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climate change, health, british columbia

Climate change is causing record-breaking heat and intense wildfire seasons, worsening health issues.

As record-breaking heat and out-of-control wildfires raged in the beautiful Canadian province of British Columbia this past summer, people started arriving to the emergency room of Kootenay Lake Hospital with symptoms of heat illness.

Dr. Kyle Merritt, the head of the emergency department, told the Times Colonist that most of the doctors at the hospital had only seen such heat illness in medical school. Now they found themselves with a flood of it as the temperatures rose.

"We were having to figure out how do we cool someone in the emergency department," said Merritt. "People are running out to the Dollar Store to buy spray bottles."

A patient arrived who was struggling to breathe. The smoke from the wildfires in the area hadn't lifted for days, and the patient's asthma was being aggravated by it.

Merritt took the patient's chart and wrote two words he'd never written on a chart before: "climate change."


When asked why he did it, Merritt said, "If we're not looking at the underlying cause, and we're just treating the symptoms, we're just gonna keep falling further and further behind."

"It's me trying to just...process what I'm seeing," he said. "We're in the emergency department, we look after everybody, from the most privileged to the most vulnerable, from cradle to grave, we see everybody. And it's hard to see people, especially the most vulnerable people in our society, being affected. It's frustrating."

Merritt said a woman in her 70s who lived in a trailer with no air-conditioning had come into the ER. She was struggling to stay hydrated, and the heat was exacerbating her other health conditions, including diabetes and some heart failure. Patients like her, with multiple health problems and little money, will be the most affected by the climate crisis.

However, we're all seeing that there's no escaping its impact. Hundreds died during this summer's heat dome in western Canada and the northwestern United States. An entire Canadian village was wiped out by wildfire as temperatures reached a record 121 degrees this summer. We've been told for years that climate change would result in more extreme weather events, and here we are.

Merritt said he hoped seeing "climate change" on the patient's chart would prompt other doctors who see it one day to make the connection between their patients' health and climate change.

Extreme weather affects more than people's physical health. Merritt says he saw a number of patients already suffering from depression or anxiety have their symptoms worsen during the wildfire season. Wildfire smoke even triggered flashbacks in a patient who was coping with post-traumatic stress disorder from his time as a soldier.

The World Health Organization calls climate change "the single biggest health threat facing humanity" and health professionals worldwide are responding. Doctors and nurses in western Canada held a climate rally at the B.C. Legislature organized by Doctors for Planetary Health—West Coast on November 4. The healthcare workers are calling on lawmakers to act in the face of the growing ecological threat to health and demanding that the provincial government declare a climate and ecological emergency.

Writing "climate change" on a patient's chart may be unprecedented, but so are the times in which we live. If we are going to keep breaking records each year and keep seeing health-affecting extremes in temperature and weather events, we're going to have to do unprecedented things. Doctors and nurses are on the front lines, seeing those health impacts firsthand.

Perhaps we should listen to them.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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Part of what makes the beauty of fall unique is that it's fleeting. Mother Nature puts on a vibrant show as she sheds what no longer serves her, inviting us to revel in her purposeful self-destruction. It's a gorgeous example of not only embracing change, but celebrating it.

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