Intense heat sparks concern for most vulnerable Windsorites

·4 min read
Travis Lacey (right) and Trevor Tebbens (left) have been handing out cold drinks to Windsorites along the river. (TJ Dhir/CBC - image credit)
Travis Lacey (right) and Trevor Tebbens (left) have been handing out cold drinks to Windsorites along the river. (TJ Dhir/CBC - image credit)

Some residents in Windsor say they're concerned about the intense and prolonged heat waves the region is experiencing.

Windsor-Essex is in its third day of a five-day heat warning that was issued by the local health unit Monday. Temperatures in the early 30s C are expected throughout the week until Sunday, with the humidex making it feel closer to 40.

The extreme heat has some residents worried about heat-related illnesses and those who are most vulnerable.

"Free water is a huge thing," said Grace Sagullo. "Especially with COVID, there's not a lot of water stands. I don't know where everyone's getting their water from. I can buy a cold drink, but a lot of people can't."

Parents also expressed concerns about dehydration for their young children.

"Having a toddler son, you always worry that [they're] never getting enough water," said Leah Ramsay.

TJ Dhir/CBC
TJ Dhir/CBC

Getting heat exhaustion from sitting outside for a prolonged period of time is also at the front of people's minds.

"I have to wait for the bus for quite a bit," said Angeline Thibert.

TJ Dhir/CBC
TJ Dhir/CBC

Windsorites Travis Lacey and Trevor Tebbens of the Heritage Park Alliance Church were helping people fight the warm temperatures. The duo were handing out water and other cool drinks to people by the waterfront on Tuesday.

They say their biggest concern about the heat is for those who don't have shelter.

"They're not able to get out of the heat as easily," said Lacey. "Some of them are older. They're not as aware of when their bodies aren't regulating the heat well. So we're out here getting them some water and making sure that they're hydrated."

While it is easy for many people to head indoors to fight the heat, Tebbens pointed out that some people don't have that option.

"We have the luxury of just going inside and having some AC, but the homeless don't," said Tebbens.

Climate change another concern

"People need to start cleaning up the world," said Caine Cayley. "We need to actually start a global campaign; going on the internet, going on Twitter, showing people pictures of what's happening in the world."

The intense heat is not isolated to Windsor. Big cities across Canada have been experiencing rising temperatures this year. This creates heat islands in certain communities in major cities.

CBC News has previously spoken with a geospatial and data analyst at the University of Windsor about how certain parts of Windsor experience warmer temperatures than their rural counterparts.

Check out if you're living in a neighbourhood that is vulnerable to heat

Windsorites turn to program for utility subsidy

Over the last few months, one program that helps people pay for a portion of their utility bill is seeing an increase in the number of people needing support.

Keep the Heat is a program run by non-profit organization Housing Information Services and the Unemployed Help Centre (UHC) and is funded through utility providers, as well as the municipal and provincial government.

Between April and July of this year, the program has had nearly double the applicants compared to last year, with 274 people asking for support.

"This year we have been overwhelmed with the increased demand for service," said Anna Angelidis, the executive director of Housing Information Services.

Angelidis told CBC News she believes more people are looking for support due to the rising cost of housing.

"A lot of families and seniors who are on fixed income are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet to be able to pay their rent on fixed income and also pay their utilities," she said.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

With the continued heat wave the region is experiencing, Angelidis said they expect they will see a higher amount in the average payments and will continue to see more people reach out for the service.

People can only access support once throughout the calendar year per utility provider, as well as meet other eligibility requirements, Angelidis said.

She said they have increased the number of staff working to get through the applications and that they are focusing on people who have received a disconnection notice from their provider or seniors who require hydro for medical equipment.

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