 AM, Jul 21, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-22 07:47:14-04

"It's insanity at it's best," says Carl Hullett.

That's how the veteran looks back on the six years he spent living on the streets, dealing with the elements.

"Living under bridges, parking ramps," says Hullett.

With the heat index set to reach near 100 degrees Thursday and Friday, it can be downright dangerous too.

"The heat hits the poor harder," says Patrick Patterson, the Executive Vice President of the Volunteers of America in Lansing.

The VOA has a stockpile of water, ready to help the homeless.

Lansing Emergency Management has officially opened cooling centers across the city for the next two days. So as a center, the VOA is ready to welcome anyone inside who needs a break from the heat.

"We want to maintain a cool building and plenty of water for hydration," says Patterson.

We hear a lot about helping the homeless when temperatures dip below zero, but hot weather is often forgotten.

"Sun exposure can be a real problem for the homeless you know and sun burns and dehydration," says Patterson.

Staff at the Sparrow Clinic attached to the VOA will be on the look out for problems.

"The things that we will see increasing in the hot, humid weather are people with COPD (having) breathing issues, stuff like that and also with the dehydration factor with the heat," says Dan Fox, RN.

Fox, the RN supervisor at the clinic, recommends water.

"Dehydration is very serious," he says.

Carl Hullett is now living at the VOA, but the memories of living outside don't fade. He hopes the community will keep an open mind, and lend a hand, as temperatures soar.

The VOA tells me water supplies are good, but they can always use volunteers and donations. Drop of donations at the shelter location on Larch Street in Downtown Lansing or call (517) 489-5307 if you would like to volunteer.

Multiple cooling centers are open in the Lansing and Jackson areas. For a list of those open in Lansing, click on the link in this story. Jackson locations are listed below.

Call 2-1-1 for a list or if you are in need of help.

Remember this isn't just the homeless at risk, check on the elderly or anyone who is sick when temperatures spike.

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Jackson Area Cooling Centers:

Lifeways-1200 N. West Ave.
Boos Recreation Center-210 Gilbert
King Community Center-1107 Adrian
Drop-In-Center-1009 W. Michigan
Village of Spring Meadows-3501 County Farm Road
Napoleon Township Hall-6755 Brooklyn
Jackson Interfaith Shelter 414 S. Blackstone
Jackson College-All Locations
Jackson Co. Department On Aging-1715 Lansing Ave.
Jackson Area Transportation Authority-127 W. Cortland
Meijer-3333 E. Michigan Ave & 2777 Airport Road