Edith de Guzman

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Edith de Guzman: LA Times — Heat waves are killing more L.A. homeless people who can’t escape broiling sunEdith de Guzman: LA Times

About 150 people die every day in L.A. County during the summertime, but during an extreme heat event the deaths increase by 8% to 30%, according to Edith de Guzman, a UCLA researcher and director of the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative.

“Folks who already have preexisting conditions, whether that be diabetes, kidney and heart conditions or even mental health conditions, their body is already allocating much of its energy to deal with those underlying conditions,” she said. “People who are exposed environmentally to that heat, it doesn’t allow their body to recover or to have a break.”

Homeless people are particularly vulnerable during heat waves because they’re more likely to have preexisting medical conditions and find it harder to stay hydrated and out of the sun. And because a large swath of them are afflicted by mental illness, some might be taking medications that affect their ability to regulate their body temperature.

“When you’re in a tent, when the sun is shining, it’s like a greenhouse,” De Guzman said. “You may be in a somewhat shaded environment, but it’s actually magnified in a tent and … even worse than being outside.”