Staying Cool While Homeless: 6 Ways to Protect Your Family From Heat Exhaustion

Finding permanent housing can be a lengthy process for many individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Lane County, and we know hot weather doesn’t make the wait any easier. When you spend lots of time in the summer heat, it’s important to take precaution so you can prevent heat-related illnesses from happening to you and your family.

During your transition from homelessness to housing, be sure to keep the following tips in mind so you can keep your body healthy for the journey ahead.

Drink Lots of Water

Drinking water is the most important way to take care of yourself in the summer. Without water, you become dehydrated and your body can suffer from thirst pains, fatigue, irritability, poor immunity, dry mouth and more.

Whenever you get the opportunity to drink water, drink lots of it, and then fill up your water bottle for later! You can never have enough water in the summer, so never say no to it — even if you’re not thirsty. Whether you’re at a fast-food joint, shelter, park, or friend’s house, always be on the lookout for places to fill up.

Stay Cool with Light Clothing

Keep your body cool by wearing light-colored clothing that doesn’t feel too heavy. On a hot day, too much heavy, dark clothing can prevent sweat evaporation, which is bad because sweat evaporation is what keeps your body cool! Try wearing T-shirts and shorts if you have them, but if you don’t have any good summer clothing, try some of the free clothing resources below.

Free clothing services are offered by First Christian Church, the Eugene Mission, White Bird Clinic, Adventist Community Center, St. Vincent dePaul and Eastside Faith Center. For a complete list of phone numbers and locations visit

Keep Your Skin Protected

Your skin is the next most important thing to focus on. The sun can be extremely dangerous to the skin, and can cause very severe health problems, which is why you want to make it a priority to protect yourself with sunscreen, clothing, umbrellas and/or hats that protect your face and neck. Hats are also great for blocking sun rays from your eyes, and can be efficient against mosquitoes as well.

Cheap sunscreen and bug spray can be found at Dollar Store locations and other convenient stores, and umbrellas and hats are usually easy to find at secondhand stores, especially in the summer.

If you have trouble accessing these items, you can contact White Bird Clinic, which is an organization that offers a wide range of information, resources and free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Walk-ins are also welcome Monday through Thursday, 12 – 2 p.m.

White Bird Clinic, 323 E 12th Ave., 541-342-1295

Get A Library Card

What’s a better way to beat the heat than by sitting in a cool library with a good book? If you have a current form of photo ID, and proof of address from an agency that is helping you transition into housing, you can register for a library card at Eugene Public Library! Click here for more information on ways to qualify for a library card, and other resources you can access with your library card.

If you are located in Springfield, you can get a Springfield Public Library card if you are vetted by Catholic Community Services (CCS). Vetted individuals can apply for a library card if they give the Springfield Public Library a letter from CCS which confirms they live inside of the city limits. Once you receive a Springfield Public Library card, it can be renewed every three months as long as you continues residing within city limits. For more information, call Springfield Public Library at (541) 726-3766.

Stay in Cool, Shady Areas

When you spend a lot of time in the summer heat, you have a higher chance of dehydration, sunburn and sickness; which is why it’s important to find cool, shady areas for your family to recuperate from the heat.

Click here for a list of local parks for you and your family to enjoy, and be sure to fill up your water bottles at a nearby fountains while you’re there!

Cool Off in a Local Swimming Hole

Another great way to cool off this summer is by going for a swim! There are numerous local swimming holes in Lane County that families can enjoy for free, so be sure to take advantage of them this summer!

Click here for a list of swimming holes in Lane County.

Services for Your Pets

Your pets can experience heat-related illnesses, too! If you have a dog or cat that might be feeling burned out from the summer heat, look into some of the following low-cost veterinary services offered in Lane County.

Pro-Bone-O is a non-profit in Eugene that provides free veterinary services, food, and supplies for the pets of people experiencing homelessness. Their services are offered twice a month at the Eugene Mission, located at 1542 West 1st Ave. For more information on services and clinic dates, visit

Community Veterinary Service, located at 470 Highway 99N, is another veterinary service that provides low-cost veterinary services to dogs and cats in Lane County. Costs vary depending on your income. To find out more about services and how to qualify, visit

Seek Medical Help

If you or someone you know might be suffering from a heat-related illness, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Also, be sure to keep the White Bird Clinic in mind for your medical needs. White Bird offers affordable health care for those living below the poverty line, and free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness.

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