'It can easily go from heat stroke to death': Water donations urged for vulnerable populations amid heat wave

Calgary's hot weather forecast has local organizations that work with the city's homeless and vulnerable populations scrambling to collect donations of water.

Alpha House manager encourages people to call if they're concerned about someone's well being

A man lays in the shade of the Alpha House headquarters, a block from where the Calgary Stampede will kick off later this week. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

Calgary's hot weather forecast has local organizations that work with the city's homeless and vulnerable populations scrambling to collect donations of water. 

The heat wave, which is expected to affect people across the province, is forecast to reach temperatures in excess of 30 C for several days. 

"Our guests' needs vary dramatically when it's the winter, and, of course, when it's the summer. And right now, we just need bottles of water," said Diana Camelo at Calgary's Mustard Seed, a not-for-profit organization in the downtown core. 

150+ bottles of water needed per day

Even on days where the temperature hovers around 25 C, the organization hands out roughly 150 bottles of water, Camelo says.

With temperatures beyond that forecasted, it's expected the number of bottles handed out will climb even higher. 

"Unfortunately, we cannot provide them with food, but we can give them a couple of bottles of water, and that goes a long way for someone who doesn't have shelter from the heat, who doesn't even have any room in their pockets or their backpacks to carry water with them," she said.

Diana Camelo works with the Mustard Seed in Calgary and says the organization can hand out in excess of 150 bottles of water in a day. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

Many people served by the Mustard Seed have no shelter of their own to protect themselves, and sometimes that means things can go from bad to dire very quickly, Camelo says. 

"It can easily go from heat stroke to death very, very quickly. Especially when we're hitting the 30-plus degree weather."

When help beyond what the Mustard Seed can provide is needed, sometimes an emergency call to EMS is in order. But in less-urgent circumstances, Calgary Alpha House Society is the resource they reach out to. 

'Take the time out of your day' 

Alpha House is dedicated to helping intoxicated and detoxing individuals, but in the heat of summer, their Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership team will respond to calls of people in distress. 

"We're picking them up, getting them to a safe place, getting them hydrated," said Adam Melnyk, the outreach and housing location manager for Alpha House. 

Alpha House is also in need of water donations. The team patrols the parks and other hotspots where people seek refuge. It's hoping to have enough water on hand to pass out during the expected heat wave. 
Adam Melnyk is the outreach and housing location manager with Calgary Alpha House Society. He hopes that Calgarians will take time to check up on with those in need. (Sarah Lawrynuik/CBC)

Melnyk encourages the community to keep an eye out for those who might need help.  

"I just think it's important as a Calgarian to check on other people if you're concerned about them," Melnyk told CBC News. 

"If you see someone sleeping in the sun ... then take the time out of your day to check on them ... because that's what we should be doing."

Water donations can be dropped off at the Mustard Seed at 102 11th Ave. S.E. or at Alpha House at 203 15th Ave. S.E.