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Edmonton heat warning has inner-city agencies gearing up to help the homeless

Click to play video 'Agencies work to protect Edmonton’s homeless people during hot stretch' Agencies work to protect Edmonton’s homeless people during hot stretch
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta's Capital Region is under a heat warning and for the next several days, local aid agencies are working to protect Edmonton's homeless community. Julia Wong reports – Jul 7, 2017

Local aid agencies are preparing to help Edmonton’s vulnerable and homeless population beat the heat over the next few days.

The 24/7 Crisis Diversion Team, which works in partnership with Hope Mission, the City of Edmonton, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Edmonton Police Service and EMS, filled its vans with cases of water on Friday.

The team responds to non-emergency calls when people are in distress; those involved are worried about the heat this weekend.

“We had a couple heat stroke calls Thursday. This weekend, we’ll get a few more,” said assistant manager Sindi Addorisio.

“We are telling the guys working on the vans… educating them on the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion so they can pass it onto our community members.”

A heat warning was issued for Edmonton and surrounding areas on Thursday. Edmonton could see at least two – and possibly three – days of 30 C or more, according to Global Edmonton meteorologist Tina Simpkin.

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READ MORE: Edmonton under heat warning as hot summer weather arrives

Addorisio said there’s a need for donations of bottled water, adding the team handed out six cases of water on Thursday alone. Donations of sunscreen and hats are also needed.

Curtis Cardinal, a member of the Crisis Diversion Team, said he responded to a call of heat stroke the other day.

“When we got there, the lady was really tired, fatigued. Her face was red. She could barely walk,” he said.

“She was okay. We did all of her vitals, gave her extra water and gave her extra food for nourishment.”

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Dean Kurpjuweit, the managing director of The Mustard Seed Edmonton, said the organization is in need of donations, including bottled water.

“Bottles of water are just fantastic. We can’t give away enough of those at this time,” he said, adding donations of underwear and socks are greatly needed in the summer.

“When there’s a big heat wave going on, you don’t have a place to wash your clothes. Being able to replenish those things that are going to get really, really dirty and sticky is great.”

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The Mustard Seed also runs drop-in centres and neighbour centres, and Kurpjuweit has been having stories from people trying to cope with the heat.

“Generally what we hear is they’re hot. They love a place where they can come and get a glass of water and maybe some cool food,” he said.

Kurpjuweit said those who are homeless are more at risk than the general population when temperatures soar.

“They can’t go anywhere to get out, to escape. You and I, we walk into our houses, many of which are air conditioned, so we’re less susceptible to things like heat stroke. There isn’t a place for them to necessarily go.”