Relief from the extreme heat

July 24, 2011 5:23:09 AM PDT
The triple-digit scorcher that taxed the electrical grid and made life uncomfortable was expected to simmer down somewhat Sunday.

AccuWeather says temperatures will still remain in the 90s. Meanwhile, NYC cooling centers will be open again Sunday to offer relief from the heat. Call 311 to find out hours of operation and locations.

Brutal heat and humidity continued on Saturday with temperatures hitting 102 degrees at Kennedy Airport and in Newark, New Jersey.

In New York's Times Square, tourists crowded into patches of shade along a baking Broadway, where Tony Eckinger was selling spray bottles with fans attached for $30. He had bought them at a drugstore earlier in the day for $15.

"All the stores here are sold out," Eckinger said.

"Everybody's trying to keep cool."

Nearby, Gordon Miller waited in the sun as his family bought theater tickets at a discount booth.

"I told them I don't care what we see," said Miller, of Peebles, Scotland. "Getting inside and getting cool, that's the idea."

On Saturday morning, commuter trains were packed as thousands of New Yorkers headed to beaches on Long Island or in New Jersey. Four city beaches were under a pollution warning after a fire earlier in the week at a wastewater plant forced officials to dump millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Hudson River.

In Manhattan, taxi driver Egor Targon said his business was booming because people didn't want to walk in the heat. Still, he took the day off Friday, when temperatures crept up to 104, and went to the beach in New Jersey.

"If my head is dripping, I'd rather it be with ocean water than with sweat," he said.

Power utility Con Edison is asking customers to set air conditioners at 78 degrees or higher, turn off lights in empty rooms and put off running appliances until after 10 p.m. Businesses are also asked to conserve during the day, keep front doors closed and turn off lights at night.

About 10,000 customers remained without power in New York City and its suburbs, and about 9,000 in New Jersey, after parts of the region's electrical network failed. Con Ed said it was reducing the voltage in 69 other New York neighborhoods to ease the load caused by thousands of air conditioners.

City officials said water usage had soared as New Yorkers tried to keep cool. On Saturday, it hovered around 1.5 billion gallons a day, about 50 percent higher than normal, said Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway.

Customers can report power interruptions or service problems as well as view service restoration information online at and on their cell phones and PDAs. Customers may also call Con Edison at 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). When reporting an outage, customers should have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power.

The FDNY reminds residents not to open fire hydrants.

"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