Virginia Beach, Virginia— Earlier this summer, the scorching summer heat beat down on Hampton Roads, with temperatures over 95 degrees. June’s temperatures stalled in the high 90’s with heat index at 99 degrees. One area in Virginia Beach even had a heat index of 107 degrees one afternoon. The high temperatures in Hampton Roads can be devastating to the elderly, outside laborers, animals and our “invisible population,” the homeless and runaway teens. When temperatures surpass 95 degrees with high humidity, life on the streets can become difficult—and downright dangerous. Weather such as this poses a threat to runaway teens, who may have no place to go—many of whom only leave home with nothing but the clothes on their back. David Mount, Director of Seton Youth Shelters’ Street Outreach Programs comments, “With this summer’s record high temperatures, we watch for youth with possible dehydration. When we drive into Hampton Roads neighborhoods, we are seeing an increase of requests for water from youth as young as seven years of age.” This severe summer weather is unusual in Hampton Roads, meaning runaway youth may not have the appropriate clothing to stay cool and hydrated, or money to find shelter.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, “During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating just isn’t enough. Your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels and you can develop a heat illness. Most heat illnesses occur from staying out in the heat too long” and gives examples of heat illnesses that those with prolonged exposures to such high temperatures can experience:
- Heatstroke—a life-threatening illness in which body temperature may rise above 106° F in minutes; symptoms include dry skin, rapid, strong pulse and dizziness
- Heat exhaustion—an illness that can precede heatstroke; symptoms include heavy sweating, rapid breathing and a fast, weak pulse.
With many area shelters accepting only adults over the age of 18, Seton Youth Shelters offers a helping hand to the sometimes “invisible” population of homeless youth. Darla Bardine, Policy Director of the National Network for Youth states, “Roughly 550,000 youth in America are homeless for more than a week every year with estimates of 1.68 million youth experiencing a day or more of homelessness every year.” Bardine continues, “Runaway and homeless youth are targeted by and vulnerable to those who want to harm and exploit them because they are unprotected, abandoned and longing for someone to love them. Within 48 hours of being on the streets and homeless, an adolescent is likely to be approached by someone that wants to sexually exploit them.”
In 2015, Seton Youth Shelters marks 30 years as the region’s only organization devoted exclusively to providing shelter, counseling and outreach services to youth 9-17. Seton Youth Shelters provides prevention, intervention, shelter and counseling to youth 9-17 in crisis and their families—24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at no charge to the child or their family. In 2014, Seton Youth Shelters reached nearly 27,000 youth in the Hampton Roads. For more information about Seton Youth Shelters or ways to donate, please visit www.setonyouthservices.org and like us on Facebook (Search: Seton Youth Shelters) For any questions please call Public Relations and Donor Associate, Karlaa Williams at 757.963.5795 ext. 103 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Runaway or homeless youth may reach Seton Youth Shelters 24 hours per day at 757.498.HELP (4357) or 1.800.751.7640. Seton Youth Shelters is a licensed National Safe Place Agency, securing affiliation with the National Safe Place organization. Text the word “safe” and your current location (city/state/zip) to 69866. Within seconds, you will receive a message with the closest Safe Place location