PHOENIX (May 9, 2018)—Protecting at-risk people from the searing summer heat. That continues to be the goal of the Heat Relief Network organized by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). With triple digit temperatures on the rise, the network offers places where people can donate items like water bottles, hats or sunscreen, or where those in need can go for water, shade, or indoor refuge.

The network began in 2005 as a result of a deadly heat wave that killed more than 30 people in Maricopa County in just one devastating week. The Maricopa region has seen an alarming increase in heat-related deaths, with 155 confirmed deaths in 2017, and more than 20 cases still under investigation.

MAG Heat Relief Network

“Many of these were people experiencing homelessness. Some were people working outside. Most were homebound adults. Others were visitors who underestimated the Arizona heat,” says MAG Chair Jackie Meck, mayor of Buckeye. “Just one person is too many. The Heat Relief Network provides relief for those suffering in the heat, and offers places you can go to donate.”

The Phoenix region averages 110 days of triple-digit temperatures.

“As the region has more days of extreme heat, it is important for the community to collaborate to provide water and heat refuge for those who need it,”” says Buckeye City Councilmember Michelle Hess, who chairs the MAG Human Services and Community Initiatives Committee. “Last year, an impressive number of agencies signed up to become partners, with 138 organizations providing water and cooling stations, and 116 serving as collections sites.”

The Heat Relief Network brings together municipalities, nonprofit agencies, faith-based organizations, businesses, and individuals who mobilize to provide resources to those who are vulnerable. MAG coordinates with partners to map resources for the Heat Relief effort, including information on public transportation to water stations or indoor cooling. The free interactive map is provided in English and Spanish at azmag.gov/heat relief. There, individuals seeking help can find the closest refuge site, where they can cool down and get bottled water. Those wishing to donate water, money, or toiletries can find the nearest donation site.

The Heat Relief Network encourages voluntary partnerships with organizations in Maricopa County that can provide service on nights and weekends, when heat continues to affect Arizonans and visitors alike. Learn more about heat safety, and sign up to receive excessive heat warnings from the National Weather Service.

Those interested in donating water or other contributions, or with questions about the Network can contact Maria Piña at (602) 254-6300.

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