Hot and humid summer weather can cause heat illness and even death. More Americans die from heat waves than all other natural disasters combined. In New York City, more than 80% of heat stroke deaths in recent years involved victims who were exposed to heat in homes without air conditioning. Those most vulnerable to extreme heat include older adults, people with chronic medical conditions or mental health conditions and the socially isolated.
Talk to your doctor about how to prevent heat illness during hot and humid weather. If you don't have a doctor, call 311 to find a doctor or clinic nearby.
Test your knowledge
about staying safe in the heat.
Pay attention to weather reports on the news, or check National Weather Service reports. The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels based on temperature and humidity. A heat index above 95 degrees F is especially dangerous for older adults and other vulnerable individuals.
The best way to prevent heat illness is to stay in an air-conditioned place. Make sure you and your family stay cool during a heat wave. If you or someone you know cannot stay cool at home, visit a cool place, such as a library, a friend's home with air conditioning or a city cooling center. Cooling centers are open across the city during serious heat waves. You can find a cooling center online or by calling 311.
The Cooling Assistance Program provides a limited number of air conditioners for people who meet income criteria and have written letter from a health care provider documenting an increased risk for heat-related illness. For more information, including how to apply, call 311.
Check on vulnerable family, friends, and neighbors to make sure they stay safe and cool. Air conditioning is the best way to keep cool when it is hot outside, but some people do not have an air conditioner or do not turn it on when they need it. Encourage them to use air conditioning. Help them get to an air-conditioned place if they cannot stay cool at home.
Heat illness occurs when the body cannot cool down. The most serious forms of heat illness are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature rises quickly. It can rapidly lead to death.
Keeping cool can be hard work for the body. This extra stress on the body can also worsen other health conditions such as heart and lung disease.
Signs of Heat Illness
If you or someone you know has the following symptoms of heat illness, call 911 or go to an emergency room:
If you or someone you know has the following warning signs that they may be at risk for heat illness, get to a cool place, remove extra clothes, and drink lots of water:
People Most At Risk for Heat Illness
You are more likely to get sick from heat if you:
Prevent Heat Illness Indoors
In addition to following our Beat the Heat tips above, when it is hot in your home:
Prevent Heat Illness Outdoors
People who work or exercise outdoors are at higher risk of becoming dehydrated and developing heat-related illness. On hot days, be sure to:
If your work outdoors regularly: