Residents across the NY area look to beat the heat

July 12, 2011 3:10:54 PM PDT
Tuesday is a scorcher and could end up being the hottest day of the season. More than 20 states are under heat warnings, from Connecticut to Oklahoma.

Cooling centers will be open in New York City, while utility companies try to keep up with power demands.

Summer has arrived with full force, as temperatures soar into the 90s for the second day.

The strain on the electrical grid has knocked out power to parts of manhattan. Crews worked through the night to restore power to about 1,000 households on the Upper East Side.

Con Edison is advising customers to conserve electricity during the extreme heat, and the city's health department has issued a heat advisory.

Temperatures may be in the mid-90s, but it will feel like more than 100 degrees out there. Health officials are advising people to avoid strenuous outdoor activities and to drink lots of water.

The city is also opening cooling centers in all five boroughs, set up at various locations like senior centers and libraries, where people can get relief from the sweltering heat. Call 311 or click here for a full list of cooling center locations and hours.

But we're not suffering alone. The National Weather Service is issuing heat advisories across the northeast and midwest. From a record-breaking 111 degrees in Wichita, Kansas, to Wichita Falls, Texas, where it's been above 100 basically since the beginning of June.

Over the weekend, it was dangerous in Milwaukee, where some runners in a half marathon were so dehydrated they couldn't cross the finish line.

Some residents in Washington Heights have resorted to opening fire hydrants to cool off. The FDNY advises against opening hydrants, and city officials encourage residents to use one of the city's 54 outdoor pools.

"That hydrant open full blast can knock you or kids over, or significantly decrease water pressure which becomes a problem if we need to fight a fire in that neighborhood," said FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano said.

The Fire Department showed Eyewitness News the correct way, using a sprinkler cap, which a firehouse will put on at an adult's request.

"We'll open it and then later on come back and close that hydrant for you," Cassano said.

Residents are advised to call their doctor or go to the emergency room right away if they feel sick and are urged keep a close eye on family, friends and neighbors, especially the elderly. Heat illness symptoms are often not specific and include:

  • Hot, dry skin or cold, clammy skin
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Confusion, hallucinations, disorientation

    The risk for getting sick during a heat wave is increased for people who:

  • Are younger than five or older than 64
  • Have chronic medical or mental health conditions such as diabetes or substance abuse disorders.
  • Are overweight
  • Take certain medications which can disrupt the regulation of body temperature
  • Are unable to leave their homes or confined to their beds
  • Drink alcohol use drugs which can impair their judgment

    If you have a medical condition or take medication, check with your physician about precautions you should take during hot weather. Family, friends, and neighbors who are at high risk will need extra help during this period of extreme heat. Think about how you can help someone you know get to an air-conditioned place.

    Ready New York - Beat the Heat Tips:

  • Use an air conditioner if you have one.
  • If you do not have an air conditioner, go to a cooler place such as an air-conditioned family's, friend's or neighbor's home, store, mall, museum, or movie theater, or, visit a cooling center.
  • Use a fan if the air is not too hot. Fans work best at night to bring in cooler air from outside. Use a fan only when the air conditioner is on or the windows are open.
  • Drink plenty of water or other fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar.
  • Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, or plan it for the coolest part of the day, usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. or in the evening. If you exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. If you are used to regular exercise, just keep in mind the symptoms of heat illness when exercising and stop or rest if any occur.
  • Be careful if you take a cold shower to stay cool - sudden temperature changes can make you feel dizzy or sick.
  • Check on your at-risk family, friends and neighbors often and help them get to a cool place.

    Spray Caps & Fire Hydrants:

  • Opening fire hydrants without spray caps is wasteful and dangerous. Illegally opened hydrants can lower water pressure, which can cause problems at hospitals and other medical facilities and hinder fire-fighting by reducing the flow of water to hoses and pumps. The powerful force of an open hydrant without a spray cap can also push children into oncoming traffic. Call 311 to report an open hydrant.
  • Hydrants can be opened legally if equipped with a City-approved spray cap. One illegally opened hydrant wastes up to 1,000 gallons of water per minute, while a hydrant with a spray cap only puts out around 25 gallons per minute. Spray caps can be obtained by someone 18 or over, free of charge at local firehouses.

    Conserve Energy:

  • During periods of extremely hot and humid weather, electricity use rises, which can cause power disruptions.
  • Set your air conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees.
  • Use air conditioners only when you're home, and only in rooms you're using. If you want to cool your home before you return, set a timer that turns on no more than 30 minutes before you arrive.
  • Turn off nonessential appliances.
  • To receive free notifications about power outages affecting your neighborhood sign up for Notify NYC at

    For more information on coping with extreme heat, see the Ready New York: Beat the Heat guide at For more information on the health effects associated with extreme heat visit