Community Care During Extreme Heat

Last week, California entered a record-breaking heat wave, with temperatures across the state soaring past 100 degrees. Climate change is leading to more frequent, severe, and prolonged episodes of extreme heat, killing more Americans every year than any other extreme weather, including wildfires and flooding. From 2013 to 2022, extreme heat has had a total economic impact of $7.7 billion in California through lost wages and productivity, agricultural and manufacturing disruptions, power outages, infrastructure damage, and more.  

In our region, the temperature in Imperial County regularly exceeds 100 degrees, with last weekend reaching 120 degrees. Areas of inland and rural San Diego County are also heavily impacted, with many of these communities facing unique challenges, including limited access to air-conditioned spaces. While this heat is unsafe for all, there are certain people at a higher risk of heat-related illness, including infants and young children, people 65 years of age or older, outdoor laborers and agricultural workers, and individuals who are unhoused. Learn more about risk factors at 

Community organizations and local governments are working hard to provide resources and support for those affected. Below we’ve rounded up three ways philanthropy can help ensure safety through this heat wave.  


Ways Philanthropy Can Help 

  1. Wellness check: Check in on grantees and partners as humans first: we are all people first, and staying cool and safe is the top priority. Individuals who run and operate organizations providing services are likely also impacted themselves, and may be experiencing the same stress and potential health risks as the communities they serve.  
  1. Beyond the check support:   In addition to funding, consider leveraging your resources, networks, and facilities. For example, if you have a building with air conditioning, consider opening it up as a cooling center to provide immediate relief to those who may not have access to air-conditioned spaces.  
  1. On the ground assistance: California Volunteers is organizing ways we can help our neighbors, including calling or visiting those at high risk, offering to pick up groceries, medication, and other necessities, or even just sharing information about local cooling centers and other resources. 

By coming together as a community, we can better navigate these challenging times, and help to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone living in our region. For information on how to get involved, please contact Megan Thomas.   


Want more? Check out these additional resources: