"Unhoused in Phoenix’s Perilous Heat: ‘If I Don’t Keep Cool, I’ll Die’"

"Phoenix is the US’s deadliest city for heat fatalities while its urban sprawl makes it a concrete heat island".

"It was mid afternoon when first responders found David Spell slumped and unresponsive under a bus shelter. The temperature outside was nearing 110F (43C) – the hottest day of the year so far in Phoenix, and 50-year-old Spell was disorientated, dizzy and dehydrated.

Spell had felt hot and weary during his shift at a car auction after driving an old Buick without air conditioning, but couldn’t take a break. After finishing work he bought three cans of spiked blue razz, an 8% alcopop, and sat on the bus shelter bench to drink under the partial shade. He remembers eating some canned mackerel and opening the third alcopop, and then nothing until being roused by the EMTs. He had passed out with heat exhaustion.

Spell, who describes himself as a functioning alcoholic, was taken to an air conditioned emergency homeless shelter to cool down. By nightfall, he was still lightheaded but cycled back to his usual resting spot – a quiet sheltered church doorway with cool air seeping out through the perspex letter box and an electric socket to charge his phone.

It was an uncomfortable night, with the temperature only dropping to 84F (29C), and no breeze or running water to cool down."

Nina Lakhani reports for the Guardian with photographs by Caitlin O'Hara June 20, 2022.


Source: Guardian, 06/21/2022