Cities like Phoenix are struggling to keep up. While the city operates air-conditioned cooling centers, many were closed last year amid the pandemic. And making the centers accessible to all is a challenge.
Kayla and Richard Contreras, who sleep in a blue tent on a baking sidewalk at a homeless camp near downtown Phoenix, said cooling centers were not an option because they have a dog and they fear leaving their belongings unattended in their tents.
They said they knew 10 homeless people who died in the heat last year.
Mr. Contreras, 47, fills water bottles with the taps of the houses he walks past. Ms Contreras, 56, said she saved food stamps to buy popsicles on the hottest days. “It’s what keeps us alive,” she said, handing an orange popsicle to a friend. “I feel like I’m in hell.
Sunset brings no relief. In Las Vegas, home of the National Hockey League playoffs, forecasters expected the mercury to rise above 100 degrees when the puck dropped Wednesday night.
Last month, Phoenix city council approved $ 2.8 million in new climate spending, including creating a four-person heat response and mitigation office.
“It’s a good start, but we are clearly not doing enough yet,” said David Hondula, an Arizona State University scientist who studies the consequences of the heat. Significantly reducing heat deaths would require adding trees and shade to underserved neighborhoods and increasing funding to help residents who need help with their energy bills or who are low on energy bills. air conditioning, among others, he said.
“Each of these heat deaths should be preventable,” he said. “But it’s not just an engineering problem. It means tackling difficult issues like poverty or homelessness. And the numbers suggest we are headed in the wrong direction. Today, heat deaths are increasing faster than population growth and aging. “