During a two week period in the summer of 2005, a significant heat wave resulted in the death of more than 30 people. Since this date, the Maricopa County of Government's Heat Relief Network has coordinated and implemented hydration stations, refuge locations, and water donation sites throughout the Valley with the goal of preventing heat related and heat caused deaths among the homeless population and other vulnerable populations
Grace Lutheran Church has been part of this network since its inception. But beyond providing hydration, respite and wellness checks during the summer months, the Heat Respite @ Grace Lutheran Church has greater aims. In line with the mission of Grace, the Heat Respite program aspires to reach out to not only the physical needs of all those who come through the doors, but to their fullness as human beings.
In 2016 we served 10,969 folks over 60 days with the help of just over 160 volunteers. We have increased in the amount of folks we serve each summer.
- From 2001-2015 there have been 80 heat related deaths a year and 1,569 heat related injuries requiring hospitalization. 88% of these occur during the months of June, July, and August.
- 68% of these deaths occur outdoors
- Of the 32% of heat related deaths that occur indoors, in 87% of the incidences the domicile did not have air conditioning on. The primary reasons for this were that the unit was not functioning or electricity/repairs are too expensive.