Extreme heat: Tips and resources for coping with extreme heat

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
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The city has opened cooling centers, misting sites and hydrants across the five boroughs to help keep things cool.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York City Emergency Management Department and the Health Department today advised New Yorkers to take precautions to beat the heat. Here are tips and resources to deal with the sweltering and potentially life-threatening conditions:

Active children and adults, and people with respiratory problems should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors.

New York City's Office of Emergency Management urges New Yorkers to take precautions to prevent serious illness that can result from the heat, especially among vulnerable individuals such as seniors and those with chronic health problems or mental health conditions.

New Yorkers who are vulnerable should use air conditioning to stay cool, go to a place that has air conditioning if it is not available at home, drink water at regular intervals, and limit strenuous activity, especially during the hottest parts of the day. New Yorkers are urged to check in on vulnerable friends, family members and neighbors to help them stay cool.

New York City cooling centers will be open to help New Yorkers stay cool. Cooling centers are air conditioned facilities, such as libraries, community centers, and senior centers, that are open to the public during heat emergencies. To find the cooling center closest to you, call 311 (TTY: 212-504-4155) or visit NYC Emergency Management's Cooling Center Finder at NYC.gov/oem

Numerous beaches were closed Saturday due to bacteria levels - especially in Suffolk County. Residents are urged to call the Bathing Beach Hotline at 631-852-5822 for more information.

New Yorkers are encouraged to take the following steps to stay safe and cool:

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A small but crucial gesture can help ensure that we all have a safe and healthy summer: Get to know your neighbors, and contact neighbors and relatives-in person or by phone-at least twice a day during heat waves.

Pay special attention to the elderly, the very young, and anyone with a pre-existing medical condition. New Yorkers should check in on older neighbors who may be isolated from friends and family.

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. Make sure they are drinking enough water.


* Stay out of the sun-avoid extreme temperature changes.

* Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors reflect some of the sun's energy.

* 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 consult their physician.)

* Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid beverages containing alcohol and/or caffeine.

* Eat small, frequent meals.

* 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.

* If possible, go to an air-conditioned building for several hours during the hottest parts of the day.

* New York City may open cooling centers around the five boroughs when temperatures reach dangerous levels. When cooling centers do open, call 311 or go to nyc.gov/oem to find the nearest center.

* Cool down with a cool bath or shower.

* Participate in activities that will keep you cool, such as going to the movies, shopping at a mall, or swimming at a pool or beach.

* Cover all exposed skin with an SPF sunscreen (15 or above); wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and head.

* Never leave your children or pets in the car.


The improper opening of fire hydrants wastes 1,000 gallons of water per minute, causes flooding on City streets, and can lower water pressure to dangerous levels and hamper the ability of FDNY to fight fire safely and quickly. Properly used "spray caps" 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 like an inconvenience, your cooperation will help to ensure that utilities are able to continue to provide uninterrupted electrical service to you and your neighbors.

Set air conditioners at 78 degrees Fahrenheit. (A 75F setting uses 18% more electricity and a 72F setting uses 39% more electricity.) This setting allows for sufficient cooling while still conserving electric power.

Use an air conditioner only when home. If you want to cool your room before you arrive home, use a timer to have it turn on no more than one-half hour before you arrive.


Heat illness is serious. Prolonged exposure to the heat can be harmful and potentially fatal. The added stress caused by heat can also aggravate heart or lung disease even without symptoms of heat illness. The risk for getting sick during a heat wave is increased for people who:

* Do not have or do not use air conditioning

* Are age 65 or older

* Have chronic medical or mental health conditions

* Take certain medications, which can disrupt the regulation of body temperature

* Are confined to their beds, have trouble with being mobile, or are unable to leave their homes

* Are overweight

* Consume alcohol or illegal drugs

* Know the warning signs of heat stress:

* 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.

* Call 911 immediately if you have, or someone you know has:

* Hot dry skin OR cold clammy skin

* Trouble breathing

* Rapid heartbeat

* Confusion, disorientation, or dizziness

* Nausea and vomiting


* Avoid dehydration: Pets can dehydrate quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water.

* Exercise early and late: When the temperature is very high, don't 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, stupor, or even collapse. Animals with flat faces like Pugs and Persian cats are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. They should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

* Never leave a pet inside of a parked car on a hot day. Even with the windows open, extreme temperatures inside a parked can could quickly lead to fatal heatstroke for your pet.

* Keep cats safe by installing screens in your windows. Unscreened windows pose a real danger to cats, who fall out of them often during summer months.

* Prepare with your pet: Pet food, water, medications, and supplies should always be included in your emergency preparedness plans and "go bags."


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