FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE OFFER TIPS FOR NEW YORKERS TO BEAT THE HEAT
June 21, 2021 — To mark the first day of summer, the New York City Emergency Management Department and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourage New Yorkers to beat the heat by knowing the hazards they may face, having a plan to stay safe, and keeping informed.
The City is prioritizing the most heat-burdened communities ― including those outlined in the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI)
― for new public cooling elements and refining existing programs to serve more residents during extreme heat events. Older adults are more likely than younger New Yorkers to experience adverse effects from extreme heat. In addition, as people get older, their ability to maintain a safe body temperature declines — resulting in an increased risk for heat-related illness. New York City urges residents to take steps to protect themselves and help others who may be at increased risk from the heat, including vulnerable individuals such as seniors and those with chronic health problems.
Visit the NYC Heat Vulnerability Index (HVI)
to understand how health risks during and immediately after extreme heat events compare across NYC neighborhoods, and how the HVI helps the City identify and direct resources to neighborhoods at higher risk during extreme heat.
“Extreme heat is dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations like older adults or people with chronic medical conditions. New York City is taking a number of steps to provide heat relief to New Yorkers including, but not limited to the opening of cooling centers during heat activations,” said New York City Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani
. “We want to remind New Yorkers of the dangers associated with hot temperatures and inform them of the steps they can take to beat the heat
“While we all enjoy warm weather, the risk of heat-related illness and death increases, especially for those who don’t have air conditioning in the home or a place to go to cool down,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “As more New Yorkers become fully vaccinated, we can once again remind our neighbors, friends and family members to ‘Be a Buddy’ and check in on those who might be vulnerable and without air conditioning.”
For those who do not have an air conditioner, call the Human Resources Administration at 1-800-692-0557 or 311 to find out whether they qualify for a free air conditioner through the New York State Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Since last year, New Yorkers living in public housing or receiving housing benefits may qualify.
In addition, during periods of extreme heat, the City opens cooling centers. NYC Emergency Management activates the Cooling Center Finder when the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory, with a forecasted heat index of least 95°F for two or more days or 100°F for any period. When the Cooling Center Finder is active, you can find your nearest cooling center by calling 311 or visiting nyc.gov/beattheheat
COOLING ELEMENTS & COOL IT! NYC MAP
To help New Yorkers stay cool, last summer, NYC Parks added brand new cooling elements within heat-burdened communities, and highlighted the existing 950 cooling elements citywide with a new Cool It! NYC map
. NYC Parks identified locations where up to 250 new outdoor cooling elements can be added to parks during extreme heat events to create "community oases." These elements consist of NYC Parks hydrants and other plumbing fixtures that can be adapted to function as spray showers and misting features. By utilizing the map, visitors will be able to find up-to-date information on the closest sprinklers and water fountains in their neighborhood, and with the Leafiest Blocks and Park Tree Canopy categories, easily find NYC Parks' recommendations for blocks and areas with the most shade to help stay cool this summer.
As cooling elements go online, the Cool It! NYC map will be updated in the coming weeks and activated as necessary during extreme heat events.
CHECK ON THOSE MOST AT-RISK DURING EXTREME HEAT
- Encourage family, friends, and neighbors who are older or who have heart, kidney or lung disease or other health conditions, serious mental illness, or struggle with substance abuse to use air conditioning. Check on them during heat waves or extreme heat, and help them get to an air-conditioned place if they cannot stay cool at home. During extreme heat, NYC opens cooling centers throughout the five boroughs where New Yorkers can go to cool off.
- If they do not have air conditioners, encourage family, friends, and neighbors at risk for heat-related illness to find out whether they qualify for a free air conditioner through the New York State Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) by calling the Human Resources Administration at 1-800-692-0557 or 311.
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 can access designated cooling areas. 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 unsheltered New Yorkers 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, walking in an air-conditioned mall, or swimming at a pool or beach. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. The NYC Parks Department has free swimming lessons for kids and adults. Visit here for more information on pool and water safety.
- 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. Window guards can prevent children from falling out of a window and suffering serious injuries or even death. Screens keep mosquitoes that can spread West Nile Virus out of your home and keep cats from falling out of windows.
- 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 78°F 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.
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