NYC opens 500 cooling centers to help New Yorkers cope with extreme heat
City officials are urging New Yorkers to prepare for a stretch of extreme temperatures in what could be the first heat wave of the summer.
An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect for New York City through Friday at 9 p.m., part of what the mayor called a global “climate disaster” that for the next several days “is a matter of life and death.”
Peak intensity of the heat is forecasted to occur between noon and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Mayor Eric Adams and officials at the New York City Office of Emergency Management held a briefing to shed light on local resources to help keep residents safe.
Adams said the city is experiencing what has not yet been experienced in this region.
“We are expecting extreme heat to hit New York City, temperatures are predicted to reach the upper 90s with heat indexes above 105,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol. “It is imperative for New Yorkers to understand the potential dangers of high heat and humidity, which are among the deadliest weather emergencies we face in NYC.”
As a result, Adams announced that the city is opening 500 cooling centers.
“We are here once again because climate change is a public health issue and a health crisis,” health commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said. “While very hot days are normal and we do see them from time to time, the number of hot days each year is not normal, heat is the deadliest of all extreme weather events.”
City officials implored New Yorkers to get into air conditioning. Vasan said a fan is not enough
“More than 80% of heatstroke deaths in recent years involve people who were exposed to heat in homes without air conditioning,” Vasan said. “So the best way to prevent heat illness is to stay in a cool, indoor, air conditioned place. A fan is not enough.”
Officials say up to 25% of people in certain low-income neighborhoods do not have access to air conditioning. Adams is urging the federal government to better fund a program that subsidizes home cooling services.
The city is under its first Excessive Heat Warning since Aug. 13, 2021. It is the highest level of heat-related alerts National Weather Service issues, and is assigned when the agency considers conditions to be “extremely dangerous.”
To find the nearest cooling center, including hours of operation, New Yorkers can call 311 or visit the City’s Cooling Center Finder.
The New York City Emergency Management Department and the Health Department the following tips to help protect people against the heat:
New Yorkers can now also find cooling centers that welcome pets throughout the five boroughs. The City has also partnered with Petco to offer New Yorkers and their pets additional spaces to seek relief from the heat. All locations can be found on the City’s Cooling Center Finder. As a reminder, service animals are always allowed at cooling centers.
In New York City, most heat-related deaths occur after exposure to heat in homes without air conditioners. Air conditioning is the best way to stay safe and healthy when it is hot outside, but some people at risk of heat illness do not have or do not turn on an air conditioner.
The New York City Emergency Management Department and the Health Department urge New Yorkers to take steps to protect themselves and help others who may be at increased risk from the heat. For more information, including heat-related health tips and warning signs of heat illness, visit NYC.gov/health or NYC.gov/beattheheat.
New York City’s outdoor pools are open for the summer. All NYC Parks Intermediate and Olympic-sized outdoor pools will be extending their operation by one hour, and stay open until 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in response to the heat advisory. Standard pool protocols apply-bring a bathing suit, towel, and lock to secure belongings. More information can be found at nyc.gov/parks/pools.
A citywide map of outdoor cooling options (including spray showers, drinking fountains, and more) can be found online at Cool It! NYC.
During extreme heat, the Department of Social Services (DSS) issues a Code Red Alert. During Code Reds, shelter is available to anyone experiencing homelessness, where those experiencing heat-related discomfort are also able to access a designated cooling area. DSS staff and the agency’s not-for-profit contracted outreach teams who engage with individuals experiencing homelessness 24/7/365 redouble their efforts during extreme heat, with a focus on connecting vulnerable New Yorkers experiencing unsheltered homelessness to services and shelter.
ADDITIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY TIPS FOR PROTECTION AGAINST THE HEAT
- Go to an air-conditioned location, even if for a few hours.
- Stay out of the sun and avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun’s peak hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
- Remember: drink water, rest, and locate shade if you are working outdoors or if your work is strenuous. Drink water every 15 minutes even if you are not thirsty, rest in the shade, and watch out for others on your team. Your employer is required to provide water, rest, and shade when work is being done during extreme heat.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing when inside without air conditioning or outside.
- Drink fluids, particularly water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Those on fluid-restricted diets or taking diuretics should first speak with their doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
- Eat small, frequent meals.
- Cool down with a cool bath or shower.
- Participate in activities that will keep you cool, such as going to the movies, visiting museums, walking in an air-conditioned mall, or swimming at a pool or beach.
- Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and, in apartments where children live, and window guards. Air conditioners in buildings more than six stories must be installed with brackets so they are secured and do not fall on someone below.
- Never leave your children or pets in the vehicle, even for a few minutes.
KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS OF HEAT ILLNESS
Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know has:
- Hot dry skin.
- Trouble breathing.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Confusion, disorientation, or dizziness.
- Nausea and vomiting.
If you or someone you know feels weak or faint, go to a cool place and drink water. If there is no improvement, call a doctor or 911.
KEEPING YOUR PETS SAFE
- Avoid dehydration: Pets can dehydrate quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water.
- Walk your dog in the morning and evening: When the temperature is very high, do not let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Your pet’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn.
- Know when your pet is in danger: Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, unresponsiveness, or even collapse.
IMPROPER FIRE HYDRANT USE
The improper opening of fire hydrants wastes 1,000 gallons of water per minute, causes flooding on city streets, and lowers water pressure to dangerous levels, which hamper the ability of the Fire Department to fight fire safely and quickly.
Use “spray caps” to reduce hydrant output to a safe 25 gallons per minute while still providing relief from the heat. To obtain a spray cap, an adult 18 years or older with proper identification can go to his or her local firehouse and request one.
During periods of intense electrical usage, such as on hot, humid days, it is important to conserve energy as much as possible to avoid brownouts and other electrical disruptions. While diminishing your power usage may seem inconvenient, your cooperation will help to ensure that utility providers are able to provide uninterrupted electrical service to you and your neighbors, particularly those who use electric powered medical equipment or are at risk of heat-related illness and death:
- Set your air conditioner to 78F or “low.”
- Run appliances such as ovens, washing machines, dryers and dishwashers in the early morning or late at night when it is cooler outside to reduce heat and moisture in your home.
- Close doors to keep cool air in and hot air out when the air conditioner is running.
- Keep shades, blinds, and curtains closed. About 40 percent of unwanted heat comes through windows.
- Turn off air conditioners, lights, and other appliances when not at home, and use a timer or smart technology to turn on your air conditioner about a half-hour before arriving home. Keep air conditioner filters clean.
- If you run a business, keep your door closed while the air conditioner is running.
- Tell your utility provider if you or someone you know depend on medical equipment that requires electricity.
For more information, visit NYC.gov/beattheheat. New Yorkers are also encouraged to stay informed by signing up for Notify NYC, the City’s free emergency communications program, to receive free emergency alerts and updates in your preferred language and format by visiting NYC.gov/NotifyNYC, calling 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115), following @NotifyNYC on Twitter, or getting the free Notify NYC mobile application for your Apple or Android device.